tv Defense Secretary Confirmation Hearing CSPAN July 17, 2019 12:31am-3:19am EDT
humility, wisdom, and independents. his unrelenting commitment to justice has left us a better nation. -- better nation." >> in 1979, a small network with an unusual name rolled out a big idea, let viewers make up their own minds. us in opened the doors to policy for all to see, bringing unfiltered coverage from congress and beyond. a lot has changed, but it is more relevant than ever. on television and online, c-span is your unfiltered view of government, so you can make your own mind up. >> on tuesday, the senate armed services committee held a confirmation hearing for defense secretary nominee mark esper. he has been serving as acting secretary since june, following patrickgnation of shanahan, who temporarily replaced former defense secretary james mattis in
requirede the 8 questions you will have to respond to audibly so we can get that in the record. if you would hear to the regulations of interest? >> yes sir. >> have you taken any actions that would appear to presume the outcome of the confirmation process? >> no, sir. >> exercising your responsibility makes it important that this committee, subcommittees, and other appropriate committees if congress received testimony briefings, reports, recordings, records, and other information from the executive branch on a timely basis. do you agree, it is confirmed, to testify before this committee? >> yes, sir. >> do you agree to provide records, documents, electronic communications in a timely matter when requested by this committee, subcommittees, or
other appropriate committees of congress, and to results with the request or basis of any good faith delay or denial in providing such records? >> yes, sir. staffl you ensure your can go with deadlines of the production of the reports, records, and other information, including timely responding to hearing questions for the record? >> yes, sir. >> will you cooperate in providing witnesses and briefs in response to congressional requests? >> yes, sir. >> finally, will both witnessed be protected from the testimony in briefings? >> yes, sir. confirmed leader to guide the department of defense. we always say the same thing, and ist challenging time i
agree with this. a confirmed secretary of defense will be more effective in the pentagon, washington, and around the world. you have been nominated to lead the department of defense and america's military to the historic transition. in the last decade, america's main focus was counterterrorism. we believed our military has the best of everything. the last administration that we can even cut our defense budget by hundreds of billions of dollars while fighting 2 wars and everything would turn out fine. we found out that was not the case. while the cut in our defense budget was taking place between 2015,o years of 2010 and the cuts were 25%. according to the economists, this is a document that senator wicker first caught our attention to, we found it to be
accurate. hours 25%,re cutting the chinese were increasing their military spending in that same timeframe, 83%. today, we find ourselves in a new and different moment for security. the american people can no longer take america's military superiority for granted. china and russia have caught up in key areas and are catching up in other areas. strategy,al defense the document we have used and had a hearing on, and everyone agrees it is a bipartisan document, one that should be used and has been used for that purpose. president trump has supported a new national defense strategy with his defense budget putting us to a path to repair readiness
and restore our military advantage. remains. most important, we need a budget agreement. if we do not get a budget agreement to deal with fiscal year 2020 that includes the growth on the top line, we will we have the progress made in fiscal years 2018 and 2019. line in theour top first of this new administration was some $100 billion. after that, fiscal year 2019, $716 billion. at $750l, we are billion. we want to avoid the commission report. it said "unpredictable and delayed funding increase to the national defense security in
place." this isn't only about money, we out of thisur way abou competition with china and russia. we need scale. that requires hard choices about threats and priorities, critical defense investments, and new concepts. these are choices made by a strong secretary of defense who enjoys the trust and confidence of the president, and has the support of those interested in critical civilian leadership positions in the department of defense. we will recognize senator reid for his opening statement. and recognize senator hoeven for an introduction. >> i join you in welcoming secretary esper to this morning's hearing. i would like to welcome his family, including his wife and their children. the effort is not just individual member, but the family. we appreciate their services for many years.
qualificationour for secretary of defense, you have a wealth of experience in defense policy, including recent services as secretary of the army. you also served in senior leadership positions in the public and private sector. if confirmed, your background experience should serve you well. it has been nearly seven months since the department had a secretary come -- senate confirmed secretary defense. no other time has the office remained vacant for so long. obligating the situation, secretary esper cannot serve as secretary of defense now that he has been nominated for the position. given these extraordinary set of circumstances, the chairman and i agree it is important to consider the nomination as expeditiously as possible. let me be clear, this confirmation should not be a matter.
while secretary esper has been performing the duties of secretary for the past several weeks, and has served as secretary of the army, the duties of secretary are unique. i believe it is incumbent upon this committee to that his nomination and review his altercations. nomination,er your notice the challenges facing our country. the department's focus is on competition with adversaries as we pursue a new strategic .irection made by th the threat posed by violent extremist organizations is not diminishing. the department must continue to recruit and retain high-caliber individuals while restoring readiness and having new high-end capabilities for the force. i want to raise two issues for the duty to conduct oversight of the department. anything necessary for the oversight mandate is not acceptable. acting secretary of defense
shanahan prompted a memo governing the committee's access to certain documents, including executive orders. the memo stated the trump administration would determine which material should be provided to congress based on whether the quest contains significant information to a legislative function. i think we make that determination, not the department of defense. exist between the executive and legislative branches, regardless of political party. this committee understands what information is necessary to conduct congressional oversight. requests we make to the department, we rigidly control and protect the sensitivity of information provided to us for oversight instances. the department must keep congress informed of major developments. for example, on may 5, the national security advisor announced the u.s. was to carry a strike root and bomber task force. in response to a number of troubling and escalate tory --
escalate tory things involving iran. the secretary pompeo canceled a meeting with the german prime minister in order to fly to iraq. it took the department of defense more than five days to share any information with congress. i find that unacceptable. you indicate in your advance policy questions that if confirmed, you will reassess the x or quality. -- policy. particularly if it involves surging additional military capabilities to a specific region. based on our working relationship as secretary of the army, i'm confident you will give us the needs to do the job. as was discussed during the confirmation last week, there is a staggering number of senior-level vacancies through the department. coupled with the duration of these vacancies, it has been
troubling. every member of this committee wants to ensure high-caliber candidates serve in the department. we will fully evaluate and expeditiously consider nominees for these positions. confirmed, your ability to effectively manage the challenges facing the department, as well as extensive pentagon bureaucracy, will require strong civilian leadership. i'm concerned the defense department is adrift in a way of not seeing the whole time on capitol hill. it is on ensuring these vacancies are filled quickly and with capable individuals. it is my hope you'll work for the white house to impress upon the importance of filling these positions. let me close with the following. if confirmed, you will help oversee national security policy for a president whose temperament and management skills are challenging and likely very different from your own. while i do not agree with the president on many policy issues, i want him to be surrounded by leaders who can provide thoughtful advice and counsel. diversity is important when crafting policy and making
decisions that impact the well-being of our men and women in uniform. must bermed, you able to give him the best policy advice, even if the president disagrees with your counsel and it runs contrary to his policy goals. most important, while the secretary of defense serves the president, they should never forget they also oversee the finest fighting force in the world. men and women volunteering to serve a cause greater than themselves. theirrvice members and families should always be at the forefront when considering defense policy and military action. secretary as for, if confirmed, i am confident you will do so. thank you, mr. chairman for holding the hearing. thank you. thank you. senator kaine, you are recognized to introduce our guest. >> mr. chair, ranking member read, and my colleagues on the committee, i will not introduce dr. esper, because you all know
him, but i will present him to you and recommend his nomination. you know him because of his work as secretary of the army and interaction with each of you. barbara tuchman wrote in her 1962 pulitzer prize-winning book of august."e guns " character begets power, especially in times of crisis." it is about individuals and nations. over the past two years, my interactions with dr. esper have me, have led me to the conclusion that he is a person of sound character and moral courage, which i believe are the most important traits of a secretary of defense charged with the lives of the men and women who serve the department of defense. he was born in uniontown, pennsylvania, the same town that produced general george c marshall, who became a virginian, like dr. esper. majority of mus
his life in the armed service, the u.s. military academy at west point. continuing through his carrier in the army. active guard reserve, service to the white house, service to this body. dr. esper has seen it all as an .ctive guard and reserve member work in the private sector, think tanks on national security policy, service to house and senate committees, service to individual senators, and service to republican administrations. you are familiar with his biography, but i wanted to share two instances of working with has led me toch the conclusion he is the person of character who should lead the department. one of the first phone calls i received after introduced legislation to address challenges with the and acceptably high unemployment rate of military spouses was from then secretary esper. he thanked me for the legislation, and talked about his own concern about this as
secretary of the army and wants to work together to tackle this challenge. we have worked together cooperatively on that. i have been pleased with the army's ongoing efforts in that way. the same commitment to address the quality of life of our military families was something i noticed when this committee began the investigation into the very painful circumstances surrounding substandard military housing. the initial responses by some in the department and at the bases themselves, i think we all experienced this, where skepticism, disbelief, denial, avoidance, that was not the response of secretary esper. theas the department of army that first developed the tenant bill of rights, which became the basis of one of the key provisions that we included in the ndaa this year. extended anper invitation for senator warner and i to a company to see the conditions of housing, just 20 miles south of here averaging
army base. when a secretary asks you to do something, you wonder if you will see the village version of it, where we solved this and are proud of our solution. we did not see that. he took us to the unvarnished version of problematic housing and people who had been treated badly and could not get help from their training command or their housing companies. we heard in a very blunt way about the problems these families had experienced. we had a roundtable discussion with other families around the table. when the families presented their experiences, encouraged by secretary esper to do so, and often base personnel would respond. if he detected any/ -- if he detected any delay or cannot deal with it right away, in a firm and tough way, he would not let people get by with substandard responses. he insisted the families be dealt with fairly and promptly. that willingness to display
personal accountability was very impressive, both to senator warner and me. he has been proactive and transparent. i acknowledge the comments made by the ranking member about the need for transparency and working for the committee. i think those are trademarks of exceptional leadership. most of us were very discouraged by the resignation of secretary mattis. what we have hoped for is a successor who can share the same level of candor and principal, and a willingness to remain independent, even in the most challenging circumstances. has thosedr. esper traits. i would encourage all of my colleagues to support his nomination. thank you, mr. chair. >> thank you, senator kaine. whether you call it that or not, i call it an excellent introduction. dr. esper, you are recognized for any comments you want to make. your entire statement will be made part of the record.
>> thank you, mr. chairman. i wish senator kaine can stay here for a couple of hours. chairman and half, ranking member read, and distinguished member of the committee, it is an honor and privilege to appear before u.s. the president's nominee for secretary of defense. i would like to especially thank the senator kaine for that very kind, gracias, humbling introduction. i will not let you down. you have been a leader in the because you are the father of a marine. you have taken care of our servicemen and women. enjoyed working closely with you these past couple of years. our experience at the ford assured me there is bipartisanship in this building on capitol hill, and there are leaders who will do the right thing. i know you will continue to demonstrate that leadership for our service an men and women, and our nation. i deeply appreciate your remarks.
i want to think the president for this opportunity and his confidence in me. i'm grateful for the time many of you spent with me in recent weeks. and thankful for the committee's swift attention to my nomination. although i have served 22 days as the acting secretary of defense, today, i appear before you as secretary of the army, in accordance with the vacancy act. i would like to begin by recognizing my wife and our children, who join me today. like all military families, they have made many sacrifices in support of my service to the nation. over the past 20 months, leah has traveled with me many times to go to army families and spouses in the u.s. and abroad. as a former military spouse herself, she has been an invaluable asset as we focus on a range of family issues. i want to publicly thank her for her support. i'm confident that if confirmed, she will assist me in taking care of our great families across the entire department of defense.
as many of you know, i am blessed to have served our country in a variety of capacities. on active duty and the regular army for over 10 years. both the u.s. and abroad during both war and peace. guard,rve duty, national army reserve for another 11 years. on capitol hill as a personal committee and leadership staffer in the house and senate. and the pentagon, first as a war planner in the army, second, a deputy assistant secretary of defense, and third, reserve augmenting working for the department of defense for special operations. worked in the private sectori with major corporations, and focused on china and other think tanks. most recently, as secretary of the army. this broad and diverse experience has prepared me well for the position of secretary of defense. bringfirmed, i intend to the same focus, energy,
professionalism, thoughtfulness, and commitment to the department of defense that i brought every single day to my position as army secretary. of theavid supporter national defense strategy and its clear assessment of the strategic environment we find ourselves in today. the growing threats posed by great power competitors, such as china and russia, warrant a refocused to high conflict across all military services. this requires us to modernize our forces and capitalize on rapid technological advancements, in the field such as artificial intelligence, robotics, directive energy, and hypersonic's. abrupt also build more cyber capabilities. and with your help, establish the u.s. space force. time, we must be prepared to respond to regional and northuch as iran korea, while maintaining pressure on terrorist groups, such as isis and al qaeda. this meets the current readiness with modernization, the
department's central challenge. it will require strong leadership, open and continuous dialogue with congress, and the courage to make tough decisions. toconfirmed, i intend continue advancing the strategic goals set forth by my predecessors along three lines of effort. first, we will continue to build a more lethal force by increasing readiness and modernizing for the future. the goal is to deter war. this can only be done with a strong, modern, and ready military overmatched in all domains. our adversaries must see diplomacy as their best option, because war with the u.s. will force them to bear enormous costs. second, we will strengthen our alliances and attract new partners. a strong network of like-minded nations willing and able to fight together. an advantage our adversaries do not possess. at the same time, i will continue pressing our allies and partners to contribute more equitably to our shared security, as many other
secretaries of defense have done in the past. third, we will reform the department, beginning with the state. no reform is too small. in the army, we found billions of dollars in savings by overturning hundreds of small stones many said would not make a difference. i will also continue taking the approach that bureaucratic process should not come at the expense of our men and women serving around the world. this, in anine is era of mounting fiscal challenges and competing demands, we must actively seek ways to put time, money, and manpower to invest into our top priorities. lastly, as a personal priority of mine, i intend to place focus on the well-being of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and their families. i understand very well the impact that issues such as housing and childcare, spouse employment, have on our readiness of our servicemembers. i heard this firsthand during
town halls and private meetings my wife and i held across the army over the last 20 months. our military families are willing to make sacrifices for their country. in return, i'm committed to ensuring they are cared for properly. as promised in this committee during my confirmation hearing to become secretary of the army, if confirmed, i will approach these priorities with values and behaviors proven to maximize effectiveness of any team, to act with integrity, to collaborate broadly, to treat others with dignity and respect, to encourage innovation, critical thinking, and straight talk, to empower people and hold accountable. these principles and the values we hold dearest as a profession must be lived, promoted, and upheld day in and day out by leaders. thanks of this committee, you again for your time and consideration. i'm truly honored to be part of the greatest military in the world. if confirmed, i will continue working closely with this
committee and the entire congress as we prepare to meet the challenges that lie ahead. i'm grateful for your consideration and nomination, and i look forward to your questions. >> thank you. senator kaine made a couple of comments about you accompanying him to installations in this area. i was reminded that you accompanied me and some of -- in some of these areas. you went beyond the army. we are talking about the housing problems and the first time we heard about those was at tigger air force base. you were aware of that. in that meeting that we had, the trip we had together, what was how well you did in communicating with the troops in the field. you were one of them.
at that time, i thought you were really the guy for this job. in june,were with us you were the acting secretary of defense at that time, you said the u.s. national defense strategy remains our guiding document. that is really significant. that has not happened before. we had a hearing about this. it was put together by democrats, republicans, people who were top military people in this country. no one at any time since we adopted this well over a year ago has complained it was not done properly. at that time, you talked about why it was important. also, prior to that in march, when you were the army secretary , in response to one of my questions, you said "senator,
you made a very important point, you said what we do need, we need a budget. the russians are modernizing, we must build the next generation of combat systems now before russia and china outpace us with their modernization programs." we know that is what is happening today. secretary mattis, and i appreciated the comment that senator kaine made about him, those were my sentiments, also, and he agreed with that. this is what we needed to be doing and how important it was. in the opening statement, i talked about the fact that the document -- article that appeared in the economist showed that in the same period of time we were cutting our military spending by 25%, china was increasing
theirs by 83%. you know, people out there don't know this, they don't realize that we have competition that's out there that we have not had before. when i see this, i look and i think that we have done really, we have done a better job, but we need to do a better job than we have done before. general milley, only 5% of army brigades were at the highest level of readiness. now it is 50%. that's a huge increase. we're in the right area and we're moving the right direction. anyway, in terms of the budget, this is your opportunity to weigh in on this, what we have to do in order to do the job needs to be done at this time, considering that we have peer competitors we never had before, and so i would like to have you use whatever time you need to use to talk about the significance of the budget deal that we're going to have to have. >> thank you, mr. chairman. first of all, i fully share your
remarks, and the threat posed over the long run by china cannot be overstated. for those reasons i fully support the president's budget, the need for a two year budget deal, and the need to have the authorizations and appropriations bills passed on time. i cannot overstate how important it was for dod last year to receive the budget on time. it allowed us to accelerate the readiness gains we made, modernization efforts and do the to advance our things national defense strategy tells us to do. sen. inhofe: that's good. also we asked general milley when he was in to classify areas that we have, highlight the areas where we need to catch up and he mentioned nuclear triad modernization, space, artificial intelligence, hypersonics. you touched on it in opening statement.
what would be your priorities in this list or should this be a longer list than it is? dr. esper: well, this may sound unconventional, but it goes to center reach point, if confirmed, need to staff up top tier of the pentagon soonest. you talk about the bigger picture issues you mentioned, clearly modernization, triad is top priority. i think we need to fully develop domain of space as war funding domain. we need to work on cyberspace and wide range of conventional capabilities to improve, many hinge on core technologies we can speak about through the course of the hearing. sen. inhofe: thank you, dr. esper. senator reid. sen. reed: thank you very much, mr. chairman, and mr. secretary, thank you. in your opening remarks you mention the continuing tengss
--tensions between the united states and iran. robert gates made a statement. you think the war on iran is hard, war with iran would be, dramatically worsen the situation in iraq, afghanistan, lebanon, elsewhere is hard to overestimate. do you agree with secretary gates' assessment. dr. esper: i agree we do not want war with iran. we are not seeking war with iran. we need to get back on the diplomatic channel. sen. reed: that raised the obvious question how do we take steps that mitigate escalation. kinetic activity? how do you do that? dr. esper: a couple things. foreclose theto opportunity for any miscalculation, misunderstanding by developing a concept which i understand we have set up a meeting to brief the committee on soon called operation sentinel where we do passive patrolling in the strait of
hormuz, gulf of aman to deter provocative attacks. at the same time, from highest levels of government and the president himself, he said we'll meet without precondition to discuss issues with the iranians to get us on the diplomatic path. sen. reed: you think that diplomatic path is the most thoughtful way to proceed? dr. esper: diplomacy always is. sen. reed: thank you. mr. secretary. you will likely be required in the course of your duties to opine on section 2808 for emerging funding appropriated for critical military progress to be used in the case most obviously presented for border wall construction. the legal requirement is that it must be necessary to support armed forces on the border with mexico. given the fact this is a law enforcement operation, given the fact that it is not something
typically in the operational spectrum of military forces to build walls across a border, how can you make that justification? dr. esper: that's something i need to take a look at if confirmed, senator. obviously we'll look at the advice provided by chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. in many ways, operations that dod provides at the border in support of dhs is not unlike what we have done in the past over multiple administrations and many years. it is one of the things we do, whether putting out wildfires in california, helping with hurricane recovery in texas, flooding on the mississippi, it is one of the things we provide to other parts of the government and to the american people. sen. reed: i guess one area is that you would be diverting funds from projects that you have come to us and said are critical to the military readiness posture and operations for an activity that's long term. this is a multi year project.
this is not something like a flood where you have to rush in with forces immediately within hours literally. there is a distinction and i think you should not miss that distinction. dr. esper: i agree. if confirmed, i would want to have discussions and be transparent as we move through the process. sen. reed: let me return to my comment about exhorts. i would hope that you could commit publicly that you would immediately take a thorough review and that you would revise the memorandum so we could operate in a custom that i think the committee has done with department of defense over many years, far preceding my tenure on the committee. is that something you will commit to? dr. esper: i will commit to that, senator. as you highlighted. i spent formative years in washington, d.c. on capitol hill. i know why congress is article one. i know you have important oversight functions. sen. reed: you mentioned
importance of allies and partners, mr. secretary, and there's been obviously a discord between statements the administration made with regard to nato, for example, with regard to our relationships with many allies, south koreans, japanese. do you think we can improve not only rhetoric but substance of the relationship with allies? dr. esper: there is always room for improvement with relationship between allies. i was appointed as acting secretary june 24. june 25, i took off on a plane to brussels to meet with allies, with the defense minister. one of the messages to carry forth, this administration and my personal commitment to nato as somebody that served in nato that article five commitments are ironclad, we will continue to build to strengthen partnerships and relationships. sen. reed: final question. in your dialogue with colleagues in nato, did they raise the issue of the apparent discordance and diminishment of
relationships between allies? was that a significant point they raised? dr. esper: actually, i don't recall that coming up. we discussed a range of issues, whether it involved operations in afghanistan, how we're strengthening the alliance. that particular point did not come up. sen. reed: thank you very much, mr. secretary. sen. wicker: secretary esper, thank you for your testimony. thank you for your service. it is obvious from listening to both sides of the aisle here from my colleague, senator kaine and chairman inhofe that based on their direct observation and work with you, both of them think you're an all-star. i tend to agree. i think your testimony has been right on today. and you're going to need to be an all-star because of the challenges that senator inhofe has mentioned. let me also tell you something that you already know. on this committee, chairman
inhofe and ranking member reed work as a team. there's nuances in how they would approach things, but the way they directed this committee and the writing of the ndaa, i think, i hope sends a message to the rest of the world, to those adversaries that senator inhofe was referring to in that article from "the economist" that we intend to give you and the admirals and generals working with you the tools you need to meet the challenges. now, our ndaa passed by the senate is $750 billion. the ndaa passed by the house, $733 billion. a difference of $17 billion. we're not mathematicians up here, but senator fisher and i have been talking with staff,
that's about 2.3% difference. i would say to my colleagues and say to you, if the house and senate cannot in the next few days work out the difference between 2.3% in our versions and agree on the two year budget caps number, then shame on us, we're not doing our duties. we are the article one branch of the government, we're the only people on the face of the earth, only people in the country that can do this. and we must negotiate it with the president of the united states. the secretary of the treasury is tasked with negotiating with the house and senate leaders on this. i hope you'll raise your voice, be a strong advocate. i hope at this moment you're raising your voice. we need a budget number this month. we get to september, september 15, we start having
brinksmanship, uncertainty what to do with the budget number, that becomes a problem. and thank you for talking about the things we're going to need to modernize. we are trying to bring our military up to date and then to look to the future. you mention on page 3 of your testimony, artificial intelligence, robotics, directed energy, hypersonics, robust cyber capabilities. if we go to a month long cr, perish the thought we would go to one year cr, go to a month-long cr october 1, what does it do to things listed on page 3 of your testimony as priorities? dr. esper: every day that a cr
continues is one less day we can invest in future capabilities and future technologies because a cr prohibits new starts. we are stuck funding legacy technologies and legacy equipment, and that's just in terms of modernization, senator. if you look at readiness, manning, equipping, it becomes worse. it is things you can't makeup. sen. wicker: it is different from level funding. if we could wave a magic wand, have level funding with an appropriation bill, it wouldn't matter. a cr doesn't do that, does it? dr. esper: anyone in business would say steady funding is a key to success because you can manage the work force, organize how you work in ways that are far more efficient than looking at inconsistent and unpredictable funding coming your way. sen. wicker: what does a cr, even a temporary cr, do to senator kaine's ship yards, what
does it do to military and defense manufacturing as a whole during that period, and does it save us money? dr. esper: again, for a new start program under cr, new starts are prohibited. you would not be able to begin a new program, launch a new program. you would speak to ship yards. you typically have lower levels of funding, it effects operations and maintenance. you face challenges with regard to maintenance. and again, challenges go on and on. in many cases you cannot make that up. instead, you are trapped in a situation where you're likely spending fewer dollars on legacy items, on legacy modernization priorities. sen. wicker: on a scale of one to ten, how important that we get the budget number? dr. esper: 11. sen. wicker: thank you. you're no mathematician either. thank you, mr. chairman.
>> senator shaheen. sen. shaheen: thank you, and thank you, dr. esper, for your willingness to consider taking on this very difficult challenge at this critical time. secretary, we have the opportunity to visit last week. i appreciated you coming in to talk to me. one of the things we discussed was the challenge of p task contamination that impacts 400 military installations, one of those is former military installation at piece air force basin new hampshire. -- base in new hampshire. the air force has been responsive to challenges that contamination effecting drinking water for the city of portsmouth, but it is becoming more and more a serious issue on military installations and arn cross the country. if confirmed, can you take a more proactive stance that are effecting installations and communities? dr. esper: absolutely, senator. this is an important issue. we need to own it. i don't know if we have a taskforce, for example, in
place. if confirmed, that's something i would look at doing to be sure all services are coordinated and that we approach it in a aggressive, holistic way. sen. shaheen: thank you very much. another challenge that we're seeing in new hampshire is with the kc 46 refueling tankers. the commander of transcom was making preparations to push back the retirement of 28 legacy tankers and expressed concern about costs that have been associated with this decision. i recently learned that as many as 121 active duty airmen who have been there to support refueling tankers that arrive there were one of the first national guard bases to receive the tankers, they were moved to fly the a other air bases to remain, support tanker operation capabilities that need to remain in service.
so if confirmed, can you commit to review of the kc 46 program, and second and third order effects that we're now seeing as a result of these delays? dr. esper: absolutely, senator. in the wake of our meeting, i understand you received a letter from air mobility command committing those will not be moved and in due course, actually increase number of bill s. the big issue, what is the timing of which the aircraft return to pease. you have my commitment on that. you and i worked together on things. you know i'll follow through. sen. shaheen: thank you very much. i appreciate that. the 2019 worldwide threat assessment of u.s. intel community knows our adversaries and strategic competitors look to the 2020 elections as opportunity to advance their interest. you mentioned challenges with cyber capabilities that we have. the report specifically mentions that russia's social media efforts continue aggravating
social and racial tensions, undermining trust in authorities and perceived anti-russian politicians. can you respond to adversaries like russia interested in effecting our elections? dr. esper: yes, we work as part of a whole of government approach. we of course have exceptional capabilities in cyber command. and maybe as important as capabilities last year the administration put out a new nspm 13, which really put our cyber capabilities on a more offensive footing, allowing us to lean forward. i think for those reasons, that's why you saw in 2018 elections no issues. that's why i think we're more and more confident that 2020 elections will be unfettered, if you will.
i understand we gave you a briefing, the house and senate. hopefully that was reassuring. but this is something we must stay on top of. integrity of our elections, criticality of our democracy can't be threatened. we are committed to more than playing our fair share in that regard. sen. shaheen: thank you. i very much appreciate that. both the chairman and ranking member mentioned openings that exist within the department of defense. you and i also discussed that. your commitment to try to address that as soon as possible. have you discussed with the president or white house the need to cooperate in filling the positions as expeditiously as possible and fully vet nominees that are offered? dr. esper: senator, i met yesterday before i handed over the secretaryship to secretary spencer. i met with white house representative from personnel, we went down the list of 14 current slots that didn't have a senate confirmed person, talked about each. obviously i urged them to help us push folks through. we have a few folks coming before the committee on the executive calendar now, i have
due diligence back in the pentagon to make sure we find names, recruit the right people for the four or five seats that still need to be filled. so there's a range of responsibilities and i did have that meeting yesterday with the white house to discuss that. sen. shaheen:. thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. sen. fischer: thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, mr. secretary, for your service to this country, and thank you for your willingness to continue to serve as the secretary of defense. in our meeting last week, you made a point i wanted to touch on again. in a strategic environment defined by great power competition, the most effective method of preventing great power conflict, and that is our nuclear deterrence is of growing importance. do you want to elaborate on that? i recall that the global zero report from several years ago arguing that we should reduce nuclear forces because, quote, 9/11 exposed the lack of
efficacy, indeed, irrelevance of nuclear forces in dealing with 21'st century threats. i don't think the argument was valid then and i don't believe it is valid now. what are your thoughts? dr. esper: senator, i had the privilege of working these issues on the past on capitol hill. i am convinced after studying them a nuclear deterrent is essential to our security. it is a top i already. top priority. it kept peace deterring nuclear war for 70 years now. i think the important part is to ensure that we have a modern, effective, credible and safe and reliable deterrent. we need to look at each leg of the triad. each provides certain capabilities to complement one another. it is important to our safety and security. sen. fischer: earlier this year we heard from undersecretary lord and she stressed we have reached a point where delay of
modernization is no longer an option. do you agree with her characterization that we don't have any margin of error in any of the programs, any leg of the triad, and that we must move forward with that modernization? dr. esper: it is clear that we do. each leg is in a different status, if you will. we need to modernize ground based deterrent. we have plans to do the submarines, and obviously a program under way to modernize our long range stealth bombers. sen. fischer: we saw with the house ndaa some of their concern with the gbsd. you mentioned that's an important point, we can't let up on that modernization, is that correct? dr. esper: that is correct. they're an important leg of the triad, they provide some capabilities that other legs of the triad do not. for those reasons, it is important we maintain that.
sen. fischer: you were recently in brussels and you had a meeting with other nato defense ministers. i know one of the topics you discussed was the fate of the imf treaty. as i'm sure you're aware, critics of the administration continue to promote the narrative the president's decision to withdraw from that treaty which has failed solely because of russia's actions, that's created disunity in our nato alliance. was that your impression? dr. esper: no, senator, it was not. i would say a few things. i worked these issues in the past with regard to arms control. russia has cheated or is cheating on treaties. i give the obama administration high marks for calling them out and trying to work this, and obviously secretary mattis worked the issue as well. i think the imf treaty served
us well, but only works if both parties comply. we have been dilligent complying with the treaty. in discussions with nato allies bilaterally and big room sessions, i was impressed that everybody was unified and agreed we cannot stand by while russia arms itself with intermediate range missiles, ssc 8s that are nuclear tipped and have most of europe in their range. we also agreed on a path forward and also agreed publicly. i think i mentioned it publicly, we encourage russia to come back into compliance. united states will remain in compliance with all our obligations until august 2, and after that point in time, we will continue to pursue what's in our best interests. sen. fischer: what are our next steps in response to russia's violation? dr. esper: we need to prepare air missile defenses to defeat those intermediate range missiles, and the army has been working on that as other
services are as well. then the other part is to make sure that we develop our own conventional imf range missiles to deal not just with russia but china. most of china's inventory is intermediate range missiles. we need to have the capability to respond should we god forbid get in a fight with them one day. sen. fischer: thank you, mr. secretary. sen. blumenthal: thank you, mr. chairman. welcome, dr. esper. thank you for your service to our nation. thank you to your family as well. we haven't had a chance to visit yet, but i hope before the vote we will have an opportunity to get together. and i hope also that you'll have an opportunity to visit connecticut, particularly our sub base and ship yard which as you know is the submarine capital of the world, perhaps stop by rhode island while you're there. dr. esper: if confirmed, you have my commitment, maybe in august as soonest.
sen. blumenthal: wonderful. that reflects a commitment you indicated to superiority in the undersea domain and in the air which involves the f-35 and the helicopter force. i notice you're nodding for the record. dr. esper: i'm sorry, yes, i do. we need to sustain the f-35 program. it is the world's premier fifth generation fighter which provides extraordinary capabilities. you mention rotary wing. the army undertook initiative, top priority to modernize aviation fleet, future vertical lyft. ift. there are exceeding opportunities to give unprecedented range, pay load and what not. the third thing you mentioned, we have to modernize the submarine force. the boomers, if you will. i had the privilege on the past of being on the vessels, they're impressive, but need to be modernized to deal with challenges today and in the future. sen. blumenthal: i want to raise
a topic that i raised with then acting secretary shanahan about dod expenditures at trump branded properties. in response to my question to him, the department provided a list of expenditures by civilian and uniform department of defense personnel at trump properties between january 20, 2017 and june 14, 2017. the total is about $147,000. during just those six months, the pentagon spent over $36,000 at the trump national golf club in palm beach, over $35,000 at the trump hotel, las vegas, over $16,000 at the trump hotel, trump ocean club panama, among many other lodging and restaurant expenses at trump properties. i know you're not a lawyer, but you no doubt understand the
emoluments clause forbids the president receiving money from these type of expenditures by government personnel that enrich him as owner of those properties. i would like a commitment from you that you will provide all additional information about official expenditures at these properties from 2017 to the present. and that you will commit to providing additional information about the official purpose of the government travel expenses, if any. and in fact, that you will go further and declare these properties to be off limits as establishments as the pentagon does for military personnel when they are spending taxpayer money. this money is taxpayer money, expenditures put on the government travel charge card.
i think the american people would have a lot of reservations about this practice. dr. esper: yes, sir. i will certainly look into the issue, provide as much transparency as you can. like you said, i'm not a lawyer, the request sounds like i should have a counselor with me. i will do my best, i am asking . sen. blumenthal: i am asking you commit to provide the information, not for a legal opinion. dr. esper: i am happy to provide information. this is an important chance to say one thing, too. it is very important to me to continue the long held tradition that dod remain apolitical, so my commitment is to make sure we conduct ourselves that way. i will look into the information, look into what you're saying. i want to make sure we are conducting ourselves in a professional and ethical manner at all times. sen. blumenthal: i would just add in response to the answer that you gave to my colleague, senator shaheen, about the threat from russian interference in elections, i am by no means as comforted as you seem to be
by the information available to us about the response so far by our government. it's a whole of government response, but i think that threat is real, urgent, increasing, and so far we have been doing more, but still way short of what is necessary. and that is my impression from the briefing that you referred to. i would like your commitment that you will provide more information about it. dr. esper:i would like your comt that you will provide us more information about that. >> i think this will be an ongoing threat for some time. obviously, russia is the issue.al but there are other countries out there who want to influence or change or elections. so we need to be on guard and vigilant. i can attest today -- i certainly cannot attest that 2020 will befall us. but i think we address the problem adequately. we have a lot of work to do because people want to influence
our elections. supplements out will you commit to recuse best several -- rep. blum: and -- i am fully committed to moving to my ethics of editions, laws, regulations and pledges, senator. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, secretary esper for your long history of service to the country starting first as a young army officer, continuing with time here in congress and at the pentagon and over the past two years as army secretary. thanks for continuing to serve the country in this new capacity. i want to talk briefly about a point that senator blumenthal raised, a period in your career when you were not in government but industry, specifically at raytheon. this is obviously not without president. bill clinton's secretary of defense, william perry, did time in private sector before serving as secretary of defense as did other notable pentagon leaders
like frank kendall of the obama administration. how many years were you working these issues, starting with your time as a young cadet until you left government service did you spend before going to ray thee -- raytheon? >> i spent since departing hometown at age 18, 37 years, easily 25 of those in public service. secretary cotton: dedicated to defense of this nation? >> dedicated to defense of the nation, advancing national security, absolutely, senator. it has been my life's work. >> thank you. how long were you at raytheon? >> six and a half years. >> and i would say they have a large presence in south arkansas as do most major defense contractors and other defense contractors that raytheon does a lot to contribute to national security. i am proud of those. those kansans who are helping.
putting lethal weaponry in the hands of our troops around the world. but they are obviously a for-profit company, in competition with other companies. have you fully divested from raytheon? >> i have fully divested in accordance with all ethics obligations and requirements. >> you have no ongoing stake, in theal stake performance of raytheon? >> no, i don't. the only thing remaining listed on financial disclosure form is deferred compensation, which is money i earned, which is out there. nothing that can be influenced, if you will. not contingent on raytheon's performance, either strong or poor. talk about the recusal issue. it is one thing for say a deputy assistant secretary of defense to recuse himself from issues, another thing for the secretary of defense. there are certain issues of such national import it is hard for
anyone besides the secretary to make. could you talk about how your recusal from issues related to ray thee on will work? >> yes, sir. i have a robust screening process. anything that comes before me written or people appearing before me, briefings, that would be clearly flagged and screen to ed to make sure that i remain compliant. i would remain in constant contact with our ethics personnel. they have been very helpful across the way. i also found in my time as secretary of the army and clearly with the promotion if confirmed, even higher, that i dealt nearly all the time with broad policy matters, strategy, things like that. never got into the business of picking programs or things like that.
i am fully confident of what my obligations are and i guess the important thing is to say this, i lived an ethical life. i am going to continue to live by those ethics and principals, ray thee on or others. it is my commitment to the nation's security, my commitment to men and women in uniform that drives me, not anything else. >> i know you have and will continue to live that ethical example for all the men and women of the department of defense when you're the secretary of defense. i will note that although this is often perceived as an issue for both republican and democratic dod officials and the like, members know that in some cases they have a tendency to be too hard on former associates and employers because of the perception raised when you leave industry and go to government. of course, there is lots of advantages to having that kind of industry experience as well. i want to ask you about that. this committee has prioritized opening the pentagon up to smaller companies, not the giant defense contractors, especially when it comes to leading technology. i have to say that's been done with some limited success. how do you plan to take advantage of your private sector experience to breakdown the barriers to entering the pentagon, and attractive place for startups and firms that don't have large, very large
organization with decades of experience of dealing with government contracting and acquisition at the pentagon. >> so my experience is that many ways you find your greatest innovation, greatest entrepreneurship is happening at the smaller levels, small shops, small innovators. we established army futures command to capitalize on folks coming up with cutting edge ideas. my time at ray thee on was time meeting not just with members of the company but the supply chain. having that supply chain is integral. many cases it is fragile. often folks that pay the price of extended cr, lack of new start are folks at the end of the supply chain that don't have the means to sustain themselves. i am very conscious, based on my
time in business, what it means to the supply chain. how you have to make sure you nurture them and have robustness. that drives innovation and also ensures you have the competition that drives down cost and drives up performance. >> thanks, secretary esper. i guess you won't be getting a new title if the senate votes to confirm you, but you will have a new job. i know you will have the ethical and professional -- the senator kaine praised you for and i share as well. >> thank you. >> thank you, secretary esper, for your service to our country. hagel issuedetary new guidance, a policy which directed review boards to give liberal consideration to the possibility that ptsd contributed to a veterans loss of your honorable discharge. that's why i introduced legislation to codify principles of the policy into law. the fairness for veterans act
was included as section 535 of the fiscal 2017 ndaa. i sent a letter to department of defense to get an update on the implementation of the law. i think you would agree that troops that are suffering from mental trauma associated with service should not have their records tarnished over an episode of misconduct that may be related to the trauma they're suffering from. my question to you, sir, can i get your assurance this law will be executed as intended under your leadership if confirmed, and that i can get your commitment to keeping congress informed of the law's implementation? >> yes, sir, as you described it, it seems to make sense from my time in uniform, i spent my time in war. i know the impacts. i think things like that go a long way to signaling we understand these things happen, that damage, harm is not just physical, it can be mental, and that it also goes a long way to us addressing any stigmatization with regards to mental health issues.
>> i appreciate that, and i am hearing from some of my constituents about the wait times over 12 months for decision to appeal are occurring. i would certainly like you to look into what the department needs, including support from congress to expedite decisions of status upgrades. we hope to get your commitment. >> and the bureaucracy of these things is terrible. the book cannot wait for 12 months to get something like this address. so you have my commitment to after the bureaucracy on that as well. >> great. i appreciate that. secretary esper, i want to quote from secretary mattis, his letter of resignation december 20th of 2018. he addressed it to president trump, and he said, quote, "because you have the right to have a secretary of defense whose views are beret lienldtter -- better aligned on these and other subjects, i believe it is right for me to step down from my position." in his resignation letter, he
emphasized the value of alliances and true value to the united states and of the international order. and let me quote again from the letter, he said " it must be conducive to our security, prosperity and values and we are strengthened in this effort by the solidarity of our alliances, ." at these principles, of course, are difficult to put a price on, but it was clearly central to secretary mattis and something on which he was willing to resign as secretary of defense. so my question to you is tell me a little about your view on importance of the u.s.-led international order to support our security, prosperity and our values, and would you be a secretary of defense with views more aligned with secretary mattis or more aligned with president trump? sec. esper: well, senator, as i said in opening statement, as i messaged to the field on my first day as acting secretary, the note i sent to the field said i fully support national defense strategy to include
explicitly, a line of effort which includes building alliances and strengthening our partnerships. i am fully committed to it, i realize the importance of it. the international rules based order in the wake of world war ii is the order that has ensured prosperity and security for 75 years. i am fully committed to that. i think that's one thing that's certainly under threat from russia, and certainly china. china wants to reorder the global order. they want to do everything from replace institutions to replace the dollar. so i am fully committed to that. i see the big picture if you will. that's how i commit the problems, that's how i grew up addressing these problems, if you will. >> so is it safe to say that you are more closely aligned to secretary mattis than president trump? sec. esper: i don't know where to pick between the two, but clearly i shared secretary mattis' views and i expressed that publicly. >> is there an issue or policy
you would be asked to support that would run counter to your values and principles, would you be willing to resign if it ran counter to values and principles? sec. esper: you know, in my time in the army, i grew up with the view that if you are asked to do anything illegal, immoral or unethical, that is the point you would have to consider resignation. >> you would be willing to do that? sec. esper: absolutely. >> thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. esper, i want to thank you for your service to your country, to your family. i recognize that this is one of the most challenging times when the you have tried to fill a couple of positions at the same time. but your work and your background makes you imminently -- eminently qualified for the position we're considering today. i wanted to ask a couple of questions with regard to that background which i think helps, but not sure you've had an opportunity to share with the public.
there has been some concern expressed about your time work working for raytheon. i am curious if you can discuss the insights that you have developed, how this period of life would inform your decision making, should you be confirmed as secretary of defense. sec. esper: senator, my years in business really gave me a breadth of experience and knowledge what makes industry tick, what motivates them. as the previous question we had from senator cotton, i got a rich understanding of the supply chain, how important it is, yet how fragile it is at the same time. i understand well what motivates companies in order to grow and change and adapt. and you also get a good understanding of how they organize to address work. you understand their frustrations with dod bureaucracy, where possible fixes may be. all those things and more i think really enabled me as army secretary to look hard at all of
our programs and to make sure that we got them in the right place. i will tell you of the 18 or 19 or so major defense programs we had, nearly all of them, maybe one or two were meeting costs, schedule, performance. because myself and others like undersecretary mccarthy had brought to the table a business background that helped us understand. in some cases, we leveraged about to stop production, stop acceptance of certain items, all those things we leveraged to get to the war fighter, tools, weapons, equipment they need, and tried to be good stewards of the taxpayer dollar at the same time. >> let's go to cyberspace a minute. we fight not just in the air, on land, on sea, under sea, space. cyberspace as well. you have worked as secretary of the army during a time in which cyber has become part of the focal point with regard to defense strategies.
there is a clear understanding that we can always do better, and that we divide this out in both defensive and offensive capabilities. you have received some new tools and some new capabilities the last couple months. you have got a new presidential directive that replaced ppd 20 , which allows you some latitude. you also have got i believe it is section 1632 of the national defense authorization act of 2018 where you're provided with the use of identifying cyber activities outside a war zone as traditional military activities. secretary spencer of the navy recently criticized a little bit, i think unjustly, for laying out a timely report in which he identified all major challenges the department of the navy has concerning cyber activity. i think he could have used any one of the different departments
and come up with the same result. could you share a little of your thoughts about what our needs are, and how serious threats are with regard to cyber operation, cyber security, both defensive and offensive capabilities and where you see that going with regard to cyber and its connection with the rest of the different domains? sec. esper: senator, clearly cyber is a domain of warfare. we are at war in the cyber domain now, constantly battling countries like russia and china who are trying to do everything from steel our technology, to influencing elections to put out disinformation about the united states. i think on a defensive side, we remain vulnerable, whether as a government or in the private sector. you just asked about my experience in the private sector , the private sector is also vulnerable. on the offensive side, we have a lot of capabilities, but policy had not caught up until as you said, the passage of nspm 13, probably more needs to be done. we need to remain vigilant on
that front. i'm talking at the strategic level. it also applies at the tactical level as well. the army has done remarkable work, if you will, before proceeding me, in terms of standing up army cyber command, cyber moss, officer corp, and employing those at tactical and operational level as well. we have to get used to the fact that this is a new domain of and that we will probably be in constant conflict with countries below the threshold of kinetic conflict. and that's just the way the world will be from now on. we have to continue to develop and make sure we retain cutting edge capabilities and overmatch in that area. severa >> thank you. >> thank you, chairman. secretary, i want to start and just say i appreciate your focus on technologies like artificial intelligence, hypersonics, directed energy.
sen these are our path to real offset advantages over adversaries and another way these are the path to effective deterrence. i appreciate that. look forward to working with you on those issues. a little closer to home, at least my home, i was quite pleased to learn hollowman air force base one of three finalists chosen as a location for permanent formal training unit for the f-16. as you know, since 2017 hollowman has been home to a , temporary unit, provided an unmatched location for producing new pilots, shaping our combat air power. as the air force makes its final decision, i would simply ask that you ensure their selection considers air space, existing facilities, existing infrastructure, and very supportive community and years of successful training that's already there at the existing hollowman air force base. sec. esper: i will.
sen. heinrich: thank you. i want to return to an issue that senator shaheen brought up. unfortunately, new mexico also suffered from severe environmental impacts caused by hazardous chemical runoff at military installations. i want to make clear we are very proud of our military bases in new mexico, but pfas and jet fuel at kirkland had real and adverse impacts on local communities, in particular, on the water tables they rely on in a dry environment like new mexico. water is everything with regard to community and economic development. for example, a local dairy farmer outside cannon air force base lost the entirety of his family business because of pfas contamination in the water table.
so i would just urge that the department of defense make remediation of these types of contaminants a top priority, not just pfas but jet fuels. fixing these wrongs is not only the right thing to do, but it is believe, owes its military families and the communities that support them day-in and day-out. so i would just ask that you commit to me and the committee that you will make contamination, whether jet fuel pfas, or other things that we have created along the way as we have done the hard work a top priority for the department. sec. esper: i do, senator. sen. heinrich: i want to ask one more question here. according to the report on effects of changing climate to the dod published in january this year, climate, i will quote, climate effects lead to increased maintenance and repair requirements for training and testing lands and associated infrastructure and equipment, " end quote. i would simply ask if you concur with that statement.
sec. esper: sorry, can you repeat that quote again? sen. heinrich: sure. it said climate effects lead to increased maintenance and repair requirements for training and testing lands and associated infrastructure and equipment. sec. esper: that's probably true. one of the issues we experienced in the army as we looked at the impacts of climate change was particularly in our western bases, was the impacts of desertification on installation. i am sure it is true with new mexico as well. sen. heinrich: do you think there are ways dod can be more energy resilient moving forward? do you have specific thoughts on that? sec. esper: we do. i will speak for the army. we do have a project, for example, at fort drum where we've done that, in hawaii, we have a multi fuel project we put in hawaii to make sure we had resiliency and also could provide power to our military there for an extended period of time. i think it is something we need to build into it because we rely
heavily on energy. energy is not cheap. and we need to conserve as much as we can. sen. heinrich: last week during his confirmation meeting general milley mentioned the importance of artificial daejs to artificial intelligence to dod. can you share your feelings about the importance of technologies like a.i., directed energies, as well as hypersonics in maintaining the advantage we have historically had? sec. esper: yes, sir. you mention several technologies, i share those. it is one reason in the army we restructured our rapid capabilities office to be rapid the rapid capabilities and critical technologies office. different people put different things. number one for me is artificial intelligence. i think it will likely change the character of warfare.
atelieve whoever masters first will dominate on the battlefield for many, many years. it gets to not just how we can think more quickly, how we can work autonomously and semiautonomously. i just think it is a fundamental game changer. that is why in the army, we stood up an artificial intelligence task force at carnegie mellon university in pittsburgh. we have to get there first. we have to. whoever gets there first will dominate for many years. sen. heinrich: thank you, chairman. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. secretary, thank you. and thank you for your family for a lifetime of public service and also for being willing to step up at this point in your career for this huge responsibility. it seems to me that the world has never been more dangerous any time in my lifetime than it is right now. five threats across five domains. you've talked about space and cyber as the two added domains today. i want to talk about the rise of china and the relationship that our allies play in that.
but i want to clear up one thing today. there are a lot of people who say -- we spend $700 billion in the military, i want to remind you, we had our audit of dod first november of last year. we're gaining great insight how to save money. in fact, if we were going to go to your one-year cr, there's $4 billion already identified by the department of defense they don't want to spend but they'd be obliged to spend if we end up in one year cr. you mentioned that earlier. today, china spends, if you adjust it for purchasing power parity almost on parity , with the united states. and they're focused on their naval forces. their belt and road initiative, they have 36 ports in africa, 51 ports in south america they've made these proprietary loans to. my fundamental question in a strategic relationship with secretary pompeo and secretary of state, how do we deter china in a world that we see what their interests are in the west pacific, south china sea, et cetera, as well as africa and southern asia.
how do we use our allies and relationships that we've had since world war ii to actually deter, not only china but russia in this environment? sec. esper: yes, sir. you took the answer from me. first of all, we have to have a whole of government approach. it's not just dod. it's department of state, usaid, it is hhs, it's doj. everybody has to be in on this because that is how the chinese approach it. and, you're right. we have to really muster our allies and partners to do the same, whether it is in europe or in asia. i'll tell you, in asia, many countries over there are quite concerned about china's influence. it's a hegemon, if you will. and if not that, exercising over the region. so it's something we need to work aggressively on. if not, we're going to find ourselves. -the chinese are very patient. very strategic. if you go back to arguably , probably their greatest
leader, a deng xiaoping, who had a famous saying that said something like "bide your time. hide your actions. play the long game." they are playing the long game, and we are playing the short game. i think that's where the -- what's so important about the nds, it points us to have our own long game. we don't want to be adversaries with china. we want to be competitors and compete in the economic domain, but we have to make sure we're addressing the security concerns first. sen. perdue: as you consider this role and as the president chose you, it seems there are big areas of areas to consider. three one is, your commitment to the national defense strategy. are you today committed and satisfied that the national defense strategy will serve the interest, not only of america but of the free world going forward? sec. esper: absolutely, senator. what really impressed me about the defense strategy is that for the first time ever, a state recognized china as a strategic competitor that could be an adversary if we're not careful. i was in the senate here in 2000, 2001 where we debated china's entry into the world trade organization and granted the authority.
the argument that we bought into at the time was that if we let them into these institutions they'll democratize, they'll become more benign, a normal actor on the world stage. they proved us wrong. sepulcher do michael pillsbury in his book "100 year marathon" admits it. henry kissinger is talking about the same thing. that we got it wrong. i lived over there, and i can tell you, we got it wrong. we now know from the made in china 2025, what their initiatives are to achieve. in my experience with the chinese culture is that they never tell you, and this goes back to the warring states period you mentioned earlier, and sun tzu,cius that they never tell you what they are going to do unless you don't have the wherewithal or wisdom to stop them. you have to have a close relationship with our secretary of state. sounds like you have a long background with this individual in there now. sec. esper: we have a common background. sen. perdue: and we have to have a commitment that over the long
term that we're not turning into a militaristic country. president eisenhower had that opportunity. he set the stage for the next several hundred years, i believe, by paying down the debt of world war ii and keeping us from becoming a military state. can you tell the rest of the world that that's not where we're headed with the u.s. secretary of defense and would you double down on the diplomacy answer you give thater, and explain how death has given you the applicability to transcend both worlds? sec. esper: the greatest power we have is the power of our values and our culture. people around the world aspire to come to this country for those two things alone. it's why they line up in embassies and consulates in 180 other countries around the world to come to this country because they know we believe in freedom and democracy and individual rights and all that will be protected. and that's the power that we have. that we have to leverage. it is the power of our values , our way of life, and our government. sen. perdue: thank you, sir.
thank you, mr. chairman. sen. king: welcome, mr. secretary. thank you for your service and your willingness to continue to serve. you made a point that sort of jumped out at me that i hadn't thought about explicitly before. our adversaries don't have allies. we have allies. sec. esper: that's right. sen. king: that's one of our asymmetrical advantages that we should maintain, it seems to me. you concur, i assume? sec. esper: i absolutely concur. good alliances are made of strong, capable partners. that is why when i went to n.a.t.o. to tell them how much i support the alliance, i reminded them, too that they also have article 3 commitments to build their own capacity and build their own capabilities, and that means living up to what the obama administration did a very good job at. that is advancing the well summit initiative that everybody commit at least 2% of gdp to defense. and we are far away from that right now. but a successful, collective security depends on everybody doing their fair share.
sen. king: absolutely. but the line is that we have allies. they don't. and that's an advantage we should maintain. sec. esper: not just maintain, but keep growing it. we should expand our networks. sen. king: in his nonintroduction, senator kaine mentioned the strongest message of a book that is mistakes and miscalculation leading to war. i saw a map this morning of military assets in the persian gulf in the strait of hormuz. there are so many opportunities for mistake and miscalculation on both sides. do you have any specific plans, thoughts, strategies, for deconfliction to avoid a miscalculation that could lead to a military confrontation with iran? sec. esper: yes, senator. in fact, i had the same thing came to mind when he mentioned barbara tuchman's book. is that miscalculation in sarajevo led to how many years of war and how many died on both sides? one idea from a dod perspective
was to develop this operational sentinel, whereby work with our allies and partners in the region, provide monitoring of the strait of hormuz, the persian gulf, gulf of oman, provide escorts to put ourselves in a place where we deter provocation or miscalculation. no better way was that most demonstrated than recently, where an irgc watercraft approached a british-owned vessel carrying oil. they likely would have either assaulted it or brought it into the iranian shore and created an international incident were it not for british warship intervening. just the simple thing of appearing on the scene and the worship that in itself between the irgc boats and the merchant vessel was enough to deter something that could have escalated out of control. that's the concept we're trying to envision dod throughout the strait so we don't get into a military fight. we push it into the diplomatic
realm. sen. king: do we have any mill to mill contact with the iranians, any opportunities to communicate as to what actually our intention -- my concern is that to one side making a defensive -- what they perceive to be a defensive move. the other side sees as an offensive move and that's how we make mistakes and get on the escalation ladder. sec. esper: in my short 21 days i was not made aware of any direct contacts we have, but i know we communicate them. i have through allies. where we signal what we're trying do and why. sen. king: i was going to suggest that there may be some communications through allies in the region just to avoid, again, a miscalculation. sec. esper: i believe transparency and communication is always good in these types of situations, so, again, there is no misunderstanding about one's intentions. sen. king: changing the subject. we've talked a lot today about china. a lot about russia. i'm concerned, and i'm seeing signs of connections between china and russia, cooperation.
is this a concern? and do you see this as a sort of national strategy 2.0, dealing with a combined adversary? sec. esper: i think you see a number of things happen. in some places, they're coordinating. in some places they are cooperating. in other paces it's a consonance of interest. in some places, they are competing. the senator and i talked about the arctic. that's one area -- sen. king: that's a surprise you talked about the arctic with senator sullivan, but go ahead. it is shocking. did he quote billy mitchell in that conversation? i'm sorry. [laughter] sec. esper: so the arctic is one place where russia does not want china. nor do we want china -- sen. king: china recently declared itself a near arctic nation. i guess 900 miles constitutes near. so on the same planet.
but it is a concern, is it not, of linkages between the two? sec. esper: yes, sir. absolutely. absolutely. and that's why we need to work carefully with our allies and partners. we have some allies on the arctic council who can help us in that regard. but in other areas as well, we need to work with our partners to keep that out. another country i am concerned about is egypt. we see egypt in some ways drifting off into that sphere. i want to make sure that we get them back. it's the largest land army in the -- arab army in the region. and they are an influencer. so we have to be conscious of those facts. sen. king: my time is up, but i assume he has similar concerns about turkey and what's going to there? sec. esper: even more so. they are a n.a.t.o. ally. a long-standing incapable n.a.t.o. ally. but their decision on the s-400 is the wrong one, and it's disappointing.
sen. king: thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, mr. chairman secretary esper, thank you for , being here. i want to thank you and your wife for spending time at fort bragg looking at the military housing situation. maybe i'll start there. can you give me a brief update on anything that you've been tracking specifically about programmatic changes and some of the tenant bill of rights that the army has been working on that's been scaled up to the dod? sec. esper: yes, sir. i participated about a month and a half ago. i chaired, along with secretary spencer and secretary wilson. we sat down in our first quarterly ceo board of directors meeting with the opposing ceos and talked through a number of issues. we presented them with our draft bill of rights for feedback and made clear that these are the things we're going to advance with regard to ensuring our service members were protected, that we wanted to standardize that across the services so that somebody moving from fort here to air base there could have the
same expectation of what their rights and responsibilities were. and that our next move was to really, once we nailed down that bill of rights to translate that into updated tenant leasing agreements. so it was operationalized in the legal sense. at the same time, in the army, we wish to move forward with conducting town halls and following up on any work orders. we were putting more and more people in place at each installation, fort bragg in particular, to make sure we had our own people in place on site to ensure that during pcs transitions. that there was a third-party objective person to make sure our families were not being taken advantage of. i am very encouraged. the challenge will be sustaining it in the long haul, and that will be my commitment to this committee. sen. tillis: thank you. you and i had breakfast at the pentagon a year or so ago. and you were going through your strategy to review every program, determine whether or
not -- i'm not going to mention one of my favorites here, but -- determine whether or not it really was the given scarce resources, worth pursuing certain programs. and i think in your opening testimony you mentioned a number of these rocks that you've overturned. everybody thought it wasn't worthwhile, but into a he, it has resulted in real savings. can you talk about that briefly? i have a couple other questions i hope to get in. sec. esper: we spent 50, 60 hours going program by program over 500 programs. at the end of the day we reduced, eliminated or delayed 186 programs. produced over $30 billion in savings. it was the shift from the legacy to the future. i think it reflected our commitment to the national defense strategy and that is the same time of approach -- and that is the same type of approach i hope to bring to the department if confirmed. sen. tillis: did the grass-growing bullet program survive? that was general millie's favorite. i think that was killed long ago.
the reality up here and i know this is something senator purdue is very worried about. it seems to be almost impossible for us to bridge the divide on funding. i'm very concerned about we're about to get into a posture of short-term crs. can you explain to this committee how disruptive that is to your mission and particularly in the wake of what's been a pretty good cycle of the last couple of years for reliable funding? what may suffer as a result. sec. esper: a cr, a continuing resolution, as you know, puts a number of limitations on what we can and cannot do. first of all, it funds the department at last year's level, which is likely not enough to begin with. but then it prohibits things like new starts, which is critical if you're trying to modernize the force. it prohibits no changes in quantities for production. so we're trying to rebuild our munitions stocks. if we find the need to increase the number of this or that munition, we'll not be able to do it. if the money comes late or if you don't have enough money, you can't fill training seats in your school houses. you cannot buy maintenance repair parts to some degree.
we have proposals across all the services to increase the end strength. we likely will not be able to do that as well. so it impacts everything we do across the board. and in many cases you can't reclaim that ground. you can't go back and fill a seat in a class. so it has a direct impact on training. sen. tillis: thank you. the last question i have for you, number one, i know that the other departments have done some of the work like you did in the army. i hope we'll see that identification of all programs and making tough choices go up to the dod so that you can report back similar results in the other lines of service. but the other thing we have to talk about, i don't expect you to get into details in response, if we're not going to be able to end sequestration, repealy is
-- repeal sequestration, one of the things we need to think about is what authorities or other things we could potentially consider to lessen the impact on what i think is probably one of the worst votes we've seen up here in modern history. so we need your feedback on that to weather the storm because the storm is going to cycle around and potentially in this congress. sec. esper: yes, sir. sen. kaine: thank you, mr. .hair dr. esper, are you familiar with the steven coffey phrase, the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing? sec. esper: i've not heard that before, but that's clever. sen. kaine: it's something that i like to remind myself to not focus on smaller order problems and leave bigger ones to get worse. that's one of the reasons why i was very happy to hear you testify earlier with respect to iran that diplomacy should be our preferred position. i am deeply worried about the escalating tensions with iran for a number of reasons, including, i believe an objective view would place the beginning of these escalations with the u.s. backing out of a diplomatic deal. i don't want to be in a position where we'd ever have to look our troops in the face and say we had a diplomatic deal, tore it
up and now we'll have to send you into a war. i think that would be very difficult. reasons i the other am worried about escalating tensions in the middle east is i think the main thing right now, and general milley testified for the next probably century, the relationship between the united states and china is going to be definitive, not only for our nations but even for the world. sec. esper: i agree. the challenge is making sure the near-term challenges don't consume our commitment and resourcing to the far term, the far greater challenges that we have to get on now. we can't wait 10 or 15 years. i very much -- that's the biggest challenge we face. sen. kaine: i very much worry that another war against a smaller, weaker, far away nation would take away our focus on china. and china is a full spectrum competitor. general milley was talking above, and we have talked in this hearing, you know, it could be air, sea, cyber, space, but
outside of the military realm. economic, trade, diplomacy. it is a full spectrum competitor, and we have to focus on it. let me ask you about your philosophy about this. as we focused an earlier generation on the soviet union as a key threat, one of our strong assets was the network of allies, begin with truman and n.a.t.o., and article 5, and joint defense. we had partners and allies to a degree they did not. the soviet union had satellite nations, but they didn't have the same network of partners. lesson and let's move over to asia right now. my view of china is they do a lot of deals, that they don't have allies to the same degree we do and even where we're a nation where they're doing a lot of deals there's a skepticism about china's intent. we don't have the same formalized alliance structure in the endo paycom and maybe we don't need it.
you need to do things right for today not just recreate old models. we have a lot of bilateral relationships. but talk long term from the perspective if you were secretary, what would your thinking be about sort of the alliances in the endopaycom and how to use those to advance our interest. sec. esper: you've covered it well. our alliances in asia, are anchored bilaterally with the principal, australia, japan and korea. in a perfect world you'd expand that and bring them all together but there are historical animosities to go back to world war ii and prior to prevent that. our challenge is to continue building alliances and partnerships. i think asean is a good place to start to expand that. but the bigger issue is what concerns me.
we eventually won in the cold war because russia did not have the economic might to win at the end, and they were using force. they were compelling people to be in their orbit, to be part of the warsaw pact. china has great economic power and potential and are using it. they are using it in the region to influence others. either overtly or covertly if you will. they are taking advantage of countries, small countries who need capital and they are getting them into debt in a way they're able to capture strategic ports, critical minerals and resources, you name it. but one of the biggest concerns is that they'll use their economic might. that it's only growing. it's just a matter of time before they match us and possibly surpass us. that they'll use that in a way that will pool, even likely partners if not our current ones, away from us. that's the big challenge that we face with china, that we didn't face with russia. sen. kaine: and that is a full spectrum. that's not just a dod responsibility, although the dod owns a big chunk of it. but there are others as well. sec. esper: yes, sir, that was my response earlier. i think we've got to leverage usaid, our values, our culture. every department of the united
states government. sen. kaine: how is the dod and the administration viewing turkey's decision on the s-400? as a disappointing acquisition decision or as a fundamental change in direction and possibly a fundamental change in the nature of the u.s. /turkey relationship? sec. esper: it's certainly disappointing. those are my words. very disappointing. turkey has been a long-standing n.a.t.o. ally. a very capable one. i think they were one of the original allies, if i think back to when the alliance formed. so it's very disheartening to see how they've drifted over the past several years. but the view is, the policy that i've communicated to my counterpart, if confirmed, defense minister, is that you can either have the s-400 or the f-35. you cannot have both. acquisition of the s-400 fundamentally undermines the capabilities of the f-35 and our ability to maintain that overmatch in the skies going forward. sen. kaine: thanks. thanks, mr. chair. hawlwy: thank you,
mr. chairman. congratulations on your nomination. i think you're a fantastic candidate. look forward to supporting you. i've been very encouraged today to hear you talk about the importance of nds and the much-needed strategic focus that it brings not just to the department but to the nations of the to go leadership and hopefully across the whole of government. and also about the nature of china as a strategic competitor here and now. i want to talk more about that in a little bit more detail if i could. if china were to seize control of taiwan, what would that mean for u.s. interests and for a free and open endopacific more indopacific more broadly? sec. esper: well, first of all, it would affect our obligations under the taiwan relations act of 1979. that's the first thing that came to mind when you said that. clearly what it does, it signals, contrary to what the chinese like to say, that they are willing to use force to get their way. it's something they promised. obviously, they consider china
-- taiwan, a part of china. there.re historical ties but i think that would be, it would really change the dynamics at the pacific and it would really cause a lot of concern to all their neighbors and partners for the reasons we were discussing earlier. by the way, i think that is part of what you see playing out in the streets of hong kong these days, is large concern about what is happening since jenna assumed control of hong kong in 1997 -- since china assumed in 1997.f hong kong >> the department rightly in my view has said a chinese fait accompli is a major threat we need to focus on. i've heard some argue and recently the best way to defeat a chinese fait accompli is escalating horizontally by deliberately expanding the conflict in order to impose costs on china without fully defeating the attack itself. i have to say for my own part, i'm not convinced by this. this sounds like a way to impose significantly more costs on this country, more lives lost, more treasure expended, whereas we could be focusing on blunting
the initial chinese assault and then defeating them in as limited a conflict at possible. -- as possible. so let me ask you in your opinion, what would it take to defeat a chinese fait accompli in the way that best limits the cost and the danger to americans? sec. esper: senator, i like to begin far left of the fight and talk about how do we continue to engage the chinese, encourage their development as a normal nation, as a responsible layer in the international realm, how communication our with them and diplomatic round? and how do we resolve problems diplomatically? that's where we need to go. we do not need a war with china. and that's kind of my approach. how do we deter conflict? >> as we think about that deterrence, however, and planning for it and signal what it is that we were going to do if we were confronted with situations we don't like, such as a chinese aggression against taiwan or elsewhere, the indo pacific. what is your view on how we best
limit the potential exposure to us and any such conflict. how are we going to counter chinese aggression should that ultimately come to pass? the question is really about, how are we going to prepare to do it? we hope not to have to do it. if we do, how are we going to be prepared to do it in a way that limits our exposure, but is also effective? sec. esper: i believe in ronald reagan's dictum, peace through strength. we have to have capable forces. as i said, whether it's in the cyber, space and your conventional demands of air, land and subsurface is have such a capable military that we deter any conflict whatsoever. number two, goes back to building a network of capable allies and partners who can help us present a much bigger display of commitment and resolve than we would otherwise, as ones or twos. so i think we need to look aggressively. where else we can develop relationships, and that is one thing i hope to do if confirmed,
pursue new relationships with countries like indonesia, vietnam and others to really build a community of like-minded who are not there to confront china, but to deter that behavior and restore the rules of order that have sustained us for decades. hawley: by my count, over $20 billion has been directed toward the european deterrence initiative. would you support an initiative like in the indo-pacific to make sure that it has what to needs to address interoperational shortfalls? sec. esper: yes sir, in principle. i would want to understand where the money is coming from to pay for all of that. we have to approach these issues holistically. sen. hawley: one last thing here. i have made clear my support for the president's commitment to a free and open indo-pacific and i think it's essential that our regional allies contribute to their fair share to their defense. and with that in mind, how should we expect taiwan and others to contribute to their defense, whether in terms of military acquisitions or otherwise? sec. esper: i support sales to
taiwan. again, it is a commitment we made under the taiwan relations act. i've seen in my years in d.c. administrations contribute to , that. and fulfill that in various ways. that's a place to begin with arm sales. it just gives them a capability. builds interoperability and so forth. that's where i would start. sen. hawley: thank you. thank you mr. chairman. thank you, mr. chairman. secretary esper, prior to becoming army secretary, you were the top lobbyist for raytheon, which, of course, is the nation's third largest defense contractor. now under current ethics rules, you're prohibited from participating in any decisions involving raytheon for two years after your appointment as army secretary. but because you have already been in government for 20 months, that recusal period is set to expire in november, which means you will soon be able to participate personally and substantially in matters involving your former employer.
that's a conflict of interest given that raytheon does billions of dollars worth of business every year with the defense department. so, secretary esper, your predecessor, acting secretary shanahan, committed to extend his recusal from all matters involving his former employer, boeing, for the duration of his government service. if you're confirmed, will you do the same and commit to extending your recusal from any and all matters involving raytheon for the duration of your tenure as secretary of defense? sec. esper: senator, we had this discussion in your office. sen. warren: yes, we did. sec. esper: we had this discussion a couple years ago. on the advice of my ethics folks at the pentagon, the career professionals, no, the recommendation is not to. the belief is that the screening process i have in place, all the rules and regulations and law that -- sen. warren: so let's just cut to it. you're not going to do what acting secretary shanahan agreed to do, and that is agree not to be involved in decisions
involving your former employer where you are head lobbyist for the duration of your time as secretary of defense? sec. esper: i can't explain why he made that commitment. we obviously come to -- he was -- sen. warren: but you are not willing to make the same commitment. is that right? sec. esper: he was fulfilling a different role than i am. sen. warren: you are unwilling to make that same commitment? >> he has a different professional background. sen. warren: i take that as a yes you're unwilling to make that commitment. that is not the problem with you nomination. part of the deal from raytheon when you left as their top lobbyist was a million dollars in deferred compensation after 2022. the law prohibits from you in -- from participating in matters that would affect their ability or willingness to hand you this massive payouts. catch.re is a in a recent memo, you detailed an exception to your ethics obligations by writing that you can get a waiver to participate in matters that directly and predictably affect
raytheon's financial interests so importantote, " that it cannot be refer to another official." this smacks of corruption, plain and simple. will you commit that during your time as defense secretary that you will not seek any waiver that will allow you to participate in matters that affect raytheon's financial interests? sec. esper: senator, let me correct the record with regard to what you said. at any time in the past few weeks did i request or seek or be granted any waiver. sen. warren: i appreciate that you have not in the past asked for one. but you are the one who has detailed an exception to your ethics obligation saying you can seek a waiver in the future. so i am asking, if you're confirmed, will you agree not to seek such a waiver? i think it is a fair question. it's a yes or no. i have other ethics issues i'd like to cover. sec. esper: i know. i would like to -- i think this
is a good debate. sen. warren: i'm not trying to have a debate. i want to know if you will agree not to seek such a waiver. sec. esper: let me read to you. this is a letter from the -- sen. warren: is that a yes or a no? i'll take it then as a no. you will not agree not to seek such a waiver. i have a third question to ask about ethics. i think i am entitled to ask these questions. >> i will interrupt for a moment here. esper should have the opportunity to answer the questions you're asking him. you have asked several questions. he's trying to answer a question. we'd like to recognize him to answer that question. sen. warren: i present, mr. chairman, i will get extra time then? >> yeah, you can have extra time that -- sec. esper: i would just like to submit this for the record. i won't read the whole thing in the interest of time, but it says, " at no time while serving as the secretary of army or acting secretary of defense did
me, "he is writing to request, seek or receive a waiver related to your ethics waiver." sen. warren: so i stipulated earlier that i understand you have not asked in the past. so i'll ask my question again. will you agree not to ask for a waiver during the time you serve as secretary of defense? sec. esper: no, senator, i won't because i'm going to continue to abide by the rules and regulations, and i'm going to -- i will consult with my ethics person to make sure we stay in the ethical midfield. sen. warren: thank you. i have a third question. i recently introduced legislation to prohibit big defense contractors from hiring former senior dod officials for four years after they leave government. if it were the law, you couldn't go back to work at raytheon or any other defense contractor immediately. in other words, it would help close the revolving door. if confirmed, will you commit not to work for or get paid by any defense contractor for at least four years after your government service? sec. esper: no, senator, i will
not. sen. warren: all right. let me get this straight. you're still due to get at least a million-dollar payout from when you lobbied for raytheon. you won't commit to recuse yourself from raytheon's decision. you insist on being free to seek a waiver that would let you make decisions affecting raytheon's bottom line and you are remaining financial interest, and you won't rule out taking a trip right back through the revolving door on your way out of government service or even just delaying that trip for four years after you leave government? secretary esper, the american people deserve to know that you're making decisions in our country's best security interests, not in your own financial interests. you can't make those commitments to this committee. that means you should not be confirmed as secretary of defense. sec. esper: senator, if i may answer your question, at the age of 18, i went to west point, and i swore an oath to defend this constitution. and i embraced a motto called duty and honor and country. and i've lived my life in accordance of those values ever since then. i went to war for this country.
i served overseas for this country. i've stepped down from jobs that paid me well more than what i was working anywhere else. each time it was to serve the public good and serve the young men and women of our armed services. so, no, i disagree -- i think the presumption is that anybody that comes from the business of the corporate world is corrupt. sen. warren: okay, so i'm answering the question. [bangs gavel is broken chairman: ok. senator sullivan -- you have gone two minutes over. sen. warren: no, i haven't gone over. he has gone over. and he is not willing to make a commitment that he will not engage in conflicts of interest for the company for which he was a lobbyist. this is outrageous. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank secretary esper for your service to our country. i want to thank the family members here. i have three children myself, and it's not always easy. families are in public service as well.
so i want to thank you for all that you've done for your dad and your spouse. issue. mr. secretary, i'm going to ask you, let's get back to this issue. will you commit to abide by all lies regarding your prior -- committed to abide by all laws regarding conflicts of interest with your prior employment with raytheon? unequivocally? sec. esper: absolutely. and can i make one other point? >> you may. sec. esper: it will take me 30 seconds. president obama strongly believed in ethics in government. as he was staffing out his cabinet in 2009, he reached out to the top lobbyists at raytheon at the time and brought him into his government to be the deputy secretary of defense with only a one-year recusal. because he was a good man, an ethical man. by the way, was confirmed unanimously by this committee, and went to the floor of the senate and was confirmed by a vote of i think that was 93-4. the right decision to make. i thought that person brought a
great -- >> let me raise another issue. i had a bunch of questions, but this is important. you saw senator round and cotton raise this issue. senator warren casually throws out the word corruption. casually throws out the word corruption hoping you'll get a little stink on it. in your 27 years of service to your country as a military officer, as a staffer, as someone who has gone to war for america, have you ever been accused of corruption before? sec. esper: no, sir, never in my life. thank you. sen. sullivan: you and i have had many good meetings. i appreciated our visit up in alaska. let me highlight a couple of areas where i think the pentagon needs to focus more. you've heard a lot about allies from both sides which i think is important. you talked about the national defense strategy. senator hawley was talking about china. i think the national defense strategy does a great job in terms of raising the issue of
the rise of china and our focus on the indo-pacific. one area where i think we need to do a better job is our force one area where i think we need to do a better job is our force posture in the region. will you commit to work with this committee with regard to our force posture in the indo pacific? >> yes, sir, because i think it's totally consistent with the national defense strategy which is what i'm committed to do. sen. sullivan: let me talk to the issue of the arctic. i don't want to disappoint senator king by not raising these issues. so i will. it does seem like most agencies in town with the exception of the pentagon are focused on this. you may have seen secretary pompeo gave a very important speech on the strategic interests. we have -- mr. chairman, i'm going to submit
for the record several articles in the last couple of weeks that the focus on russia, china's interests in the arctic, how it's a strategic area, how a lot of washington is waking up to this with the exception of the pentagon. you and i have talked about this a lot. let me give you an example. the russians are doing all kinds of things. new ports. new air fields, new military commands in the arctic. putin is talking about it as the new suez canal. and that they're going to control. and we had a provision. in this year's ndaa that just said america should have a port which it doesn't have right now that could handle resupplying a destroyer. not even an aircraft carrier in the arctic. the pentagon opposed this. fortunately, this committee rolled the pentagon's bad advice. can you commit to me to work with this committee to taking a strong look, a personal look at america's strategic and military interests in the arctic and how to protect those? dr. esper: yes, senator, i do. sen. sullivan: let me talk a
little bit about alaska, mr. secretary. you had the opportunity to visit alaska as secretary of the army. i like to say alaska constitutes three pillars of america's military might where the cornerstone of missile defense, where a platform for expeditionary forces like the 425 and 1st striker brigade which is getting ready to go to iraq and the hub air combat power for the arctic and asia pacific. as a matter of fact, by the end of thx year we'll have over 100 fifth generation combat coded fighters based in alaska. because of our strategic location, because of the fact as billy mitchell did say, i don't want to disappoint senator king. alaska was the most strategic place in the world given its strategic location. the air force is evaluating its oconis locations and deployments of kc-46s. alaska has 50-year-old tankers up there. what kind of strategic message would we send our potential adversaries like russia, like
china, like north korea where supersonic fighters can get to these places from alaska within just a few hours. if we were to co-locate over 100 fifth generation fighters with kc-46 tankers in such a strategic area? what kind of message would we be sending, and will you commit to work with me and this committee for the most strategic oconis placements of our kc-46 fleet when the air force is looking to do that? dr. esper: i will, senator. sen. sullivan: and what kind of message would that co-location send? dr. esper: i think it would send -- it's hypothetical. we're committed to the nds and you would have extreme strategic reach if you were to do that. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator sullivan. senator jones?
>> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, secretary esper, for your service and for being here. thank you to your family for their support for your service. i appreciate all the work that we've done since i've been in the senate and the time we spent the other day talking about your nomination. we have talked, and you have mentioned several times. i think i know almost every question. a commitment to the nds. we're all committed to this. i think my question, though, involves how often should we be looking at the nds. how should we tweak it? we have pulled out of the jcpoa. we've seen iran enriching uranium. clearly one would argue on a path toward a nuclear arms. so how often do we look at that, and would -- what adjustments -- do you know any of adjustments that need to be made now and particularly if, in fact, we have a nuclear armed iran? how would that affect implementation of nds? sec. esper: i think strategy should be reviewed constantly and referred to constantly, and, as events change, you need to adapt your strategy to the world that you live in. so i think it is a continuous
ongoing process. there's nothing in the world right now that jumps out to me that says we need to change. while the nds speaks about russia and china has strategic competitors, it also explicitly cites the fact we have to deal with regional challenges such as iran and north korea. and others. sen. jones: as you look forward, though, and clearly we're seeing iran on a path with their nuclear program. is there -- are there things we need to be doing now that we need to prepare to prevent iran from obtaining nuclear arms? sec. esper: i do think we need to get back into a negotiated path with them. preferably an updated version of jpoa that addresses with finality a verifiable, irreversible and permanent prohibition on their nuclear
work and efforts. so that would be number one. and then also address the needs to deliver them. to me, those are two things, and at least two things in a modified cjjcpoa we want to address. even those who supported it, they'd agree that we do not need iran to go down that path. it's just bad for the region and it's bad for the continent of europe, as well. sen. jones: thank you. i want to get back to also the discussion we've had about alliances. everybody understands the alliances and how important that is. it's easier to talk about in a hearing than to do. clearly russia, china, iran, everyone is trying to threaten our alliances and break up our alliances. that's obvious from whether it's what china is doing at the belt and roads initiative to what china is doing particularly in turkey. my question, though, is, you -- you know, what can we do better because it seems to me that some of our government's own actions is also undermining
those alliances. we've got trade policies where we're fighting with our friends. we've got -- which is giving them the opportunity to talk to china. we've got the president often undermines his own intelligence folks by saying this whole russian interference was just -- is fake news. and a hoax. and cozying up and that's a term that gets used often to the leader of north korea, the leader of russia, the leader and others. what are we doing wrong in terms of that, and can't we also undermine those alliances by the actions of the government? what would you suggest we do different? sec. esper: first of all from a dod perspective, we need to keep doing now that we're doing well. i've had the chance in the past two years as secretary of the army to visit our joint maneuver center in germany where we train all of our allies together, fighting against a notional russian threat if you will. we need to sustain those things. by the way, that was a big change from when i last served in italy in the 1990s. we need to sustain those things. and i will tell you that when i
attended the defense minister in brussels as acting secretary, we were having very honest, very candid discussions thinking ahead on a number of things which we could improve the alliance in terms of readiness. we talked about the 4x30's initiative. an idea by general mattis. 30 squadrons, 30 surface combatants and 30 brigades ready within 30 days. we were taking that seriously. in terms of how we developed that. we talked a lot about 5g. how to make sure we keep 5g and huawei out of our networks. and so the alliance is really looking forward. i think they have a great leader. we have in jan stoltenberg. sen. jones: when the president does some things, are you willing to stand up and say, mr. president, your actions may be undermining our ability to strengthen these alliances. can you do that? sec. esper: my commitment to all of you is that i will always give the president or any -- all of you my candid, honest advice, what i think is the right course of action. sen. jones: and i believe your commitment, sir. i appreciate your time and effort and i look forward to your confirmation. thank you, sir.
>> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, mr. secretary, for all of your service and to your family. it's tremendous. and by the way, sacrificial service. and i know that throughout that service i'm sure you've faced people who have disagreed with your line of work. probably have even been hostile. i'm sorry it had to happen in this committee and just know that, as you can tell, by and large, we're not here to question your integrity. that's already been well established by lots of people. i appreciated your -- both in your opening statement and in your answers to questions of senator fisher, your commitment to the nuclear triad, the importance of that deterrence. and specifically the ground base strategic deterrent. as you know, north dakota is home to about 150 of the minute man 3s scheduled to be replaced as part of the modernization effort somewhere in the 2028 to
2035 time frame as they are assumed, the analysis determined they'd probably be aging out the legacy missiles about that time. but there are some that want to delay that, that think that further study is required. one of the things i really appreciated that you mentioned multiple times is the importance of understanding the long game. being committed to a long-term plan, commitment to the nds. can you speak further about the importance of, specifically, that one part of the triad, the ground base strategic deterrent and why sticking to the time frame is important. sec. esper: the time frame is important because we need to modernize the triad. it needs to be -- two parts of deterrence are having a capability and the will to use it. the capability means that the triad, at least in this case, the ground based strategic deterrent must be reliable and effective and safe as well.
and it needs to build in all the other mechanisms and needs to be cyberprotected. so that's a reason to modernize it and as i said, each leg of the triad provides different capabilities. in the case of ground-based strategic deterrence, they are -- you have much quicker means of communication. they can reach targets much more quickly and because they are a fixed site, they're more accurate. all those things are arguments of having a ground-based strategic turn option. sen. jones: -- sen. cramer: thank you. another issue that you raised a fair bit and we've talked about the new domain of space as well as cyber. the defense authorization act that comes out of this committee and then the senate includes the -- standing up a space force. the house, they call it space core. but we have had some serious consideration and discussion and some disagreement on what the leadership ought to look like for that.
there have been multiple options that have been presented, proposals by the administration, dod. the one we settled on was a version of the most recent, and that is something that would be similar to the marine relationship to the navy. and we -- i guess i'd be interested just in your thoughts about that and what we've settled on. the leadership models where i focused a lot of my attention is ensuring there's a permanency with the joint chiefs that, you know, the responsibility of the commanders to answer directly to the secretary of the air force. but some of that has been in dispute. i'd be interested in your observation observations. sec. esper: i obviously support the budget proposal that we put forward with regard to standing up the space force. at this point in time, the house has a view on that and the senate has a view. and i think, obviously, if confirmed, i'd want to engage the committee as you approach conference, both committees to come up with the right solution. i think when you step back from it, you have to ask, what are we trying to do? we're trying to
recognize that space is no longer a place from which we support combat operations or from which we look down upon the world and see what's happening. it's now a war-fighting domain. not because we made it that way but because the russians and chinese are making it that way. what you want to do to make sure we're sufficiently robust in the space war-fighting domain is to ensure you have unity of command and unity of effort. people who are focused on that as a war-fighting thing going forward to -- you know, the closest analogy i have to this, and i think i may have mentioned it to you in 1947 they pulled the army air corps out of the united states army. it freed up our aviators to think about war fighting in the air domain and how you conduct unencumbered by an hierarchy focused on ground combat. that is how i think about this problem. we have to realize it's a new domain of warfare now and requires a different organizational construct and different way of thinking about it. sen. cramer: i think your illustration is right on point.
and i appreciate again your service and your good answers. i yield. >> i appreciate that also since i'm one of the few up here who was around at that time. i remember vividly. but i would like to announce that questions for the record. we're going to try to expedite this. we're going to have a deadline on questions for the record that have to be submitted by close of business today. and we say that to the members. and i'd ask any staff that's representing someone here today to tell their member the same thing. senator manchin. sen. manchin: secretary esper, thank you very much for being here and the service you've given to our country. thank your family for being and attended with you. i've often told my children and my grandchildren, we put ourselves forward to serve in
public, public service. you'll hear a lot of things. and when you do you'll get upset about it and it kind of bothers you. it's a very small price to pay when you think about the great opportunities in life we had living in the greatest democracy and the freedoms that we have. and it's a very small price to pay. hope you realize that this is part of this process. i'm sure there are people in the private sector that would like for all of us to sign a four-year deal. no books, no speaking engagements, no income enhancement after we leave public service. i'm sure they are out there. so with that being said, thank you for your service and your stellar career. i will want to get to the thing, and you and i have talked about and you're kind enough to when we sit down. defense -- the defense industrial base has long been targeted for foreign espionage. the chinese are the greatest proliferators of that. and just to show the public a little bit, here is the javelin, the united states fgm-148 javelin anti-tank missile. it shows the h-12 red arrow anti-tank missile from the chinese. here we have the general atomics mq-9 reaper uav. and if you look below, the ch-4
rainbow uav from china. if you look also at northrop grumman fire scout unmanned hilo and look down below, secretary, the chinese svu-200 flying tiger unmanned helo. and then at the top of the food chain, the lockheed martin joint strike finder and the j-31 fighter. now there's no way this could have been -- absolutely no way any of this could have been accomplished in the record time that they did it if it wasn't for the espionage. so you and i spoke about this before. so i would ask, how are you planning to hold those services in the entire food chain, not just at the top, and we've talked about this. how can we do this, sir, and hold everybody accountable? because right now, there's no repercussion whatsoever. if they've been told espionage is happening at the lower food chain which is going to be a subcontractor to a subcontractor, somebody at the top of the food chain has to be held responsible so you might
want to answer that. sec. esper: the chinese are probably perpetrating the greatest theft of intellectual property in human history in terms of what they're doing and directly with regard to our national security. i'm well aware of this. i said earlier when we talked about cyber, i think we were vulnerable. defensively, nearly not as strong as our offenses. so we need to build it up. my time in private sector, one of my experiences i bring is the bigger companies have the means to address cybersecurity. they are working pretty hard and conscious of their supply chains. when you work your way down those chains, they don't have the means to protect themselves. and oftentimes, in my experience, again in the private sector, and the committee had a hearing on this under senator levin many years ago. that's where the chinese were getting in. sen. manchin: we know where they were getting in. sec. esper: working their way in n this small tier --
i think, quickly, if i could just ask you, would you be receptive to basically holding the primary contractor responsible for the entire food chain of the product they have been awarded? sec. esper: i would have to think about that. and not because i'm trying to dodge it but because there are, obviously, legal restrictions on what you can require. but i do think we need to tackle it together because i agree on the threat. sen. manchin: we're not going to stop it, everything i'm passing around here. that will never be stopped unless we hold everyone accountable and it's the big boys at the top that have the money to do this to protect. but also protect the opportunity for those people to be able to contract them. the second thing very quick -- sec. esper: i don't want to put a mandate on the small guy that can't afford to do something -- sen. manchin: i'm saying hold the top guy responsibility. sec. esper: well, sometimes they interpret that as then requiring -- sen. manchin: oh, they'll pass it down if they can. i understand that. sec. esper: and i understand that, too. sen. manchin: that's where the market has to balance itself out. we've got to have protections built in. i look forward to working with you. national guard. we get so many experts. when you look at what we've got. 54 cyberteams in national guard. we have -- there are national
guard space units in seven states with 1400 national guard members. conducting space duties. all this expertise and sometimes there is still a shun from our mainstream military to part-time national guard which is not the national guard we've known. tell me how you intend to strengthen that, if you can expedite that, and build off of that. cost-saving measures. sec. esper: it's a great asset. when i came to the army two years ago, i was impressed we were building the teams at that time. these are very capable people that monday through friday are working for companies, doing i.t., involved in the space, and i think we need to continue to go after them, recruit them, adapt our personnel management procedures to get them in and have them work forrous the -- work for us the weekends doing offensive -- defensive, preferably offensive cyber. sen. manchin: thank you, secretary. i look forward to voting for you. sen. inhofe: thank you. senator scott? scott: i want to thank the
secretary and your family. thank you for your dedicated years of service and you are a highly qualified candidate. i'm disappointed senator warren would demonize you after your decades of service because you served in the private sector. there are a lot of us who have been in the private sector and that doesn't taking and away from our ability to do our job. i guess she needed a moment for her presidential campaign, but i believe this -- i believe you deserve to be confirmed and i know you've done a great job as secretary of army and i know you'll do a great job in this. as you -- as we talked about, one of my biggest concerns is venezuela. we've got maduro is clearly killing citizens. kids like my grandkids don't have food, water, medicine. they're dying constantly. i've been to the border. many of us have. the russians there, china is there, iran is there, hezbollah is there. isis is there. all the bad guys are there. cuba is there. you know, xi and putin are putting up with this and supporting it. and it's wrong. so my question for you is, you know, we've -- everybody -- our
country spent a fortune in time and money in the middle east. and i question -- what the question is, is, what's the status of our u.s. forces and their readiness in this hemisphere to not only deter but to defeat any enemy that seeks to harm us? i think this is national security, us or allies, and do our enemies even think we care about what's going on because if you look at the amount of troops we have in this hemisphere versus all over the world, you wouldn't think they think we have any concern. sec. esper: senator, as you -- i think we discussed this in another meeting we had, but this is -- it is an important theater. under the national defense strategy, it was identified as an economy of force if you will. we do a number of things down there. training exercises with partners. our special operations folks are down there. i think importantly, we also leverage other parts of the government, whether u.s.
aid. one of my times in ft. benning, florida, we do training where we bring up officers from those countries to do it. to your broader point, you are right. we have an illegal maduro regime, killing their people, suppressing rights. they have driven that country into the ground. they are spreading -- the risk is that it would spread throughout the region. you're right. it has invited in all the spoilers who want to enable the illegal maduro regime or poke a finger in their eye. -- our eye. you named them all. it's something to pay attention to. i know the admiral down there, admiral fowler is focused on this. it's something i'm going to continue to pay great attention to, as has the white house, by the way. sec. scott: what sort of -- none of us want to go to war. we want maduro out and freedom and democracy, not only there but cuba and all these places. what can the department of
defense do to put more pressure on maduro to step aside? sec. esper: there are things to the pressure but there are also things we can do -- i spoke about values, one thing we need to highlight more is we've got u.s. naval ship comfort down there. she's in the waters off of eastern of south america. just those type of engagements to show america's commitment without the heavy hand we get accused of exercising in the region. at one point, when it looked like the regime would get turned over, we flew in humanitarian supplies to shall our -- show our commitment. there's things like that we can do. there are things in the cyber realm we can do. in some ways, we need to take our cues from the diplomats on the ground and find out what they recommend. what role could best move this situation forward? sec. scott: thanks for your
decades of service. i apologize, you were demonized earlier. sec. hirono: thank you, mr. chairman. nice to see you, dr. esper. as part of my responsibility i ask the following two questions of every single nominee that comes before any of the five committees on which i sit, so here are the questions. first, since you became an adult, have you made unwanted request for sexual favors or committed any verbal or physical harassment or assault of a sexual nature? sec. esper: no, senator. sec. hirono: have you faced discipline or entered into a settlement relating to this kind of conduct? sec. esper: no, senator. sec. hirono: you have testified that you would resign if you were asked to do anything illegal, immoral, or unethical. certainly, the country cannot afford to have a yes man leading the dod. i just want to ask you, there
was a time when the president did not acknowledge the importance of nato. senator mattis tried to convince him otherwise. would you have taken the same position as secretary mattis? sec. esper: if i understand your question, i would have taken the position. my second day on the job as acting -- sec. hirono: yes, i know that. but this would be standing up to the president. that's what i'm getting at. sec. esper: in terms of expressing the importance of nato? not just nato but all our allies and partners. sec. hirono: the president announced unilaterally getting out of syria. this is a move that general mattis very much disagreed with. would you have done what general mattis did, not necessarily resign, but take the position that was not a wise position on the part of the president? sec. esper: i take the position i have taken. i owe the principle, in this case my president, honest advice in what i think is the right course forward. sec. hirono: and also to uphold the constitution in the interest of our country. sec. esper: that is the oath we
swear, yes, ma'am. sec. hirono: so you were asked earlier about your support for reviewing the dishonorable discharge of service people who have come back from deployment or with deployment with ptsd, and i think that recognition of the high hinted ends -- incidence of ptsd and other illnesses, that is a good think you are acknowledging. -- a good thing. let me point to a group of people i wanted to mention to you that maybe would be similar situated. there was a recent report by npr about the plight of veterans who have fought for this country, but because of various -- a lot of incidence of ptsd they have been deported. one of the benefits would be expedited citizenship. a lot don't even know they have to apply for citizenship and
this is not automatically conferred to them because they have served. apparently that is also an issue, so they are sent back. we're talking about probably hundreds of former service members who have been deported in this way. they go back to the countries of their birth and have to leave their children, et cetera. can you make sure that the naturalization process for eligible service members is clarified so they all understand, because one of the inducements to serving the country they know -- our country is the only one they know -- that they actually have to apply and they should not be under a mistaken impression this is automatic. sec. esper: yes, ma'am. i obviously have a soft spot in my heart for anybody who serves and anybody who serves and fights for their country should go to the front of the line. sec. hirono: this is a group that obviously needs your help. i don't know if this is a matter that has ever been brought to your attention, but i would want
to have a commitment from you, just as you are very concerned about those veterans who are discharged dishonorably, to review those, that this is a group of veterans you would want to help and -- yes. so you're saying yes. sec. esper: yes, ma'am. as you described it, absolutely. sec. hirono: of course, the people who are doing the deporting would be homeland security, so would you pledge that you will not expend any dod resources to help the department of homeland security identify and deport these veterans? sec. esper: in fact, ma'am, when i'd like to do if confirmed is reach out to dhs regardless and find out what's going on with this and kind of come back to you. sec. hirono: i would like that. one of the other things the president has done is he has eliminated a program called parole and place which says that family members who -- family members of those who are in service cannot be deported. he's stopped that. so i would like to have your commitment that you would
advocate for the reinstatement of the parole and place program so the service members family -- so the service members' family members are not deported while he or she is in service to our country. sec. esper: i'm no familiar with that program either but you have my commitment to look into it for sure. sec. hirono: you've been asked about -- a lot of discussion about the importance of alliances. you noted thatten wo of the -- that one of the first things he did as the secretary of the army was go to brussels to indicate the importance of nato. so i would like to ask for your commitment that one of the first things you would do, knowing the importance of indo-pacific command, the biggest physical aoar, you would go as secretary of defense to visit japan, south korea, particularly, that is something general mattis did when he became secretary. would you commit to that? sec. esper: yes, ma'am, i do. absolutely. it's too important. by the way, i'll visit headquarters as well. i did that as army secretary, it
was a fantastic trip. sec. hirono: thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. sen. inhofe: thank you. senator mcsally is recognized. however, i want to make one comment since i'm going to ask senator ernst to chair the rest of the meeting, to apologize to you for what you had to be confronted with. it was unfair, and you handled it beautifully. thank you. sen. mcsally: thank you, mr. chairman. mr. esper, good to see you again. congratulations. your nomination was tweeted out the day before you were supposed to come visit arizona. so if you're confirmed, i look forward to hosting you back in arizona not just for your mission related to your duties as compared to the army but as secretary of defense. sec. esper: sometime in my life i want to make it to fort wachuka. sen. mcsally: sometime in your life? we'll do it soon. we only have four and half minutes, so i'll go into a few here.
first, i'm grateful for your partnership since i've been in the senate specifically on the issue of combating sexual assault assault. we've gotten good initiatives in this year's defense bill to build on past initiatives. we've built on past year's initiative related to investigation and the prosecution side of things but we have more work to do on the prevention side and education side to prevent this all together. i want your commitment to continue to partner with me on this really important -- sec. esper: absolutely. let me thank you for your courage and we're fully committed to implementing the recommendations of the task force. sen. mcsally: thank you. i appreciate that. i want to talk about china. do you agree china is our biggest long-term threat to our national security? sec. esper: i don't like to paint them as a threat. certainly as a strategic -- potential. one areas of 5g. you touched on this at a recent ministerial meeting related to network security. i'm particularly concerned about recent reports this spring,
specifically a cnn story, highlighting some rural wireless carriers in america being allowed to use chinese technology on their cellular networks right near u.s. military installation, including facilities with icbm silos. again, the concern is surveillance or disruption or the potential for that. i want to get your thoughts on, are you aware of those reports and the danger of them being so close and the impacts of that, and what can we do in order to protect our assets and our bases from threats like this? >> i -- this? sec. esper: i have not heard that report. i'm not surprised. i don't believe in coincidences like that. i will tell you last summer when i was visiting fort greeley, where our missile base is, if you will, they tell me how chinese tourists wandered upon our base there. the chinese have a grand plan to collect that on us, whether it's physical collection, collection
of the internet, you name it. we need to be aware of that. sen. mcsally: exactly. just recently, secretary of commerce ross announced restrictions on u.s. tech companies selling to huawei would be relaxed, saying the ban only on companies that posed national security threat. how do you decide where that national security threat is and how we could combat it? sec. esper: my understanding is huawei would remain on the list, presumption of denial e that's -- it would only be on national security. that's where dod needs to --ticipate with congress with commerce to make sure clearly nothing has a dual capable national security nexus. sen. mcsally: great. thanks. the last, i want to continue on another element of china's aggression and concerns in the south china sea. early this month, china launched several of its df 26 missiles in the south china sea, most powerful anti-ship ballistic missile.
again, it's incredibly provocative given the timing of it all but increasing to show their aggression in the region. we do have some capabilities, of course, which we have related to combating that. i just want to get your thoughts on their aggression in the south china sea. this is just one of the last incidents and the best way we can, with our international partners, combat that. sec. esper: as i recall a few years ago, president of chin made a commitment to our president not to militaryize the south china sea and they consequently militarized south china sea. we should be concerned, because it undermines the international rule-based order. certainly in terms of freeing navigation, seas, affects commerce, undermining international law. we need to be very aware of this and need took have a strategy to go after it. sen. mcsally: thanks. again, we can't do it by ourselves, right? our leadership and executing
national defense strategy where we're having more resources dedicated to that region working with allies and partnerships to stop this. it has got to be -- sec. esper: we've exercised our rights under freedom of navigation operations, fonops, and we had participation by our allies and that's important. it's not just u.s. versus china, it should be the world versus china on these things where they are breaking the law. sen. mcsally: exactly. thanks, secretary esper. i appreciate it. >> senator duckworth. sen. duckworth: thank you. i'm the last one here? i wanted to stay because i want to go over some really important points you and i had conversations about in our meeting. i want to go over again the importance of logistics, infrastructure. as we're focused on great power competitions out lined in nds, we talked about this. it needs to be robust enough to address our shipping priorities. would you commit to me that if you're confirmed, you'll pay closer attention to our logistical needs to include funding for sea lift, airlift and other aspects of our logistics infrastructure, also
including amphibious shipping for marine corps. sec. esper: absolutely, senator. just to share with you for the broader audience. the army gets the fight through sea lift. 90% of its equipment goes by sea. if it can't get there, it won't be in the fight and won't be relevant. i had the conversation with secretary of the army, with secretary of the navy spencer. he agrees, we need to modernize and build capacity into sea lift. second with regard to marines, absolutely requisite numbers of amphibs. sen. duckworth: thank you. i want to address night courts, the savings enabled reprogramming to unifying army's efforts behind these priorities. i congratulate you for that. if confirmed, will you carry out a similar rigorous defensewide review or multiple reviews to focus on future game changer -- changers which could include ai. touch on this a little bit?
sec. esper: absolutely. the congress and american people are very generous with what they give us for defense. i think we can make better use of every single dollar certainly before we come back asking for more. sen. duckworth: thank you. again, i want to address, since i get the last word here, i guess, ongoing use of 2001 and 2002 aumfs. the u.s. constitution vests with congress the sole and solemn responsibility to declare war. however, over the past several years administrations from both parties have use it in a way that outstrips congress and has, at best, legal justifications. -- in dubious legal justifications. do you believe 2001 amumf umf2000 through a provides legal authorization for us to use force against iran. sec. esper: not to conduct a war, as you discussed, but obviously the president under article 2 has a right to respond if attacked. not in terms as you described it to conduct a war. sen. duckworth: article 2 is aside from aumf. sec. esper: if iran were to
attack us, our soldiers, we always have the right of self-defense. and to execute those types of -- numeral sen. duckworth: that's under article 2. sec. esper: that's right. sen. duckworth: i'm speaking specifically of 2001 and 2002 aumf. would either one of those authorize you to -- sec. esper: no, 2001 applies to terrorist groups and organizations and that would not be the case with regard to the country of iran. sen. duckworth: thank you. thank you. again, i want to touch a little bit on the issue of sexual assault and harassment. we've had civilian and military representatives from dod coming for years swearing to take the problem seriously and effect real change. disappointing prevalence rates rebounding. will you commit a major efforts not change in regulation but actual cultural change that needs to happen? sec. esper: absolutely, senator. this is absolutely intolerable what we see happening out there. the goal should be zero and we need to continue to jump on this
program, take care of the survivors, victims and also hold the perpetrators accountable. one of the things i found coming into the job as secretary of the army, we weren't leveraging. i think that's what you were saying. i don't think we've leveraged well enough in the past the culture of the army and chain of command that says leaders at every level down to the squad leader get involved and take this task on and prevent sexual assault and harassment before it begins, not deal with it after the fact. sen. duckworth: there's about a minute left, i want to give you the opportunity to address issues and i would think reaffirm your willingness to stand by the recommendations of ethics officers and how you would conduct yourself in terms of raittion. sec. esper: it's the spirit of it. what you grew up with in the army, i grew up with in the army, commitment to the nation, living the army life, honorable, that's what drives me. sen. duckworth: thank you for
your many years of service and i look forward to your confirmation. >> thank you very much, senator duckworth. i want you to see, mr. secretary, it is the logicti cians cleaning up the battlefield. i want to thank you and your family as well for stepping up because it does take an entire family unit to make these things work. i want to further extend my appreciation for the fact you have not only served in the united states armed services as a member of the military but the fact you've also served in public service and the private sector. i think that makes you extraordinarily well rounded and fit for the capacity that you have been nominated for. so thank you very much for that. i would like to build upon the sexual assault, sexual harassment issue that senator
duckworth and senator mcsally have mentioned. senator hirono always mentions it, as well. i have introduced a military special victims protection act, and it is really placing additional command emphasis and training oversight on full spectrum of sexual misconduct actions as well as domestic violence. a number of those domestic violence issues have not been readily addressed, i've seen, in the last several years. i think there are a number of us that are really intent on making sure, as senator duckworth said, that we are changing the culture. we can't just be out there making hollow efforts on training or education. we have to change the culture and so i'll just give you a couple seconds maybe to further reiterate your stance on that. sec. esper: again, there's no room in the army for -- i'm sorry, in the military for sexual assault or harassment of any type, bullying, you name it.
we have to continue to work on it and stamp it out. it's not just a values issue, it's a readiness issue, as well. it undermines cohesiveness of a unit. you tear down one person or many people. we need to go after it aggressively. i'm not familiar with the legislation, but it's fair to say how people conduct themselves at home is how they conduct in the workplace. you don't change personalities and behaviors. eventually, it comes out. the more ways go after and address the problem and change the culture -- one of the things in the army, too, not just starting when they get to the first unit or basic training but all the way back when they come to the recruiting station and sign paperwork to make sure they know up front we're going to hold you to a higher standard, you are going to live the army values and treat everybody with dignity and respect. start training, inculcation from -- of those values from day one and continue throughout their career in the service. sen. ernst: thank you, i
appreciate that. i know a number of us look forward for working with you on that issue. talked a lot about major -- we've talked a lot about major players, near peer adversaries as we've focused on the national defense strategy. the national defense strategy outlined three lines of effort. we haveiness, which addressed in a number of ways, building up of alliances and thank you very much for your commitment to work in a whole of government approach and working with our allies on that. then as well, our modernization of our forces and our platforms and equipment. if confirmed, would you have anything additional you would like to see we focus on as a line of effort? sec. esper: as i said in my opening remarks, i clearly support all three lines of effort on national defense strategy. again, what's personal to me, what i lived through, what my wife lived through was taking care of our families. families are critical to readiness. you can't ask soldier, sailor,
airman, marine to go out and deploy and worried about what's happening at home. we can do better, we have to strive to do better. that would be something i would want to pull up with me and make sure i emphasize in my tenure if confirmed. sen. ernst: absolutely. i very much appreciate that. we have heard the testimony from a number of those who served on this committee. they witnessed you and your family visiting some of the readiness centers that we have and addressing concerns of our military families, housing first and foremost. you and i have had many discussions about family members and service. and so thank you for that as well. you know, serving as a former soldier and as a spouse of a young enlisted soldier, just understanding some of the challenges that our families face when they are far from home and the need to support those families is very, very clear to all of us. we hope we can project that to the broader united states, as
well. but thank you for that great commitment. you answered a number of the questions, i think, that i had earlier in the committee hearing. i would remind those that are here for your members questions for the record must be submitted by close of business tonight. we will go ahead and close this hearing. again, i want to extend my gratitude to you, secretary esper for stepping up during a very challenging time as we face friends and adversaries all around this globe. with that, i will give you 10 seconds to close out your statement. sec. esper: just thank you for your time, the committee's time, for expediting the consideration of this. it's a calling. i feel it's a privilege for me to have this opportunity. again, my vow is i will not let you down in this regard, so thank you very much. sen. ernst: i believe that to be true. i look forward to supporting your nomination. thank you very much. this closes today's hearing. sec. esper: thank you.
>> here's a look at our live coverage wednesday. on c-span, the house returns at 10:00 a.m. for general speeches and noon for legislative business. members will consider a resolution that would hold commerce secretary wilbur ross and attorney general william barr in contempt of congress. the senate is back to continue consideration on a series of tax treaties that would amend existing agreements with spain, switzerland, japan, and luxembourg.
at 7:00 p.m., president trump holds a rally in greenville, north carolina. c-span3 at 9:15 a.m. eastern, the senate's homeland security and governmental affairs committee holds a hearing on migration at the southern border. later in the day, it is a house energy subcommittee hearing on modernizing and securing the electric grid. tuesday, the house adopted a resolution condemning president trump for recent comments he made about freshmen lawmakers by a vote of 240-187. republican representative susan brooks, brian fitzpatrick, will heard, fred upton, and independent just an homage voted in favor with all democrats. it was in response to a series of tweets the president posted this weekend telling a group of progressive democratic theresswoman to go back to "crime infested places from which they came."