SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE HEARING ON UNITED STATES
EUROPEAN COMMAND AND UNITED STATES TRANSPORTATION COMMAND
DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION REQUEST FOR FISCAL YEAR 2021
FEBRUARY 25, 2020
SEN. JAMES M. INHOFE, R-OKLA., CHAIRMAN
SEN. ROGER WICKER, R-MISS.
SEN. DEB FISCHER, R-NEB.
SEN. TOM COTTON, R-ARK.
SEN. MIKE ROUNDS, R-S.D.
SEN. JONI ERNST, R-IOWA
SEN. THOM TILLIS, R-N.C.
SEN. DAN SULLIVAN, R-ALASKA
SEN. DAVID PERDUE, R-GA.
SEN. MARSHA BLACKBURN, R-TENN.
SEN. KEVIN CRAMER, R-N.D.
SEN. JOSH HAWLEY, R-MO.
SEN. MARTHA MCSALLY, R-ARIZ.
SEN. RICK SCOTT, R-FLA.
SEN. JACK REED, D-R.I., RANKING MEMBER
SEN. JEANNE SHAHEEN, D-N.H.
SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND, D-N.Y.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, D-CONN.
SEN. MAZIE K. HIRONO, D-HAWAII
SEN. TIM KAINE, D-VA.
SEN. MARTIN HEINRICH, D-N.M.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN, D-MASS.
SEN. GARY PETERS, D-MICH.
SEN. TAMMY DUCKWORTH, D-ILL.
SEN. DOUG JONES, D-ALA.
SEN. JOE MANCHIN III, D-W.VA.
SEN. ANGUS KING, I-MAINE
GENERAL TOD D. WOLTERS, USAF, COMMANDER, UNITED STATES EUROPEAN
COMMAND, NORTH ATLANTIC TREATY ORGANIZATION SUPREME ALLIED
GENERAL STEPHEN R. LYONS, USA, COMMANDER, UNITED STATES
INHOFE: Hearing will come to order.
We meet today to continue receiving the posture statements; there'll be quite a few more. This is the time of year.
We have General Tod Wolters -- and appreciate very much the time we spent together in Munich last week -- and Stephen Lyons.
INHOFE: So I appreciate the two and your -- the years of service that you've donated and given to your country.
As stated many times before, the Armed Services Committee's top priority is to ensure the effective implementation of the National Defense Strategy. That's -- do we have that? Yes. This is our -- we've pretty much -- surprisingly, Senator Wicker, how we have really stuck with that from the very beginning. It means that we must ensure that in this era of great power competition with Russia and China that our military services are resourcing our combatant commands to address the challenge of strategic competition.
This is especially true of our two combatant commands that are here today. EUCOM is focused on deterring Vladimir Putin, who has repeatedly shown his willingness to use force to achieve his political objectives. And then there's TRANSCOM, whose focus on full-spectrum mobility operations include sealift, airlift and both -- both of which face capability shortfalls.
I just returned from the Munich Security Conference with several others here at this table. It was a great reminder that -- of the importance of allies and partners as we deal with the challenges from China and Russia. There are great opportunities to work with our European friends, especially in Africa, and I hope that we will continue to do that.
America's commitment to NATO remains bipartisan and unwavering. We're matching our words with action, especially through our posture investments in the European Deterrence Initiative and the upcoming exercise called DEFENDER 2020, which will be the largest movement of U.S. troops to Europe since the end of the Cold War. We're talking about the addition -- in addition to the 10,000 already there, an additional 20,000. And so, it's a large one, it's a record setter.
General Wolters, I look forward to hearing about your priorities going forward, especially in the maritime domain -- where Russia is increasing activity, advancing submarines -- and in Air and Missile Defense as Russia continues to threaten U.S. and allied forces with its missile arsenal.
General Lyons, you recently stated that the aerial refueling fleet is the most stress that -- in the U.S. Transportation Command's arsenal. So we look forward on getting your thoughts on how we can address the shortfall, much of which is due to the problems that we've had with the KC-46. I'm particularly sensitive to that because I was honored to come back from -- all the way to Washington State to come back to Altus Air Force Base in the KC-46. At that time, that was less than a year ago, I didn't think there was any problem with it; obviously, there is.
And before we turn to Senator Reed, we will remind the members that we will have a classified closed informal briefing at 2:30 p.m. And that is going to conflict with some of the votes.
REED: Well, thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I want to join you in welcoming our witnesses this morning.
General Wolters is testifying for the first time before the committee in his current position as Commander of U.S. European Command and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe, or the SACEUR. General Lyons, I welcome your return to testify before the committee on the posture of the U.S. Transportation Command. Let me thank both of you for the many of decades of military service, and please extend our appreciation to the dedicated men and women serving under your command.
REED: The trans-Atlantic relationship remains absolutely critical to U.S. national security. Our close bond with our European allies and partners is one of our greatest strategic advantages.
In the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, Congress reaffirmed the unbreakable U.S. commitment to NATO. I am concerned, however, that significant cuts in the European Deterrence Initiative, or EDI, as proposed in the president's fiscal year 2021 budget request may send the wrong signal to our allies and our adversaries regarding our support for the trans-Atlantic relationship.
The EUCOM commander faces a wide range of complex security challenges, including the reemergence of Russia seeking to reassert a claim to great power status. Russia is actively undermining the rules-based international order that it views as contrary to its strategic interests. Russia has deployed its military aggressively to attempt to coerce its neighbors and undermine their sovereignty.
Consistent with the 2018 National Defense Strategy, EUCOM is developing the operational concepts, plans, and programs necessary for this strategic competition with Russia and to ensure a combat-credible military deterrent against Russia's efforts to threaten the sovereignty of our allies and partners. General Wolters, the committee will be very interested in whether you have the force posture in Europe and resources to meet this challenge.
Additionally, Russia is engaged in a campaign of hybrid warfare below the level of military conflict to advance its strategic interests. Recent news reports have highlighted that Russia is once again conducting information warfare operations to influence the upcoming U.S. presidential elections to advance preferred candidates, to sow division, and undermine public faith in our democratic process.
I would be interested in how EUCOM is working with CYBERCOM and other agencies to counter the Russian hybrid threat and what progress, if any, have we made on ensuring a coordinated whole-of-governments strategy to defend against Russian malign influence.
A major test for both EUCOM and TRANSCOM will come this spring, as the chairman has indicated, with the DEFENDER-Europe 20 exercise. This exercise involves the transportation of a division-size combat force, the largest deployment of troops from the United States to Europe for an exercise in the past 25 years.
There are some of us that still remember REFORGER. In total, some 37,000 U.S., NATO, and partner forces will participate in DEFENDER. This exercise highlights the combat-credible military deterrent provided by U.S. and allied forces against aggression in Europe.
Now turning to TRANSCOM, the men and women of TRANSCOM preformed duties that sustained the entire Department of Defense effort in protecting our nation's security. With a competitive edge and its ability to deploy and sustain America's Armed Forces, TRANSCOM provides the DOD with unique capabilities that we've come to expect and, perhaps too frequently, take for granted.
TRANSCOM forces are busy supporting all the combatant commanders every day. And without them, the United States would be at a significant disadvantage almost everywhere in the world.
The Ready Reserve Force, or RRF, is a group of cargo ships held in readiness by the Maritime Administration, but it is aging and will need to be modernized over the next decade.
Three years ago, the committee authorized the Defense Department to begin a program to recapitalize the Ready Reserve Force. This program authorized DOD to purchase up to two foreign-built vessels while the Navy designed a family of auxiliary vessels for a number of uses, including recapitalizing the Reserve Force.
Then, two years, ago Congress authorized the Department to buy five more foreign-built vessels as soon as the Department submitted a funded plan to build new ships for the RRF in U.S. shipyards, a plan we have yet to receive.
General Lyons, I'm interested in the status of the RRF recapitalization in F.Y. 2021. The Defense Department also needs to ensure that the Civil Reserve Air Fleet, or CRAF program, which provides as much as 40 percent of wartime airlift needs, remains viable and will be able to provide needed surge capacity in the future. General Lyons, I'm interested in your views on the state of this fleet and if anything needs to be done to ensure their readiness.
REED: Our global transportation capability, owned to a man (ph) by TRANSCOM, has been one of our asymmetric advantages of many years now. However, we cannot assume that potential adversaries will allow us free rein in this area in the future.
Last year, we received the report of the analysis of wartime transportation needs in the mobility requirements study. It was clear to the committee that the department needed to continue the analytical effort to identify requirements because the study presented last year did not reflect implementation of the National Defense Strategy. General Lyons, perhaps you could give us an update on where TRANSCOM stands in updating this analysis.
Finally, TRANSCOM also faces a unique set of cyber-threats because of the command's extensive work with private sector entities in the transportation and shipping industries. General Lyons, I'd like to get an update from you on where TRANSCOM stands in its effort to improve its cyber-security posture.
Again, let me thank the witnesses for appearing before the committee today. I look forward to your testimony.
INHOFE: Thank you, Senator Reed.
We'll now hear opening statements from -- we'll start with you, General Wolters, then General Lyons. (inaudible) your statements should be around five minutes. And so -- your entire statement being made a part of the record.
WOLTERS: Chairman Inhofe, Ranking Member Reed, distinguished members of the committee, it's an honor to appear before you. And on behalf of the men, women and families that represent you as EUCOM, we thank each and every one of you for your steadfast support.
As all of you well know, it's an absolute privilege to serve alongside the patriots that represent the United States of America. In Europe, political uncertainty, energy competition and diffusion of disruptive technology are stressing the established Western order. Threats and challenges -- most notably Russia, Iran and China -- seek to take advantage of these conditions through aggressive action using all instruments of national power and are backed by increasingly capable military forces.
Fully aligned with the National Defense Strategy implementation efforts, we confront these challenges by adapting our approach to most effectively employ our means (ph).
Together with the like-minded allies and partners, our team of patriots defend freedom in all domains, across the area of responsibility and around the clock. Thanks to their efforts and the authorities and resources you provide, EUCOM continues to maintain positive momentum with respect to readiness and is postured to compete, deter and effectively respond with the full weight of the transatlantic alliance.
In 2019, NATO took significant military strides with improvements in command and control indications and warnings, conditioned (ph) command, and by approving a new NATO military strategy titled, Comprehensive Defense and Shared Response.
NATO continues to adapt its force structure with the establishment of two additional NATO headquarters. Joint Forces Command-Norfolk, which is focused on maintaining transatlantic lines of communications, and the German-led Joint Support Enabling Command, focused on Rear Area logistics coordination. These headquarters increase our ability to command and control, enable deployment and sustain NATO forces in crisis through conflict.
The European Union, NATO and EUCOM have made progress improving infrastructure and transit procedures to facilitate rapid movement of forces across the Euro-Atlantic. We will leverage many of these advancements to facilitate deployment of a division-size force, as mentioned by the chairman, during the U.S.-led Exercise DEFENDER-Europe 20, an exercise that showcases U.S. and allied commitment to collective security of the Euro-Atlantic.
The United States' position in Europe is an invaluable cornerstone of national security. Today, U.S. service members in Europe continue to generate peace alongside our allies and partners. We are grateful for sustained congressional interest and support through authorities and funding.
Together with the soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and civilians of USEUCOM, your support demonstrates our nation's continued commitment to defend the homeland forward and preserve peace for the 1 billion citizens in the Euro-Atlantic. Thank you.
INHOFE: Thank you.
LYONS: Thank you, Chairman -- Chairman Inhofe, Ranking Member Reed, distinguished members of the committee. It's my honor today to represent the men and women of the United States Transportation Command who, at this very moment, are employed around the globe, conducting mobility operations 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
Our mission at TRANSCOM is enduring, and that is to project and sustain the force globally at our time and place of choosing, thereby representing multiple options for our national leadership and multiple dilemmas for potential adversaries.
With 85 percent of the force elements stationed in the United States, it is TRANSCOM's job to move forces and materiel in support of the secretary of defense's strategic priorities. Our National Defense strategy underscores the importance of advancing our national security interests, deterring potential adversaries and should deterrence fail, responding with overwhelming force to win.
The power of projection is a distinct U.S. comparative advantage, but we are not alone in this effort. Our vast global logistics networks are underpinned by a deep bench of allies and like-minded partners that facilitate critical access, basing and overflight activities.
Today, I am confident in our ability to successfully execute our mission. This past year, with a no-notice alert, we moved the First Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division to CENTCOM in less than 5.5 days. In total, we moved over 42 Army brigades, refueled multiple bomber, task force and fighter movements, delivered 1.9 million passengers, over 6,000 patients, over 100,000 containers and over 26 million square feet of cargo. Much of this activity largely went unnoticed.
This is good news, and a sign of sustained success across DOD's mobility enterprise. However, as the chairman pointed out, our world is changing and the National Defense Strategy describes a future in which TRANSCOM must be able to project a joint force under all domain-persistent attack.
We acknowledge that our success today does not guarantee success for tomorrow, and we are actively preparing to meet tomorrow's challenges, working through contested environment wargames, enhancing cyber-defenses and resiliency, and improving the integration of the sustainment warfighting function across the joint operations.
To maintain readiness today, our area refueling and sealift forces require attention so they can continue to meet current and future challenges.
Before I close, I want to highlight the department's ongoing work to improve the personal property program, an area of great interest for Congress. As directed by the NDAA, we've submitted a business case analysis to work closely with the GAO on their report.
Both reports underscore the need for change. The department can no longer afford to operate a disparate confederation of government activities supervising its similarly disparate collection of hundreds of transportation providers. We are on track to restructure our relationship with industry through the award of a global household goods contract that will begin moving DOD families ahead of the 2021 peak season.
LYONS: My message for DOD families: We heard your call for improved accountability, transparency and quality capacity and we are committed to deliver.
My message for industry providers, if you provide quality service for military members, you have a place in the future program. We need every quality moving service to include our small businesses and appreciate all that you do.
It's an exciting time to be the commander of U.S. TRANSCOM, and I could not be more proud of the team of professionals that create a strategic comparative advantage called the Joint Deployment and Distribution Enterprise.
I'm pleased to join General Tod Wolters today and look forward to your questions. Thank you for your leadership and support to our amazing service members.
INHOFE: Well, thank you, General Lyons. And I appreciate your bringing up that issue. We spent a lot of time on the Defense Authorization Bill addressing that, and I think you're carrying it out exactly as we had intended you to do that.
As I mentioned, General Wolters, we appreciate the briefing that we got in -- in Germany, and you covered something that I think might be worth repeating here. In October, 2019, the news report suggested that Russia deployed as many as 10 submarines for some of the largest fleet maneuvers since World War II. Can you describe, as you did this last week, how the pace and scope of Russia's maritime activity has changed in recent years and what implications that has for -- for EUCOM?
WOLTERS: Yes, Chairman. We -- we took note of the Russian undersea activity in the summer/fall of 2018 and compared it to what Russia executed in the summer of '19, fall of '19. And what we saw was a 50 percent increase in the number of resources in the undersea that Russia committed to both those out-of-area submarine patrol operations.
But what we also witnessed was an improved degree of good order and discipline on behalf of the Russian sailors. So this -- this observation is one more reflection about how important it is to continue to improve our competitive edge to buy down the risk to ensure that we can operate with freedom.
INHOFE: OK, that's good. And we -- on that same trip, we went through Rota, Spain when they were talking about that they're adding the two U.S. destroyers to the four that are already there. Is -- is that something you support and would that be -- where does that fall into your -- what level of requests do you have for additional forces in EUCOM?
WOLTERS: Chairman, it's precisely in line with our request for two additional destroyers. And what I'm also proud to report, with the support of this committee through EDI, we've been in a position to where we've been able to improve and mature the infrastructure at Rota. If you asked me to accept two more destroyers tomorrow, we actually possess the infrastructure at Rota to be able to house those two additional destroyers; a reflection of the value of the funds for deterrence.
INHOFE: Yes, they made that very clear.
All right, General Lyons, we -- I commented in my opening statement about the KC-46 and that some of us went from here in Washington up to Seattle to fly the first ones down to Altus Air Force Base.
And I remember, at that time, we had the Secretary of the Air Force Deborah James there. And I recall making an observation, and that was that in 1959, two wonderful things happened. Number one, I got married. And number two, the first KC-140 (sic) were actually delivered to -- to Altus Air Force Base.
INHOFE: And at that time, we didn't know that there is any problem -- at least I didn't know, and I don't think anyone else did either because we were just rejoicing the fact that that had lasted 60 years. And she even commented, "It looks like that's going to enhance the prosperity of Altus Air Force Base for the next 60 years."
So that was something that really was -- we were not aware of. And so, now you've got a problem. And that problem, of course, is what I'm (ph) going to do for -- to fill that function. And I know that you've given a lot of thought to it and I want you to let us know where you are right now.
You know, we've been doing this for years, getting rid old things before we got the new ones online and ready to perform. So kind of tell us where we are. What's that going to do with the preparations that we've already made for the KC-135s and the KC-10s to actually be downgraded?
LYONS: Chairman, thanks. As you mentioned in your opening comments, aerial refueling as a force element is the most stressed force element in the TRANSCOM portfolio, both for day-to-day operations as well as for high-end conflict operations. And I'll defer the Air Force on the particular programmatics and technical aspects of the KC-46 as it comes online.
INHOFE: Yes. I mentioned that to you before this meeting, that we'll be having their -- the Air Force's posture hearing and we want to make -- talk about that at that time, too.
LYONS: Yes, sir. And what I can describe is operationally. As we bring the KC-46 on, and we take on more jets and convert more crews, when that capability is not usable and it's not today presentable to the Joint Force for some technical deficiencies, that means a dip in operational capability for the Joint Force in day-to-day operations in the active component as -- if, in fact, we continue to retire the KC-135 and the KC-10 at the rate that was proposed by the Air Force.
So we're working very, very closely with the Air Force and the Department to retain a level of capability, of legacy capabilities so that they continue to support joint operations.
INHOFE: So you are retaining some that you had not planned on retaining had we not had the problem with the KC-46, I assume?
LYONS: Sir, we're working with the Air Force now. There was some number of planes that were retired -- were programmed for retirement...
LYONS: ... in F.Y. '21, as you saw in the budget submission...
LYONS: ... that we believe must be retained. Thirteen KC-135s and 10 KC-10s that we believe must be retained during the conversion.
INHOFE: That's good.
REED: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
General Wolters, the European Command's -- the strategy document states, "Meeting the challenge of countering Kremlin-sponsored malign influence campaign necessitates a whole-of-government solution." So you do assess currently that we have a synchronized campaign prosecuted in a unified manner to address malign influence, particularly directed at the 2020 election?
WOLTERS: Senator, I think our campaign momentum is improving in that area. As you're familiar with, we established two years ago the Russia integration group that bears the responsibility to represent USEUCOM with the United States and with many NATO nations to align a whole-of-nation, whole-of-government activity in activities below the level of actual kinetic conflict to ensure that we can have better control of the information domain. We're improving. I think we're to a point to where we expect to do better, and I think that's a good place for military leaders to be.
I will tell you that I'm pleased with the campaign momentum. I've had the opportunity to visit with many of the U.S. entities and national entities that represent whole-of-government and whole-of-nation activity to provide more influence in the information domain and I'm pleased with the progress.
REED: Thank you. Can you just give me your assessment of the current state of alliance cohesion with NATO? And I would assume that at a military level there is one sort of analysis and at a political level another. Can you touch on both?
WOLTERS: Senator Reed, the mil-to-mil alignment that I see with the United States and NATO with the North Atlantic extension through the Euro-Atlantic is strong as I've ever witnessed, and I've had the opportunity to serve in NATO since 1983.
And I -- I am pleased to report that at the political level, as a result of recent documents that were approved at NATO at the political level, we're seeing greater cohesion as well. For the first time in over 6 decades, we at NATO approved the first NATO Military Strategy. It's a document that's classified NATO Secret that codifies the threat and codifies the activities that we need to embrace to more comprehensively defend.
All 29 nations agreed to that NATO Military Strategy. And I think that's a reflection at the political level and the military level of improving cohesion.
REED: Thank you. General Lyons, we talked about the shipbuilding program. Can you just give us a quick sort of summary of where we're at and where we have to go?
LYONS: Yes, Senator, I sure can. As you know, we depend on sealift to carry about 90 percent of our cargo capacity in a wartime scenario. Our current readiness of the fleet is below where we need it to be. You indicated that it's rapidly reaching end of useful life.
We're working very closely with the Navy. You mentioned the authorization to buy seven used vessels, I anticipate we'll purchase two -- the first two in '21. We're working very, very closely with MARAD and the Navy. My view is we should have that first vessel in the first quarter of F.Y. '21.
REED: But we are far below what we would need for a surge, a significant military operation at this point, correct?
LYONS: Yes, sir. That's correct. We need a much longer plan for this (ph).
REED: And the chairman touched upon the aerial refueling, which I think is another critical weakness. We talked about that in the office.
One of the areas that ubiquitous everywhere is cyber. And you are in a position where you not only have to have a military organization that you keep sort of ahead of the curve, but you have literally hundreds of private companies, some large, some small. Can you give us an idea of the cyber challenges that you're facing and do we have a significant vulnerability there?
LYONS: Senator, the way I would characterize the cyber vulnerability is it's probably the most consequential to the mobility enterprise, as we look at it. So we spend a lot of time on this particular issue, looking at resiliency, looking at a number of other issues to harden our defenses, et cetera.
Particularly, with regards to the commercial carriers -- which is I think what you're asking -- we have included contract language in all of our contracts, we check compliance, we have self-reporting mechanisms. We believe that the -- that their level of cyber hygiene has increased significantly from this level of effort. I would not come here today and tell you that they could survive a threat from an advanced (ph) -- persistent threat actor. And so, we have sufficient resiliency in our contracts as well.
REED: Just to follow on, do you have the ability to check -- you know, send in teams to known (ph) -- no-notice inspections? Because, you know, the old line, you know, the unit only does what the commander checks. If you're not checking, you could everything in the contract you wanted and you would have nothing.
LYONS: Senator, we do not have the authority that you're describing.
REED: Do you need that?
LYONS: There are some second or third implications on those kinds of activities and...
REED: Can you get back to us on that?
LYONS: I can, yes, sir.
REED: And I'm not surprised (inaudible) 82nd (ph) conducted an outstanding (ph) operation. Thank you.
LYONS: Airborne, sir.
INHOFE: (OFF-MIKE) Thank you, Senator Reed.
WICKER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And gentlemen, thank you for your great service to the United States.
Let me ask you, General Wolters, the proposed OMB fiscal year 2021 budget requests $705.4 billion toward DOD. This represents 3/10 of 1 percent over the current fiscal year. In other words, the proposed budget buys us less resources than the current year, considering inflation. Am I correct there?
WOLTERS: Yes, Senator.
WICKER: And let me just ask you this, do we need less security resources in the European Command next year than we do this year?
WOLTERS: Senator, we need more.
WICKER: And in addition to that, the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the National Defense Strategy Commission have all endorsed 3.5 percent real growth. Is that also your opinion, General Wolters?
WOLTERS: Yes, Senator.
WICKER: And General Lyons, is that your opinion also?
LYONS: Yes, Senator.
WICKER: And then let -- I appreciate the distinguished chairman mentioning early on in his questioning, Rota, Spain. And I'm glad that he and his team visited there -- bipartisan delegation visited there just the other day.
The DDGs are the workhorse of the Navy. General Wolters, in European Command, how does a mere 3/10 of 1 percent increase over the current fiscal year affect what we're going to be able to do there with the DDGs -- with the two extra DDGs?
WOLTERS: Senator, every -- every cent counts. Those two additional DDGs would allow us the opportunity to continue to improve our ability to get indications and warnings in the potential battlespace, and also dramatically improve our ability to better command and control.
And because of the flexibility of those resources, they can comprehensively defend in all geographical areas in support of Europe. So those destroyers are critical to improve the campaign to deliver peace, particularly in the areas of indications and warning in command and control.
WICKER: Thank you. Thank you for that. And we're -- we're going to certainly try to help you, I think up and down the dais here on a bipartisan basis, on the resources that we need to defend America and Americans.
It's interesting that the -- the leader of EUCOM would mention in the first few seconds of his statement, not only Russia but China. And so, could you enlighten us about where you're seeing increased problems with China and increased influence in the European theater from China?
WOLTERS: Senator, two areas, the first is seaport equities and the second is 5G Huawei. And what we've seen in several critical nations on the periphery of Europe is a economic majority on behalf of China investment for seaports in critical nations like Belgium, Italy, France and Greece. And that's a large concern to all of the NATO nations.
And when you start to do the collective math, you discover that China has access to 10 percent of the shipping rights into and out of Europe. Those are daunting figures that should lead one to believe that we need to continue to be vigilant with respect to seaport equities on the economic side.
But the second issue happens to be Huawei and 5G. I'm firmly aware of several European nations who have a tendency to lean towards Huawei and 5G. My concern goes back to the soldiers. Without the appropriate network protection, there's a potential compromise of technical data and personal data and that is not to the good order of discipline of our U.S. soldiers and our NATO soldiers.
WICKER: And finally, General Wolters, a number of us have been involved on a member-to-member basis with our parliamentary brothers and sisters in the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. We have a great new ambassador to the OSCE, Ambassador Jim Gilmore. To what extent is the OSCE organization important to you and to providing you information that you need?
WOLTERS: Very important, Senator. And I think it builds incredible trust for the Euro-Atlantic link. Your -- your hearings that you held in Gdansk last year were a huge boost in trust, not only between the U.S. and Poland, but throughout all of NATO.
WICKER: Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
INHOFE: Thank you, Senator Wicker.
BLUMENTHAL: Thanks, Mr. Chairman. Thank you. Thank you both for your service and thank you for being here.
Many of my colleagues and I have received briefings as recently as this morning from other departments and agencies in the administration about the coordinated response to the coronavirus.
I'm also concerned about the Department of Defense response to protect service members and family members that are stationed at military installations abroad, the rapid spread of this virus, as well as the number of diagnoses and deaths in countries where Americans are stationed.
A lot of Americans are stationed in, for example, South Korea, it's very, very concerning. I'm focused on ensuring that the department is reevaluating, updating procedures and actions necessary to keep our service members and their families safe.
General Lyons, your command manages the inter-theater movement of our service members in and out of areas that have been impacted by the coronavirus, making you really uniquely positioned to address these issues.
What action has your command taken to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the wellbeing of our service members and their families? And do you need additional resources? Is there more we can do to help you? And what more do you think should be done?
LYONS: Senator, was that -- that for me?
LYONS: I agree with your concern and the Secretary of Defense has indicated that protection of the force is his number one priority, regarding the coronavirus. So the U.S. Northern Command is the lead for the Department, working very closely in support of Health and Human Services. We're connected with them on a daily basis, frequent number of times a day. And so, we're watching this very, very closely for any implications on global mobility.
BLUMENTHAL: And what specific actions are you taking?
LYONS: Inside the transportation enterprise, locations like Travis Air Force Base has become a receiver for potential folks coming out -- out of a theater, particularly the Indo-Pacific. So we're not taking particular health protection measures inside the command, other than to protect the force. But in a more broad sense, we're in support of Health and Human Services, and that's done through the lead of the U.S. NORTHCOM.
BLUMENTHAL: And General Wolters, do you feel you've been given the necessary resources and other tools to protect American service men and women and their families in Europe?
WOLTERS: Yes, Senator, and we've also been given the appropriate authorities. As we speak, in Europe today we have over 300 cases, and the nation that is most concerned is Italy, with six reported deaths. We've restricted travel to certain zones and we require all MILAIR arrival flights to be screened for the virus.
BLUMENTHAL: Are you taking any additional steps to constrain travel by service men and women or their families on their -- on leave and so forth?
WOLTERS: We have, in what we feel are the affected areas; in particular, two states inside of Italy.
BLUMENTHAL: And do you have plans to restrict travel in any other state?
WOLTERS: We anticipate the need may arise in Germany, but that is still to be determined.
BLUMENTHAL: General Wolters, in your posture statement, you highlight American service members on the ground in the Joint Military Training Group-Ukraine work and you note they serve shoulder-to-shoulder with Ukrainian forces. Can you expand on the important efforts to deter Russian aggression there?
WOLTERS: Yes, Senator. The Joint Military Training Group initiated the military training team activity on a rotational basis, starting in 2016. And they also began about six months later to rotate military training teams in the special operations category.
There are several phases of the long-range plan. And here we are 3.5 years later and we're up to phase 3, which puts those military training teams that represent the Joint Military Training Group. Canada and U.K. are other participants.
Those teams are now in observer status because of the demonstrated expertise of Ukrainian armed forces and the conventional force in the soft (ph) side of house. We're very pleased with the progress of Ukrainian armed forces. And the stronger that they are and the more that they embrace democratic values, the greater the alignment with the West which is exactly where we need to head.
BLUMENTHAL: Thank you. Thank you very much, gentlemen. My time has expired. Thanks for your service.
INHOFE: (OFF-MIKE) Senator Fischer?
FISCHER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I would like to thank the gentleman for your service and also to thank the men and women who serve under you.
General Wolters, how would you assess the progress that's been made in implementing the NDS and its emphasis on prioritizing strategic competition with Russia.
WOLTERS: Senator, I'm very pleased. As I mentioned earlier on one of the questions from your colleagues, for the first time in many decades we approved the NATO Military Strategy and it looks very similar to the United States National Defense Strategy.
And I believe this is one area that reflects the -- the powerful alignment and a willingness on behalf of NATO to lean forward with respect to what we do across the full spectrum, from competition to crisis to conflict, which is exactly what we call for in the NDS. So I'm pleased with the ever-improving alignment in NATO and with our European nations.
FISCHER: What do you -- what do you think is the biggest challenge that you have in fulfilling the goals of the NDS in Europe?
WOLTERS: It is to do all we can to cure the malign influence on behalf of Russia, and that requires a more concentrated effort in the competition phase of embracing a potential foe. And what we've heard throughout many of the questions today are the activities that we have to embrace in a 21st century military, below the actual activities of kinetic conflict, and understanding what we are doing and what the return on investment is. And -- and we're making rapid improvement in those areas.
FISCHER: So in order to improve, basically you need to work together more in your training?
WOLTERS: Yes, ma'am.
FISCHER: Do you feel that you've come together or are coming together with other NATO partners in -- in facing what the threats are?
WOLTERS: We are. And a reflection of that is the approval of the NATO Military Strategy that actually codifies those threats, an agreement on behalf of the 29 nations to identify those threats.
FISCHER: Now you and I, yesterday, we discussed the growing recognition that there is, among the NATO partners, on the important role of our nuclear deterrence and keeping the peace. Obviously, we all understand that our deterrent, the triad is the bedrock of the security of this country.
Can you tell us a little bit about what you are hearing from our NATO partners when it comes to the deterrent in private conversations, if you can share that, but also in public the support that you see?
WOLTERS: Senator, there is a greater degree of awareness of the importance of deterrence. And as we look at the success that NATO has had for the last seven decades to deliver peace, one of the elements has to be the triad that exists from the United States and its representation to nuclear deterrence on the European continent. It has been very, very effective and the nations understand more and more about that with each passing day, as a result of embracing deterrence to a greater degree than we have in the past.
FISCHER: Would you -- would you say that our partners, in their embracing of this deterrence, are -- are also becoming better messengers within their own countries about the importance of not just a strong NATO, but of having that strong nuclear deterrence, that umbrella that is so vital in their freedom as well?
WOLTERS: Absolutely, Senator. And it has to do with the responsibility that we feel in NATO to generate peace, not just the inside of the boundaries of Europe, but on the periphery. And as we embrace missions for NATO Mission Iraq and as we embrace Operation Resolute Support in Afghanistan, we see how important it is to -- to proliferate deterrence to the max extent practical to achieve greater peace.
FISCHER: And what are your views, sir, on adopting a so-called no first use policy? Do you believe that that would strengthened deterrence?
WOLTERS: Senator, I am a fan of flexible first use policy.
FISCHER: And do you believe developing ground-launched, conventionally armed intermediate-range weapons will enhance your ability to deter Russia?
WOLTERS: It will. It dramatically complicates an enemy's task.
FISCHER: Thank you, sir.
INHOFE: (OFF-MIKE) Senator Kaine?
KAINE: Thank you, Mr. Chair. And thanks to the witnesses, I appreciated the opportunity to visit with you each before the hearing today.
General Wolters, I want to ask you a question. In your testimony, I think it was maybe in a back-and-forth with Senator Reed, you talked a lot about increased Russian sub activity in the Atlantic.
The president's budget proposes to cut the Virginia-class sub program 50 percent by only funding one of the two in the block buy. And on February 13, the DOD used its general transfer authority to $3.8 billion of Pentagon money to the general drug account for use on the southern border.
And part of those funds that were moved was a reduction of $180 million from the P-8 Poseidon aircraft program. As you know, that airplane is a modified Boeing 737 that used as a sub hunter. It usually operates from Iceland or elsewhere in Europe to work with the fast-attack subs, like the Virginia-class, to track Russian sub activity coming from the Greenland-Iceland-U.K. gap.
Without commenting on the budget, I would like you to talk about the importance of both the Virginia-class sub and the P-8 Poseidon in countering Russian sub activity.
WOLTERS: Senator, they're vital capabilities and what they contribute to overall maritime patrol activity has proven over time to be very, very successful. We're lucky to be part of NATO.
We lean on our brothers and sisters from a national perspective to ask them to take a look at the resources they can contribute when we are in situations with respect to some decrements in the Maritime patrol area.
Norway has been a great contributor on the P-8 side of the house and we see the effectiveness of that system that they are vital resources and very much needed to improve our overall deterrence posture.
KAINE: Both of those platforms, the Virginia class and then the P-8 Poseidon?
WOLTERS: Yes, Senator.
KAINE: Great. General Lyons, I want to ask you a question on pages 5 and 6 of your written testimony you talk about Military Sealift issues and again Senator Reed asked you a little bit about it. There was an IG report about Military Sealift command and readiness reporting in one of the areas that they focused on was that the readiness reporting was coming from the ship captains and they were sort of doing the self report about readiness.
These are our assets but the operation in the ship is contracted and there's sort of question about whether there was an incentive for the captains really to accurately report readiness. What's their incentive to say, hey we're really not ready?
What are you guys doing -- you talk about in TRANSCOM the current readiness measurement but what are you doing to make sure that the reporting of readiness from the ship level up is as accurate as it can be?
LYONS: Well Senator, that's a great question and I concur with that assessment and a lot of activities taken place and I think we've made a lot of improvements to elucidate the readiness that we see today.
Part of that is the reason we're seeing such low readiness rates in the 50th and 60th percentile about our Ready Reserve Fleet readiness to generate (ph) as we discovered during our no notice (ph) activation back in September.
What I would say is really back about three years ago in 2017 the Military Sealift commander really started to take this very, very seriously. Deep diving, he's come up with a comprehensive readiness plan. The DOD IG reflected his findings in 2017 in a 2018 report that you're referring to and there's a lot of work still to be done.
KAINE: Just to your written testimony there is a goal of 85 percent readiness but the current measure is at 59 percent. And vessel material, condition, and age are the primary factors and those continue to degrade readiness you have some additional testimony that the Sealift Fleet will loose one to two million square feet of capacity each year as the ships reach the end of their useful life.
So tell the committee a little bit in my remaining minute just about what are the plans to restore that readiness and hopefully get near the -- more near the 85 percent goal?
LYONS: It's a significant issue and it's a top priority for TRANSCOM. We're working very, very close here with the Navy on this. We have a fleet that's about 43 years old by average. If you compare that to the Subban (ph) industry they're going to wash out their ships between 15 and 25 depending on the business case.
It's no secret that when you retain a large fixed-plant facility like on of our large Sealift platforms it becomes increasingly more expensive the older it gets. And so what we would like to see very much is a little bit less in terms of service life extension, in other words extending these ships beyond 50 to 60 years. That's not returning the investment that we thought it would.
We're a very strong advocate of the acquired use strategy you've granted us to the authorization to seven. We need to execute what you've granted us the ability to do and then I think we need to come back to you with a long range plan to consistent recap lives over the next 15 to 20 years.
KAINE: Right. Thank you very much. Thanks, Mr. Chair.
COTTON: Thank you gentleman for your appearance and for your service.
General Wolters, lets talk a little bit more about Coronavirus and it's impact in the European theater.
I'm reading here from a "Stars and Stripes" report on Sunday saying that the Vicenza, there had been a temporary closing Monday through Wednesday of all dependent schools, activity centers, fitness centers, theaters and chapels. Is that report accurate?
WOLTERS: Yes, Senator.
COTTON: Are there any updates from that report on Sunday in "Stars and Stripes"?
WOLTERS: Those facilities remain closed and the tribal to the two states are still prohibited in Italy. Do you expect that those facilities and the Vicenza communities will reopen on Thursday as initially planned? Or do you think that closure might have to be extended?
MALE: Senator, I would give it about 50/50 right now about potentially extending the closure.
COTTON: How many US Troops do we have at Vicenza? Roughly speaking.
WOLTERS: Sir, we've got about 6 or 7,000.
COTTON: How many of those have accompanied spouses or children?
WOLTERS: Seventy to 80 percent.
COTTON: Which may be about 4,000 to 4,500 husbands and wives and then some larger number of children probably?
WOLTERS: Absolutely. And over 35,000 US military members in Italy.
COTTON: And they're all mostly just sitting at home right now trying to avoid the coronavirus?
WOLTERS: Not mostly, but there's a fair amount, yes, sir.
COTTON: Coronavirus has been present in Germany, as well. In fact, that was one of the first European nations in which it appeared. It hasn't appeared in the numbers yet that have exploded in Italy in the last few days. First off, has there been any such closures at our military bases in Germany?
WOLTERS: Not yes, Senator. But we're anticipating an increase in the number of cases reported in Germany. And we're prepared to execute.
COTTON: Troubling situation. Let's move to another troubling situation, which you've spoken about briefly, as well, Huawei, the Chinese Telecom Company. You state in your written testimony that 5G networks by Huawei will place intellectual property, sensitive technology and private personal information at heightened risks of acquisition and exploitation by the Chinese Government. You further say that this ongoing initiative coupled with China's growing interest in investment in European ports and infrastructure complicates steady state and contingency operations. It sounds like you consider the use of Huawei in 5G networks in Europe to be a threat to our national security. Is that correct?
WOLTERS: Certainly a threat to the soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, in Europe (ph).
COTTON: My next question, is it a threat to the troopers that you lead?
WOLTERS: Affirm, Senator.
COTTON: Unfortunately, some European nations are moving forward with Huawei technology in their networks. Most notably our NATO allies the United Kingdom and Germany. What are we to do about that and how can we guarantee the security of our troopers as well as our NATO Command and Control Systems?
WOLTERS: Senator Cotton, it's vigilance, education and going back to the basics with respect to network protection of the critical data on the technical side of the house and the personal side of the house for our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines. Not just in the US but all of our NATO forces.
COTTON: Do your military counterparts understand the threat that Huawei poses?
WOLTERS: Yes, Senator.
COTTON: So the problem may be at the political leadership level. Statement, not a question.
Finally, I want to conclude on a somewhat related matter. We discussed this yesterday in our meeting. I want to bring your attention, bring everyone's attention to an alarming poll by the Pew Research Center among 16 NATO countries. Happily, it shows that NATO's favorability rating is pretty strong. Two to one in fact, 53 to 27 of the peoples of these 16 countries have a favorable impression of NATO. Not surprisingly NATO scored pretty low in Russia. Somewhat disappointingly though when asked who should fight Russia if there were a conflict between a NATO ally and Russia, only 38 percent of peoples in these nations said my nation should fight Russia. Where as 50 percent said the United States should fight Russia. And some of the biggest NATO allies it was even more alarming. In Italy 25 percent said we'll fight them, 75 percent said you Americans go fight. In Germany it was 34, 63, so that's a little better, I guess, but not too much.
General Wolters, can Europeans expect Americans to care more about their security and their kids than they care about their security?
WOLTERS: Senator, my consultations at the mil-to-mil level with Chiefs of Defense and Ministers of Defense I see a very very eager desire and willingness to fight the Russians. And those nations that I continually communicate with show that desire, if required to protect themselves.
COTTON: And I hear the same thing when I consult with European Defense Leaders, not surprisingly. These are men and women who have dedicated themselves, dedicated their lives to the service of their country and the defense of their country. So it's really a political problem at the level of political leadership in Europe. Both in the leaders and the leadership that they show to their peoples to demonstrate that they have to be willing to fight as hard for their future and their security as they expect Americans to fight for them. Thank you.
PETERS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And gentlemen, thank you for your testimony here today. And for your service, as well.
General Wolters, I'd like to focus on the Baltics. In 2017 I visited Latvia and Lithuania to observe the US Army's Europe Operation, Saber Strike exercise. The Michigan National Guard regularly participates in this exercise as Latvia's counterpart in the National Guard State Partnership Program, as you know. Similarly Latvia and forces participant in the Michigan's National Guard's annual Northern Strike exercise, which is a joint multinational exercise host at Camp Grayling in Michigan. Latvian military particularly benefits from this training in Michigan because it offers an opportunity to certify as JTACs. And as a result of this program, Latvia is one of only eight allied countries that are certified to call in United States close air support in combat. And part of the reason the Michigan National Guard and the Latvia and the military have a strong relationship is because the Latvian military is built around an integrating reserve and their regular forces as a major component of their national defense strategy.
So, my question to you, sir. Can you discuss how EUCOM tailors its training and partner strategies to support the Baltic States reliance on these reserve forces and specifically the state partnership with our National Guard and integral that is to all of this?
WOLTERS: Senator, I can. First of all for the Baltics who are at large the insertion of the four battalion sized battle groups into Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland in the summer of 2016 has dramatically improved our all domain security awareness. And in particular, as you well know with the participation of your Michigan International Guardsmen who have been very very integral in the air lane integration piece. The lead nation in Latvia at that battalion size battle group happens to be Canada. And we have many force (ph) settlements that are intermixed amongst the other nations.
The overall improvement day in and day out of those battlegroups to be able to see the battlespace and defend their sovereign territory is palpable. And they're doing so in all domains and all functions.
And our next step is to make sure that those battalion-size battle groups that represent generating peace in the Baltics are aware of all the activities in the Southeastern sector of Europe, as well as the Western portion of Europe.
So we're very, very pleased with the continued transparency and alignment, and very, very pleased with the air-land integration that we've seen improving in Latvia for the last two years.
PETERS: Well, thank you. My next question is related to the development of the Next Generation Combat Vehicle, which is now taking place in Michigan, with a cross functional team.
The first platform was intended to replace the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, but the Army has just recently restarted that program. And much of the debate has basically focused on the trade-off between armor and mobility, and specifically how readily the vehicle can be positioned in a -- in a crisis zone.
However, in the European theater, the size and weight of the vehicle could be equally problematic for its maneuverability through European terrain and civilian infrastructure, particularly the bridges there.
General Wolters, you seem to address this issue in your written statement, where you mention the E.U. in consultation with NATO, is investing EUR6.5 billion in the improvement of civilian and military dual-use.
However, I'm concerned that this approach will -- may not address the core issue that I just mentioned. But my question to you is, what is more realistic? Should the next generation of combat vehicles be built to accommodate European infrastructure limits, particularly in Poland and the Baltics, or is the solution to reinforce transportation infrastructure throughout Eastern Europe?
WOLTERS: Senator, I hate to give you this answer, but I think it's a little bit of both. And I know that General McConville, leading our United States Army, has his experts taking a peak at that and I -- I know that he steps up even one more level and gets into a discussion about armor versus mobility.
And I think from a global perspective there are some trade-offs, and from a regional perspective there are some trade-offs. And it all has to do with the demonstrated capability of the nations in Europe as well as other regions. So I know that we're -- we're taking a very, very serious look at that.
PETERS: So my question -- follow up question is, how do our Western European allies, who also produce heavy military equipment, how do they accommodate limitations in civilian infrastructure, particularly in Poland and Baltics?
WOLTERS: A greater degree of education on the challenges that we face from a bridging perspective in Eastern Europe versus Western Europe. And it was an issue that all of Europe was very, very aware of in the mid-'80s and they are getting themselves reacquainted with it today, and they understand the imperative of making sure that -- that we have bridging programs in the regions in the Northeast and the Southeast of Europe, to ensure that we can shoot, move and communicate fast.
PETERS: Right. Thank you so much. Appreciate it.
INHOFE: (OFF-MIKE) Senator Ernst?
ERNST: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Gentlemen, thank you very much.
General Lyons, we've already discussed a little bit of the KC-46s, so I won't dive into that. But just for note, our Iowa Air National Guard does have the 185th Air Refueling Wing that operates the KC-135s. And, certainly, we want to make sure that this incredible unit is able to sustain operations ongoing. So something we'll definitely want to discuss with the Air Force during their posture review.
But General Wolters, I'm going to pick up where my colleague, Senator Peters, left off. He was talking about the -- the State Partnership Program that his Michigan National Guard has with those Baltic State members.
Well, Iowa, our National Guard, has a partnership with Kosovo. And I'm just always very excited about that and have relationships that I've -- I've carried on for about the -- the decade of time that the Iowa Army National Guard has been involved with those partners.
So as the only force that both the Kosovars and the Serbians trust, how can -- how can KFOR best posture itself to ensure that there is enduring stability between the two sides, Kosovo and Serbia?
WOLTERS: Thanks, Senator, and I -- I -- I can't thank you enough for the contributions of -- of your state to Kosovo...
ERNST: They're great (ph). Thank you.
WOLTERS: ... And as -- as we sit today, KFOR is very, very active and engaged, more so than they were one year ago, as a result of the continued involvement of U.S. operations activities and investments in Kosovo and Serbia, as well as the NATO investments of operations activities.
We typically rotate in NATO military training teams. But when they land at those locations, to be able to have a soft landing with the force element from your National Guard State Partnership Program affords the opportunity to reintegrate at much faster pace.
We're very, very concerned about the security disposition in the Balkans. We're very, very pleased with the efforts of KFOR. And KFOR is far more capable today as a result of learning from the experiences of the state partnership program like yours, as they -- as they reveal themselves in Kosovo.
ERNST: Great. Thank you. And obviously, a number of us here do support those state partnership programs. And what is NATO's role for peacekeeping as the KSF transitions into a full army? Will it be able to guarantee Kosovo's territorial integrity? Do you see that in their future?
WOLTERS: That is certainly the goal, Senator. And again it's by, with, and through in a very, very tough neighborhood. And as you probably know better than I, there are some very, very -- very, very serious tendencies that exist between Serbia and Kosovo that we're seeing improve over the course of the last several weeks.
Ambassador Grenell has been very, very aggressive of getting those security apparati (ph) to communicate with -- with each other. So we hope for continued good news in that area, with respect to the Kosovo-Serbia relationship, with respect to taxation.
ERNST: Absolutely. And I think that there is undue pressure, obviously, coming from Russia in that region as well.
General Lyons, if we could talk a little bit about autonomous vehicles and -- and how that impacts logistics and -- and delivery. I -- I am really excited. I chair the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, and so we've talked extensively about autonomous systems and how that can help our operators, those, you know, like -- like, I had wonderful truck drivers that were out on the roads and how it would reduce their risk.
Can you describe a little bit how you're leveraging and integrating these emerging technologies into the some of the modernization efforts?
LYONS: Senator, I agree with you, there's enormous potential here for autonomous and it can be a combination of manned and unmanned. Each of the services are working on distinct and separate material development kinds of initiatives.
You mentioned the one in the Army, which was a bit of combination teaming. I think there's enormous potential to expand what we're doing in the air domain. And then, even potentially space domain in the future.
ERNST: Absolutely. And what is the best way to -- to speed delivery of those types of systems into operations today? We oftentimes see large defense contractors that are very slow moving, but this is a great emerging technology. How can we deliver that quicker?
LYONS: Ma'am, it's a -- it's a great question. And as indicated, each of the services are working these in a programmatic sense. As a combatant commander, I -- I have the requirements out there, but the services present capability and so I can't speak specifically to the timelines that they're working. But it's a great question.
ERNST: Well, if you come up with the answer to that, let us know, because I think we really need to be much more nimble on delivering emerging technologies to our men and women in uniform. Thank you gentleman very much.
JONES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you both for your service. We really appreciate you being here today.
General Wolters, we've taken the first steps to begin the DEFENDER-Europe 20 Military exercise, largest of its kind in 25 years and I think there are 18 countries (ph) participating across 10 countries.
So what are the biggest challenges you see in executing the DEFENDER 20 program and what are the key takeaways you hope to see coming out of the exercise?
WOLTERS: Senator, on the logistics side of the house the environment in Europe has to be mature enough to be able to absorb 20,000 soldiers and get those soldiers to the right preposition locations to be able to grab the appropriate gear that they're supposed to get and get to their fox hole (ph) and be able to execute and what we want to do is count every second that it takes to get the solider from the first point of entry all the way to his or hers fox hole (ph) to be successful to adequately defend.
And we anticipate that there will be some snags. I want to applaud this committee on the fact that two years ago we couldn't exercise DEFENDER-Europe 20. We weren't mature enough with respect to the preposition stock piles to have a soldier show up at location X and be able to grab resources.
Today we can do that. We know the fitness of the resources and now we'll be able to examine their speed at which they can get to the fox hole (ph) and be able to execute.
JONES: Right. Is Turkey participating?
WOLTERS: Senator, they are as observers and they are in certain areas with respect to activity on the perfidy (ph) of Georgia.
JONES: Just a follow up real quick, what, if any, response or reaction are you seeing from Russia or do you expect from the Russians about the - or any of our other adversaries?
WOLTERS: Senator, we've seen a fair amount of response from Russia. They're not overly pleased with DEFENDER-Europe 20. We're concerned mostly about the readiness of our forces and we're doing all that in accordance with international law in sovereign space and sovereignties and sovereign land.
JONES: Right. Thank you. General Lyons, we've got an air refueling wing in Alabama, 117th, winner of an Omaha trophy this year.
In your remarks to the Atlantic counsel you were quoted as saying, "Across TRANSCOM the aerial refueling force element is the most stressed and probably the one that's pushing the red line or exceeding the red line".
Now were you speaking strictly about the number of available aircrafts there or also about the demands or the need for more crew?
LYONS: Senator, it's a combination of both and I spoke earlier about the iron details (ph) that we have to retain, legacy tails (ph) during the conversion to before the CK46 becomes available to the joint force but I'd also comment that - and this is true across all components, the Reserve and the Guard.
The high tempo of our airmen that are running these missions and so particularly in the guard I would say we do - have come very, very close. In some cases we penetrate that the mob (ph) did well in that particular force element and I would highlight, Senator, that the contributions that the Army Reserve - or the Air Force Reserve makes in day to day competitions absolutely extraordinary between involuntarism (ph) that still exists in the CENTCOM AOR and then long term NPA pilots who we have flying everyday.
JONES: I take it you could use more crew? Is that fair?
LYONS: Senator, crew is a friction point. There's no question about that.
JONES: What can we do to try to get more crew to the air refueling in the guard or wherever it might be?
LYONS: Well Senator we're doing that today. I mean the Air Force is working - some of this is an accommodation of what the KC46 will bring. Some of this is a function of what we must retain and there's obviously a certain level of friction between what systems, how many systems you can crew and then the associated output of the joint force.
JONES: Thank you.
LYONS: Yes, sir.
JONES: I think that's all I have, Mr. Chairman. I yield remainder.
TILLIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Gentlemen, thank you for your years of service. And, General Lyons, I want to start with you on the HHG Program. I've got a, it's not in your lanes, but I've got a little history with military housing and trying to fix that problem and improve accountability and really put the family at the tip of this spear in terms of our focus. So, I like the idea that you're going, you're moving forward with the program that should cross - cost and improve service. That's really what we set out to do with military housing. We did it for awhile. So with this program can you tell me a little bit about how it's going execute? What your expectations are for performance in the upcoming PCSC season? And more importantly, I'd like to know the mechanics. How does that family member, who's coordinating the move, the spouse maybe, deployed somewhere. To what extent are they going to have power over really assessing the completeness and the satisfaction of the move?
LYONS: Senator, all great questions. And you brought up the housing issue and part of what got us through to the housing issue was a lack of clear accountability with the private sector and the appropriate government structure to manage that large contract. And that's exactly what's driving us here in the household goods industry to restructure our relationship so that we do have defined levels of accountability, key performance parameters, if you would. And that's the design of the Global Household Good Contract. It is not designed to put any providers out of business. It is designed to gain accountability, clarify responsibility inside the department. And then through a long range - a longer range relationship with industry incentivized growth of capacity to meet the peak season.
And I think for family members we owe them that. Now we won't in 2020 peak season see this come to fruition. We intend to award in 2020 and prepare it for the 2021, and then there'll be a rather long transition to grow this capacity over time. But key will be accountability and transparency for family members.
TILLIS: Well, I think that's important because we here do a lot housing town halls down at Fort Bragg and Camp Lejeune and I've heard some rumblings about a less than satisfactory experience with the status quos. So I think you're right and I appreciate you taking the lead and trying to get it right and have a consistence experience across the globe. So I appreciate the work on that. I am interested, we'll do it maybe with a meeting in my office. If I can get with some of the people who are working on the contracting, I'd like to see how they're going after key performance indicators, customer satisfaction. Those sorts of things built into it. Now we're trying to retrofit that into the housing program. It looks like you're going to be ahead of it. So I thank you for your work there.
General Wolters, tell me a little bit about how well your area of responsibility or partners are closing the gap on their cyber capabilities? How well we're actually coordinating? And your assessment of our, if you take a look at Russia they're all over the place. Anytime I travel to that part of the world you're talking about Russia information campaigns and their malign activities. So give me some hope on how we're either creating a gap or filling holes that we have right now?
WOLTERS: Senator, we're improving our strategic transparency and alignment in the cyber domain. I would say that over the course of the last two years the NATO nations have done a much better job of understanding the challenges that they face on the defensive side of the house from a hygiene perspective.
And once they've got their backyard in order now they're in a position to -- to understand where they start with respect to network protection. And that truly has come about as a result of our USCYBERCOMs willingness to lead from the front.
TILLIS: Actually, as you move into that answer I'd also like you to talk about Huawei, ZTE and whether or not we've gotten to a good place where clearly they're going to allow that infrastructure to be present. But in terms of critical infrastructure, are we getting to a good place?
WOLTERS: Senator, that's a great point. And that's exactly where I was headed. The hygiene piece, the defensive cyber piece has to be applied with respect to what is about to become an issue in Europe with respect to proliferation to 5G activity in Huawei. Network protection is going to be job one. So we're right back to the basics and as you well know with your time with General Nakasone he's keen on that. And we've seen a market improvement in the manning for defensive cyber ops on the US side in Europe. And we've seen an increase in manning on the defensive cyber ops side of the house for the NATO nations in Europe.
TILLIS: Well, thank you. And thank you both. I've got a lot of questions. But, General Lyons, we will be in touch so I can get a little more insight into the direction of HHG. Thank you, both, for your time.
LYONS: Yes, sir. Happy to do so.
KING: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. General Lyons, we've touched several times on the transition of the KC 46. I want to put a finer point on it. In your testimony you say this is your number one shortfall. And you go on to say it will create a critical and deepening gap in taskable aerial refueling aircrafts and air crews for the next five to seven years. You do a very good job of outlining the problem but then at the end of your prepared remarks you say we recommend reevaluating aerial refueling force structure plan annually. Frankly, that doesn't reassure me. I want to know, what's the plan? You've identified a serious problem here we can't project force if we can't refuel those airplanes. And you've identified a five to seven year, you characterize it as a deepening gap. What do we do? And perhaps you don't need to give me a full answer here but for the record I'd like to see an action plan not just reevaluation.
LYONS: Senator, we'll be happy to work with the Air Force and come back to you on that with a joint plan. In the near term, we had agreed with the Air Force just to retain 28 legacy aircraft to mitigate the conversion for the KC 46. The KC 46, as we received that aircraft, as the Air Force receives that aircraft, will take some time to work through the technical, through the CAT1 (ph) deficiencies. As well as convert crews. And so you can appreciate there's going to be tension between crews. And so in some scenarios we're tail (ph) limited, in some scenarios we're crew limited. So it's a bit of a combination, very complex program for the Air Force to work. They're pushing as hard as they can with Boeing.
KING: If you could give to the committee a detailed analysis of what you identify as the gap? How many tails, how many crews and what the solution is? Because if we have a crisis and need capacity saying well we were, you know it was a complicated problem isn't going to cut it.
LYONS: No, Senator, I agree. And the issue isn't when there's conflict, actually it's from day to day competition. So just to be clear in today's day to day competition is where we're taking the reduction.
KING: We're stressed right now.
LYONS: We're stressed today. And that's where the 10 and 13 that are in the current FY21 reduction that we're working with the Air Force and the department to bring those back.
KING: We look forward to working with you on that.
LYONS: Yes, sir.
KING: General Wolters, quick question. Do we have sufficient visibility of Russians submarines in the Atlantic? Do we know where they are?
WOLTERS: We do, but not for 100 percent of the time.
KING: I don't want that -- whatever the missing percentage to be off the coast of Maine.
WOLTERS: I agree, senator.
KING: Or New York.
KING: Not to be too parochial about it. What's the risk of a -- I think it's unlikely, I hope I'm right that Russian tanks are going to roll across the border into the Baltics. But what about -- what is our thinking and strategic thinking about a hybrid kind of activity involving Russian language, but the kind of Crimea model? Is that a -- is that a concern and we have a strategic response?
WOLTERS: It is very much a concern, senator, and it has to do with the posture of our forces as we sit today in competition and attempt to effectively deter. And we are improving in our ability to do so and we have to do so to a point to where we compel any potential enemy of us to not take those first steps against us. And NATO agreed in the NATO military strategy to also recognize a whole of government, whole of nation approach, and that will allow us to dramatically improve our posture so that we can better see the battle space from the indications and warning standpoint, and better be able to more proactively deploy to defend.
KING: And be prepared for a different kind for not a traditional tanks rolling over the border invasion?
KING: I think we should -- I'm sure you are -- a lot of study on Crimea and how that played out and -- and how -- what the response could have been or might have been.
WOLTERS: Yes, senator.
KING: Final question, the attacks on the -- on the Saudi tanker field and also the missile -- the Iranian missile in -- in Iraq after Soleimani's death to me, raised concerns about our ability to defend against -- I don't know what you want to call them, cruise missiles, low-level missiles, intermediate range and I believe the -- the missile -- the uranium missile was an ICBM. Are we -- what is our capability to defend against those kinds of attacks, because it didn't work in Iraq and it didn't work in Saudi Arabia.
WOLTERS: Senator, it's improving, but it has to get better and we have a plan that prefers an integrated air missile defense that comprehensively takes into account what happens at long ranges and long altitudes, and short ranges and lower altitudes. And it all has to be nested together from an indications and warning standpoint and command-and-control standpoint.
KING: So you would agree that this is a significant gap in our defense, that we really need to get to work on in a hurry?
WOLTERS: It -- it's a shortfall, senator, and we need to continue to work on it.
KING: Thank you. Thank you Mr. Chairman.
SCOTT: First -- thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for your service. With the European NATO members that are now picking up -- spending the money they were supposed to spend in the past, does it give us any opportunity to reduce our funding or does it give us any opportunity to reduce our troop deployment in Europe?
WOLTERS: Senator, it could in the future.
SCOTT: So -- and does it -- does it concern you that countries like Germany still don't want to pay their fair share, and does it impact our ability to defend and our ability -- and should we -- and does it give us a need to start thinking about where else -- where we should have troops or we shouldn't have troops, and are we thinking about should we be in Poland more than we should be in Germany?
WOLTERS: Senator, I believe all those are a concern. In my mil-to-mil consultations with my German counterparts, there is just -- they are just as concerned about meeting the 2 percent as -- as we are.
SCOTT: But there is no action that we need to be taking?
WOLTERS: I think the vigilance that we continue to show with respect to requirements of co-located with defense spending, needs to continue. Today what we've observed between F.Y.16 and F.Y.20 is an actual increase across NATO of an additional $130 billion of funds for defense. That's positive and we need to continue on that track.
SCOTT: Was Turkey buying the S-400 and seemed like cozying up to Moscow. Does it impact your ability to rely on them as a -- as a partner?
WOLTERS: Senator, it hasn't to this point. Turkey remains a very reliable NATO ally.
SCOTT: And with Huawei, has it -- have you had to make changes on the types of information you are willing to share as a result of knowing that they're going to -- you know, that these countries are going to continue to use Huawei in 5G but also in even their existing infrastructure?
WOLTERS: Senator, we haven't at this point because of the current posture with respect to 5G and Huawei and in particular, U.K., but my -- but my guess would be in the near future, we have to be more vigilant with respect to network protection and Huawei and 5G.
SCOTT: The -- the investment that communist China is making in Europe all around the world, is that impacting our ability to be a good -- not just the United States, but other members to -- to be able to -- to defend against Russian invasion, but -- but even what -- what China is doing?
WOLTERS: Senator, not an impact today but it could be in the future if we continue to see that economic equity increase with respect to seaports on behalf of China in Europe.
SCOTT: And (inaudible) it's mostly the seaports that's impacting them (ph) in Europe?
WOLTERS: Today, that's the biggest issue, senator.
SCOTT: How about the supply change? How -- how dependent the world is on China as a -- as a member of the supply chain, does that -- does that cause you any concern?
WOLTERS: It does cause a concern, senator. I haven't seen those reflections yet in Europe, but anticipate that we could.
SCOTT: OK, all right. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SULLIVAN: Thank you Mr. Chairman. And gentlemen, I want to thank you for your service and your testimony. General Lyons, I think you mentioned at the outset, your -- your combatant command does so much great work. I think in Alaska we are more understanding of that than most places, but -- in how you do it professionally, quietly, but critical to the whole military. I also thought the anecdote that you mentioned in your testimony about the saving the life of one soldier, was just very powerful. So please tell the whole TRANSCOM civilian and military members we respect and appreciate all that you are doing. I want -- I'm -- I'm glad you mentioned the personal property program in your opening statement. I'm going to have a number of questions for the records that if you and your team can get back to me on relatively soon, I would appreciate that a lot.
You know, you talk about also the most stress capability number one readiness concern is on the aerial refueling feet and the tankers. So I've mentioned this a number of times in this committee Billy Mitchell, when he was testifying on this committee in the 1930s, the father, the U.S. Air Force, mentioned that Alaska was the most strategic place in the world because of our location to Asia, to Europe, to other places. Secretary Esper when he was testifying here several months ago said that we're going to have over hundred fifth generation fighters located in Alaska starting -- starting in April with the F-35s coming to Eielson Air Force Base, to co-locate KC-46s with 105th Gen Fighters. The Secretary of Defense said that would provide the warning to our -- to our adversaries, particularly China and Russia, that we have extreme strategic reach.
Right now, the Air Force is looking at their OCONUS decision on where to put the OCONUS KC-46 fleet. Almost everything is focused in PACOM, with the exception of Alaska which, as you know, could be PACOM, EUCOM, any COM, because of where we are on the top of the world.
Can you give me your sense on that? To me, this seems like a no-brainer, but I think it would help you with your most stressed capability and number one readiness concern, if you put tankers in a place that can service EUCOM, PACOM, STRATCOM, NORTHCOM, versus place them all in Guam, which is a -- kind of a conventional wisdom, but in my view doesn't make any sense.
LYONS: Well, Senator, thanks. There's no question about the strategic significance of the location of the state called Alaska. As you and I have discussed before, I mean, the Air Force does have a basic methodology and a basing plan for the KC-46 as it comes on line. I'll defer to them on -- on those particular discussions. I know that Alaska is --
SULLIVAN: Well, I mean, I'm not telling you to make a -- but, do you have a view on that? Does it help to have -- your -- you call it the most stressed capability aerial refueling, does it help to have capability in a place that can help TRANSCOM reach other COCOMS other than just PACOM?
LYONS: Senator, I'd have to look at the -- I'd have to look at the analytics. As they --
SULLIVAN: Well, I -- I --- I think they answer's yes. But, if you can -- maybe you can get back to me on that. Seems to be pretty damn clear. But --
LYONS: Senator, I'll come back to you.
SULLIVAN: -- we want to help you with your most stressed capability number one readiness concern. I think there's a way to do that, which is to make this decisions, which to me seems like a no-brainer.
General Wolters, let me -- let me mention -- I appreciated your reference on Arctic issues in your testimony, even though that's not necessarily, Alaska, we're kind of in the seams, right? We've got PACOM forces, we've got the threat from Russia, we've got STRATCOM, we've got TRANSCOM, NORTHCOM, everybody.
Let me just mention, you know, this committee's been very focused on Arctic issues, that the Chairman mentioned, is great power competition. There's an important Arctic focus, the problem is, the Pentagon has been pretty slow to -- to address some of these challenges and recognize it.
We have two icebreakers right now. One is broken, that's the American capability. Russia has 54 and this article, for the record, they just recently announced they have a nuclear icebreakers in a Russian shipyard launches a missile -- cruise missile capable icebreaker. Can you talk to the challenges of the Arctic with regard to Russia and how you're addressing it?
WOLTERS: Senator, it is of great concern. And as we crafted the NATO military strategy, its -- its title is Comprehensive Defense and Shared Response. And one of the realizations was the fact is we need to be as focused in the Arctic as we are in the Baltics, as we are on the Black Sea, as we are in the Mediterranean, as we are in the central portion of the Atlantic, and the Arctic needs to ensure that it gets the appropriate scrutiny and the appropriate resourcing.
We're -- we're excited about the fact of -- of NORTHCOM serving as the executive agent for capability development in the Arctic. We're also pleased that in summer of '19, DOD delivered their Arctic strategy and I know your drove that, Senator, and we appreciate that.
It is vital. We see a lot of activity on behalf of Russia in the Arctic and we also see activity on behalf of China in the Arctic and we think most of that has to do with money and commercial fishing activity.
So, it is of great concern and security exists on the periphery in Europe, and the Arctic is a -- is a big reason why we have to make sure that we maintain our vigilance.
SULLIVAN: Thank you. Thank you Mr. Chairman, and Generals, both of you, thanks again for your service.
SHAHEEN: Thank you Mr. Chairman and thank you to both your General Wolters and you General Lyons, for your service and for being here this morning. I want to begin, General Wolters, with the continuation of the discussion we had yesterday, and I appreciated your taking time to meet with me.
But earlier this month the president informed Congress that he was going to divert another $3.8 billion from the Pentagon toward the border wall. This is on top of the $3.6 billion that he took from military construction projects last year. And these reprograms would eliminate, among other things, the military weapon systems.
I know Senator Kaine referred to one of those, but that includes eight MQ-9 Reapers, which are an ISR asset, and my recollection of previous conversations is that ISR assets are at a premium within the European theater and other areas.
So, can you discuss how the elimination of these weapon systems and MILCON projects are going affect your campaign momentum?
WOLTERS: I'd like to address the fact that we -- we had 44 projects that were MILCON related that were deferred because we couldn't get those projects on contract by September of '19. And the total value of the 44 projects was approximately $1.3 billion and they -- they came in two buckets.
One was a set of projects 25, that were European deterrence initiative MILCON projects, that the other projects were baseline MILCON '19. The EDI MILCON was about $771 million and the MILCON base was about $550 million. And when you take a look at all 44 of those deferred projects, which we hope will reappear one day, what you see is three major areas of reduction of campaign momentum.
That the first has to do with advanced airfield infrastructure on some of the NATO airfields in the farther eastern side of Europe, but the second has to do with the infrastructure that supports preposition stockpiles for fuel and for ammunition.
And the final area of impact for campaign momentum is the -- is the modernization of infrastructure that supports a couple of military headquarters and schools. All those are important to campaign momentum. It -- it slows the campaign momentum.
Despite all that, Senator, we -- we still maintain positive campaign momentum in the critical areas of indications and warnings, as you alluded to ISR Command and Control and Mission Command. It -- it just slows down the progress.
SHAHEEN: So, as your read the national defense strategy, what's a bigger threat to our national security? Is a threat from Russia and China in the great power competition, or is a threat from immigrants coming across or Southern border?
WOLTERS: Senator, both are threats. As -- as the commander of USUCOM, I will tell you that I am most concerned about --
SHAHEEN: OK, that was a very diplomatic answer. And, thank you, I'm sorry. I should not have put you in that position, but I think it's an important point to make, that the threat that you're dealing with is one that has significant implications for our future, when we look at Russian aggression and it's potential to -- to impact the United States.
I want to go back, General Lyons to - I know there have been a number of questions around the KC46 and the delays in the aircraft and what that challenge means for us. And it's an issue for our National Guard 157th air refueling wing, which lost it's last KC135 because we thought the 46 aircraft would be arriving this year.
And obviously due to problems it's been delayed but last month General Goldfein sent a letter to Boeing asking them to review the remote vision system, which is probably the most prominent problem at this point, to give a design review by March 2020 and a flight demonstration by 2020.
Can you tell us whether we've heard from Boeing at this point and what they've said with respect to that review of the remote vision system?
LYONS: Senator, I really appreciate the chiefs focus on this particularly and I've relayed that to him as well. I know there's been many contacts between Boeing and the Air Force and I don't want to get into the programmatic.
I know there's some design issues that they're working through. I don't have a complete answer yet and I'll defer the Air Force on the particulars of the program.
SHAHEEN: Well can I ask do we expect an answer from Boeing by the end of March?
LYONS: Yes, ma'am. I believe the Chief expects an answer. He said that explicitly and I believe that will come to fruition.
SHAHEEN: OK. Thank you. General Wolters, I want to go back to NATO because with Senator Tillis, he and I chaired the Senate NATO Observer group which is an effort to try and make sure that the Senate is aware of what's happening with NATO and what we need to do.
I wonder if you could give us an update on the new cyber operations center that NATO is planning to be fully functional by 2023.
WOLTERS: We're very pleased, Senator, as you know it all originated in Estonia and it started with the involvement of the US and the declaration by the United States USCYBERCOM to have one US single military commander responsible in the military for the domain of cyber and the Europeans have embraced that.
We're excited about the future and NATO headquarters on the political side is also very excited.
SHAHEEN: And so I'm out of time but I will do a follow up question for the record on this.
HAWLEY: General Wolters, lets talk a little bit if we could about the European Deterrence Initiative.
I assume that you would characterize this as a success, is that fair to say?
WOLTERS: Yes, Senator, I would.
HAWLEY: Well can you give us some specific examples of things that EUCOM would not have been able to do without EDI?
WOLTERS: Senator, the first largest example is we have started DEFENDER-Europe 20, an exercise that brings over division size force. We couldn't do that a year ago. We couldn't do it two years ago. We can do this exercise as a result of the benefit of EDI funds.
HAWLEY: Why would EUCOM have struggled to do some of these things without EDI? What specific obstacles has EDI helped you overcome?
WOLTERS: First of all it's funded the rotational brigade combat teams that go to Poland and that teaches all of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines how to lift and shift larger quantities of forces across the Atlantic and do so without any harm and that in itself is very important.
We've also through EDI been able to fund our Army preposition stock piles, our emergency continuously air operation sets for the Air Force and our deployable air base systems for the air force.
We've also been able to dramatically improve the air field infrastructure and the reception infrastructure in the eastern part of Europe to where it is equipped today to safely receive those resources and effectively get those resources where they need to go for soldiers and sailors and airmen and coastguards, men and marines to be effective.
HAWLEY: That's an impressive record of success and that's one of the reasons, I think, that we need something similar in other theaters. PACOM in particular as I've long advocated for. General, staying with you, Whiteman Air Force Base, my home state of Missouri, of course is proud home of the B2 and the proud future home of the B21. Can you just speak to the role that you see the B2 and one day the B21 playing in deterring Russia from using nuclear weapons as part of any attempted fait accompli in the Baltics?
WOLTERS: Senator, those airplanes are part of the critical triad. I'm firmly convinced that the nuclear deterrence umbrella that sits over Europe is part of the great success that we've had for the last seven decades in NATO to be able to generate peace. And I'm excited about the future of the B21 because I think it will do more of the same with even a greater impact.
HAWLEY: Very good. Let me shift to China for a moment if I could. In your written testimony, General Wolters, you said that China's efforts to build 5G networks in Europe coupled with its growing interest and investment in European ports and infrastructure complicates steady state and contingency operations. Can you just say more about that? How specifically do these Chinese activities complicate steady state and contingency operations?
WOLTERS: The equities that they have on the shipping capacity inside and (ph) outside of Europe is, it is very alarming. And when you control the ability to take in and regulate resources you have a large impact on what actually exists on continent with respect to its ability to effectively generate peace and security. That's the concern.
HAWLEY: How do our European allies respond when you raise these concerns with them? As I'm sure you do.
WOLTERS: With vigilance. In some cases they're surprised to the degree of equities that China has with respect to seaports. But, in most cases very concerned and vigilance increases once we get past the education stage.
HAWLEY: You also wrote that you're seeing encouraging signs, those are you words, from European nations as they become increasingly weary of the strings attached to a Chinese capital investment. Can you give us a sense of what those encouraging signs are?
WOLTERS: Several nations not willing to accept 5G Huawei and we've had reports of that. And other nations being a lot more stingy and scratchy with respect to their willingness to engage in deliberations on port equities.
HAWLEY: Let me as you for a second about our allies contribution to NATO, which is something that's come up, rightly so, a number times already this morning. I think that the progress towards the 2% mark is very important, but only just a first step. Because the division within, the division of labor within NATO has to fundamentally change. I think as this committee has been saying now for some time. What is your assessment about what would need to happen for our European allies to get to the point where they're able to assume primary responsibility for their security in your theater?
WOLTERS: Senator, I think we need to continue on the current campaign that we're on. As you know, from 2016 to 2020 in the cash portion of contributions or burden sharing we've had a net increase of $130 billion. There's also the examination of contributions and capabilities and at NATO we've been very very vigilant with respect to our focus on improving our readiness. The ability of force elements to be more resilient, more responsive and more lethal. That is all part of the equation with respect to European contributions to adequately defend and we're improving.
HAWLEY: All right, thank you very much. General, look forward to seeing you both this afternoon. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
HIRONO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. General Lyons, thank you for making the time to sit down with me earlier this month to talk about TRANSCOM and logistics more broadly. I want to talk to you again on the state of the sea lift fleet in the US. And I know that, Ranking Member Reed, asked about the state of sealift in his question line. But I just want to go a little further into this.
We recommend, you said that our current readiness is lower than where we need to be. But you're working to recapitalize our sealift capability when you answered Ranking Member Reed. How do you ensure that this plan continues to be prioritized with the Navy and the DOD leadership when they're always balancing other higher cost programs and initiatives? I feel that this is sort of the plain sister and it needs a little bit more attention. How do you make sure that priority is also placed on this, you're particular recapitilization plan?
LYONS: Well, senator, first, let me just publicly thank you for your leadership on the leading our logistics efforts across the department. I appreciate your particular interest here. I think this is a hard decision for the Navy. They've got a lot of competing requirements. Sealift is one of many. My own view on this, if you go back to the original recapitalization of sealift back when Secretary Lamar (ph) was secretary, we had something, which we have today, but we don't use, The National Defense Sealift Fund. And I think the way that we're going move in a positive direction is we're going to have to have an appropriation that feeds the National Defense Sealift Fund. That allows us the flexibility to take opportunist, to capitalize on opportunities with an open market to continue to acquire new strategy. That's what I think we need to do over a long period of time.
Over the next 15 plus years where we have 46 vessels aging out.
HIRONO: Thank you. Another category concern that I have in the logistic space surrounds fuel. We've talked in the past about solutions for alleviating stress on the Air Forces tanker fleet, but this time I'd like to focus on bulk fuel capacity for distribution and storage as an example. How would you work with the services logistics arms in properly identifying each of their needs and how to meet those needs as they come around and reframe to face near peer competitors under the NDS? Because I feel like there's not a lot of really good communications between the services on what those bulk fuel needs and capacities and what do you need to do to push it out forward into theater?
LYONS: Yes, ma'am. I mean, you're eluding to something that's very important across the department, and that is fuel is liquid gold essentially. We require it for everything that we do in every single domain. And so we're actually looking, you know, we've had a study directed by Congress that we'll complete this year in terms of assessing our ability to access maritime tankers, for example, in a (ph) value chain to look also at the nodes. The way we look at it today, in terms of global posture is very large, fixed-base facilities. We need to see if that's the applicable way to go for contested environments. And then assess where we need to go for the future for global posture and maritime transportation, as well as air refuel that we talked about.
HIRONO: I feel like this reflects the struggle we had just a couple of years ago when I was in the House about ammunition. Cross limiting (ph) ammo, you know, against across the services and then we weren't talking to each well enough before we did a whole audit. And I feel like we're getting to the same issue with fuel. You can't fight and win without Class 3 and Class 5, right. So how do you, I feel like we're sort of in the same problem with fuel. Am I correct in this sense that we have to do better with communicating among the services?
LYONS: Senator, no, I think you're absolutely correct. I think we need a, what I characterize as a global innovative view of the liquid energy supply chain to make sure that we have sufficient, not just supply and posture but resiliency to continue to operate under a contested environment. I agree with you wholeheartedly.
HIRONO: Thank you. General Wolters, I'd like to bring you into the discussion here. We've been hearing a lot about defending Europe and what we hope to learn from this exercise. I'm looking forward to hearing about not only the successes but perhaps more importantly the challenges that the exercise helps identify as well.
How would you classify your level of concern going into DEFENDER-Europe whether from an overall capacity standpoint, from a lack of previous exercise familiarity or due to other factors inside and outside our control and how are you going to leverage that into lessons learned going forward?
WOLTERS: Senator, great question and -- and I'd like to extend a personal thanks to you for -- for your support in logistics area. As we speak there are soldiers downloading at Bremerhaven for DEFENDER-Europe 20 at -- at this very moment.
I'm concerned them (ph), the bandwidth to be able to accept this large force and I'm also concerned about road and rail from -- from the center portion of Germany to the East all the way to the Eastern border.
And because we -- we have the appropriate resources, we now possess a white team capability to examine our -- our speed of move from east to west -- correction -- from west to east. And we're (ph) also have enough white cell individuals to assess how safely we get stuff through Bremerhaven and into the next point. Bandwidth with -- with respect to size and speed are my greatest concerns.
HIRONO: Thank you. I'm overtime, Chairman.
BLACKBURN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I know you all are so happy to see me because I'm the last one. And you'll get to finish up and -- and head off. I want to go back. General Wolters, you told Senator Reed that the Chinese control 10 percent of the shipping rights in and out of Europe.
And I'd like for you to expand on that just a little bit, talk about do you think it's pretty much going to stay at that level, if it's going to increase the rate of increase. A little bit more insight into what you think this means.
WOLTERS: The Chinese investment covers 10 percent of European shipping capacity and -- and I would content that's a whole of government, whole of nation concern to make sure that Europe has the appropriate equities with respect to shipping capacity.
BLACKBURN: So you see that as a floor or a ceiling?
WOLTERS: I -- I see that as the conditions that exist on the ground today.
WOLTERS: And I -- I think the nation's need to understand what that means with respect to the -- their ability to effectively ship what their nation needs for their national interest and -- and an education process needs to follow fast.
BLACKBURN: Well, I think we see the need for that education process not only when it comes to infrastructure but the Belt and Road initiative, the implications that that may have as we look at 5G and the roll out there. The implications that it has so -- what is NATO going to do to address this because it doesn't matter if it is shipping and that infrastructure are building roads and connectors or 5G with that infrastructure.
There is an issue and being able to communicate with our allies over a Huawei network is a very difficult thing to do. So what is -- given the kind of a timeline and the steps that you all are taking to implement an education process.
WOLTERS: In -- in the NATO political paradigm there is a growing realization that this is an issue and -- and there will have to be a common understanding at the political level at NATO that this is an issue that NATO should embrace.
I think that's the start of success to ensure that the national interest of the 29 nations in NATO are protected with respect to China proliferation and we are at that phase. And as a military member supporting NATO, it's my job to report the facts and that's what we're doing.
BLACKBURN: OK, so who is receptive to this message? The first part of solving a problem is defining a problem. So, you say there is awareness in defining this problem, correct?
WOLTERS: And the first task to ensure of the 29 nations, which ones have concern and which ones still need more of a dialogue to understand to them (ph).
BLACKBURN: OK, and out of those 29 nations, who is receptive this and who are you getting pushback from? Are you at a 50/50 on this? Or, what is the standing there?
WOLTERS: Senator, I can only speak at the mil-to-mil level, not at the political level for the 29 nations, and I would say that the majority of the nations are incredibly concerned about China proliferation.
BLACKBURN: OK. I hope we can talk a little bit more about that this afternoon, if that would be OK?
General Lyons, let me move to a couple of things with you, the NDS, and cyber and space. Have -- they've been identified as contested war fighting domains.
And so, talk to me a little about how TRANSCOM is working with its private sector partners to improve their cyber security, their ability defend, because when Senator Ernst asked you about autonomous vehicles and as we look at building out space command and artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicles, we know that the cyber component is going to be more relevant in those discussions. So, talk with me for just a couple of seconds about that.
LYONS: Yes, ma'am, thank you. For USTRANSCOM, cyber is very, very high priority. You asked specifically about our commercial providers. We've worked over the last several years now to instill contract language that what I would characterize as it at least brings our commercial providers up to a basic level of minimum cyber hygiene.
I think we've been successful in that, I think we've been successful in gaining the attention and focus of the C-suite, as an issue that they have to contend with, whether it's for national defense or whether it's for the private equities.
And so, we're -- we're making progress. But, as I said earlier, I would also say that when confronted with a advanced persistent threat actor, I don't think any of our commercial providers necessarily are in a position to protect themselves in that particular scenario.
LYONS: And we -- we -- we very intentionally have multiple providers in each of the commodity areas, so that if we loose one we can count on others and --
BLACKBURN: Are you increasing the standards of compliance for them?
LYONS: Yes, Senator, we are. And as you may have seen the Department's cyber maturity model that they just rolled out --
LYONS: -- will do significantly good in that area.
BLACKBURN: Thank you. Yield back.
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