tv Hearing on U.S. Special Operations Cyber Commands CSPAN February 22, 2019 5:59pm-8:01pm EST
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>> our meeting will come to order. committee meets today to receive testimony on the imposter of the united states special ops command and the u.s. cyber command. i'd like to welcome our witnesses. for the first time today general connie thomas who is planning to retire somebody told me and i think you're far too young to retire but that's up to you and you have two sons that are west point graduates. you don't need to cut them loose that soon. and then general i appreciate very much the fact that in the last couple of days we've had both open and closed meetings because of the seriousness of the thing we'll be addressing this morning. so the senate arms committee's top priority is to support the effective implementation of the
national defense strategy central to the nds is a growing focus on the competition with china and russia our competitors and of course we also at the same time don't want to forget about the threat from the terrorist organizations. our special operations force has proven remarkably effective in combatting isis, al-qaida and other terrorist groups in the last 17 years. they continue to pose a real threat to the united states and our allies. at the same time military advancements by china and russia impose new and increasingly complex challenges to our national security. when you talk to people out in the real world in america, there's this assumption that we have the best of everything and it's hard to explain sometimes that we don't. when we have our joint chiefs of staff talking about how we're
outranged and outgunned by an artillery. so anyway that's -- they are advancing and ahead of us in some areas. the other critical component the nds, the robust capabilities to counter growing threats and cyber space. including the elevation of the cyber command to have fully combat the command in the cyber mission forces achieving full operational capability. additionally the dod released a mission last year on how we will operate in cyber domain. i look to our witnesses to describe what investments will be needed to meet these objectives. >> thank you very much mr. chairman. let me thank you in join me in thanking the witnesses of the u.s. partial operations and
command and cyber command. general thomas i'd like to thank you for your extraordinary service and retiring after 39 years in service. you've led with such great energy and dedication to the men and women you lead. and i thank you for that. thank you. i also want to thank your family because they served alongside you and they continue to serve with you and um, nice to see that your sons get good educations also. thank you. this is your first time to appear before the committee since cyber command's been elevated to a unified command. congratulations on this one and also your accomplishments and partnerships with other agencies and recently in combatting some of our adversaries in the cyber sphere thank you so much. with service-like responsibilities to the trainee,
equipping, organizing, and readiness of special operation forces and for that reason it's appropriate that the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and law intensity operation joins us today in his role as the service secretary-like official responsible for oversight. so welcome, mr. secretary, thank you. the in the od has made important progress in including hiring more personnel and integrating the asd solar environmental department. these efforts are necessary but not sufficient to fulfill the intent of the reforms. secretary west and general thomas i hope you will provide your assessment of what more needs to be done and how this committee can continue to support your efforts. so calm as a microcausecausem to
focus on national defense. this change will have implications to the departments of management of soft forces, their readiness, capabilities and development, and the operational empowerment that they have to undertake. as demand for soft continues to grow. we can ask special operations forces and their families to endure. a continuing urging and continuing threat by russia and other foreign adversaries. we must view these attacks with the same level of seriousness and resolve as a military attack. while we appear to have some success in a russian interference in the 2018 elections we cannot take this as a sign to let our guard down. we must do more including by ensuring we are probably organized across the u.s. government and inside defense. general thomas and general knack
. i hope you will give awe full assessment of what has been accomplished and what gaps remain. with respect to -- many serious challenges remain. dod has developed what appears to be a viable cyber strategy and has conducted a serious posture review. this posture reviews capabilities across the enterprise and the principal cyber advises as to finding objectives, specific tasks, resources and timetables to correct them. when completeded these activities should greatly iven crease the department's cyber security and the effectives of cyber command. the fiscal year 2019 ndaa exclusively established that unacknowledged cyber space below the level of conduct are the legal form of so-called
traditional military activities. the ndaa also provided to take action against the same campaign against the united states. including russia's influence campaign. this legislation along with the recent presidential directive provided do.d and cyber command to conduct more vigorous actions to defend the country. to support such operations an operational concept to employ so-called persist event engagement in line with the national defense strategy. this is an important milestone which i hope to provide an even more effective model without undue risk of as clergs. >> we have come a long way but we have a long way to go further. wooelg continue forward. thank you very much gentlemen.
>> thank you. we now have opening statements that we can try to confine our remarks to 5 minutes and we'll start with you general thomas. and work our way across. >> okay. all right. i've just been corrected we're going to start with secretary west. >> thank you chairman. >> i wasn't pointing at you anyway. >> senator reed, distinguished members of the committee thank you for the opportunity to testify alongside my partner general tony thomas on our global posture of our nation's special operations enterprise. tony's command so-called safeguard the nation for years. i look forward to working with general richard clark when he assumes command next month. we're honored today to team with general paul nakasoni. the breath and capability of our special operations force is
astonishing. in over 80 countries. in the past two years many more have sustained life altering injuries. representing just 3% of the joint force over 40% of the u.s. casualties at this time. serves as a powerful reminder that special operators are in the risk business. their families carry the burden of individual tragedy to we might preefrnt a national tragedy. this is a unique time to serve the enterprise. second the national defense strategy has challenged all of d.o. dment to increase focus with russia and china. the soft enterprises in the midst of transformation. any transformation starts with
people. in november, general thomas and i issued the first ever joint vision for the soft enterprise. at the height of the wars a large pro portion of the wars was spept 90% overseas. 90% of the force will spend twice as much time in the u.s. as they spend in deployment. neither stretched nor breaking but very healthy poised and eager to defended nation
concerned about serious ethical failings and do not reflect the true nature of this professional. >> finally i would like to thank general thomas for 39 years of service much of it in combat. from 2001 to 2013 he deployed to afghanistan every year in which he was wounded in iraq. he epitomizes quiet professionalism as a public official but in leading his troops . he consist eptly demonstrates integrity has personally inspired me. mr. chairman, i am grateful for the opportunity to testify today and i look forward to your questions. >> thank you mr. secretary. now general thomas.
>> chairman senator reed and distinguished members of the committee. i'm grateful to talk to you today. i'm privileged to be here today with the assistant secretary on west. since its inception we have enjoyed a tremendous relationship at the u.s. tieber command that ensures our absolute collaboration and koomgs cooperation in our shared mission to protect the nation. >> we are an integral part of the joined force and integrated into every facet of the national defense strategy. our numerous successes over the past years would not have been possible without the support and resources provided by the congress and for that i thank you. for the last 18 years our number one priority has been the effort
against vient violent organizations we continue to be the main effort in afghanistan, syria, iraq, yemen, somalia, libya, lake chad basin and the philippines. everywhere isis and al-qaida filluated organizations are relentlessly pursuing them to ensure this country never endures another 911. we remain focused on finished this effort through our many coalition partners. at the same time again as part of the joint force we are endeavoring to provide a more lethal and capable special operations force to confront fierce competitors. u.s. socom is already oriented particularly in the space of shart arm conflict. it's focused on producing
unorthodox yet comprehensible capabilities. we continue to maintain strong and during international partnerships while leveraging authorities and core expertise to convert indigenous mass in the combat power to detour, deny, interrupt and ultimately defeat our adversaries. strength in our alliance and partnerships and perform for greater performance and efficiency we are reshaping and focusing our current forces and capabilities while simultaneously developing new technological and tactical capabilities that soft will faesz in the future. >> the emergency security challenges will require socomto be an organization of empowered soft professionals, globally networked. partnered and integrated and relentlessly seeking advantages. in addition to our service-live
responsibility to man, train, and equip the world's most' capable special forces operations u.s. s.o.c.o. m. we are currently assigned the role as according to authority for three major global mission sets. counter terrorism, counter missions of mass weapons, and recently messaging and counter messaging. and recommend improvements for modifications. in parallel u.s. s.o.c.o.m. is pursuing an aggressive partnership with global portfolios. cyber com here today. space co.m. towards providing more agile solutions to the department of defense. soft has a long tradition of
solving hard problems. adapting to changing conditions to give us a decisive advantage in combat. we believe this tradition will continue to service well in the future. we are increasing our investments in a widespread of technologies. and advanced armor and emissions development. we are in the formative stages of establishing experimental force. which will could haerntly focus our development in the pursuit of the required competitive capabilities. leveraging rapidly develop and field cutting edge technology. this joint experimentation initiative will bring together innovative effort its to ensure the commander's combat requirements are addressed with the most common equipment
available. finally in 44 days the greatest special operations force in history. the men and women of u.s.o. back that statement up every day. they represent the best america has to offer. an exceptionally dedicated and effective resil yept group of warriors and problem solvers. it has been an incredible privilege to serve with them over the course of the years appearing with me again today for his services the critical member of the socomcommand team. during his distinguished career, he's inspired many by his personal courage on the battlefield. his stage counsel to commanders
and leaders at every level thanks again for the smunt r opportunity -- opportunity to appear before you today. i look forward to the questions. thank you for your endearing support. i'm honored to lead them. i'm also honored to sit alongside these great leaders. for tony my collation to you and bash. it's been a tremendous journey for you and i've enjoyed our close partnership and friendship. my personal best wishes to you tony and your family. as the commander of u.s. cyber command i'm responsible for conducting full spectrum cyber operations supporting three
mission areas we are in constant contact with our cyber adversaries. and remain a threat to our national security interests and our national well being. the national security strategy and the defense strategy highlight our competition. competitors china and russia, rogue regimes like iran and north korea. using aggressive methods to conduct malicious cyber activities adversaries have until recently acted with little concerns for consequences. the department of defense identifies the need to defend forward day-to-day competition with our adversaries. this strategy aims to maintain our superiority in cyber space through protection of our critical infrastructure and networks. u.s. cyber command we implement
the d.o.d. strategy by adopting persistent engagements. this past year witness the elevation of u.s. cyber command to combat and command status. the opening of our integrated cyber center and your shift from building the force to the readiness of the force. this ensures our ability to execute requirements for the department and defense of our nation. the defense of the 2018 midterm elections posed a significant strategic challenge to our nation. ensuring a safe and secure election was our number one priority and drove me to establish a joint, u.s. cyber command national security agency effort we call the russia small group. the russia small group tested our operational approach. with the organization and direction from the president and secretary of defense, the russia small group enabled partnerships and action across the government to counter our strategic threat.
between u.s. cyber command and the national security agency bringing together intelligence, cyber capabilities, ininteragencies partnerships and the willingness to act. >> we enabled critical partners to act with unparalleled coordination and cooperation. the national security agency contested adversary alactions in support of the department of homeland security. the federal bureau of investigation and others. beyond the inner agency we partnered and engaged with allies and public and private sectors to build resiliency. for the first time we sent our cyber warriors abroad to send outside the d.o.d. network. our operations allowed us to identify could you repeater threats and prevent similar threats interfering with those of our partners. the small group effort
demonstrated that persistent presence and persistent innovation dlired success. information sharing plays a vital role in enabling everyone including government agencies to defend their networks. therefore we are now sharing computer malware we find during routine operations with the private sector and the broader cyber security community. we have posted numerous samples. we believe our actions will have a positive impact on improving cyber security globally. our actions are impacting our adversaries. our shift in approach allows us to sustain increased advantages while increasing our cyber abilities. we are now focused on potential threats we can certainly face in 2020. looking forward we need to continue building a warrior
ethos. we must ensure sufficient capability and capacity. people, technology and infrastructure which we are focused on now. we are building a team of partners that enable us and then to act more effectively. requires us to leverage cyber expertise. academicia and industry. cyber defense is a team effort. they provide strategic depth and provide the nation a reserve capacity of cable cyber warriors. finally improving readiness continues to be one of my key areas. i maintain readiness, manning, training and equipping and certainly an ability to perform the mission.
after a year of change and progress, we see 2019 as a year of opportunity. we have much work ahead as cyber con matures. we ensure the people of america place their trust and with your support they will accomplish the task that our nation expects. for your continued support. i look forward to your questions. >> thank you general. first of all, i think we've all pretty much decided that this commission, the national defense strategy commission is kind of the blueprint that we're using in in this committee and to start this off, let me address the two levels of threats that we're talking about. of course the level of threat with the pyramid competition we have out there and then the terrorist element that's out there it's very alive today. so starting off with maybe a response from both generals on
the person. how can socom and cybercom most effectively support our efforts against china and russia? and talk a little bit about any deficiencies in terms of resources that you would order to carry out these goals. general thomas. >> chairman, you highlighted at the outset the challenges to focus while shifting to the focus of the national defense strategy. i would tell you that it's burdensome in terms of resources but it's something we can and will manage going forward. i'm looking at two accounts. one my predecessors focused on russia and china before the national defense strategy so i appreciate the investment that proceeded me. i alsz appreciate some new
authorities that have developed in this house which has enabled us to approach this initial ly initially arguably the most important phase of deterrents. >> i would offer in terms of our ability for near peer or peer competitors our most important thing is to enable our partners. i work with the homeland department of security and the homeland federation and is an aspect of the. i would also offer that the fy19 national defense authorization act was critical for us at u.s.
cyber command. it gave us capabilities and authorities that were important for us as we looked to further enable. that included the ability for us to apply the elements of our force to the department of homeland security. the ability for us to look at networks that are not part of the department of defense network and the other piece of it that was critical as ranking member reed mentioned is the idea of cyber as a traditional military activity. i think those are areas that are going to help us with near peer competitors has the required infrastructure. the sensors, the locations
i appreciate that. i'm going to read a quote. he said isis still commands thousands of fighters in iran and syria and it still maintains eight branches more than a dozen networks and thousands of supporters around the world and will exploit any reduction in ct pressure to rebuild key capabilities such as media production and external praegszs. do you agree with that? let's start with you mr. secretary? >> mr. chairman i do. i do but in context we have crushed the physical so that the terrain is formerly maintain as a sanctuary and from where they drew their resources has been badly diminished but they continue to be a threat and the scope is assessed by the dni.
>> well we get the variety of the reports in terms of the effectiveness of the various isis, al-qaida, the terrorist operations. and so we want to make sure that everyone understands that peer competitors are important but so are the other. >> thank you very much mr. chairman. thank you for commending sergeant major thomas for your service. we recognize officer in every service of the backbone and i think the real winning edge that we have. secretary west and general thomas, if you can elaborate on the challenges that still face you in implementing 922 that would be helpful to us and if anything we can do to help make 922 the whole issue of equating service-like secretary under the
ads. secretary west please. >> thank you senator reed. >> 922 has certainly reinvigorated our relationship but it's also very timely because our basic task is to help institutionalize while keeping its unique attributes. but it also has come along simultaneously with the national defense strategy and so this year general thomas and i have could signed four separate letters. one of of which is to align the strategy to achieve the nds. this body is very supportive. i think we are very adequately supported. i think the task is left up to us. >> thank you. >> general thomas, your comments. >> senator reed i noted theout set technically he's my boss. in legislation as you know effected by this last year with one of my hats on for the
service-like responsibilities he is literally in my chain of command and we have embraced that going away. i think that integrates us with the department more often and conceptually we've certainly been able to drive the relationship i think to a much more enlightened level. i hope it continues to involve a critical function for us for innovation with the department and it's been a pleasure working with owen as we developed what i think your intent was. >> thank you. >> general thank you for your service particularly your great efforts with respect to the last election and looking forward to the next one. one of the areas is social media and we've talked about it. you talked about it with the intelligence committee. there were two independent reports that looked at social media not just particular
platforms but the cross movement of information on these platforms. do you think it would be helpful having studies like this for your use and should we continue plate or provide you hard to do that. ? >> so certainly senator what we found with those reports is it provided a window on the adversary that we hadn't seen. as you know our focus on intelligence is outside the united states on foreign intelligence. so we were able to capture that. but having the reports that were done in terms of what was done with the united states very helpful in terms of being able to understand exactly what our adversary is trying to do to build this within our nation. >> so if we could somehow institutionalize that. might be through the intelligence committee but those reports are useful for you and complement your direct activities. >> in one of the issues here that came on the context of
social media is that the issue will they voluntarily take steps that are appropriate and necessary, no. my understanding is that they do take down sites that have been identified, but i also don't think they identify to the consumer that these sites were either fraud fraudulent. >> what we were able to do was classify information. the fbi specifically worked with those social media companies and so i would defer in terms of their ability. >> fine, again, gentlemen thank you for your service. thank you very much. . >> thank you mr. chairman. >> general thomas, thank you for your service to this country and congratulations on your retirement. general macksoni thank you for
your service to the country as well. over the years many of us have talked about deterring adversaries and cyber space and the broader question of cyber deterrence is often compared to nuclear deterrence. i don't think that's a good comparison at all. you made a similar point where you argued that cyber space results in the employment of cyber capabilities not the threat of employing them. something you describe as persistent engagement. you mentioned earlier that this committee and the white house. can you tell us what impact those changes have had. >> senator, a year ago i appeareded before this committee in that year let me just trace the major elements that have helped our command be able to
become more effective and then i think the key piece i would offer that recognized cyber that provided us the baseline of being able to operate outside of our department networks and the idea that we would enable other elements of our inner agency tremendously helpful and thoen i would say the last is the work of our president in terms of how we operated. >> have you been able to put your theory owe of persistent engagement into action. >> senator, our number one priority was the unity and our new operational concept engagement to ensure a secure and safe election. >> i appreciated your classified briefing on that the other day. i think it was very helpful for
members to hear that. is it your view that imposing caused some adversaries through persistent engagement is that going to have a deterrence effect and can you or do you think there's any connection between a cyber deterrent and also a nuclear deterrent. i saw you shake your head when i mentioned that to your opening question? >> senator, i would offer my view on nuclear deterrence is much different than on the idea of cyber engagement and being able to prevent our adversaries of accomplishing their goals. as i mentioned in nuclear deterrence, the power that a nation has through the threat of the weapons. what we're seeing in cyber space is our adversaries are operating a lower arnl of confidence every
day. to challenge our institutions and this is where i believe being able to operate either to enable other elements or operate outside of our national borders against our adversaries is important. >> i would say from your comments and you can correct me on this that you don't believe that that cyber is a substitution for the deterrents that we achieve through our nuclear enterprise. >> so i believe cyber is our overall one element to determine effects against our adversaries. but there are other elements we would also bear on our adversaries that we intepd to operate. >> last year, i discussed the adequacy of your force with your predecessor and he advised we're probably going to need some level of additional capacity at some time and that's something i'll be talking to my successor
about. i think that it's going to be a key thing for him during his time in command. how adequate do you believe the size of the force is compared to the threat that we are seeing today. and how do you measure forced adequacy? >> senator we're looking at as we measure our readiness what we consider a number of different adversaries both near peer and rogue states we believe that the teams we've created right now is the building block for them. we're also building a series of defensive team in the army reserve and the national guard that are going to be a strategic depth for us. my sense as we continue to operate that there will be requirements that will probably be outside the 133 teams that we have right now. >> thank you. thank you mr. chairman. >> thank you. thank you very much
mr. chairman. general thomas, when we had the new overall defense and national security strategy that put more focus on near peer competitors or peer competitors there was an implicit hydraulic effect. do you see any reduction in the ct threat around the world or should it be -- the hydraulic effect to me is not a good idea because we maybe feel good today by the ct threat is still there, is it not? >> senator, i think the ct threat is in the throws of transformation. as i mentioned this time last year, we had just taken raca the capital of ral set. the commander of operations and challenges to push that this is
the destruction the defeat we're much closer now. somebody pointed out to me the other day if you wanted to put a grasp on it it's twice the size of mcneill air force base which is tiny. they are down to the last dozens of square kilometers. >> but the ct threat between 2001 and 2011 wasn't measured in territory it was measured in terrorist threats so that's still there isn't it? >> well and you're correct. i would offer that in our efforts to defeat isis we have greatly diminished their ability to export the threat to the united states and to our western allies. in, though, the throws of this transformation right now, they still are very dangerous and i could highlight the specific groups that we consider to be external threats to the united states and are truly going on in terms of our focus and we're staying on them. >> and there is a growing ct threat in afghanistan is there
not? >> i wouldn't label it as growing. we've made a huge threat against isis process. more regional i would offer more regional instability in afghanistan as of late but not in the form of external threats. >> thank you. general nakasoni i'm on my way from here to a hearing on the security of the electric grid and international resources committee and it seems to me this is a classic case of cross jurisdiction and if you can describe your relationship of cybercom and nsa to fbi, dhs, utilities, how do we be sure that what you know and are able to do is protecting us because you don't have jurisdiction within the united states? >> senator, for the energy sector, the lead for the securing of that critical structure is the department of homeland security. they work very closely with the sector's specific lead which is
the department of energy. where we tie in, is we tie in on the u.s. cyber command side providing and enabling support to the department of energy and the department of homeland security if we're requested. right now what we are doing is sharing information clearly about what we know about foreign adversaries that may be attempting. >> do you share that information with the utilities or -- >> we share that with the department of homeland security and specifically the department of energy. >> let me ask about structure. sharing of information is there a regular structure? is there an organizational chart of these relationships where you meet regularly or is it sort of ad hoc? >> we have put into place a defense finder program to look at this element and so we established a regular meeting working with them and the department of home lapd security to share that information regularly.
>> and finally, you talked with senator fischer somewhat about deterrents and you're talking about persistent engagement telling the adversary we're there. how do they change their calculus. does your particular engagement, i think you used the term engagement or pressure of innovation. is that intended and will it change an adversary's calculus when they come to decide whether to launch a cyber attack on our electric grid or our financial system or our elections? >> senator we think it will in one terms of resilience. but two, also imposing a cost on our adversary. >> that's the -- that's what i want to hear about. >> yeah, so the ability either to be able to identify where they're operating from, the tools that they're using. to be able to provide that cost
that the adversary has to think twice in terms of can they conduct and exploitation or attack against our critical infrastructure. >> the calculus is shouldn't they do it but if they do it they will be responded to in a forceful way. >> ceremony and i think that not only comes with cyber but also all the elements of our nation that can be brought to bear on that adversary. >> i think that's important. thank you very much gentlemen. thank you mr. chairman. thank you mr. chairman. secretary west many of us on the committee are working through the present decision to withdraw forces from syria. it appears there's a fair amount of work to be done there. i'd just like to know from your perspective and from an so.f perspective how would you characterize victory in syria?
winning in syria? what does that look like and what do you need to get there? >> [indiscernible] excuse me. sorry about that. i think it's very important not to diminish what has happened there. as general thomas said the fiscal palisade did attract several thousand foreign fighters. they can no longer do that. this will be a very long war. isis is quite expansive in terms of its global territory but it now becomes an insurgency. >> let me just ask you the same question. what does winning look like in syria and what are -- have we won. are we satisfied with where we are in terms of sof's mission there and what you feel you've been tasked to accomplish? >> senator i'd employ hesitant
to determine winning. i think our reasonable objective is to reduce the threat in that area and to be able to maintain persistent capability. having said that, syria is perhaps the most complex battle space that i've experienced in 40 years. my repeat trip out there had our forces operating in and around and isis. again, incredibly complex environment that i think again, the objective is to reduce the threat and be able to maintain some sort of sustainable security there. >> and just on that point about reaching a point where the external threat can't emanate from that region are you satisfied we're at that point? where an external threat can't emanate from syria? >> i do not think we're there
yet. we're on the verge of diminishing the threat and in the process of determining what the residual capability needs to remain in place in the region to ensure we're securing that objective. >> let me ask you, general about recruiting and retention. you talk about this in your prepared testimony. you talk about the significant strain of sof over the doubling of the size of the force and the significant deployment demands. tell me about where you think we are in terms of recruitment retention what other tools or help do you need to make sure that your force is ready, rested, is healthy, is getting everything they need to do to get the significant and dangerous demand we ask them to do. >> senator, over the several years we have not dropped standards at all. so it's a little bit of a catch
22 here. you know. part of our man tra is you can't rate this in a hurry and people are our moerpt asset. we have had challenges as of late. there's much down sides in the army specifically are for recruiting special forces but there are some very good initiatives in place to rectify that. so i think we're trending in the right direction but it has been a challenge over the last year to two years in terms of the numbers we would like to have but to the fact we're not going to drop standards. >> i'll put the same question to you but starting with you, general your sense under the nds and the new prioritizization that demands on sof will be the same, will increase. i mean, what's your sense of it as you think about your posturing and your needs under
the nds what you see about the commands. >> i think department wide we can take away the nds department wide. we've had an 18-year long the longest struggle in the united states. that has not come to a conclusion yet and so we have some work left to do there. we have reemerged competitors. and clear the focus for the department. so we share that across the department. i get pretty good guidance in terms of where they want me as part of the joint force and we manage that. as a global combat commands this is our daily challenge. but it's one we embrace. frrdz >> thank you senator holly, senator duckworth? >> thank you, mr. chairman, chairman, thank you so much for being here today, also the most
austere environment around the world. the men and women your leader often the first in battle and their heroism and dedication is not fully understood. i'm very appreciative of the opportunities hear from each of you so i would like to take this opportunity to thank darrell thomas for his 38 years of service. i really wish you the best of luck on your next phase of your career. since the committee began hearing testimony, most of much of this conversation has been referring to forces is legal and agile so the provide incredible deterrent reducing the possibility of armed conflict get special operations and slaver forces are uniquely tailored.
could each of you briefly discuss conceptually how special operations and cyber forces can exact a toll short of providing armed conflict in your opinion, what kind of structuring with the special operations and cyber committees will they need to do in order to dominate these conflicts? >> thank you, senator, you are correct in the nature of war doesn't change but it's characters changed radically in the last 50 years. in terms of the special operations tactics we are also seeing the enemy employ these so on my judgment i will let general thomas talk specifics on operations, but when we talk about composition short of armed conflict, dealing with partner nations, problems that need to be quickly solved in a cheap manner, you are really talking about soft so there's a real role that general thomas will be able to describe.>>
thanks for your service as well. we are actually very excited about the opportunity that the nds and specific subject of competition short of conflict starts for us and in conjunction with paul and others, in terms of winning that critical phase. we don't think it's a defeat monitor that applies, it is to disrupt, deny and really ensure that our united states policy objectives are pursued and successful. we think of the combination of information operations, influence operations, partner capacity, cyber operations in conjunction with paul, the whole array of non-kinetic activities that are really an art form that we are excited about employing in the future and we hope to play a substantial role there. >> thank you. on tuesday, admiral davidson highlighted to this community
that we needed to enhance the cyber defense of our logistic networks. can you provide examples of what might be affected and how we might be able to harden the network when it comes to organizations such as trends calm? we have this long logistical tail that must support hours forces and i feel like sometimes they are most venerable. how does trans come fit into your priority for cyber security?>> we have not only had discussions about this at transportation command but i have also been out to visit him. we see the ability for us to project our strategic elements in the world as being something that is uniquely suited for our nation and a tremendous capacity . what we are doing at u.s. cyber command is ensuring that we understand the networks that he has operate on, the
platforms that he is utilizing an and most importantly the data, because it is that data that we want to make sure that we can secure. the challenges you point out is making sure we have enabled our partners and these partners are oftentimes private sector partners that we work with and other sectors to ensure they have the information upon which they understand the threats to them and they can build more resilient networks and protect their own data. >> inc. you, general. i yelled back. >> thank you. >> thank you gentlemen for your appearance here today, general thomas, let's start with syria. we talked a little bit about what will happen when our troops depart syria, one thing that has been on my mind is all the bad guys really being detained in syria. some of your colleagues have testified for the committee that that number would go into
the hundreds, they have also testified that while some of those detainees are front-line untrained cannon fodder, some of them are also external operations plotters and master bomb makers and other really bad guys, is that your understanding as well?>> when i get into specifics on a the numbers is closer to thousands than it is hundreds already in detention with more potentially to come. a huge area of concern for us especially because they are being maintained by the non- nationstate otherwise known as the syrian democratic forces. how we resolve this foreign fire -- fighter, is in the dozens of country that have contributed to it, but how we reduce that threat and people properly detained and handled over time. >> how are we going to do that?
>> pretty aggressive action right now ongoing with the state department and other partner nations to specifically reduce that threat. i will give kudos to the number of countries that have recently stepped up. some of the smaller countries that have had capacity challenges but have nevertheless assumed the burden and we with the state department are primarily trying to assist them in reducing this problem. >> i know it's not in your area of operation but we have empty beds in guantanamo bay, don't we? maybe we should consider that for some of those really bad guys in syria. while we are talking about syria, let's contract contrast syria and afghanistan. the president sent a couple weeks ago that we are going to have troops in iraq for a while in part because we need to watch the counterterrorism threat. we obviously have freedom of action for a lot of the
troopers. contrast the mission that we have in afghanistan which i think is 800 or 900 miles from the nearest see. >> truthfully will look at it in a global context so in afghanistan, the external threat adversaries have been greatly diminished and we are focused on them specifically. there is the larger counter search effort, but with a specific focus to support the efforts to drive that to reconciliation. >> it would hard to be after those terrorist organizations
for your troops if we didn't have some sort of physical presence in afghanistan, is that right? >> it's something you can't establish in a hurry necessarily. i probably failed to answer senator kings question earlier, the way we look at the current context is very similar to 2011 so the recent annual assessment we did reflects on 2011 when al qaeda and iraq was badly down but not out and we pulled out of the rack at that point and we know that in less than two years time they were isys. how we finish that threat is of can critical concern. >> what is true of our troops is true of enemy forces as well, it helps them to have a safe, secure physical base in which they can carefully plot attacks outside of that base?>> yes, they thrive on sanctuary and they are actively seeking
sanctuary right now. >> thank you, general thomas. what is the status of your conversations with counterparts around the world with the threat that chinese companies pose to our telecommunications networks? >> for fifth generation wireless on u.s. cyber command we have certainly talked with our partners, in terms of the director of national security, we have also worked out the department of state as they have made engagements with our allies the world. >> what time is expired, general thomas i don't think you will be appearing for us here again, you're smiling at that. i want to thank you and thank your wife barbara for many years of carrying the rucksack responsibility for our nation and you have more than earned
the opportunity and the privilege to pass it off to the next man. >> thank you senator cotten and senator kane. >> thank you mr. chair and thanks to all of you. general thomas i offer my congratulations as well. i want to ask you a question and the others may want to comment, too, about an important aspect of our military operations which is building partner capacity. as i have try gold traveled in arm service, have often been struck very positively by the response of our allies to the partner capacity work we do with them all of the globe. there is a crs study in 2016 that kind of analyzed about 20 instances and their conclusion was the results are sort of mixed in terms of effect. i have already always views the issues as it's great to build
strong relationships, you go with young officers and even a minister of defense or prime minister or president. as you are finishing your time, your lady career, what is the sort of metrics we should be looking at in the building partner capacity investments we make their dod to see whether they are successful? >> great question. i guess my first point of reflection is how drastically different the approach took partner capacity and really partners is from when i first started. very little to any contact points, established relationships were checkered, often when countries were deemed to behave badly the first point of separation was to separate schooling and things like that. over the years, the
establishment and expansion of our contacts and true partners has been extraordinary. i tell our younger officers during a period of time during international relations that i didn't grow up in, please don't lose sight of the potential. to your point and success though, we should assess constantly and again i think the report cards better than probably the american public knows, and it is both with establish nations in the russia threat is a good case in point, we have had persistent presence in countries, every country in the european lane max with land mass with russia and even with untraditional partners i reflect back on the syrian defense that gives democratic forces.
just an extraordinary force that is cobbled together over time through partnering efforts, so i'm more inclined to see the potency and the results than some of the shortcomings. >> secretary west? >> the national defense strategy requires us to answer this question. >> by, with, and through other nations, i heard him say that many times and i know that is important part of the strategy. >> since there must be a resource allocation, we must begin to look at number one the nature of the threat, local forces who do not demonstrate intent or capability do not deserve the same resource allocation. number two, as general thomas says, what are the odds of success for training this force, how long will it take, and how well-connected are they to the people and the
government? >> how about in the cyber realm talk a little bit about the partner capacity issue and connectivity so we are engaged with them? >> i would add to the importance of building these partnerships as our national defense strategy has indicated. my perspective in terms of what i've seen within the cyberspace demand is it provides critical elements. first of all intelligence that we may or may not have by ourselves, secondly capability that our nation may or may not have and unique placement, placement around the world that is really critical for us that gives us greater reach of the nation. >> i will follow up with this in other hearings as well because i think it is really important. it is a significant investment, is a part of the dod budget, it's not massive but i do think it has a massive upside. i'm going to ask a question just for the record, but let me just preface. i'm on health education labor pension committee where we are re-author is isaac --
reauthorizing this year. one of the areas that we are looking at significantly and cyber professionals whether it is in the d.o.t. side of the house or in the private sector. do you have any questions for us as we work on higher reauthorization, programs you think are successful to enable us to train and recruit and retrain the cyber professionals we need and i will ask that question for the record.>> thank you. >> thank you mr. chairman, first of all, thank you for your service, general thomas we most certainly appreciate all the hard work that you have put in your service to our country. i am curious with regard to the middle east, what we have talked a lot about syria and the challenges we have there. what about with regard to iraq
at this point. i know we've talked about the point that we are going to have forces remaining bear in the near future and the president has indicated there is the capability to be moved back into the syrian areas. but with in iraq itself, what is the current state of play with regard to isis specifically within northern iraq?>> senator i would offer that with our iraqi partners and they have embraced their sovereign responsibility in terms of defender training, we are maintaining persistent pressure on ices both where they were and where they are intending to have any sort of resurgence so it continues to be a work in progress, but it is borne primarily through the iraqi forces who we have rekindled our relationship with. >> do you see evidence of their activity with regard to any
incidences that they have appeared to be responsible for? in terms of isis impacts within northern iraq. are you seeing evidence where they are trying to impact local communities and so forth? >> they are attempting to make the resurgence in various locations but again, i believe our forces with the iraqis are very aware of where they are and they are addressing them accordingly. >> thank you. i appreciate the way in which you laid out a little bit about the activity. would it be fair to say that it is not a coincidence that this election went off without a hitch and the fact that you are actively involved in the protection of this very important
infrastructure that we value? >> senator, the security of the midterm election was the number one priority at u.s. cyber command and the national security agency. >> would it be fair to suggest that one of the bigger challenges you have in being able to share the story of just exactly what occurs is the fact that in the future, can you share a little bit about what the tools are and the need to protect the tools and the systems and the process that are used in order to protect an election as an example? and the different types of threats that you see and have to defend against. can you share a little bit about that? >> senator, as part of a whole government efforts, we were looking at three different areas. we were looking to ensure that we prevented interference in the election, secondly was to disrupt any attempts by adversaries to influence the
election and thirdly to impose cost on any adversary that decided they would attempt to interfere with democratic processes. >> would be clear to say there's clear evidence in the past we've seen with regard to russia. in the past they have done propaganda and attempts to manipulate the american public and try to pit one side against the other and so forth. would it be fair to say that russia has in the past demonstrated the capability and the cyber realm to use internet activity social media and so forth as a way to do exactly the same thing with more sophistication than perhaps in the past? >> the russians are very sophisticated adversaries and using influence operations that you described. >> would it be fair also to say that there have been concerns in the past and that the cyber calm has worked very hard to make sure that the elections that have been held in the united states have not been
impacted directly in terms of both counsel or anything like that? >> certainly, senator, again working as part of a broad government team, that was our focus, but i give great credit to the department of homeland security and the federal era of investigation to work towards us. this was a team effort. >> very good, thank you. sometimes when we talk about these items, we talk about in terms of being able to impact social media and to be able to impact and make sure that folks outside of the united states coming in are not able to influence public opinion by permeating misinformation but there's another piece of this as well and that's to actually be able to defend and protect the infrastructure, the physical infrastructure within the united states. would you just simply explain to the public that there is more to it than just simply stopping bad tweets from going out? it is a matter of actually protecting critical infrastructure.
>> one of the things that is within our mission is certainly to be a protect that infrastructure. i would also offer that one of the things that is so important here are the partnerships you informed and if there's anything i've learned over these past several months as these partnerships give us real strength in being able to do that. >> senator blumenthal? >> thank you mr. chairman and thank you for being here today and for your service to our nation. i was grateful to have the briefing that we did classified briefing for recently which i think was very illuminating as to the continued threats to our nation as a result of cyber, particularly meddling and interference with our election and. the threat from russia
continues unabated, can you say that in public you today? >> russia certainly provides a very sophisticated threat to our nation. and one that they have done over several years.>> and that threat ought to continue to concern the american people, shouldn't it? >> yes, senator, it should. >> and i said in that briefing and i have cited in numerous such classified briefings that really i wish that the american people could have heard more of what you told us in a sense, the enemies know what they are doing, we know what they are doing, they know we know what they are doing and the only ones who are in the dark really are the american people and as
we into this next election cycle , would you agree that we ought to do everything we can to make the american people aware of that threat? >> we will let the cyber command commit to working that. i think your point is a very important one. being able to educate the public is critical for us. the success we had in 2018, more of our nation should know about it. >> and it was success. i think very few of the american public know about the successes. they assume that the meddling and interference in our election from when it occurs simply is undeterred or unstopped and i think again without going into any of the details there are
some successes of the american people should know happened,, but let me ask you whether you've seen any indication that china has sought to conduct activities similar to what we have seen from russia in 2016, 2018. >> given the form that we are in today, i would offer to bradley state, what we are seeing is that our adversaries understand how to operate again below this level of armed conflict and are taking broad lessons learned upon which they will attempt to impact our nation.>> and would you agree that the american people should know about threats from not only russia but other countries as well, because the tools and means and techniques are highly
asymmetric, that is they don't need to invest tens of billions of dollars to disrupt our election system. some of it is available with very little such investment. >> i agree, senator. >> general thomas and mr. secretary, i know we have been over this issue to some extent, but i just want to be clear, from your standpoint, moving special operators from syria to iraq, in other words withdrawing from syria and moving those forces to iraq, could you say again what the impact is on our operational capability? >> senator, obviously it's easy easier to do our job with
placement proximity and we have thrived on that being with the syrian democratic forces and enabling them to do the heavy lifting that i described earlier. it will certainly be harder to not have that proximity and make it more challenging, but we are working on solutions to maintain some contract of some level support for them. >> would you agree that it will make it harder but you are trying to overcome those challenges? >> militarily it is more difficult, sir, but we can remotely assist and advise and if special operations says anything, this agile force has already adapted. >> thank you mr. chairman. >> i would probably point out, too, we were not in syria for the first year, i was in a command that was responsible for that and we did everything from externally to establish that force.>> but there was a reason why you went into syria which is that it enhanced your operational capability, correct?>> and it got us the
return on investment. >> thank you senator blumenthal and senator purdue. >> thank you gentlemen for appearing today. china, it's public information that they are trying to build a navy about 425 ships within the next decade or so and they are accelerating that it has been reported that in just december chinese hackers have been breaching navy contractors to steal pretty much everything from maintenance data to missile plans, particularly egregious report came out later that one breach was about a supersonic into ship missile that we were building for a nuclear submarine force. if they are successful, by 2030 they will have a navy that is about 100 ships bigger than our navy has today and the problem is right now is that they are accelerating the development
through hacking not the navy network of information, but our contractor network of information. how do you operate with our contractors, how do you interface with the fbi when we get into these commercial entities that seem to be less protected than our military networks? >> the example that you cited there is one that has driven the department and we are certainly working with that department as one of the lead agents to ensure that contracts are written right, to ensure that our clear defense contractors understand the standards that have to be met, that we test those standards working with the services, ensuring that there are proper safeguards in place that will guarantee that the information that they have that is critical for our nation is safeguarded better. >> are you optimistic you have
everything you need from an organization standpoint of funding and support fourth? >> i'm optimistic that if i don't have what i need i will come back rapidly to ask for it. >> yes, sir, you've done a good job of that. when they move on to an organization. right now in august 2017 it was announced that the cyber command would be elevated to a unified command. today we are still operating in a dual hatch structure and it has been reported that one of the reasons we still have it will have responsibility is that there is a concern about lack of intelligence and a separate unified command versus an essay that you are still getting a lot of your intelligence through the nsa. how do you equate this relative to the loan long-term plan of having unified command. does i will have a duplicate capability in terms of intelligence or will there always be a close relationship between the two? >> the decision on the dual hat remains with the secretary. i have commented during my
first 90 days i provided my thoughts on it. whatever the ultimate decision is, there will always be a very close partnership between nsa and cyber command, so that's where i see it right now, senator. >> thank you. >> first of all, thank you for the leadership that you at the tip of the spear. when we have continued resolutions, how does it affect your operation in the field? you have been at war for 17 years, and i've been around some of your trips around the world and i would have to say the best in the very best of what we have in america is in your uniform, but when we do a continued resolution here in congress, i get the feeling that it really impacts you guys pretty directly, is that true?>> that is an accurate statement. it is disrupted in terms of programming and normal operations. >> can you describe a couple of anecdotal examples of how that really impacts training, refitting, rotations, all of
the above?>> i would be inclined because the biggest impact is in the need for new starts. it's a fluid and dynamic environment that we live in so more broadly it's the aspect that we are stuck in a proceeding paradigm and not able to move on to better ways of solving problems. >> thank you, sir. i want to echo my colleagues comments about your storied career but particularly your time in the 75th ranger regiment in georgia. god bless you. >> thank you senator purdue. >> thank you mr. chairman and thank you gentlemen, all of you for your service and general thomas we wish you well in whatever you do next. i want to pick up and senator purdue's question about how vulnerable we are to third-
party products and software so i think this is for you. in 2018 the nda included a provision that would prohibit the use of products and services developed by kanjorski lab by third-party products and it required a report to spot and address risks. so can you tell me what the status is on banning those products from third-party contracts and also what is the status of the report and what risks might still be there? >> i know we have conducted the band but i take that for the record to make sure i have an accurate response to both parts of the question.>> reporter: thank you very much. general thomas and to pick up on the questions about syria and particularly on the detainees as you are probably aware, two of those detainees
are suspected in the murders of four americans, and i don't know if you have anything you can tell us today about what their status is what the potential is to make sure they can be brought back to the united states to be tried for their crimes, but certainly that's what the families of those murdered americans would like to see happen.>> i don't have an update on the status, but i would express my appreciation for your personal interest on the matter. your visit out there and you're very public commentary after that actually helped focus the world on the problem and specifically on the u.s. problem but i don't know the current status, i just know it is in the legal wrangling of considering how we handle special cases like that. >> thank you, i hope you and secretary west will both take
back the interest that the families have in making sure that they see justice in the united states. general thomas, i also want to go back to the question about how competent are you that given the estimates on the number of isis siders who have gone underground who may be operated out of the rack or other places in the middle east that we will be able to contain that threat if we no longer have operations in syria given the complexity there? >> as i mention this is been one of the most complex challenges that our forces have been dealing with in quite a while. i'm concerned that were not overly constricted in the end state there are several planning efforts on going with a focus to maintaining what we have gained so far, a focus to ensure there is no external attack capability coming out.
we are in the throes of trying to do the right planning and preparation to provide a nation options to make sure that it is not a shortcoming and we have every visit to 2011 recurrence. >> and how much of a threat continues from turkey to the syrian democratic forces and their continued work on the ground? >> there has been, friction is an understatement right from the beginning in terms of ever choice of a partner force. truthfully it was a necessary choice, it was only the forcefully available and their relationship with the turkish government. again, i would command the senior leaders who have been trying to work through that friction and stay focused on the counter isis effort which is why we are up there, but it has been a challenge, but i
think we are certainly addressing turkish sovereign interests and concerns as we stay focused on isis. >> i appreciate that, i hope we are also continuing to support sts who have been such good partners with us in the arena. secretary west, i understand you are the point person at dod for implementing the women peace and security act, is that correct?>> i am certainly on point, senator. >> i wonder if you could give us an update, i understand that we are expecting the plan, that is going through final approvals can you tell me what we might see the final plan for how that's going to get implemented and any thoughts you have about the effectiveness of being able to implement that as we are looking at all of our operations around the world? >> we are certainly supporting the plan, we are trying to lead from the back to the front but
this does establish the united states of the world leader in ensuring that women are part of the conflict resolution and prevention process and i want to thank you personally for the appropriation we have this year because the gender advisors which are already installed now will be permanent. >> thank you, my hope were looking at continued negotiations in afghanistan but we will certainly make sure that women are at the table in any negotiations.>> thank you. >> thank you, gentlemen for being here today and on behalf of the american public i would like to say thank you, because much of the work that is done within your commands, the american public will never know about, nor will they be able to appreciate, so that you very much for that. general thomas, i would like to start with you and what i would like to do is basically give you an open floor or moment to reflect upon your time in
command. there've been many innovations during your time in command that you have brought forward for special operations command and i would like to give you the opportunity to talk about some of those innovations, why they have been so important to our special operators, and if there is anything that is not yet finished, what you would like to see continue on in your absence.>> dangerous to give me an open mic here but i will try to stay focused. i joke with contemporaries whether it's in the armed forces of the private sector that the one problem we do not have in special operations command is to spur innovation. it's almost runway innovation and problem solving every day. it is bottom-up driven so the challenge for us as a higher headquarters is to assess and bundle the great ideas and the solutions that are being afforded and put them into programs and records that drive budget considerations and things like that. i can't recount the
extraordinary number of initiatives and solutions that the force is provided over the last couple years, i am incredibly proud of it. i'm more excited about where it is going in the future. the command is truly poised to be even more relevant for the department of defense and the nation in terms of securing this country. it's is the best talent the country has to offer but with the resourcing you all provide and the ability to do creative solutions, the one area you and i have discussed time and again that was probably the best innovation that i would ascribe to my predecessors and addresses directly how we sustain this force despite the pace and that is the initiative, juxtaposed to our ability to care for people with the care coalition. right now we have i think 15,000 wounded members currently
serving in prior that are part, the potus effort has been remarkable in terms of building resistance to the command and i give all my credit to the predecessors who saw the needs of requirement.>> general thomas, i thank you so much for your emphasis, i've had the great opportunity to travel and visit with a number of your operators at fort bragg and fort benning and hunter army airfield. we have covered the bases there and not only in supporting the operators, but their families as well because they truly are such an important part of the equation on why you are so successful. so thank you for addressing that. we do have a closed hearing this afternoon so i will save some of my questions for that time.
i do want to take this opportunity to thank both of you, both generals, thank you very much for the command structure that you have provided, the leadership and guidance, secretary west, thanks for taking on this very challenging position out there with dod. we know it is an ever growing and influencing part of the dod so thank you very much for that and in the very short time that i have remaining, general thomas i want to thank you for your time and service. did you and barbara, my best wishes as you move on to retirement, it is well earned you will be missed. but thank you for your leadership. thank you very much, i will yield back. >> thank you, we all agree with her comments. senator warren? >> thank you mr. chairman and also i want to add my thank you, general thomas for all of your work and for your leadership. last year's and daa required secretary of defense to you
whether members of the armed forces or coalition partners of the u.s. abused or witnessed abuse of detainees during operations in yemen and the unclassified summary of dod's report to congress concluded the dod has determined that dod personnel have either observed nor been complicit in any cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment of detainees in yemen". so when i asked about this last week, he said the dod's conclusion was based on the discussions and reports from the people that they have on the ground. general thomas, is that your understanding as well?>> i am in agreement with that assessment. >> so the associated press human rights watch amnesty international and the united nations, all four have all conducted their own investigations and come to a very different conclusion. they determined that our
partners oversaw a network of detention centers that regularly engaged in torture and abuse. general thomas, do you find these independent investigations credible? >> again, senator, i monitor the interesting question and you probably hear some consistency. every one of those allegations is taken with the utmost interest into pouring into them and determining if they are factual and in fact i'm not aware of any outliers. if we observe violation of law of armed conflict, it is a great standard among them were forced to address it specifically or to break contact with those part of forces so again i would reinforce how the other general answered, it is a high standard. >> i appreciate that. general barthel said exactly that he was very careful about what he said, i asked him if he
had reached any conclusions about whether or not our partners are engaging in detainee abuse when d.o.t. personnel are not present and he said he was not aware. the question i was asking of general thomas, do you find these independent investigations , define them credible? >> i find them of sufficient interest that it is actually been our topic of discussion back with our partners. the part hard part for us to confirm or deny that happened to not take is something that i approve or disapprove. it's a discussion that if we can prove this or if there's evidence this could be a dealbreaker. again we take it very seriously. >>, i appreciate that general thomas. i know you work hard to encourage forces to obey the
laws of armed conflict, but when it comes to whether or not our partner forces have engaged in abuse of detainees, there seem to be a really serious disconnect between what dod understands to be true and credible independent reports from journalists and human rights organizations, so i remain deeply concerned about whether our partners in yemen are treating detainees in ways that are consistent with the law of armed conflict. as you know, turning a blind eye is not acceptable so i'm going to keep asking questions about this. i appreciate your answer on this. if i could just ask one other area quickly in the time left to me, general thomas, i am concerned about the militarization of our foreign policy and nowhere is that more evident than in the use or overuse of our special operations forces. i think senator reid alluded to this earlier. in 2017, special operations command deployed
forces to 149 countries under your command, and they launched airstrikes, carry out raids, train foreign military, all in the hope of removing terrorists from the battlefield. many of these countries have governess challenges that allow violent extremist groups to grow. instead of treating the causes of violent extremism, we are treating the symptoms. so let me just ask, general thomas, do you think that we can kill or capture our way out of this problem?>> senator i do not think that is a solution to most of these problems. >> do you think the current pace of operations for your command is sustainable? >> i do, senator. we had challenges on specific parts of our formation and to specifically get to the department directive standard of 1 to 2 well rates dwell rates
, but we have gotten that back into a very healthy shape with a few outliers and we are intent on getting them healthy as well here. >> thank you general thomas, i just want to say we need to be thinking harder about using our nonmilitary tools here as well.>> reporter: thank you.>> senator blackburn? >> thank you mr. chairman and to each of you, thank you for your service to our country, we appreciate it. general thomas, we do wish you well and we wish your family well and thank you for the service. i will say senator ernst mentioned some of the post she visited and she also visited fort campbell and they were and still are a big part of our tennessee community and i represented that post during my time in the house and have enjoyed working with those military families and looking
at the challenges that are going to be necessary for 21st- century warfare, and cyber is an enormous part of that, and i think it's been really curious to me this week as we have looked at the different geographic commanders and those a ors. maybe a hesitancy to engage in a discussion of how our adversaries are using the cyber area to their advantage, namely china, of course and we've talked some about the great competitive threat that is there, so my question to you general, would be, do you feel
like that your command, cyber command is being properly integrated into all of the other commands in those missions? >> i do feel that cyber command is being integrated properly into the other combat and commands. we have undertaken a very aggressive approach to an grade with combat and command. general thomas and i have had a long association, one of the things i think we have been able to leverage is the close partnership of ensuring that what we do in cyberspace is supporting his and state and what he was trying to do whether in previous commands or u.s. special operations commands. we are very appreciative of the work that has been done and approved by the samiti to build cyberspace operational integrated planning elements at each of our combat and commands. this will allow us to develop the talent and planning expertise to ensure we get to the outcome. >> let's talk about artificial
intelligence for just a moment, because i think that strategy and of course it has been released and the strategy highlights a reality that we have known for some time and i want to quote from that and then have you respond and i am quoting other nations, particularly china and russia, are making significant investments in ai for military purposes including applications that raise questions regarding international norms and human right. failure to adopt ai will result in legacy systems, irrelevant to the defense of our people, eroding cohesion among allies and partners, reduced access to markets that will contribute to a decline in our prosperity and standard of living and growing challenges to societies that have been built upon individual freedom. now, that in my opinion is a
pretty sobering assessment, so do each of you agree with that strategies assessment, and exactly how do you see the ai strategy in forming your command as we move forward? >> i agree with the statement that you read, senator. i do see artificial intelligence, deep learning, machine learning is something that is a critical enabler what we are going to need to do at u.s. cyber command. we have already seen the power at the national security agency of what artificial intelligence can do for our foreign intelligence mission and our cyber security missions. this is where the world is headed in terms of innovation and capability. we as a military fighting force have to ensure that we have that enabler. one of the things i do take great credit in and pride in is
u.s. special operations command really has led a lot of the work and artificial intelligence into integrating how they become a more powerful force. >> general thomas? >> great question and we can spend several hours talking about it, unfortunately we don't have that kind of time. i agree with the assessment in terms of threats, more importantly i'm incredibly enthusiastic about the opportunity. anecdotally, eric schmitt visited our command and a quick assessment he felt compelled to give me, he said you got tremendous people in the prototype effectively and he had colorful words for that for machine learning is applied of artificial implant intelligence. give me a spark three years ago and turned me into a zealot on the subject but more importantly it has really reoriented our command to embrace this phenomenon and apply its relevance to everything we do until it is proven otherwise, so we are
taking not so small bites, but i'm excited about where we are going in the future. >> thank you for that. thank you for your service and i yield back.>> thank you mr. chair, gentlemen, i apologize for not being here for a lot of the hearing, we have three committee hearings going on simultaneously. i want to thank you for your service and all the quality time you've spent in north carolina, i hope in retirement you continue to spend a lot of quality time there. i want to take probably the questions a different direction in my capacity as personnel subcommittee chair, i know a lot of the other members have covered the landscape on the extraordinary work you are doing and i think in general, i thank you for the briefing earlier this week. i got a real sense of progress being made and i think some of that stems from some of the authority that you have been granted and you are doing great
work there so thank you for your leadership. i want to talk more about the personal aspects. number one when you talk look at general thomas, the very challenging job of an operator and a disturbing percentage says they are going to get injured in one way or another, what more do i need to be thinking about in terms of family support for the members and actually even in dealing with the wounds of war, what more should we be looking at as a function of the personnel subcommittee to send a very clear signal we understand the dangerous job and the impact it is having on family?>> senator, thank you for that question and thanks for the concern expressed. i would actually challenge the term operator because therein lies i think the opportunity for us to do better by our people in the future. while you highlighted a particular career field that are inherently dangerous in terms of jumping and fast roping and things like that, we are as good as our weakest link. we are as good as our support
personnel. the term we use, enablers which is broad-based, but it is the entire fabric of the force and arguably we focus officially on the entirety of the force early on and how we sustain, i think we are much more focused on that and we have come to you to ask for additional resources so we can be more thorough in the application there again, thanks for the support we've had so far. truthfully the best, we could get on it is a sister services are emulating what you have allowed us to do in the way they should take care of their people as well. >> thank you. something else we will be talking about just briefly speaking with senator king about progress we can make on procurement. we've taken some steps and recent and das for acquisition reform and i think we can still take a few pages from you all's book in terms of rapid prototyping and deployment, so i look forward to that and subsequent hearings and hopefully we can have that as a
subject at some point. you've got a challenge, you mentioned in your opening statements, i was here, you are trying to find the resources, you are competing with the private sector, again and the last nda we made some progress in terms of being able to get resources from the private sector into positions, but what more do we need to do? i've got to believe you just don't have enough of what you need in terms of expertise, what more would you suggest we look at going into this nda cycle? >> senator, i think we have to come back to the committee and identify those critical subsets. there are people within our force right now that i call 10 or 20 x type of people and that means they are 10 or 20 times better than the people they work with. better coders and better malware analyst, better at developers. how do we ensure we keep those within our force? the services do a wonderful job in recruiting. we get great recruits and we do
a great job in training them. our challenge will be in retaining the very best. not everyone, but the very best and this is where i think identifying those categories coming back to you to make sure we have the proper career path. >> we need that information sooner and the private sector has a lot of testing and cyber security resources and they are even cares where you can pay whatever the market rate is so i can imagine what you were going to go through for retention and we just need to think creatively that these are hot skills and you've got to have the soft equivalent of cyber warriors out there and we need to do everything we can to provide you the authority to do that, but you also have to differentiate as you just said,
you've got to differentiate between that person that is a 20 time multiple on skills and say we are going to treat you all fairly, we will not treat you equally because you got to have those extraordinary warriors in this domain. i'm going to follow up with a couple questions for the record, but they happened to do with plumbing and business matters so i will yield back my remaining 10 seconds. thank you all for being here. >> tank you mr. chairman and gentlemen, thank you for your service for general thomas i really wanted to thank you for all you have done for our nation and i think i've had a bit of a unique opportunity to not only get to know you from this position, but also when i put my reserve uniform on as my commander like 17 levels above where i am, so you have done a great job and i really appreciate it. secretary west i appreciate the job you are doing, unfortunately there's a very small number of harvard marines and you are making us proud. and general
nakasone, i want ask you on this issue of offensive operations, i know you probably can't talk too much, but you might recall a hearing we had in this committee a couple years ago where director clapper and some other leaders on the cyber and intelligence front openly admitted that after the chinese hacked the opm and stole over 20 million sf 86 forms for all our top-secret operators including members of the committee that he openly admitted we did not retaliate against them which i thought was kind of a stunning admission and to me it was part of the problem, whether it was north korea or iran, i think a couple of years ago china, certainly russia, we were viewed as kind
of the world cyber punchingbag. any of these countries could come and do what they wanted and we did not retaliate. can you tell me without revealing anything classified, do you feel you have the authority to hit back or maybe even hit back harder to make the cost of those kind ofkinds of operations against our inds country, our democracy, much more prohibited? particularly for a country like north korea and korea, where we could just drop their entire electrical grid and internet system overnight if we wanted to. >> if i might, one year ago i appeared before the committee for my confirmations, and you asked a similar question of me. i think it's important that what happened in this past year, a national strategy, a dod cyber strategy signed, the fy 19 national defense authorization act that provided us greater capabilities and greater authorities within the law was signed. a new presidential policy that came out, and finally, our
ability to have a new construct upon which we operate, which is persistent presence. all of those provide much different environments for adversaries today than it did one year ago. >> can you publicly state, in this hearing, without giving classified information, that you have the authorities, and you are not unwilling to undertake offensive operations that can help determine, whether it's chinese or north koreans hacking our companies? >> i have the authorities to compass my mission. >> or the russians attacking our electric, our election system pick >> i have the authorities that i need to compass my mission. >> good. i want to ask secretary west, and general thomas, you have taken the lead over the last two years on the counter wmd mission. so, has that lead, and to me there's no important mission for
the survival of the entire nation, the entire republic, we might have threats that rise, isis, or al qaeda, they might rise and fall, but as long as we have a republic that is on the counter wmd mission, that is the most important mission. how is that going? do you need more resources on that? are there things that we can do to help you with the authorities , whether it's working with allies, more resources, to undertake that mission, in terms of the leadership that you now have with regard to that mission? >> senator, we appreciate the opportunity to perform this mission, it is a daunting, critically important mission as you mentioned, we had john haydn from strut, visiting as well this past week, and i would offer his mission, the true primary mission, and this one is connected, just underneath, the level of
cooperation and collaboration, that we enjoy with the community of action is extraordinary. which is hosted our annual seminar two weeks ago, we are about to produce our annual assessment of the secretary defense, this mission is set in space, continues to move in the right direction, i don't know on resources yet, but i daresay we will uncover some gaps in terms of collection capabilities that we, the nation, need going forward, whether it's dod or other entities. the mission is going very well for us, and i'm appreciative of the expertise that has been brought to bear. >> if i may, just one final quick question. the great, return of great power competition is spelled out in the nds, national defense strategy. how are we aligning with regard to that mission, and we over utilize the soft immunity on low intensity threats, and are we focused on them? the new nds mission on the soft side?
>> senator, from my perspective, soft is perfectly well-suited to take on this challenge, because it's cheap, it provides the nation with legend, the basic task is research allegation as you indicated, we are at capacity, so this, in turn, requires a new assessment of the threat in counterterror to repurpose forces. >> think you. thank you mister chairman. >> thank you mister chairman, general, in for break, the department of justice and the department of homeland security sent a joint report to congress, 2018 election interference. you testified before a classified session of this committee, yesterday, but the public a specific conclusion of the these two departments, was the quote, there is no
evidence, to date, that a foreign government or foreign agent had any material impact on the integrity or security of election infrastructure or political campaign infrastructure in the 2018 midterm elections. i appreciate your testimony yesterday, and i realize there are things that you cannot get into today, what can you tell us in this public setting, this committee and the public, about whether or not based on what you know, the department of justice and the department of homeland security were correct in saying there was no such interference? >> senator, i agree with regards to that report, but i can say in terms of our role with that, was within u.s. cyber clan and specifically the national security agency, we took a look at all the
intelligence information we had on our adversaries. we declassified as much of that information as we could, we shared that with the department of homeland security, and we in turn shared with that with the state and local levels, so that they had a very good picture of what we knew about adversaries that might be trying to interfere with our elections. >> to the extent that there were concerns that a foreign government or agent had an impact on the election, you concur with the public conclusion of the department of homeland security and the department of justice, that that was not such interference. >> i can curb your >> thank you very much, i appreciate that. >> all the other senators and certainly for the three witnesses, it was a very eye-
>> this weekend, american history tb looks back 50 years, at the 19 60 case. fingered versus des moines. ruling the students do not lose their 1st amendment right on school grounds. sunday morning, at 7 am eastern, two of the students involved in the case, siblings mary beth and john tinker, talk about their experiences and take questions from students during an event hosted by the state historical society of iowa. >> many cases does the spring court take? not very many. >> you tell me pick >> they take about 80. out of 10,000. 10,000. >> so less than 1%. >> but they thought this was an important case, because it had to do with students speech rights. >> in our case, the judges also split, but it was a 7-2 split, and we won, it was a very resounding victory for student rights. >> then, at eight, american
history tb will continue the discussion, with mary beth and john tinker live, on washington journal, as they take your questions and comments about their experience. and student free speech today. watch american history tb, this weekend, on c-span three. >> my name is naomi, i'm 11 years old. me and my friend carter had a walk on element tree school on the 13th. >> three years ago, i stood exactly where y'all are today, with my 1st march for life.