Hearing Of The House Armed Services Committee - Department Of Defense Budget Request For Fiscal Year 2010
Chaired By: Rep. Ike Skelton
Witnesses: Secretary Of Defense Robert Gates; Admiral Michael Mullen (Usn),
Chairman, Joint Chiefs Of Staff
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REP. SKELTON: (Strikes gavel.) Ladies and gentlemen, we welcome you to today's hearing to review the budget request of the Department of Defense for fiscal year 2010.
Appearing before us today are the secretary of Defense, the Honorable Robert M. Gates, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael G. Mullen. We welcome you, and appreciate your service and your being with us. Good to see you.
Let me take a moment to thank you for what you're doing for our nation. And I'm sure I speak for all the members of this committee when I express the respect, the admiration and appreciation that we have for both of you. You're doing a fantastic job for the young men and young women in uniform, and we thank you for your service.
There's always something special about the annual budget request hearing. It's symbolic of the principle of the separation of powers, and it signals the start of a very important process. Congress will give due consideration to this request from the executive branch, and we'll work with you to make sure that it reflects the national security priorities correctly.
The challenges before us are great: We have two wars to fight and to win. We have the spread of violent extremism to roll back. We have what seems to be an ever-increasing array of new challenges to deal with, from high-tech cyber attacks to old-fashioned pirates.
Last Thursday, President Obama submitted his budget request, which includes $533 billion for the Department of Defense, which represents an increase of 4 percent from last year. These are tough economic times. Everyone knows that. And so I'm encouraged to see some modest growth in the Defense spending, even as the president attempts to strike a fiscally responsible balance. Still, I expect that we will find that the Department of Defense will have serious and compelling unmet requirements. It will be incumbent upon us to recognize them and mitigate the risk that they represent.
But before we talk about that, first let me commend you on delivering a bold product. Back in April, you said you would reorient the Department of Defense's strategic posture toward what you perceive as the most pressing needs -- the wars we're fighting today, and hybrid or irregular wars of tomorrow -- all while retaining the superiority of our conventional on the one hand, and strategic forces on the other. That's not an easy task. And while I have some questions about your underlying assumptions, I applaud your effort.
I'm especially pleased to see that even as you do begin this process of reorientation, you've remained focused on the most critical component of our national security: our people. And I think the news media misses that. But I think it's important, and I'm sure that you will point that out today: taking care of the people and their -- the troops and their families. An increase of 8.9 percent in the military personnel accounts, 2.9 percent pay raise -- all these are important examples of taking care of the service members and their families.
I'm also happy to see you fully funded the Defense Health Program, and have not tried to reduce health care costs by raising TRICARE fees. The question that now faces us is, what approach will the Department of Defense take to address the growing cost of providing health care?
I remain concerned about the current readiness of our forces. Continuous combat operations over the past seven years have consumed readiness as quickly as it -- (audio break). Repeated deployments with limited dwell time have reduced the ability of the forces to train across the full spectrum of conflict, putting the nation at risk. Equipment shortfalls hinder the forces' ability to train for and respond to other contingencies. In spite of this, the fiscal-year 2010 budget operation and maintenance request basically leaves training -- (audio break) -- steady state, and, in the case of the Army tank-miles, reduces funding.
And I also worry about the ability of the Navy to rebuild their fleet. The fleet today is as small as it has been since the beginning of World War II. For the last few years, we've heard that the Navy's goal was at least 313 ships. Every year there's a plan which shows increased ship construction in later years. Every year those increased construction plans shift even further to the right. Today we have before us a request for the construction of nine ships, but see no plan for future construction to guide our deliberations.
And it's not just ships that concerns me. It's very concerning that the Navy and Marine Corps strike fighter shortfall is with us. And when I do my math, simple arithmetic tells me that the Navy and the Marine Corps will be some 300 strike fighters short in the middle of the next decade.
On a more positive note, the request for missile defense provides our warfighters with real capabilities to meet the real threats faced by our country, its deployed forces and its friends and our allies. It increases funding for the Aegis ballistic-missile defense and the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense systems by some $900 million. It also increases funding for testing facilities.
Regarding the wars we're fighting today, it's good to see a renewed focus on the challenge of Afghanistan and Pakistan. The president's new strategy for this region is well considered and supported here in Congress. Still, we do have some questions about it, especially in light of the leadership decisions that you announced Monday. Now, you may wish to touch on that today. What are you going to need to get the job done? How are you going to go about it? And above all, how are you going to know if you have succeeded?
Let me return for a minute to your attempt to reorient the strategic direction of the department. I know you've said that only about 10 percent of this budget represents funding for those new capabilities, while 50 percent goes toward traditional warfighting needs and the remaining 40 percent of the budget supports dual-purpose capabilities that work in any scenario.
But how do we get there? I repeatedly took the last administration to task for lacking in overall strategy, and I've been encouraging the Obama administration to begin a holistic process of developing one. I need not go through the litany of -- you've heard me before talk about how President Truman came up with an overall strategy and how President Eisenhower followed in the same footsteps.
On top of that, we've heard that you have postponed some decisions until the report of this year's Quadrennial Defense Review, which will be released early next year.
So help us understand the analysis you used to come up with this budget. We understand that those things defer to the QDR, need more analysis. But what about the decisions that were made now? And I hope you will touch on that, Mr. Secretary. Last, I'd like to make two quick points. (Audio break.)
Congress still has significant concerns regarding the planned move of the Marines from Okinawa to Guam. At over $10 billion, it's an enormous project. And I'm concerned that the thinking behind it is not yet sufficiently mature. We need to do this. But this move needs to be done right. We can't undo what we have done. That's why we need to do it right in the first place.
The second is, I'd like to commend President Obama and you, Mr. Secretary, for your commitment to close the detention facility at Guantanamo and to review the legal process for bringing accused terrorists to justice. Please take a moment today hopefully to tell us where that review effort stands and what plan there is for detainees.
Now, before I turn to my friend, my colleague Mr. McHugh -- John McHugh of New York, who is the ranking member of our committee -- let me make a few quick administrative announcements.
We will rigorously adhere to the five-minute rule. We have nearly everyone here today. And it's important that we do our very best, so that everyone can ask questions.
We are starting today. We will have a noon short recess for approximately 30 minutes. The secretary and the admiral must leave at 3:00 this afternoon.
So that's why we must do our best to adhere to the five-minute rule. Of course, it goes without saying, there will be no outbursts or disruptive behavior from the gallery at any time.
So John McHugh, you're on.
REPRESENTATIVE JOHN MCHUGH (R-NY): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you for your leadership, particularly for lunch. I know I speak for all the members. That's not something we normally schedule in. And it sounds a bit flippant, but I'm sure all of us appreciate that.
I want to add my words of welcome to our most distinguished guests. I've said before, and I know we all believe very strongly, we are blessed as Americans to have such incredibly brave and sacrificing, in large measure, young men and women in uniform, serving our interest across the planet. But they become that way because of great leadership.
And we have with us today two truly great leaders, the head of our military, on both the military and the civilian side. And I have found ups and downs with -- (audio break) -- the new administration has done.
I've supported a lot of what they have attempted to do. But clearly, in my judgment, two of the wisest decisions that were made is to keep these two gentlemen endeavoring on behalf of our United States military. And I agree with you, Mr. Chairman. We're indeed fortunate that they are with us and endeavoring so hard in all of our interest.
As I've mentioned before, balancing has become a buzzword of late. It appears in Secretary Gates's very popular article in Foreign Affairs magazine that -- and it's really what I think can be fairly described as the animating principle behind the 2008 National Defense Strategy. Certainly balancing is not -- (audio break) -- unobjectionable. It's a good idea. I think it's important to note it's a lot easier to say than it is to do. And I guess the rub, gentlemen, is how we implement that balance.
And that's where we do find ourselves today, of course, as we consider the president's fiscal year 2010 budget request. Just over a month ago, Mr. Secretary, at your April 6th press conference, you took what you described as the unorthodox -- your word; I would agree -- approach of announcing the department's request in advance of the president's budget going to the Congress. This was done on the grounds that, in your description, you were reshaping the priorities of America's defense establishment. As the chairman noted, that too is, as an objective, certainly not objectionable, and in fact has much that holds it for praise.
But some of what you propose, I think, can widely be agreed as appropriate -- in particular, your efforts to make the entire department focus on and contribute to the wars we're in today. Your careful stewardship of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are highly commendable.
But that said, as the chairman indicated in his statement, we're all interested in your decision to have Lieutenant General Stanley McChrystal and Lieutenant General David Rodriguez lead our efforts in Afghanistan. And I know many of us look forward to hearing your comments on that decision during this hearing.
Yet, Mr. Secretary, it's the trade-offs that come along with your April 6th announcement that give me certainly some concern. They were bold. They were -- (audio break). You heard the chairman's commendation for that quality.
The programmatic and funding decisions in the budget, according to your prepared remarks at that press conference, were the product of a holistic assessment of capabilities, requirements, risks and needs for the purpose of shifting the department in a different direction.
Now, it's undeniable you're taking the department in a different direction. The problem, Mr. Secretary, is, from my perspective, the Congress really hasn't had yet the benefit of reviewing the analysis and data to determine how those decisions will take the department in the best direction possible.
In the view of many, this budget process has really not been holistic. The delayed release of the budget request, the infamous prohibition on providing briefs to Congress ahead of that release and the absence of a future year's defense program has left an undeniable vacuum of analysis and -- (audio break).
Sadly, those circumstances helped breed the very conclusion I suspect you wanted to avoid, that this proposal is a series of decisions whose only unifying theme is, the aggregate fits within the top line. I hope we today can help dispose of some of these serious questions, because, as I said, Mr. Secretary, I know that was not your intent.
I know there's going to be discussion that any effort to try to add back portions of this budget will be dismissed as simply the Congress attempting to protect big-ticket defense programs. But I do think that perspective overlooks what gives many solid grounds for legitimate pause on some of these specifics.
Importantly, the rationale offered for those proposals in April -- were not simply cuts to particular platforms, but they were major reductions to military requirements as well. Long-standing assumptions about the capabilities needed to hedge against the risks we face were holistically changed.
By way of example, we were told last month that additional F-22s are not required and, beyond that, the Air Force and Navy now require fewer strike fighters to accomplish their missions under the national military strategy. Another example: the Quadrennial Roles and Missions report, which made inter -- intra-theater lift a key focus in January of this year, has now become a requirement apparently worthy of cuts in April 2009, less than four months later. Conversely, the budget funds other capabilities that are not yet formally validated requirements, such as the replacement for the (Ohio ?)-class ballistic-missile submarine and the Ticonderoga-class cruiser.
As we all know, Congress has a mandated process for attempting to reform and alter the -- (and restructure ?) the requirements and capabilities of the department. That process, of course, is the QDR, the Quadrennial Defense Review. The very significant changes in this request not only occurred outside the QDR process but arrived at our door without a commeasurate (sic) level of analysis or intellectual rigor.
This committee has emphasized the need for this type of analysis. In the fiscal-year 2008 National Defense Authorization Act, we required the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to establish and assign priority levels for joint military requirements. These decisions seem, seem, to be -- have been made outside that process.
And the questions that arise out of all of this are simply these: Did the world change so much since the last QDR that we are somehow at less risk and require less capability? Can we really say that the threat of nuclear and missile proliferation is now lower than it was four years ago, to warrant such significant reductions to missile defense? Are we so confident in our diplomatic efforts with Iran and North Korea that we can afford a nearly 90 percent cut in European missile defense and a 35 percent cut to our U.S. missile defenses in Alaska and California?
Some of us, to say the least, are dubious. I worry we're tying both our arms behind our backs by reducing our defensive capabilities while also reducing our nuclear forces, as the administration plans to do in the context of the Strategic Arm Reductions (sic) Treaty we're currently renegotiating with Russia. As President Reagan quipped, "Trust, but verify." Your distinguished record, Mr. Secretary, has earned our trust, but you've not yet given us the analysis and the background that we need to verify those decisions.
That leads me back to where I started, and that's at the top line in this budget. This budget's not a 4 percent increase. At best, it's treading water. In real terms, it's a 2 percent increase. And when you consider the migration into the base budget of items previously funded in the supplemental, the growth is closer to 1 percent.
In an environment of bailouts and stimulus packages, where the federal budget has a $634 billion placeholder for health care without a program for spending the money, the message seems to be fiscal restraint for Defense and fiscal largess for everything else.
I think we can do better.
That is our job, as the chairman noted.
I would, Mr. Chairman, ask that the rest of my statement be entered in the record in its entirety and just let me close by saying this. There is much that commends this proposal we have before us, with little time to do the analysis we need. But that said, we stand ready to work with the administration and of course, as always, with you and the other members of the committee, Mr. Chairman, in doing the best we can by the men and women in uniform who serve us so ably and who these two gentlemen work so hard, day in and day out, to try to better the lives of.
So with that, Mr. Chairman, I'll yield back, and I look forward to the questions and answers.
REP. SKELTON: Without objection, your statement is placed in the record in toto.
Let me announce that I am told there will be one vote on the rule at 11:15. We'll make that a very, very quick turnaround, and hopefully everyone can be back in their seats immediately after that.
We're pleased to have Secretary Gates, secretary of Defense, with us today, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen to testify before us. The comptroller, Bob Hale, will be here for questions, as I understand it.
With that said, we look forward to your testimony, Mr. Secretary.
SEC. GATES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman, Representative McHugh, members of the committee, thank you for inviting me to discuss the details of the president's fiscal year 2010 Defense budget. There is a tremendous amount of material here, and I know you have questions, so I'll try to keep my opening remarks brief and focus on the strategy and thinking behind many of these recommendations. My submitted testimony has more detailed information on specific programmatic decisions.
First and foremost, this is a reform budget, reflecting lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan, yet also addressing the range of other potential threats around the world, now and in the future.
As you may know, I was in Afghanistan last week. As we increase our presence there and refocus our efforts with a new strategy, I wanted to get a sense from the ground level of the challenges and needs, so that we can give our troops the equipment and support to be successful and come home safely.
Indeed, listening to our troops and commanders, unvarnished and unscripted, has from the moment I took this job been the greatest single source of ideas on what the department needs to do both operationally and institutionally.
As I told a group of soldiers on Thursday, they have done their job; now it's time for us in Washington to do ours.
In many respects, this budget builds on all the meetings I've had, with troops and commanders, and all that I've learned, over the past two-and-a-half years -- (audio break) -- three principal objectives.
First, to reaffirm our commitment to take care of the all- volunteer force, which in my view represents America's greatest strategic asset. As Admiral Mullen says, if we don't get the people part of this business right, none of the other decisions will matter.
Second, to rebalance this department's programs, in order to institutionalize and enhance our capabilities, to fight the wars we are in, and the scenarios we are most likely to face in the years ahead, while at the same time providing a hedge against other risks and contingencies.
And third, in order to do this, we must reform how and what we buy, meaning a fundamental overhaul of our approach to procurement, acquisition and contracting.
From these priorities flow a number of strategic considerations, more of which are included in my submitted testimony. The base budget request is for $533.8 billion, for fiscal year '10, a 4 percent increase over the '09 enacted level.
After inflation, that is 2.1 percent real growth. In addition, the department's budget request includes -- (audio break) -- to support overseas contingency operations, primarily in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I know that there has been discussion about whether this is in fact sufficient to maintain our defense posture, especially during a time of war. I believe that it is.
Indeed I have warned in the past that our nation must not do what we have done, after previous times of conflict, and slash defense spending. I can assure you that I will do everything in my power to prevent that from happening on my watch.
This budget is intended to help steer the Department of Defense -- (audio break) -- procurement strategy that is sustainable over the long term; that matches real requirements to needed and feasible capabilities.
As you know, this year, we have funded the costs of the wars through the regular budgeting process, as opposed to emergency supplementals. By presenting this budget together, we hope to give a more accurate picture of the costs of the wars and also create a more unified budget process, to decrease some of the churn usually associated with funding for the Defense Department.
This budget aims to alter many programs. And many of the fundamental ways that -- (audio break) -- runs its budgeting, acquisition and procurement processes. In this respect, three key points -- (audio break) -- about the strategic thinking behind these decisions.
First of all, sustainability. By that, I mean sustainability in light of current and potential fiscal constraints. It is simply not reasonable to expect the defense budget to continue increasing at the same rate as it has over the last number of years.
We should be able to secure our nation with a base budget of more than a half a trillion dollars, and I believe this budget focuses money where it can more effectively do just that.
I also mean sustainability of individual programs. Acquisition priorities have changed from defense secretary to defense secretary, administration to administration and Congress to Congress. Eliminating waste, ending requirements creep, terminating programs that go too far outside the line, and bringing annual costs for individual programs down to more reasonable levels will reduce this friction.
Second, balance: We have to be prepared for the wars we are most likely to fight, not just the wars we have traditionally been best suited to fight or threats we conjure up from potential adversaries who, in the real world, also have finite resources. As I've said before, even when considering challenges from nation-states with modern militaries, the answer is not necessarily buying more- technologically advanced versions of what we built on land, in the air, or at sea to stop the Soviets during the Cold War.
Finally, there are the lessons learned from the last eight years -- on the battlefield and, perhaps just as importantly, institutionally, back at the Pentagon. The responsibility of this department, first and foremost, is to fight and win wars, not just constantly prepare for them. In that respect, the conflicts we are in have revealed numerous problems that I am working to improve, and this budget makes real headway in that respect.
At the end of the day, this budget is less about numbers than it is about how the military thinks about the nature of warfare and prepares for the future; about how we take care of our people and institutionalize support for the warfighter for the long term; about the role of the services and how we can buy weapons as jointly as we fight; about informing our requirement -- about reforming our requirements and acquisition processes.
I know that some of you will take issue with individual decisions. I would ask, however, that you look beyond specific programs and instead at the full range of what we're trying to do: at the totality of the decisions and how they will change the way we prepare for and fight wars in the future.
As you consider this budget and specific programs, I would caution that each program decision is zero sum: a dollar spent for capabilities excess to our real needs is a dollar taken from a capability we do need, often to sustain our men and women in combat and bring them home safely.
Once again, I thank you for your ongoing support of our men and women in uniform, and I look forward to your questions.
REP. SKELTON: Mr. Secretary, thank you.
ADM. MULLEN: Mr. Chairman, Mr. McHugh, distinguished members of this committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today.
Let me start off by saying I fully support not only the president's fiscal-year 2010 budget submission for this department but, more specifically, the manner in which Secretary Gates developed it. He presided over a comprehensive and collaborative process the likes of which, quite frankly, I've not seen in more than a decade of doing this sort of work in the Pentagon. Over the course of several months and a long series of meetings and debates, every service chief and combatant commander had a voice.
And every one of them used it.
Now normally, as you know, budget proposals are worked from the bottom up, with each service making the case for specific programs and then fighting it out at the end to preserve those that are most important to them. If cuts are to be made, they're typically done across the board, with the pain shared equally. This proposal was done from the top down.
Secretary Gates gave us broad guidance, his overall vision, and then gave us the opportunity to meet it. There would be no pet projects, nothing held sacred. Everything was given a fresh look and everything had to be justified. We wouldn't cut for the sake of cutting or share the pain equally for doing that as well.
Decisions to curtail or eliminate a program were based solely on its relevance and on its execution. The same can be said for those we decided to keep. I can tell you this: None of the final decisions were easy to make, but all of them are vital to our future.
It's been said that we are what we buy, and I believe that. And I also believe that the force we are asking you to help us buy today is the right one, both for the world we're living in and the world we may find ourselves living in 20 to 30 years down the road.
This submission before you is just as much strategy as it is budget. And let me tell you why.
First, it makes people our top strategic priority. I've said many times, and remain convinced, the best way to guarantee our future security is to support our troops and their families. It is the recruit-and-retain -- (audio break) -- offer them viable career options, adequate health care, suitable housing, advanced education and the promise of a -- (audio break) -- after they've taken off the uniform.
This budget devotes more than a third of the total request to what I would call the people account, with the great majority of that figure, nearly $164 billion, going to military pay and health care. When combined with what we plan to devote to upgrading and modernizing -- (audio break) -- family housing and facilities -- (audio break).
(In progress following audio break) -- particularly proud of the funds we've dedicated to caring for our wounded. There is, in my view, no higher duty for this nation or for those of us in leadership positions than to care for those who sacrificed so much and who must now face lives forever changed by wounds both seen and unseen.
I know you share that -- (audio break) -- feeling, and I thank you for the work you have done in -- (audio break) -- and throughout the Congress to pay attention to these needs.
And I would -- I would add to that the families of the fallen. Our commitment to the wounded and their families and to the families of the fallen must be for the remainder of their lives. That's why this budget allocates funds to complete the construction of additional wounded warrior complexes, expands a pilot program designed to expedite the processing of injured troops through the disability evaluation system, increases the number of mental health professionals assigned to deployed units, and devotes more resources to the study and treatment of post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries.
I remain deeply troubled by the long-term effects of these signature wounds of modern war and by the stigma that still surrounds them. Last month, during a town hall meeting with soldiers at Fort Hood -- (audio break) -- referring to the reluctance of soldiers and families to speak openly about mental health problems. Then she added, "It's the cause of a lot of suicides, I would imagine." And I would imagine she is right.
I've long believed that the stress of multiple deployments and the institutional pressure, real or imagined, to bear this stress with a stiff upper lip is driving some people to either leave the service or leave this life. It can also drive them to hurt others, as this week's tragic shooting in Baghdad appears to confirm. In fact, General Lynch out there at Fort Hood doesn't talk about suicide or crime prevention; he talks about stress reduction. That's where our collective focus must be as well, and not just from the mental health perspective, but across the force in a variety of ways.
After nearly eight years of war, we are the most capable and combat-experienced military we have ever been -- the best I have ever seen -- certainly, without question, the world's best counterinsurgency force. Yet for all this success, we are pressed, and still lack a proper balance between out-tempo and home-tempo, between COIN capabilities and conventional capabilities, between readiness today and readiness tomorrow. And that, Mr. Chairman, is the second reason this budget of ours acts as a strategy for the future: It seeks balance.
By investing more heavily in critical enablers, aviation, Special Forces, cyber operations, civil affairs, language skills, it rightly makes winning the wars we are in our top operational priority. By adjusting active Army BCT growth to 45, it helps ensure our ability to impact the fight sooner, increase dwell time sooner, and reduce overall demand on our equipment.
And by authorizing Secretary Gates to transfer money to the secretary of State for reconstruction, security or stabilization, it puts more civilian professionals alongside warfighters in more places like Iraq and Afghanistan.
Having just returned from a trip to Afghanistan, I can attest to the critical need for more civilian capacity. I was shocked to learn there are only 13 U.S. civilian development experts in all of southern Afghanistan, where the Taliban movement is strongest and the local economy is almost entirely dependent on opium production. We have twice that many working in the relatively peaceful Kurdish region of northern Iraq.
I've said it before but it bears repeating; more boots on the ground are not the answer. We need people with slide rules and shovels and teaching degrees; we need bankers and farmers and law enforcement experts. As we draw down responsibly in Iraq and shift the main effort to Afghanistan, we need a more concerted effort to build up the capacity of our partners. The same can be said of Pakistan, where boots on the ground aren't even an option, where helping the Pakistan forces help themselves is truly our best and only recourse.
Some will argue this budget devotes too much money to these sorts of low-intensity needs, that it tilts dangerously away from conventional capabilities. It does not. A full 35 percent of the submission is set aside for modernization, and much of that will go to what w typically consider conventional requirements. It fully funds the Joint Strike Fighter and F-18E/F Super Hornet programs, buys another Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, a nuclear submarine, and a third DDG-1000. It invests $11 billion in space-based programs, including funding for the next-generation early-warning satellite, and it devotes 9 billion (dollars) towards missile defense.
Ground capabilities are likewise supported, with $3 billion going towards a restructured FCS program and upgrades to the Abrams and Stryker weapons systems. We know there are global risks and threats out there not tied directly to the fight against al Qaeda and other extremist groups, and we are going to be ready for them.
In all this, Mr. Chairman, we are also working hard to fix a flawed procurement process. Programs that aren't performing well are getting the scrutiny they deserve. The acquisition workforce is getting the manpower and expertise it merits. And a struggling industrial base is getting the support and the oversight it warrants.
More critically, in my view, the nation is getting the military it needs for the challenges we face today and the ones we will likely face tomorrow. And it is getting more than a budget. It's getting a strategy to preserve our military superiority against a broad range of threats new and old, big and small, now and then.
Thank you for your continued support of that important work, and for all you do in this committee to support the men and women of the United States military and their families.
REP. SKELTON: Admiral, thank you very much.
Mr. Secretary and Admiral, both of you mentioned the need for acquisition reform, and I'm sure you know that a few days ago this committee unanimously adopted and sent to the floor an acquisition- reform measure that touches upon the major weapons systems. And it's scheduled to be taken up for a vote this afternoon in the full House of Representatives. And hopefully we can proceed there to a conference with the Senate.
Mr. Secretary, let me ask you a process question, if I may -- a process through which you arrived at this budget. The QDR is downstream, late this year and what -- to be made public, my recollection is, first part of next year. And some decisions (are ?) made now regarding future budgets. Can you tell us the process, or the -- what assumptions -- what went into the development of this year's budget? I'd appreciate that, sir.
SEC. GATES: Well, first of all, Mr. Chairman, let me describe the -- what I would call the analytical base of the decisions that we have made. One of the criticisms that has been fairly leveled at previous QDRs is that, once they were done, there was a gap between what the QDR recommended and what actually showed up in terms of resource allocation. So I would say that, for me, beginning when I first took this job, my thinking in terms of some of these issues was actually established by the last QDR, elements of which had not yet been implemented -- at least reflected in budgetary terms.
Second was the National Defense Strategy that came out last fall, that I think had a strong analytical base and provides a rationale for a lot of what you see in front of you.
Third element, I would say, is the -- in terms of this process and the analysis -- was the experience of the -- both the uniformed and civilian individuals and leaders of the Department of Defense who took part in this process over a period of three months.
It was intensive. There were virtually -- there were meetings virtually every day, three and four hours a day, for that three-month period. And a lot of analysis got done in the middle of that process.
Another, as I indicated earlier in my remarks, has been my own experience, not just in this job but going back more than 40 years in this national security arena.
Another element was the process itself and the way we went about the discussions, the number of meetings with the military leadership, both collectively and individually.
Members of the Chiefs came to see me, in some cases repeatedly, about different elements of this. And both uniformed and civilian Defense Department representatives will be more than happy to answer the questions, of members of this committee, on that process.
The -- as far as I was concerned, the inhibitions on people imposed by the non-disclosure agreement ended, when the president sent his budget to the Congress. And so people will be prepared to answer your questions fully.
I would say another element of this process that was important, from an analytical standpoint, frankly was common sense. There are a lot of these programs that, as far as I'm concerned, were kind of no- brainers.
There were some of these programs that -- where the decisions that I made were based on the fact that the programs were out of control. The requirements didn't make any sense. The costs were too high.
They couldn't meet the schedule and so on. And so it didn't require deep analysis to figure out that those programs ought to be stopped, as poster children for an acquisition process gone wrong.
And I would just conclude my comments on this. First of all, we did -- those issues where I felt -- where the chairman and I felt that there wasn't an adequate analytical base, to make a decision at this point, we did in fact defer to the QDR but also to the nuclear posture review that will be going on simultaneously with the QDR.
And that includes like the next-generation bomber. It includes the amphibious capability. There were a number of areas where we felt we did not have the analytical basis to go forward.
But let me conclude my answer to this question with a broader statement. I don't believe the problems that affect our strategy and our acquisition process are the result of a lack of analysis.
The Department of Defense is drowning in analysis. There are enough acquisition reform papers to fill my office. It seems to me that we have a process that is paralyzed by analysis and that makes making tough calls very difficult.
And so I guess my bottom line, my bumper sticker, would be the problem in the Department of Defense is not a lack of analysis, but a lack of will to make tough decisions and tough calls. And I think we've done that this time.
REP. SKELTON: Thank you very much. I will limit my questions, and from time to time I will interrupt and ask future ones.
REP. JOHN MCHUGH (R-NY): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Let's stay right where we are, Mr. Secretary. And your very fulsome answer suggests that there was a lot of analysis. I think part of the problem that we have is we have absolutely no clarity, visibility, or any insight onto that analysis, number one.
Number two, you talk about the individual systems that were involved in your decisions, and how some members are probably going to take exception to that. I would agree, but my concern is on the process. You feel very strongly about the decisions you made. I recognize that. We have, however, in law, a Quadrennial Defense Review process that isn't intended to do much of anything more than ensure that we have developed a strategy for success, whatever that success may be, that precedes the budget, that allows the budget to consider it.
Having said that, I fully agree with you -- at least your observation that the recent QDRs have been a total mismatch. But I'd much rather have a mismatch where we have set an honest strategy and failed to provide the resources, because that accounts for who failed, than to set a false strategy that is somehow melded to a budget figure that has no relationship to the threats.
And that is why this process that you undertook internally troubles me, because it doesn't comport with the QDR requirements; that in fact we were totally shut off from it. You mentioned the non- disclosure statements -- that some call a gag order -- that kept this Congress from doing its job. And that is what worries me.
And as the QDR goes forward -- and I'll come to a question at this point -- help assuage my concerns. How do we now not have a QDR process that is imbued with the conclusions that you have already made? That becomes a starting point, does it not? How do we -- how do you un-ring that bell, if the QDR proves to be a mismatch? Why are you not actually requiring the outcome that you don't want to see happen? This QDR is nothing more upcoming than a budget exercise.
SEC. GATES: Well, I would disagree with that, Mr. McHugh. I think that there are a lot of analytical areas that we're going to pursue. But I would give you an example of the mismatch between QDRs and where we have gone with our resources.
Since the QDR in 1991, it has been recommended that the Department of Defense move away from a two MCO -- two major combat operations -- fundamental approach to how we size our forces.
And we have never done that.
And I will tell you, this -- you are saying that I'm going to try and shape this QDR? My answer is, you're darn right.
And my view is that since 1991, it's been important to look at a world that was more complicated than two MCOs. And the fundamental question facing the QDR is, how do we account for a world that is not accounted for by two MCOs? And that will have huge resource implications, but it will also have enormous strategic and force- sizing implications. But that's a very overdue kind of thing.
And frankly, I think that what's needed is both managerial -- or executive -- and analytical leadership. And I'm prepared to move down that road. And if I'm on the wrong path, then I'd be happy to give way to somebody else.
But we will -- you know, the other aspect is the notion that the Congress was excluded from the internal deliberations of the Department of Defense because of this process. The only reason the Congress was included in the internal deliberations of the executive branch process in the past was because the building leaks like a sieve. It wasn't through -- it wasn't through formal releases or formal briefings up here that the Congress found out what was going on; it was because they had a hotline to virtually eery office in the building.
So it seemed to me, for us to have a coherent approach that looked at all of the aspects of the budget, we had to be able to do that without leaks. And that was the only purpose of the nondisclosure statements. Absolutely not intended to keep the Congress from knowing what's going on. And as I said, people from the department are prepared to come up here and talk about any part of this process that you-all want to talk about.
But I think that there is a strong analytical foundation here. It is grounded in the last QDR. I think it is grounded in the general direction that I have provided for the next QDR, the terms of reference. But I will assure you that the people in the Department of Defense are intellectually independent enough that they will take their own -- if they have a disagreement with what I've said, I have no doubt that they will raise that and make it a part of the process.
REP. MCHUGH: Just a for a point of clarification, Mr. Secretary, I'm not talking about the budget development; that is normally a source of tension between Congress and the leaks, whether they occur on the Virginia side of the Potomac or the Washington side of the Potomac. I'm talking about the analysis behind these very major decisions that you made, that may be totally right.
And here our discussion is a real result of the problem of the process; that it may be right, but we have no idea. Normally, we'd be provided those analyses as part of the QDR review. We were circumvented from having that opportunity. That's why I would suggest, respectfully, if you are going to break out into what you described as unorthodox -- that was your word, and I would fully agree with it -- unorthodox process, there becomes a level of added responsibility on the analysis that would have behooved us all: you, to not have to listen to me right now, which I'm sure would be a great relief to you -- you're not under oath, so you can say anything want -- (laughter); and those of us on this side who really want to be a helpful part of the process.
There's not a question there, but I just hope as we go forward we can have better lines of communications on the analysis. That's what troubles me, not your right to some sort of protections and keeping away from Congress on the budget process; I recognize that, as much as we like to have forewarning; but on analysis that leads to some pretty substantial platform recommendations without any valid analysis that we have seen.
You can talk about what's in house; we don't know that. So I appreciate your response and your -- opportunity to be here today with you.
And Mr. Chairman, I'll yield back for the moment.
SEC. GATES: Mr. McHugh, I would just -- I would just like to say, first of all, I'm always interested in your questions. But the purpose of this hearing, and of the number of hearings that you have scheduled, is, in fact, to provide an opportunity to hear the analysis that went into -- or the reasoning that went into these conclusions.
And I would just make one final point: Had I waited -- I did not want to miss the FY '10 opportunity to begin making changes in the direction of the Department of Defense and the way we do business. Had I waited for the end of the QDR and the Nuclear Posture Review, had I waited for the end of all these processes, we probably would have been looking at the FY '12 budget before I began to have any real impact. And frankly, by that time, I expect somebody else will be sitting here.
REP. MCHUGH (?): Well, I wouldn't wish from God's -- from your lips to God's ears on that one.
But let me just, if I may, Mr. Chairman, just say to you, Mr. Chairman, I recognize the imperatives the good secretary was facing and the choices he made. Perhaps we should go back and look at Section 118, at Title 10, which is the law that provides for the QDR and makes some sort of future accommodation. Because obviously there's a mismatch between that requirement as Congress has seen fit to insert itself and what -- the pressures that Secretary Gates has felt.
Thank you. I'll yield back.
REP. SKELTON: We're now under the five-minute rule.
REP. SPRATT: Mr. Secretary, Admiral Mullen, thank you both for the -- your superb service to our country and for your fresh look at our armed forces.
With the additional increment on the way to Afghanistan, I believe our total troop strength there -- ours -- will be about 60,000. Is that correct?
SEC. GATES: Sixty-eight thousand, Mr. Spratt.
REP. SPRATT: Could you give us some notion of what you think will be the ultimate number of troops we will commit there -- that we ourselves, not our allies, will have to commit there to get the mission done?
SEC. GATES: Do you want to?
ADM. MULLEN: The 68,000 will be there at the commander on the ground's request, General McKiernan, later this year. And what we are both developing are a series of benchmarks to understand and assess where we are later in the year.
There was an outstanding request from General McKiernan of another -- about another 10,000, but that really is deferred, and that was for really '10 -- calendar year '10. But what we want to do is see where we are later this year and then look at the requirements.
From my perspective, based on what I understood sort of going into this whole strategic review, the output of the strategic review is that, were that additional requirement to be validated later on -- and it has not been submitted, nor has it been approved -- but that that was about -- that was about another 10,000, and that that was about right in terms of how I saw the fight and the number of troops that we would need.
I -- at this point, you know, I don't see us moving to a level that we had in Iraq, for instance, or anything like that. But there are also circumstances which can change that, and I certainly wouldn't want to close out the commander on the ground's views with respect to what he needs in the future.
REP. SPRATT: You did note, paradoxically, that we needed additional troops with slide rules.
ADM. MULLEN: Those were actually additional civilians.
REP. SPRATT: I understand that, but you need a civilian complement that is significant to achieve the mission.
ADM. MULLEN: Yes, sir. But that -- that's a much smaller number from an analytical standpoint, in the hundreds, not in the thousands.
REP. SPRATT: If you're looking at slide rules, you'll probably do better to look for BlackBerrys and Hewlett-Packards, I think.
ADM. MULLEN: Well, I'm relating my own experience there. (Laughter.)
REP. SPRATT: (Chuckles.) Reveals your generation.
Once we get the drawdown in Iraq under way -- and 8/31, 2010, as I understand it, is agreeable to the Joint Chiefs -- can we then expect to see an improvement in the dwell time, so that we don't have 1-to-1, we have 1.3, at least, to 1?
ADM. MULLEN: Yeah. Yes, sir. With what I -- with what I can see right now in terms of our deployments and what the commanders have requested, it is probably in about mid- to late 2010 where we start to start -- sorry -- sorry where we start to see dwell time increase beyond 1-to-1 significantly.
We're seeing some of it now, but it is very spotty, particularly in the Army. Some units are actually home longer than 1-to-1. But writ large, from a commitment standpoint, it's probably mid- to late -- it's next 18 to 24 months before that really starts to get -- show some relief.
REP. SPRATT: What do we have to do to get our allies to pull their oar, to do more -- take on more serious responsibility within Afghanistan --
ADM. MULLEN: Well, I think we need to continue to engage them. I mean, that was a big part of obviously the NATO summit request. They actually have stepped up with additional capabilities. The strong desire there is less -- for me, anyway -- less on the military side than on the civilian side, the other kinds of capabilities that we need. And some of our allies have done that recently. And I think we need to continue to make that requirement known and continue to push in that direction.
I also think that -- and security's going to get harder as we add more troops -- but when we get to a point where security gets better, there will be additional civilian capabilities which would be added, tied to both better security and not just from governments but also NGOs and other kinds of requirements that we need.
REP. SPRATT: One final question. Secretary Gates, you mentioned -- -- or Admiral Mullen also -- your -- the stress and strain on our equipment in this harsh environment -- operating environment and the circuitous route -- I was about to be gaveled down; I was waiting on it to fall -- given that concern, are you concerned about stopping the F-22 at 187 planes, and what will happen when -- as attrition begins to take its toll on that force?
SEC. GATES: Well, there's very little attrition on the F-22 force, since it's never flown a combat mission in either Iraq or Afghanistan. And I would just -- you know, knowing that the F-22 is an issue of interest to folks, I think it's important to make clear to everybody that we are not cutting the F-22 force.
We are completing the program of record that was established, in 2005, in the Bush administration. That the called for 183 F-22s. That's the program of record that two different presidents, two different secretaries of Defense and two different chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff thought was the right number. We now can add the secretary of the Air Force and the chief of staff of the Air Force to that.
So there's no cut in the F-22 program. And in fact over the next five years, five-year defense plan, there's $7 billion in modernization money for the F-22. It will be an important part of our force. But we're completing a program. We're not cutting anything.
REP. SKELTON: I thank the gentleman.
REPRESENTATIVE ROSCOE BARTLETT (R-MD): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Gentlemen, thank you very much for your service to our country. My staff prepared some material for me. And it began by saying, I could not agree more with the comments made by our ranking member. I said, I haven't heard his comments. Let me reserve judgment on that, until I hear his comments.
Having heard his comments, I can say, with great enthusiasm and conviction, that I could not agree more with the comments made by our ranking member. Relative to that, Mr. Secretary, I have two questions regarding two of the programs that you have recommended major changes in.
One is the Joint Cargo Aircraft. This is a small cargo aircraft originally envisioned by the Army. Their study said they needed 78 of them. At two recent hearings, I have asked the Army and the Guard if there has been any study that indicated that they now need less than 78. They told me, there was no study that indicated they need less than 78. In fact, they needed 78.
It's my memory that the Air Force was kind of dragged reluctantly, some would say kicking and screaming, into this relationship. They needed 24 aircraft. That has not yet been added to the 28. It was going to wait, until the Air Force had solidified their needs, before that was done.
Now you're recommending that you cancel all of the future planes to the Army. It was originally their program. I'd just like some understanding, as to what's changed, because both the Army and the Guard say that nothing has changed; they still need the 78.
The next program that I have some questions about is the VH-71. So far, we've spent $3.2 billion on that program. I am told that if we now terminate it, that we'll be at about a $0.5-billion cost in the industry and about a $0.1-billion cost in the Navy for terminating that program.
That will be $4 billion, nine helicopters built, none of them ready for service.
If we did a make-ready for five of them so that they could be used, that would cost $1.3 billion, I'm told. This is about $260 million per aircraft.
I know there is a concern about a five-year service life -- that's all it's been certified for -- but I am told that the father, Thomas Locke's, was originally involved with the certification of the VH-3 -- that the VH-3 now carries twice the load that it was designed to carry. And no one will argue that it has not had a very good 30- year-plus service life. No one believes that the 71 is built less well than that. And we believe that it could be certified for a very much longer service life than that.
I'm told that the manufacturer of the helicopter will commit to a firm, fixed price bid for the original amount of 6.8 billion (dollars). This would mean that the additional cost of 1.7 billion (dollars), spread over 14 more aircraft to bring it up to 19, would cost just $120 million per aircraft.
So this program was started. We made some shortcuts in how we procured this first increment because -- and I would like to quote -- that there was -- "-- to an urgent need to get a more capable helicopter in the hands of the president." What has changed, sir, that this urgent need has gone away, that we now can wait for a new procurement and use none of these aircraft? Wouldn't it make sense to go ahead and make ready the five of these nine, and to procure the next 14 at only $120 million each? Comments, please, on these two programs.
SEC. GATES: First, on the Joint Cargo Aircraft, the C-27 has half the payload of a C-130, and costs two-thirds as much. It can use exactly 1 percent more runways or airstrips than the C-130. We have 424 C-130s in the force, two-thirds of which are in the Reserve component. We -- at this point, the Air National Guard has -- and I would say we have 36 C-130s committed to both Afghanistan and Iraq.
The reality is, here at home we have over 200 C-130s that are available and uncommitted. So the notion that cutting or limiting the C-27 program somehow reduces the ability of the Air National Guard or the Army to respond to a national disaster -- a natural disaster or some other kind of disaster here at home -- is not sustainable.
The 38 number comes simply from recapitalizing the Army's C-23 Sherpa program. We will be looking, as we go forward with the QDR, at the balance between the heavy-lift helicopters, C-27s, and C-130s.
The 38 aircraft procurement will take us over the next three fiscal years, so there would be no -- interruption in production. And so if, as a result of that analysis, there is a decision that there should be more, we have the flexibility to do that. But at this point it does not seem necessary, given the enormous available capability and capacity that we have in the C-130s to meet the need.
Now, what has to change -- and here's where I acknowledge the validity of one of your points -- the Air Force culture and approach to how they support the Army in this arena has to change. And General Schwartz and General Casey are already talking about that, in terms of how the Air Force becomes significantly more responsive to Army needs. And I think that they are going to make considerable progress in that.
With respect to the helicopters, this is a program that was originally budgeted at six-plus -- $6.8 billion dollars; is now headed toward $13 billion; it's six years overdue. It does not meet the requirements of the White House. The first increment does not meet the requirements the White House has imposed, by a long shot. The current helicopters the president has have had a usage life at this point of 30 to 40 years; the design life of the VH-71 is five to 10 years and still does not meet the requirement.
If we went forward with this program, each of the helicopters we bought would still be about $400 million apiece. And I think I've heard -- you've heard the president speak to that. We think that this is a program where both the acquisition and the requirements process got out of control. We need to start over. The president does need a new helicopter over the next several years, and it is our intent in FY '11 to return to this with a new -- with a new proposal and a new bid for a presidential helicopter, but one that is managed a lot more carefully.
REP. SKELTON: Mr. Ortiz.
REP. SOLOMON P. ORTIZ (D-TX): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Secretary Gates and Chairman Mullen, thank you so much for your service.
You mentioned the possibility -- and I think that -- I hope we do it right -- the increase of our military presence in Afghanistan to about 58,000 (sic/68,000) soldiers. And my concern is the routes that we have. And I know that some of the equipment that we have -- and in fact, early last night or this morning, a military -- our military depot was attacked and a lot of equipment was destroyed. And this is one of my concerns.
But recently a story surfaced by one of the -- TV station -- it was aired on KHOU in Houston, and it says that recent reports and firsthand accounts from servicemembers returning from Iraq indicate that there's a shortage of bottled water, bottled drinking water. And I know we had this problem some time back.
But this has surfaced.
And as a result, the servicemembers claim they are forced to improvise and sometimes end up drinking the bulk water, which may or may not be of drinking quality standards.
And now some of these servicemembers indicate that they're now facing long-term health issues, kidney failures, et cetera, due to the necessity of not having to drink, you know, water that is clean and safe for them to drink.
My concern is that if we don't have the proper routes to get there, if they cannot get the equipment and if they cannot get drinking water, have you been made aware of some of this problem, Mr. Secretary or Chairman Mullen?
ADM. MULLEN: Sir, I've seen the story that came out of Houston and am aware of that. We checked to see if there's any shortage of bottled water. And initially that's not, I mean, that isn't the case. But we're not done. And we'll continue to wring this out.
We're all very concerned about troops obviously in the field being provided what they need. It's a top priority for the secretary and myself. In my recent visits, and I sit down and have discussions with them, and I know the secretary does as well, they do bring up some issues.
This has not been one specifically however. In fact from a provisioning, overall provisioning standpoint, that has been a great strength of ours, for a significant period of time. But if there's something here, we'll certainly get back to you.
REP. ORTIZ: You know, one of the things -- we were there, the chairman and I and some other members, in Afghanistan. And some of the soldiers that we spoke to said, you know, we're happy to be here, which is the base close to the embassy.
But what is life like at the forward operating post now? And I know we have -- many of them sometimes are embedded with Afghan troops. Do you feel safe that even though they're way out there, that they're getting their equipment and the materiel that they need, not only the drinking water but to be able to survive, way out there in the boondocks?
ADM. MULLEN: I feel comfortable they're getting the provisions. Again we're running this to ground, to see if there's more than we understand right now. But I've visited many of those FOBs. I've been out there in very stark circumstances. I've had meals with them. I've seen them resourced adequately.
It's obviously not something that is available in the big mess halls or the big dining facilities on the big bases. But it has been adequate. And actually as I've polled on this, when I sit down with troops, I don't get any negative feedback.
SEC. GATES: I would just add, I was in Afghanistan last week and visited three forward operating bases and had three different meetings, with a total of probably 600 soldiers and Marines, and a lot of Q&A. And I didn't get a single question about their provisioning.
REP. ORTIZ: I know my time is about up. Again, thank you for your service. Thank you so much.
REP. SKELTON: Thank you. The gentleman -- Mr. Jones.
REP. WALTER JONES (R-NC): Mr. Chairman, thank you very much.
And Mr. Secretary and Admiral Mullen, thank you as well.
I want to commend you both on your comments about your concern about the wounded, your concern about the mental health and the physical health. And I want to thank you for the request that you put in, $47.4 billion to fund military health care and 3.3 billion (dollars) for wounded, ill, injured, traumatic brain injury.
That brings me to the issue that I want to bring to your attention, and we'll have a question shortly. Six years ago, hyperbaric oxygen treatment was brought to my attention. Six years ago I made an inquiry at the Department of Defense, and I was told that this was a treatment that was being studied and that they saw pluses and minuses. Again, that was six years ago.
I want to read a letter -- part of a letter -- excuse me -- from three soldiers and Marines who received this treatment. This is from big -- excuse me -- Brigadier General Patt Maney, United States Army Reserves. "Seventeen months into OEF tour I was injured by an IED, in August of 2005. I spent almost 20 months at Walter Reed before I was medically retired from the Army Reserve. After a year of conventional testing and treatment -- pharmaceuticals, physical therapy, et cetera -- I had not recovered enough to remain in the Army and, I believe, to return to my civilian job.
"A physician friend suggested HBOT, hyperbaric oxygen treatment. Thanks to several courageous, innovative Army physicians, I received 80 one-hour treatments at George Washington University before the process to involuntarily retire me was completed. I experienced excellent results and was able to resume my civilian career as a state court judge."
He further stated, "Research may be appropriate, but known successful treatment is available and needed now. Congress direct the Department of Defense and TRICARE to make HBOT available to wounded warriors."
Let me go now, because I want to get to a question before my time's up -- Marine Corporal Brian Wilson (sp), from Massachusetts. And I've spoken to him, by the way.
"I served two combat tours of duty in Al Anbar providence (sic) in Iraq, from January 2005 to August 2005, March 2006 to September 2006. During the course of my first deployment, I was hit by two more IEDs. During the second tour, I was exposed to four additional explosive blasts while on combat patrol."
He also received hypobagic -- excuse me, hyperbaric oxygen treatment. And I further read very quickly: "Clearly, I would not be holding down the job I presently have and be medication-free. My success is clearly the result of hyperbaric oxygen treatment I received from Dr. Harsh. I am firmly convinced that my fellow Marines and soldiers and sailors who have been diagnosed with TBI or PTSD and presently being treated with medication and counseling rendering them unfit for duty or for reintegration back to the civilian world would benefit from hyperbaric treatment."
I read from Colonel Bud Day, a hero of this nation, Vietnam veteran, Medal of Honor winner, whose grandson was also wounded, a Marine. He sought hyperbaric treatment for him. This letter, Mr. Secretary, is just glowing with praise for this treatment. I'll read one paragraph, and then I want to get to the question: "From a purely practical standard and the issue of loyalty to these kids we have sent off to war, any treatment that we provide these young people is better than the gross neglect and bureaucratic intransigency that has been the rule rather than the exception."
Mr. Secretary, I want to ask you -- I want to present these letters to your staffer. And I wish you would take time, and Admiral Mullen, to read these clearly from these three men. Read what they're saying. I have been told -- again, six years ago -- we are studying this treatment. These letters, and other letters, I think it's time that you say to the Department of Defense, the medical division, "Please take this research you're doing, and give me within the next year a report of where we are on this treatment." Because I've talked to numerous Marines, I've talked to Army that have had this treatment, by telephone, and they've told me, "I am now a complete human being, instead of being dependent on drugs, counseling."
I'm not saying it would work in every situation, but, as you said in your testimony, they deserve our best, if we have it. Can you say to this committee, can you say to me, can you say to the military, that you will ask those who are researching and studying this issue, that you will ask for some type of report sooner, rather than later?
ADM. MULLEN: I mean, I can't speak for Secretary Gates on this in terms of that report, but I -- I understand there is potential here. I'm not a medical officer, not a doctor, sir, but -- and as we visited families, Deborah and myself, and some of the doctors -- VA in Tampa is a good example. There's a doctor there by the name of "Scott" who's a big believer in this. So I -- I certainly will commit to pull on this as hard as we can, to see where we are.
What I've been told when I've been asked about this is it's not FDA approved, and so I fear what we're still doing is studying it. And if it has positive effects, we ought to be able to -- we ought to be able to do it.
I understand there aren't many down -- there are no downsides. That's what I've been briefed before. So we can certainly take a very focused look on it and, if it has potential, I think, try to bring it forward.
SEC. GATES: We'll follow up.
REP. JONES: Thank you, Admiral. Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
REP. SKELTON: Thank the gentleman.
Mr. Secretary, Admiral, I've just been informed that there will be three votes, a 15-minute and then two five-minute votes, which will probably take about 30 minutes, and they'll come shortly.
With your permission, why don't we use that as a lunch break so we won't have to have two back-to-back 30-minute recesses. If that's all right with you, we'll proceed.
Well, hearing no objection, we'll proceed like that.
SEC. GATES (?): That's fine.
REP. SKELTON: Mr. Taylor.
REP. GENE TAYLOR (D-MS): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And Admiral Mullen, I want to thank you, your sons and your lovely bride for your service to our country.
Secretary Gates, I don't compliment people enough. But in your case, you deserve it. You have done, I think, a very, very good job of turning your department around. I particularly want to compliment you for your willingness to put the MRAPs in service and the lives that they have saved.
And I want to compliment you on your acquisition reform. I think it's a -- you're very much heading in the right direction.
Couple of things I would like to ask you to consider. Your department has been very willing to send wounded warriors to the military academies as -- keep them in uniform, give them a chance to stay in uniform and yet continue to contribute.
I would hope you would consider expanding that to the ROTC programs, reason being that our fine kids from other parts of the country other than the Northeast or Colorado who say, you know, I'd love to get closer to my family while I'm doing this. And I think that's why the ROTC programs would fill that gap, still provide the things that they're providing, still allow them to remain in uniform.
Secondly, on your acquisition reform, I've got to notice, with a bit of irony, that one of the most troubled Navy shipbuilding programs is the LCS, and yet you're asking for three of them. Again, I'm just saying -- something ironic there.
What I would ask of you is that given that what should have been a $220 million ship turned into almost a $600 million ship, and going back to your analogy of the small cargo plane versus the 130, where you -- you are now bumping up against DDG-51 prices and you're getting a ship that's about one-fifth as capable.
The CNO has convinced me that he wants the ship. I'm going to agree with him.
What I would like to hear from you, though, is your plans to hold the contractors to the amount of money that you requested in the budget. What I would like to hear you say is that we're going to ask for firm, fixed contracts. And what I would further like to hear you say is, if the existing contractors will not live by those prices, I'd like to hear a willingness on your part to take some of the money that would have gone to build those ships at that price, get a full set of specifications on the ships, put them out there for other people to bid on, because I've got to believe that what has been going on with these two contractors is unacceptable from the Navy's point of view and from the American taxpayers' point of view.
Just your thoughts.
SEC. GATES: First, I think -- I think that having wounded warriors still in uniform be instructors at ROTC -- for ROTC is a great idea.
And I will follow up on that.
REP. TAYLOR: Thank you.
SEC. GATES: On the LCS, I think that what you've asked sounds very reasonable to me. I've left these ships in because we need this green-water capability. We especially need it in places like the gulf, Persian Gulf. But the costs have escalated, and if we want to buy 14 of these over the -- over the five-year defense plan, and 55 altogether, clearly we've got to get the costs under control. And I think your requests are quite reasonable.
REP. TAYLOR: Mr. Secretary, I appreciate that. I think the last thing I would ask of you -- I think -- and again, I appreciate you trying to put your acquisition force back together. But what I think I have noticed is that you have an acquisition force that is pretty good at looking at a set of specs and saying, "Yeah, you're building it the way -- you're building it to spec."
What I don't think I see is an acquisition force that says, "And you know what? If you bought this machine, you could do it faster, you could do it cheaper, and above all, you could save the nation some money as you build a ship quicker." I would hope that would be one of the goals on this program.
And I'll use the LCS, too, as an example. My estimation is that over 95 percent of that ship was hand-welded. That's unacceptable in today's world. That would never happen in the commercial world. The commercial folks wouldn't put up with that, and I don't think we should.
And I think, again, part of your acquisition strategy ought to be getting the right people in there to tell them how to build them faster, quicker and less expensive to the nation.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. SKELTON: Thank the gentleman from Mississippi. We can squeeze one more in before we take the quick break for the votes.
REP. J. RANDY FORBES (R-VA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And Mr. Secretary and Admiral, thank you both for being here. I share the respect that you have heard many members mention. But that respect can't serve as a shield to prevent me from doing my job and just expressing my frustration with what I perceive as a lack of transparency in this process. Mr. McHugh touched on some of that, and I'd like to ask you a few questions about that. And realizing that I only have five minutes, I'd just ask that we get those answers as brief as possible, and you can elaborate on them in written form.
Several members of this committee have sent you a letter dated May 5th asking you about some of those situations, including the nondisclosure requirement that you had and also the INSURV requirements for our INSURV inspections and classifying those. So far, we have not had a response on that.
But as to this nondisclosure agreement, you heard Congressman McHugh mention that some people called it a gag order. The people that called -- a gag order are many of the people that had to sign it. Can you tell us today how many people were forced to sign this particular agreement?
SEC. GATES: I don't know exactly. I would expect probably several hundred.
REP. FORBES: Could you get that number to us when you get a chance to verify --
SEC. GATES: Sure.
REP. FORBES: -- about how many it was?
The second thing is, in this document it says that they could not divulge it to any individual not authorized to receive the information. How did they know which individuals were authorized to receive information?
SEC. GATES: It would have been within the Department of Defense.
REP. FORBES: But I mean -- well, was that ever disseminated in any form so that they knew who they could talk to and who they couldn't?
SEC. GATES: Well, the question -- I must say, of the people that signed it, that question never came to me.
REP. FORBES: Of those individuals, you've communicated -- at least we got an e-mail, I got one at 7:14 this morning saying that they could now talk about some of these budget issues. How has that information been disseminated to the people that have signed this document?
SEC. GATES: I announced it at my staff meeting on Monday.
REP. FORBES: You announced it at your staff meeting. But as to the individuals that signed it, have they been sent anything indicating that that's the policy?
SEC. GATES: Not yet, no, sir.
REP. FORBES: And the other thing is, it talks about anything -- it also mentioned any supplemental budget requests. Many of the things that weren't included in the budget could have also been included in a supplemental later this year. How will you differentiate what they can talk about and what they can't?
SEC. GATES: As far as I'm concerned, sir, the nondisclosure process is over.
REP. FORBES: And Mr. Secretary, the only thing I will tell you is, it's very, very difficult, when you talk about them coming in here and speaking their mind now, for us to expect that we're going to have a hearing where they walk in here as a uniformed member of our military and really say that they disagree with something that's in this budget. But suffice that to say, also on the budget --
SEC. GATES: Well, on that score, sir, I can tell you that a couple of the service chiefs have been very direct with me that when they testify, they intend to say that they disagreed with a decision. So I don't think you have to worry about their candor at all.
REP. FORBES: Mr. Secretary, they will come over tomorrow and testify, I believe, some of them -- is that not correct, that -- I think some of them are scheduled for --
SEC. GATES (?): I don't know.
REP. FORBES: -- but yet they'll come without having the unfunded list that will be available for them when they give their testimony. I think that's going to be the case. You might look into it.
But in the little bit of time that I've got, also it's my understanding that the statute requires that we have a 30-year shipbuilding plan that's certified by you when the budget comes over. Have you submitted that plan, and have you certified that this budget will comply with that plan?
SEC. GATES: I don't think so.
REP. FORBES: Are you going to be doing that?
SEC. GATES: It's -- I'm -- the admiral --
ADM. MULLEN: Let me -- that's a FYDP issue, Mr. Forbes. And for this budget with a new administration, typically we don't do that. And it will come in the '11 budget. And I would say we can rely reasonably well on the 30-year shipbuilding plan that's been submitted before.
REP. FORBES: And Admiral, my time is going out, but let me just say this. The reason that's in there is because you have to certify that the budget will meet the shipbuilding plan, and if not, what the risks are. We're not getting that information. And I just follow up with the fact that now we've had classification of these INSURV inspections, it is very important for us to know the status of our repair and maintenance budgets, because last year this committee put $120 million in for ship repair and maintenance that was killed in the Senate.
The problem is, if we don't and can't talk about those INSURV failures that are coming out, it makes it very, very difficult for us to argue about the ship building and -- I'm sorry, ship repair and maintenance needs that we have. And if we don't have this certification, it gives us some concern as to whether or not the budget that we have is actually going to meet that ship-building plan. So I'd just ask you to take a look at that.
I come back to what Congressman McHugh said. It's not so much your analysis -- my time is out -- but it's just the fact of the lack of transparency to help us conclude that analysis was correct.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. SKELTON: Thank the gentleman.
Before we break, let me ask, Mr. Secretary, a very quick question. There is such a thing known as the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capabilities Fund. You're familiar with that.
SEC. GATES: Yes, sir.
REP. SKELTON: Could you give us, in 25 words or less, how you think it should be structured?
SEC. GATES: What I -- what I've suggested is that the $400 million that's in the '09 supplemental be allocated to the Department of Defense, that for FY '10 -- the concern has been, where does the State Department get control of this program. And what I have proposed is that the money in FY '10 flow through the Department of State to the Department of Defense, so that the State Department has -- gets the money; and then, that they would use FY '10 to build the capacity to be able to execute this program. And then in FY '11, the entire program would go to the State Department, even though probably some significant portion of the money would still come to us to execute.
REP. SKELTON: Thank you very much. We will recess until 12:15. (Strikes gavel.)
REP. SKELTON: We will resume. And Dr. Snyder, you're up.
REP. VIC SNYDER (D-AR): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you all for being here. Mr. Secretary, it's good to see you here again. I appreciate your presentation of this budget, what you're calling a reform budget. You've always been a very thoughtful man in your presentations here. It seems to me there's a passion here today that perhaps you haven't had in the past and -- although I'm suspicious the passion may be this is the first time you've come before us in a long time that you haven't had a cast or a splint or a bandage on, or something -- but I do appreciate the passion that you've shown for this process that you've gone through.
As near as I -- you're being criticized for somehow this being a closed process. As near as I can tell, you wanted to have a deliberative in-house process with candor, and then present your budget for us to do with as we -- as we want.
The Center for American Progress a couple of months ago put out two reports. One is "Swords and Plowshares: Sustainable Security in Afghanistan Requires Sweeping U.S. Policy Overhaul." And my only comment about it, I didn't see much new in this. I go back to your Kansas State speech that you made in November of 2007, in which you called for some dramatic changes in how we do national security with regard to the civilian side. And I appreciate the comments you made back there.
The other publication they put out, though, is "Sustainable Security in Afghanistan: Creating (sic) an Effective and Responsible Strategy for the Forgotten Front." And what this report says is two paramount national security interests of the United States are to prevent Afghanistan from once again becoming a safe haven for terrorists, and to ensure the deteriorating security situation there does not envelop the surrounding region in a broader power struggle. Doing so will require a prolonged U.S. engagement, using all elements of U.S. national power -- diplomatic, economic and military -- in a sustained effort that could last as long as another 10 years.
My question is, I'm concerned that we're setting up a process here that's going on right now as we're dealing with the supplemental, that you all are going to get everything that we can give you as far as dealing with Afghanistan and Iraq for the next year; but that when we get to the next year after that, that you will start seeing some of us say, "Well, wait a minute.
It's not over yet. You haven't made as much progress as we thought you might." Would you comment on how you see our commitment ought to be? My own view is, going into this, we ought to recognize it's going to be a long-term commitment, and there -- somehow -- this is not magically going to end in one year.
But would you comment on that, please?
SEC. GATES: Yes, sir. I think that early in the budgeting process, when we were -- when we were doing out years and looking at these overseas contingency operations, we basically had a much lower number in the out years, and it was basically little more than a plug in the budget, because we knew that we really couldn't estimate what the cost was going to be.
I think that the 130 billion (dollars) for '10 -- it's down about 11 billion (dollars) from '09 -- sounds like a pretty good estimate right now. The burn rate as of February was about $10 billion, a little over $10 billion, a month. The obligation level was about 11 -- 11-plus (billion dollars). So I think we're in the right ballpark.
But that number will come down, particularly in '10 -- in calendar year '10, as we substantially reduce our presence in Iraq. But I guess the bottom-line answer to your question is that I believe that there will be war costs that will be need -- will need to be covered in these overseas-contingency-operations portions of the bill for some years to come. And that's -- whether or -- that's on the assumption that we are successful. It's still going to take a sustained commitment, both civilian and military.
REP. SNYDER: And so those of us who may want to say we will, at this time next year, be evaluating how well we're doing in Afghanistan, either we'll be doing about the same, better, or worse -- that's not necessarily a predictor of how things are going to turn out over the long run. Is that a fair statement?
SEC. GATES: Right, although I believe -- I think that's an accurate statement, but my hope is -- and I would characterize it as that -- is that with the new strategy, and with some changes and adjustments in our military approach, my hope would be that by the end of this year we will begin to see a change in momentum, at least; that we will be able to point to the fact that things are beginning slowly to turn in our direction. This is not a short-term enterprise by any means.
REP. SNYDER: And I think that's a message that all of us need to be repeating, not just you, that this is not a short-term process, because otherwise we set up our brave men and women for some real problems if we somehow expect this dramatically to turn around in one year.
Thank you all for your service.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. SKELTON: Thank you.
And Mr. LoBiondo.
REP. FRANK A. LOBIONDO (R-NJ): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. And Mr. Secretary and Admiral Mullen, thank you very much for being here.
I wanted to focus a little bit on a topic that Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and I have been attempting to raise, over a period of time, involving the Air National Guard.
And they're predicting, as you know, Mr. Secretary, that in about eight years or so -- a little bit of flexibility, in the flying time, with the hours -- that about 80 percent of its air sovereignty alert aircraft units will begin running out of flying hours.
In previous hearings on this issue, the committee has been assured that the Air Force is working on it and that everything will be okay and that we can just hang on a little bit more, and we'll see what the plan is. Well, I'm really concerned that it has taken this long for the problem to be recognized. I really don't think that it's been properly addressed.
And we need to understand that it appears, to at least some of us, that there's a lack of a plan or at least a lack of willingness, to present to Congress whatever is being thought about, of how to fill -- you can call it a bathtub; you can call it the gap -- the fighter gap, whatever it may be, to address the problem.
And a big concern is that if we don't have a plan, to do this, and we run out of the legacy aircraft, Air Guard units -- what can they do if they don't have aircraft to fly? I mean, they go away.
It's not -- you can't mothball them. The people who are doing the mission are not going to hang around. And I think a vital link for our homeland security and national defense, because as you well know, they're integrated fully into the war theater, on what they do.
I'd be very interested to hear your thoughts and feelings on the fighter shortfall issue, which is impacting the Air Force and the Navy and the Air Guard, and just a little bit of a comment about how your 75-percent solution to the problem fit into the fighter shortfall issue.
SEC. GATES: Yes, sir. Let me offer a couple of thoughts and then invite Admiral Mullen to end it.
First of all, this is one of the issues. The number of tac-air units that we need will be one of the issues that we're addressing in the Quadrennial Defense Review. There are two ways to look at it.
One is the force structure itself and, as you suggest, the need to keep the Air National Guard in a place where it makes the contribution it needs to make to the nation. And that is a capabilities-and-force-structure-based estimate. And that's where you get the bathtub that you described.
The opposite -- another way to look at the tac-air problem is in terms of our adversaries and what their capabilities are going to be. And how do you reconcile these two? And I think that's one of the issues that the QDR has to take into account.
Because if you look at it on a threat basis, just as an example, just to pick China, in 2020, the U.S. will have 2,700 tactical aircraft; the Chinese, about 1,000 less than that.
But of our number, we will have over a thousand fifth-generation airplanes and 1,300 fourth-generation. They will have zero fifth- generation aircraft. In 2025 we'll have 1,700 fifth-generation aircraft, plus Reapers, and they will have a handful of fifth- generation. So there's -- how you look at the threat as opposed to our force-based capabilities or our capabilities-based force structure, I think, are two different perspectives that lead you to -- right now, at least -- two different answers in terms of the number of tac air. And that's why I think the QDR needs to take a look at it. But let me ask Admiral Mullen to --
ADM. MULLEN: I certainly recognize the challenge of the modernization piece to which you speak, and clearly it -- you can only fly these aircraft to a certain point, when their flight hours are done, and you don't have -- and you must replace them.
But I see us at a time where we really are in transition to a new strike fighter, and that's the joint strike fighter. That's really our investment. We do have -- we do have some challenges, obviously, in strike-fighter shortfalls, I think, in this transition. And then the work -- the analytical work that I think has to be done is as described by the secretary.
What it doesn't mean is that eight years from now or 20 years from now we're going to be doing it exactly the same way we're doing it now. And I think that's -- those are some of the questions that are out there for analysis.
That said, the strength of the commitment to air-sovereignty levels and the need to meet that requirement is one we all recognize for the future.
REP. SKELTON: Thank the gentleman.
Mr. Smith, please.
REP. ADAM SMITH (D-WA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And thank you, Secretary Gates, Admiral Mullen, for being here.
I just want to offer my strongest possible support for the process that you went through in delivering this budget. I think your efforts are very commendable and absolutely critical to the future of our national security that we, as much as possible, follow the guidelines that you have laid out.
And I got to tell you, I just -- I was practically cheering over here when you said that, you know, we have plenty of reports and plenty of process; we needed to make decisions. After 12 years in this committee, I have watched those decisions get delayed by more process and more studies, and I can absolutely picture your office piled to the top with them. Somebody just needed to step up and say, "This is what we need to do and where we need to go," and to make the hard decisions necessary to make it happen. And I believe that is what you have done, and I applaud you for it and certainly want to try to support you as we work our way through the congressional process out the other side to actually have a budget that is implemented.
And in particular, you have placed the emphasis, I think, where it needs to be placed, recognizing that the type of warfare we face has changed. It has moved towards counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, irregular warfare. I believe you have also been visionary enough to mention the important role that the State Department needs to play in development strategy, in dealing with those counterinsurgency and counterterrorism efforts as we go forward.
And you've shifted the budget priorities appropriately. If we're going to have a greater emphasis on those things, we need more ISR; we need more support for the Special Operations Command. And those budget choices have been made. I think we need to go forward and continue along those lines.
And it's not just in Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan. In North Africa, in the Horn of Africa, Southeast Asia, we are fighting insurgencies at various levels, and we need more equipment there, more ISR capabilities most particular, and more focus from the Special Operations folks, to fight that. And we're not going to get there without some of the budget choices you made.
And I thank you for that, and I thank both of you also for the appointment of General McChrystal in charge of Afghanistan, a Special Operations commander, who is kind of, to my mind, the unsung hero of Iraq. What he was doing there was not very well understood, but it was absolutely critical, and I think it reflects again the shift in where the battlefield has moved and how we need to respond.
Just one quick question. In the authorizing bill last year, we had authorized a report to study the personnel challenges within the Special Operations Command. They bring together folks from all the different services. Admiral Olson does not have that much control or, I think, any control in terms of pay, and the various different decisions that are made in terms of managing the personnel are primarily handled on the service level.
He has unique challenges because they're all there together. I think he refers to it as the "foxhole problem." If you've got a Navy SEAL and an Army Green Beret in the same foxhole talking about their lives and understanding that they're paid different, that they have different, you know, benefits and different structures, it becomes a problem.
So the point of this study was to bring the services, SOCOM together, talk about it, figure out where we're going forward. It's been done. It's in your office. It's my understanding no one's really said anything about it in terms of how you intend to act on it. I'd like to urge that action and be curious of any comments you have about what you plan to do.
SEC. GATES: That's the first I've heard of it. When I get back, I'll ask for it.
REP. SMITH: Okay. All right. Well, then I have served a purpose here this morning, I guess.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.
REP. SKELTON: Mr. Turner.
REP. MICHAEL TURNER (R-OH): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Mr. Secretary. I appreciate you being here.
I am the ranking member of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee, and so I have a number of concerns about the cuts to missile defense, all issues that I know other members have also raised and that we'll continue to work with you and DOD on in trying to address my main concern that, by cutting future programs, we're cutting our ability to attain ingenuity, to be able to look to the future as to ways and things that we might yet invent that would protect us.
But I wanted to talk to you today about a topic that does not have a budgetary cost but goes directly to the issue of support for our men and women in uniform, and does affect the upcoming National Defense Authorization Act.
Over the past two years, I've authored an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would protect men and women who are serving in the military from losing their children in custody battles based solely on their military service.
Throughout our country, there are state courts that have entered rulings where they have punished, penalized our men and women who are serving, awarding custody to the other spouse solely on the basis of their service.
A court in New York, for example, ruled that even the threat of deployment of someone who was in the service was enough for custody to be awarded to their ex.
There have been courts that have ruled that the time that they've spent away from their kids could be equated to abandonment, as if they had hopped on a Harley and gone to California to find themselves -- no prejudice to California -- instead of actually serving their country.
Now, the House has passed three times, once as a stand-alone bill and twice as an amendment, language that would protect our men and women who are serving as part of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. The DOD opposes it, and because of that opposition, it has failed in the Senate over the past two years.
I'm going to ask you two questions, and the first one's pretty easy, because I want you to know that there have been several media outlets that have covered this. And when they have done viewer polls of people on this issue, viewer sampling, this is a 98 percent issue. No one believes that anyone should lose custody of their children solely based on their service in the military.
So I'm going to ask you your opinion on that.
And the second thing I'm going to ask is, we have a real opportunity. We have about less than a month before the National Defense Authorization Act will go through this committee.
I would like your commitment to have your staff, to work with my staff and the staff of this committee, so that we can come up with language that DOD would support, because the only goal is ensuring that if you serve our country that you not lose custody of your children based solely on that fact.
So the two questions to you, sir, are, one, do you believe it's right for people to lose custody based solely on their service in the military? And secondly will you agree to work with us, over the next month, so that DOD's opposition -- you know, I have the four-page memo of DOD's opposition last year -- might be resolved, and we could come up with language we could agree to?
SEC. GATES: I'm opposed to anything that disadvantages our men and women in uniform solely because of their service.
I had not realized that DOD had opposed this. I'll -- going back to Mr. Smith, I'll go back and find out what that's all about. And I will commit to you that we will work with you on it.
REP. TURNER: I greatly appreciate that.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
REP. SKELTON: The gentlelady from California, Ms. Sanchez.
REPRESENTATIVE LORETTA SANCHEZ (D-CA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And thank you again, gentlemen, for being before us.
Secretary Gates, please give us your thoughts about Kirkuk and Iraq's internal boundaries, which is a problem, I believe, that potentially threatens Iraq's future stability and which in turn could derail the administration's goal of responsible withdrawal. And let me give you a little background of where I'm going with this.
Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution mandates boundary resolution, with an orderly and democratic process of referendum, so that Iraqis in these disputed areas will get a choice about what is done.
This was supposed to happen by December of 2007. But it got bogged down. And it looks to me like Baghdad really doesn't want to or hasn't tried to address this issue.
In fact, two weeks ago, the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq issued a long-awaited report about this. And while it reported on the ethnic cleansing and other issues that went on, in the analysis of the current situation, it didn't offer a path to restarting the article 140 process.
The report did however underscore the urgent necessity, of a resolution to the disputed territories, for the welfare of the people living there and for the future peace and the stability of Iraq.
And with tensions on the rise there, we have a U.S. infantry brigade in Kirkuk standing between the Iraqi army and the Kurdish militia and our own deadline of withdrawal next year.
It seems to me that this is a critical issue for U.S. policy, because some of us doubt that we can really achieve responsible withdrawal, without first doing something about these disputed boundaries.
For example, in the Balkans, we learned the hard way that we should have gotten to that up front. And maybe that's why Admiral Mullen and General Petraeus recently made visits to Arbil, the capital of the Kurdish region.
So my questions to you are, do you agree that letting the people in the disputed territories decide their own status, through referenda, as required by article 140 of the Iraqi constitution, is the best way to resolve this problem?
Do you think they deserve a peaceful and democratic and permanent resolution to that, so that we can responsibly withdraw our troops from Iraq? And since the report offered no alternative, what -- is the U.S. committed to implementing the Article 140 before we withdraw next year? And lastly, the last administration really had no policy, so does the new administration have a policy on this? And is this why we're seeing these high-level trips over there into that area of Iraq?
SEC. GATES: Well, let me answer first and then invite Admiral Mullen to comment, since he's been there.
First of all, we definitely support the carrying out of the provisions of the Iraqi Constitution in terms of -- in all terms, including Article 140. There has been a mutual agreement between the Kurds and the Kurdish Regional Government and the central government in Iraq to delay settling this because they realize that they were not yet in a position to do so peacefully, and therefore to try to maintain the status quo in particular until the U.N. report came out.
The U.N. report does make recommendations in terms of what the -- what the boundaries ought to be as a basis for discussion and negotiation between the Kurdish Regional Government and the central government in Baghdad. We are very supportive of that process. It's imperative that it be done peacefully. We are concerned about the potential for Arab-Kurdish tensions in terms of Iraq's future, and we would like to see this issue resolved as quickly as possible. But it's also imperative that it be resolved peacefully.
ADM. MULLEN: Just, ma'am, on my recent trip -- actually, I went there for a number of reasons, one of which, I hadn't been there before; two, recognizing the -- the high level of importance that the future of Iraq has based on resolving these issues, these Kurdish-Arab issues. And we've had some challenges on the ground in recent months between the peshmerga and the Iraqi security forces.
That said, I sat with General Odierno yesterday, who walked through a recent operation where they had actually worked together, and I found that to be a very positive step. So the leadership in what -- we also listened yesterday to Ambassador Hill, and he had this as a very high priority to try and resolve.
REP. SKELTON: (Sounds gavel.)
ADM. MULLEN: So clearly it's -- there's a lot of politics involved here between the Kurds and Baghdad, and everybody recognizes the criticality of moving forward in a peaceful way so that the responsible withdrawal can continue.
REP. SANCHEZ: That would be great. I would just hate to see happen what happened in the Balkans, with that -- those boundaries not resolved.
REP. SKELTON: The lady's time is expired.
REP. SANCHEZ: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. SKELTON: Mr. Kline.
REP. JOHN KLINE (R-MN): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you, gentlemen, for being here, for your service. Great work.
Mr. Secretary, I share some of the frustrations you've heard up here today about our inability to look into the analysis and the nondisclosure statements and our inability to talk with people that we've known and worked with for a long time. So I'm not going to go back over that.
But I am -- I do have a question about the unfunded requirements list. There's been an exchange of correspondence between Mr. McHugh, I know, and your office, and on April 30th you sent out guidance to the service chiefs citing Subsection F of Section 151 of Title 10 that says the Joint Chiefs first inform the secretary of Defense before making recommendations to the Congress.
I guess I'd like to understand, is it your intention to then censor that or to edit it or to filter it? Or are they just going to inform you, and then they can do what we've been doing for the past decade or so, having a dialogue? How's that going to work?
MR. GIBBS: What I am trying to do, sir, is reestablish some measure of discipline in the Department of Defense, that people play by the rules. That means not having a president's budget where people come around the sides and come up and argue against the president's budget when they work in the Department of Defense. I didn't like it in the Bush administration, and I don't like it in the Obama administration.
The other part of it is, on this unfunded list, it is simply for me to know -- as, according to the statute, they are required, if they have unfunded requirements, to inform me of that before they come up and testify to it. I have no intention of censoring them; I have no intention of curtailing it. I might ask them a question or two, like why didn't they put it in their budget submission to start with, in the Department of Defense?
But I have no intention -- and as I indicated earlier in my answer to Mr. Forbes, you must be able to count on the candor of both the civilians and uniformed people who come up and testify in front of you. That is my guidance to them. I expect them to be candid, and I have no problem with the military officers in particular giving you their best professional judgment. That's required by law, and I intend to support you and them in that.
REP. KLINE: Thank you. And we appreciate that, because we simply cannot do our job here if we don't have that ability to have discussion. It's not fair to America if we can't have the ability to have other opinions and other ideas. I appreciate your desire to get some discipline in the military. I always thought that was a good idea in the military, and sometimes struggled to find it in the years that I was there. But we really do have to have that conversation, and I am pleased to know --
MR. GIBBS: And I would add, it applies to the civilians as well. (Laughs.)
REP. KLINE: Well, actually, I was thinking about the civilians. But we really must have that conversation. So I thank you for that.
Let me jump to another subject here. I assume, in the same vein, now that the budget is here, if we have questions about something down in the weeds like sole-sourcing engines for the F-35, we're now free to talk to somebody about that.
Is that right?
Okay. Thank you.
And then, before my time runs out, there's another issue that is of some continuing concern, and that has to do with the NRO. They're responsible for spending a lot of money and acquiring a lot of expensive equipment. And they haven't had an updated charter now in decades.
In wearing another hat on another committee, I talked to the DNI who said that indeed they were pressing ahead to get that charter, which would be brief, which I would applaud -- one or two pages would be preferable to 30 or 40 -- but will allow the acquisition folks in that organization to do their job with oversight, but preferably without a lot of staff interference.
And so you are obviously a very key player, Mr. Secretary, in the NRO and in the management of it and the functioning of it and the staffing of it and so forth. Are you engaged in that as well? Can you tell us today whether we're going to see a new charter here in the next month or so? And are we going to get this cleaned up, so that we can fix that part of the acquisition problem?
SEC. GATES: Director Blair and I are in full agreement on the need for a new charter for the NRO, and the only thing holding it up at this point is the appointment of a new director of the NRO, who would oversee that process. And I would expect that as soon as a new director is in place, that that effort will be undertaken as a high priority.
REP. KLINE: Well, I hope so. I -- it's just one of those things that has dragged out and dragged out and dragged out. And you know very well in the Pentagon, by the time 15 staffs have reviewed it, these things die. And so please, please, let's see that.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.
REP. SKELTON: Thank you.
The gentlelady from California, Ms. Davis.
REP. SUSAN DAVIS (D-CA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And to Secretary Gates and Chairman Mullen, our country is really fortunate to have your leadership. Thank you. Thank you very much.
I'm going to try on three questions. I'll ask them one at a time and see if I can get through this really quickly.
Last week my colleagues and I had an opportunity meet with a group of military spouses, leaders within the military spouse community, at an event that the speaker sponsored. And what we heard is that military families are resilient. You all know that. They value the service of their loved ones very much.
But we also heard that our families are at risk, becoming burned out. And even in light of their enormous sacrifice, many still believe that the American people do not understand or appreciate their sacrifice. And in fact, one of their surveys demonstrated that 94 percent of the American people do not appreciate their sacrifice.
Chairman Mullen, I thought your comments today should be broadcast among the military community, because I think they demonstrate what we'd like to signal to families. But how do you think we should deal with that? You mentioned institutionalizing more of the support for our families, but clearly there is still a perception and clearly they are still feeling very much that they are an isolated group in our country.
SEC. GATES: Both of us probably ought to comment on this.
Let me just say, at the outset, all of the services have very good programs for families and for taking care of the families of our men and women in uniform.
The concern that I have and in fact just signed out a memo today prompted by the op-ed in the newspaper just a couple of days ago by a military spouse that -- what Admiral Mullen and I hear when we talk to spouses at posts and bases is very different than what we hear when we are briefed in the Pentagon, and what we see is an unevenness of the application or the implementation of these programs.
They -- it depends on whether a commanding officer at a local facility has a passion for it and is willing to support it and get in there and do whatever is necessary. It's questions about whether some of the volunteers who help the families should be paid, as was suggested in that op-ed.
So one of the things that we are both focused on is, how do we ensure that -- that the very best practices are applied consistently across the entire -- entirety of the military? And it's not for a lack of programs or a lack of money. It's, in my view, mostly execution. And we just -- and we need to refocus our attention on them.
ADM. MULLEN: I just -- I share all those concerns. I do see, you know, a great unevenness. We are very concerned about the stress on the families, as well as on the force. That's a part of it. That gets to the dwell time issue, the repeated deployments, et cetera.
What I want to try to -- or where I am focused is to try to reach to grassroots nationally, Guard, Reserve -- I mean, throughout the country -- so that there is a reach and local support for families. And I think we can do a better job of that, working through national organizations -- Chamber of Commerce, the USO, people that have that kind of reach. We just have to keep it as a priority and keep focused on it, and make sure the programs are delivering.
REP. DAVIS: Thank you. You know, you mentioned that there's a lot of unevenness in the way that the programs or the services are institutionalized on bases. How does it affect one's career advancement, to the extent or degree to which they're good at this and they care about it?
ADM. MULLEN: I think, as is in so many areas, great leaders are easily singled out. And we can go to places where it's working well, and it's not just family programs; it's everything's working well. So those who lead well in this area have a tendency to lead well in combat. I mean, it literally goes together, and it's pretty easy to figure out who those individuals are. And generally, they're promoted.
REP. DAVIS: I just hope it would be quite open that however one treats that subject does have an influence on whether or not they're going to advance, in addition to many of the other qualities that we're looking for. I think that might make a difference. I would hope so.
The other area is really the individual augmentees, because for them a lot of the support is not necessarily there. Again, we hear from many of the spouses in that area, and the concern on the part of individual augmentees that the fact that, especially for the Navy and for airmen, they're out of -- they're doing things they weren't trained to do. And so they fear that their careers and the opportunities that they have to become more specialized have been diminished. And I just wanted to bring that out.
And I really wanted to ask a question about Afghanistan, but, Mr. Chairman, I guess I'll have to stop. Thank you.
REP. SKELTON: Thank the gentlelady.
REP. DOUG LAMBORN (R-CO): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And thank you all for what you're doing for our country. Last week, the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States presented their report on America's strategic posture.
The commission recommended developing effective capabilities to defend against increasingly complex missile threats.
Several missile-defense programs were developing technologies to combat these complex missile threats and were the only ones focusing on the boost or ascent phase. These include the Multiple Kill Vehicle, MKV, Kinetic Energy Interceptor, KEI, and airborne laser. Your FY '10 budget kills MKV and KEI and reduces the ABL program to one aircraft. In light of these cuts, how does the Missile Defense Agency intend to address an enemy launch in the boost or ascent phase?
SEC. GATES: First, I would say that we have very good capabilities at the -- in the terminal phase, with THAAD and other systems. We have a good capability at mid-course with the ground- based interceptors. And we will robustly fund continued development of those to increase their capability, the ground-based interceptors.
Boost phase is the toughest of all, because you have to be fairly close to the site of the launch for boost-phase to be able to work. For example, the operational concept of the airborne laser would have required that that aircraft orbit -- let's say the target was Iran -- would have required an orbit almost entirely within the borders of Iran. This is probably a little problematic.
And so while we -- by the same token, I believe that when the boost-phase issue is addressed, directed energy is an important opportunity for us in that regard. And that's why we've kept alive the airborne laser that we have, aircraft that we have, and will robustly fund research and development using that aircraft.
The kinetic energy interceptor -- this was a program that began as a five-year development program. It's now in its 14th year. It's never had a test launch. It's never -- there's been very little attention given to the third stage or the kill vehicle. And frankly, this was a program that wasn't going anywhere.
Multiple kill vehicle is -- was intended for a much more capable missile threat than is posed by rogue states. It was designed to deal with a more complex threat that would have come potentially from either China or Russia. The reality is, U.S. policy with respect to missile defense under the current administration and under its predecessor was that our missile defense was intended to deal with rogue threats, not a threat from China or Russia.
This system, frankly, was incompatible with the policies of both administrations. And that, in addition to various technology and acquisition issues associated with it -- fundamentally, it was contradictory to the policy of both administrations.
Have every intention of continuing to fund R&D on boost phase, but again, the central problem is, you have to be very close.
The Kinetic Energy Interceptor also had no platform. It's a 23-ton missile, 38 feet long, couldn't be launched off Aegis ships. It would either have to have its own surface ship or something else. And it would have to be deployed very close to the site of the launch. So it was useless with respect to the Chinese and the Russians and, for the most part, the Iranians. Those are the reasons I did what I did.
REP. LAMBORN: On the Kinetic Energy Interceptor -- and I appreciate your answer -- aren't they very close to having a test? And with all the money that's been spent, shouldn't we ramp up the last several months before the test and see it through to that next stage, if we're so close?
SEC. GATES: There have been a couple of -- as I understand it, there have been a couple of tests. They have not been flight tests, and they did not go well. And it just seemed to me, given all the other problems with the program, that continuing to spend money was not the best place to put our resources.
REP. LAMBORN: Okay. Thank you.
Changing subjects here, in your April 6th budget statement, you noted, quote, "We will stop the growth of Army brigade combat teams at 45 versus 48, while maintaining the planned increase in end strength of 547,000. This will ensure that we have better manned units ready to deploy and help put an end to the routine use of stop-loss. The step will also lower the risk of hollowing the force," unquote.
When the original decision was made to grow the Army to 48 BCTs, there must have been some good reasoning in making the determination that 48 BCTs met a certain requirement --
REP. SKELTON: (Strikes gavel.)
REP. LAMBORN: Okay.
REP. SKELTON: Please answer the question.
REP. LAMBORN: And what has changed between that time and today?
SEC. GATES: I think that what -- when that force structure was first put in place, first of all, we didn't have 13,000 people in stop-loss. Second, we have something like 55,000 people in the Army that are not in deployed units. They're in training or whatever. I think that number is much larger than the institutional Army at the time that it established 48 BCTs thought would be the case.
We are -- the expansion of the number of brigade combat teams has put stress on the number of particularly company-level officers and mid-level NCOs. And it was our judgment, the chairman's and mine, that it was better to make the units that we have robust, allow us to stop stop-loss, with the end strength that we have. If the Army can then move more people out of these institutional roles and into deployed units, then there's no question that at some point we could change that force structure. And in fact longer-term Army force structure will be addressed in the Quadrennial Defense Review.
REP. SKELTON: Thank the gentleman.
REP. RICK LARSEN (D-WA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Secretary, I'm glad to see you label your budget as a reform budget. I'm a little perplexed that years of transformational budgets have led us to a reformational budget. That's what we've got out of transformation, is reform. But at least we're here and trying to do the right things in the budget.
And later today, we'll be moving forward the acquisition reform bill on the floor. But I want to ask you just a few questions about a few platforms.
One, I'm glad to see that procurement for the 22 EA-18Gs are continuing on track. But in the broader scheme of things, with regards to electronic warfare, you were asked in March, at a press conference, about Air Force EW. And at the time, you responded, you had not begun yet to think about Air Force EW. And there are some of us who are trying to look at electronic warfare from a broader perspective, a defense-wide perspective.
I'm just wondering, have you begun to -- in that time, have you begun to put some thought into Air Force EW or looking at the functional solutions analysis that's come out of STRATCOM, about EW, to see where that might fit in, in a broader context, in the Pentagon?
SEC. GATES: I have not directly. But the need for, and I'll invite Admiral Mullen to speak, because I'm sure he knows a lot more about it than I do. But I think the subject of how many more F-18Gs especially that ought to be bought, especially for the Navy, is going to be addressed in the QDR.
ADM. MULLEN: I think that's really important. And it will be the combination of the Navy capability and the growlers, and how many of them are focused on the Navy and how many of them are focused on the national mission. We clearly need an electronic warfare capability that goes beyond just the pinpoint capability that a Growler has.
And that, and you know, I think, you know, we've invested a lot of money and haven't produced much in the last 5 to 10 years. And we've got to move forward, to make that happen, I think, both in the Air Force and in the Navy. So the secretary's comments about QDR; very critical warfighting issue for the QDR.
REP. LARSEN: Yeah, and I think our hearing tomorrow is with the Navy. Probably be asking questions about the expeditionary element and what happens there.
ADM. MULLEN: Sure.
REP. LARSEN: The second question, Mr. Secretary, on the 1206 and 1207, you've discussed a little bit in your testimony. But can you talk a little bit about how you -- how you see 1207 moving forward, since it expires, the authority expires, at the end of this year, and whether or not you want that to continue, with more money folded into 1206, combined over the state?
How do you envision that?
SEC. GATES: Well, I think, we have, on 1206, if I recall correctly, we have a three-year authorization at $350 million a year. On 1207, I've proposed bumping that from 100 million to $200 million. It has been a very worthwhile program, some of the things that we have been able to do, with the State Department. And it is one of those dual-key programs that both our concurrence is involved.
My inclination: We really haven't addressed post -- you know, the next step in that. And I think that's something that I'll need to sit down, with Secretary Clinton, and also talk about within our own building, in terms of a longer-range future for 1207.
But it has served a very valuable purpose going forward and in the mix of all the things that are being done, in FY '10 and in the '09 supplemental, with respect to the State Department and resources and our capability to help them.
Once we've sorted through all of that, if there's a continuing need for the kinds of things that we're doing under 1207, then it would be my recommendation to go forward with it.
REP. LARSEN: And finally, the obvious question from -- from me and folks in Washington state, just on the KCX tanker. Still looking at an RFP sometime in the summer. Will that be early, mid-, late summer? Any more specifics on the timeline when that might be -- might be --
SEC. GATES: Hoping for early summer.
REP. LARSEN: Hoping for early summer.
Thank you very much.
REP. SKELTON: Thank you.
I'm a bit confused. Let me ask, Mr. Secretary, if the State Department is properly funded, why do we need 1207?
SEC. GATES: Well, because it often involves security training, military training, supporting the things like what -- some of the things we've done in Lebanon. So I think that -- you know, that's why I say I just need to sit down with our own folks and with the State Department after we see what's happened in FY '10 and the '09 supplemental with respect to the State Department to see whether there's a continuing need.
REP. SKELTON: Thank you.
REP. ROB WITTMAN (R-VA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Gentlemen, thank you so much for joining us today. And I thank you so much for your service to our nation.
Secretary Gates, recently at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, you gave what I thought was a great speech, and you went into some depth about our nation's aircraft carriers. And you stated, "No country in the rest of the world has anything close to the reach and firepower to match a carrier strike group, and the United States has and will maintain 11 until at least 2040." And you said also, "I might note that we have a number of expeditionary strike groups that will, in the not-too-distant future, be able to carry F-35s." And I applaud you for your commitment to maintain 11 carrier strike groups, at least until 2040, and I think that's very significant.
What I wanted to ask is, it seems like, though, in the proposal that you're putting forth, is that your proposing to go from 11 at least temporarily down to 10. Can you comment on that, and where you see our carrier strike force capabilities going?
SEC. GATES: I -- let me defer to Admiral Mullen on this, but I think it has -- it's a temporary thing, I think caused by a delay in the -- in the catapult system of the Gerald R. Ford.
ADM. MULLEN: It's tied to two things. It's clearly that. And as we bring on the 11th carrier, it's also tied to the decommissioning of the Enterprise, which is at her service life and has -- and we have invested and continue -- because she is a unique eight-reactor carrier -- we have continued to invest heavily. She is in a big maintenance period right now, as I'm sure you know.
So I think it's in '14 and '15; I think it's that 24-month period. And that's risk I think that we're going to -- I mean, I'm comfortable taking that over that 24-month period, as we bring the Ford out. And then clearly it's 11 carriers until -- I think it's 2039.
REP. WITTMAN: Okay. So you're comfortable, then, strategically, about where we're placed over that 24-month window with -- at a 10- carrier strike force?
ADM. MULLEN: I am. Yes, sir.
REP. WITTMAN: All right. Very good.
Also, appreciate your overview on the DOD 2010 budget proposal. I think it was very, very well thought out. And as it was stated there, it said the budget acknowledges that every taxpayer dollar spent to overensure against a remote or diminishing risk is a dollar that's not available to care for America's service men and women. And I think that's extraordinarily cogent these days in the threats that we face. We're saying there that those dollars would not -- either be available to reset the force, or to win wars the nation is in, or to improve capabilities in areas where the U.S. is underinvested and potentially vulnerable.
If you look at the decision that was made on April 10th by the Department of Defense, where you announced a final decision on whether or not to permanently home-port an aircraft carrier in Mayport, the focus there was that that decision was going to be made during the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review.
And I was just wondering, in asking the questions about that -- and if we're talking about making sure that we're not putting dollars out there for remote or diminishing risks -- I'm wondering if having $76 million in this year's defense budget to upgrade the port there at Mayport specifically so that it could have an aircraft carrier, as they say, pull in there, is that really in line with the focus that was pointed out here with the budget, as far as making the investment there in the home port? Or should we not wait until the QDR process has worked itself out to determine if that truly is a capability that we need there at Mayport?
SEC. GATES: I wrote a letter to Senator Webb in early December in which I said we have deemed it unacceptable to have only one carrier home port on the West Coast -- we have two -- and that I thought the same logic applied to the East Coast. I do worry about everything being concentrated in Norfolk. The money in the budget is to, at a minimum, provide some dredging and upgrading at Mayport that, even in an emergency situation, would allow one of our modern aircraft carriers to be able to dock there.
I think the reason the issue has come up in the QDR is simply that the cost has risen significantly in terms of the home-porting in Mayport. I stand by the letter that I wrote to Senator Webb, but at the same time, I think that there is a -- in terms of there being a need for a second facility on the East Coast. But at a certain point, the Navy has to figure out how best it wants to spend its money.
REP. WITTMAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield the balance of my time.
REP. SKELTON: Thank the gentleman.
REP. JIM COOPER (D-TN): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Secretary, Mr. Chairman.
I want to use my few minutes just to reinforce what you gentlemen said in your opening statements.
And first let me say that I'm thankful for your service. Before us we have two of America's most distinguished public servants, and we're grateful for your continued service to our country. I thought I heard in your opening statement, Mr. Secretary, that you said that the $533 billion base budget that we're presented with is more than adequate to take care of our nation's security needs. Is that right?
SEC. GATES: Well, I consider it sufficient.
REP. COOPER: Sufficient. Okay. And the 4 percent growth in that budget is enough over last year to take care of our needs.
SEC. GATES: Yes, sir.
REP. COOPER: I thought I heard the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff say that -- I think it was in your 10 years of experience in dealing with such matters -- that this has been one of the most open and transparent processes for the services to make their recommendations and to get this -- a fair decision?
ADM. MULLEN: It's been THE most open and THE most transparent.
REP. COOPER: THE most open; THE most transparent. Superlative.
ADM. MULLEN: And where uniforms had a vote throughout.
REP. COOPER: Well, I appreciate these findings, because in our degraded media environment, folks back home want to know if this is a good budget or not, plain and simple. And they want to know that you gentlemen, both of whom have served multiple presidents in both parties, have used your best professional judgment to make sure that our nation's vital interests are protected. So I'm grateful for that.
And I know that here on the Hill you face Monday morning quarterbacks, backseat drivers and not a few armchair generals, who sometimes speak more on behalf of parochial interests than on the national interest. And I think both of you gentlemen have in mind the national interest.
So I'm hopeful that -- I know that you made tough decisions, and I know that anybody can second guess most anything. I'm hopeful that we will keep in mind on the Hill here the national interest, because money doesn't grow on trees. Tough decisions have to be made. It's not easy to pick among spaces or defense contractors or anything, or weapon systems. But I think you gentlemen have done an outstanding job. I haven't said this to some of the previous folks who held your positions.
So I'm thankful you're there, and I'll pray for your continued service.
REP. SKELTON: The gentleman from California, Mr. Hunter.
REP. DUNCAN HUNTER (R-CA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, gentlemen.
My first question, or statement, really, for Admiral Mullen, when you talked about the OIF veteran who was talking about combat stress. As a combat veteran of three tours -- you can quote me if you want to -- I will say that prosecuting an enemy that wants to kill your family and mine and a lot of innocent Americans is probably the most uplifting and fulfilling thing you'll possibly do in your entire life.
Two, I think we ought to be focusing on pre-enlistment screening and being more rigorous with that. No post-service screening would have saved those five American lives last week, because that happened while somebody was in. So if we really want to get down to it, we're going to have to be doing personality tests, stress tests and emotional testing pre-service, before anybody gets in the military. This is not a PTSD after-the-fact question.
This is a thing about combat being hard, being dirty, being stressful, and that's just the way it is. And I think that anybody who's been over there can tell you that, especially guys who get shot at, mortared. I've been shot at, mortared and everything else, and it's just hard. And I don't think that excuses -- saying that there's stress excuses somebody going off the deep end in Iraq and Afghanistan and killing innocent civilians.
You can quote me on that, if you want to, as a(n) OIF vet, the next time you testify here.
Going to Mrs. Davis's comments and questions -- she represents San Diego, as do I -- there's been a 19-percent increase in ships' operation since 2002, and this article just came out that went over some things that kind of contradict what you've been saying about the Navy. Most military transfers that the Navy has take place during the summertime so that, you know, kids can move without being pulled out of schools. There were 14,000 planned moves for this summer for San Diego sailors. Most of those have now been pushed off, so they're going to have to do mid-year permanent-duty transfers, which means that they're going to pull kids out of school. So if we're trying to make life easier for our military families, why wouldn't you pull them out during the summer? The reason that the Navy is doing this: lack of funding.
Surface ships will remain tethered to their piers for more days. Sailors and aircraft crews will undergo more training with simulators. Lack of funding. We're not training them.
She actually says -- and Ms. Davis touched on this, too. My wife and family had a much harder time dealing with this war than I did, because I was with my Marine friends overseas and we were doing what Marines do. The family's back here paying the bills, paying the insurance, taking kids to school and doing all of those things that they have to do. So why not accommodate them by giving the Navy enough money so that they can move during the summer, as opposed to pulling kids out of school from elementary to high school?
Once-hefty reenlistment bonuses, except for SEALs and some Corpsmen, are being cancelled this year, as of last week. Those hefty reenlistment bonuses are going to be gone. So you say that we're out here looking out for the men and women, and that's the most important thing that we have, is the men and women; yet we're cutting funding.
And I'm not even talking about the ship repair gap in funding that we have in this country right now. But if we're going to take care of the men and women, then let's take care of the men and women.
You just had a piece of paper pushed to you, so I'd like to get your comments on that.
ADM. MULLEN: Certainly. I appreciate your service, and the fact that you have been in combat and understand that.
That said, I have been with an awful lot of soldiers, sailors and Marines who've been in combat, and the stress level is high for them and their families. It's not -- as you said, it is stressful. It's how do we deal with it.
And in addition to pre-screenings -- that tie to this tragic incident we obviously had this week -- there's also, I believe, a requirement to understand how it affects people when they're serving. And so that, when we are to release people, we understand what the risks are with someone who's returning out to society.
And I think squad leaders and staff sergeants understand who those -- what those risks are probably better than anybody else.
As far as the resources for the Navy, there's two issues there.
One is, the Navy needs the sup passed, and so they've taken steps specifically that are precautionary to make sure that they don't break the budget at the end of the year. And when the sup is passed, some of that's going to change.
Secondly, in the -- in the personnel accounts, the manpower accounts, the Navy is over end strength. They must manage this to 30 September. There are very few places you can take money in the manpower accounts to manage that specific issue, and PCS moves is an example. The other is that you will see the Navy, but all services, manage their -- manage their -- their reenlistment bonuses, their incentive bonuses, tied to the needs. And I know that that's what the Navy has done.
So I think when the sup passes, you'll see relief there. Clearly, this is not intended to focus on families and not move them, and we recognize the additional stress that that -- that that creates for a family right now.
REP. SKELTON: Mr. Marshall.
REP. JIM MARSHALL (D-GA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Secretary, I appreciated your comments that you made with several members about wanting -- not wanting to have a lot of voices within the Pentagon, within the civilian bureaucracy and the Pentagon, arguing against the president's budget once the president's budget has been presented. And that puts us in an awkward position. I'm sort of used to an environment -- all my life has been as a lawyer, or my professional career has been as a lawyer, where we believe firmly that judges get to the right decision by hearing arguments on both sides; not just the case made for a particular position, but the case made against that position as well. And so we are trying to do our best, and we'll continue trying to do our best, to probe, with the experts -- that means the folks working for you -- why suggestions make sense and why they don't make sense, because ultimately we have to make decisions concerning whether or not the recommendations the president is making, that you are making, are the right way to go. And 90, 95, 99 percent of the time, as you know historically, we're going to go with your judgment, but some of the time we do not and some of the time we simply disagree based on the merits. It's not this parochial stuff, but it's purely on the merits.
And a balance has to be struck here, but I for one -- and I know an awful lot of my colleagues feel exactly the same way -- I'm going to probe as best I can, and I don't want somebody telling me they can't talk to me because, basically, that they've been buttoned up somehow by the Defense Department. And if we need to change the law, we'll just change the law to give us the information that we need in order to make good judgment.
Now, I'm sorry for that sort of preachy little -- (chuckles) -- beginning here.
The JCA -- the Joint Cargo Aircraft -- I'm a little worried that this could wind up being like the Caribou in the Vietnam era, and I very much appreciate that the Chiefs are talking with one another. Air Force's role has been more strategic and strategic lift. What the Army's looking for is this last tactical mile of support, which is what the Caribou gave in Vietnam. There's some suggestions that when the Caribou was moved to the Air Force, an awful lot of Air Force folks really didn't want to have that mission. A lot of Army people say that the mission was not as well-executed as they needed it to be executed during the Vietnam era.
And so if Air Force is going to have last tactical mile mission that's contemplated by the C-27, there's got to be a really close link between the two. And the dilemma often winds up being who pays the bill.
And you know, Army might have a very different view of how that asset should be used in order to meet its mission. And Army's willingness to pay the freight could be very different than Air Force's willingness to pay the freight. And somehow we haven't broken down those lines. And as long as those lines remain, it seems to me that something that's integral to the tactical operations of one of the services perhaps should be with that service.
I do think Air Force is probably the right choice for acquisition, sustainment, maintenance, that sort of thing. It's what Air Force does with platforms like that.
Mr. Secretary, you said that we have to be prepared for the war we're most likely to fight, and I agree with that. The Institute for Defensive Analysis -- and I would imagine that certainly the Pentagon has seen the study; I don't know whether you've had an opportunity to read the study. But considering specifically the appropriate mix of lift, where JCA is concerned, it seemed to me as I read that study -- at least the unclassified executive -- or the unclassified summary of the study, it seemed to me they concluded that for the kinds of wars we think the engagements -- these long-term low-level engagements that we're going to be involved in -- JCA is a very important cost- effective ingredient to the solution. They actually recommend a lot of the JCAs be acquired if that's the sort of fight that's contemplated.
So I'd simply ask you to maybe to take a look at a the IDA analysis as we move forward to the quadrennial review, and that maybe we get more of these JCAs. That's certainly what all of the requirements have been to date, and it seems to me to be only logical in this low-sustaining kind of conflict. And I'd ask for your comment about that, sir.
SEC. GATES: Well, first of all, I would -- I would say that one of the more intriguing aspects of the -- or events during this process this late winter or early spring was that the agreement with respect to moving the JCA from the Army to the Air Force was actually made between General Casey and General Schwartz. We were basically bystanders on that one. And it was an expressive of jointness that it sort of left us agape, frankly. And -- but the reality is that -- and I think General Schwartz would tell you this -- there are going to have to be changes in the Air Force culture about how these things get done.
For example, when they load a C-130, they want it to be completely full. They're like a moving company, and they don't want to head out unless they've got a full load. And that's got to change. The JCA is a niche player for -- that's most cost-effective when there three pallets or fewer. And we have this enormous amount of available capacity in C-130s that can land at 99 percent of the airstrips that a -- that a C-27 can.
And so we will look at it, as I said, in the QDR, in terms of the relative balance. But we do have an enormous amount of capability -- but at this point is, and likely in the future is -- it will be available. And we need to find a way to take better advantage of it.
REP. SKELTON: (Sounds gavel.)
REP. MARSHALL: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. SKELTON: Mr. Secretary, before calling Mr. Franks, last year, the House required a comprehensive review that would provide Congress a better understanding of the science and technology educational programs that are supported by the Department of Defense, particularly K through 12. We understand that the report's been staffed and it's in the beginning stages.
And given your expertise an educator, now as secretary of Defense, you're in a position to understand the importance of the department's effort to develop an enhance efforts to encourage young Americans, particularly K through 12, to seek a career in science and technology.
Mr. Secretary, we understand there are many challenges in putting this report together, but we would request that you give it your personal attention at some point in the near future.
SEC. GATES: Yes, sir.
REP. SKELTON: Thank you.
REP. TRENT FRANKS (R-AZ): Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman, I think the first thing I'd like to do just to -- so I can focus on a more particular thing, is to endorse the comments of Mr. McHugh. I think that he had broad-ranging statements there that were right on the money.
And, Mr. Secretary and Mr. Admiral Mullen, I would like to thank you for being here. I guess I want to try to focus on the NVA budget.
Mr. Secretary, you have recommended some rather dramatic cuts in that, particularly investments in programs meant to defend against sophisticated threats. You know, KAI, MKV and airborne -- they're gone, and airborne laser's essentially been relegated to a research project. And I have to go on record as saying that I think that is incredibly the wrong direction to take this budget and our country on missile defense, given the growing threats that we face and given the growing attitude of other nations to have missile programs even over and above air forces.
And I want to do as you suggested, and to look beyond specific programs and look at the overall direction the administration's going here. And I know that you're focusing on already mature systems that provide theater defenses, but unfortunately those defenses that provide protection against long-range missiles and sophisticated missiles are taking a back seat. And it's my sincere judgment that that places our population at a greater risk, especially in the out years, especially as these threats grow and especially as they develop. And future generations -- it really concerns me tremendously.
And I'm also -- (audio break) --the ground-based interceptors in Alaska and California are designed to defend us against a missile from North Korea.
The geometry doesn't work for basically any other country. And the judgment was that -- based on our experience, that 30 interceptors, and particularly if we continued to upgrade those interceptors, were adequate to meet that threat.
In terms of your larger point, I would just say that the security of the American people and the efficacy of missile defense are not enhanced by continuing to put money into programs that can -- that operate -- in terms of their operational concept are fatally flawed, or research programs that are essentially sinkholes for taxpayer dollars.
That was my conclusion on a Kinetic Energy Interceptor -- five- year development program in its 14th year; not a single flight test; little work on the third stage or the kill vehicle, et cetera, et cetera; no known launch platform; have to be close to the launch site.
I am keeping the airborne laser program active. I believe directed energy is important. We are going to continue to put R&D into boost phase defense, and we will continue to do that with the airborne laser. As I say, there are significant increases in this budget in terms of terminal defense, in terms of more protection against missiles for our troops in the field, through maximizing the inventory of SM-3s and THAADs and Patriot 3s.
So I think this budget pays a lot of attention to missile defense. It's just trying to focus the dollars on real yield and on research programs that have some prospect of yielding an operationally sound concept and one that actually can come to fruition in our lifetime.
ADM. MULLEN: I'd only say I've been in and out of missile defense since the mid-90s, and we've made a lot of progress on the near-term threats, where this investment goes. The challenges that we have in boost phase, specifically in boost phase, are enormous. I've felt ABL's been a flawed concept for years, quite frankly, because it made no sense, number sorties, and I think the investment there to get at the high energy laser, and that aspect of it, is really critical.
But until we move to a point where it looks like that R&D is going to produce something, then I very much favor the decisions that have been made, that we keep those investment streams focused on boost -- that's the toughest problem that we have -- as well as the Multiple Kill Vehicle. Those are two enormous problems, and we need an R&D and S&T investment to know that we're headed on a clear path.
I also think that the resources in this budget support the national security of the American people.
REP. FRANKS: Well, Mr. Chairman, I'm still unable to know what changed from last year's commence to this one.
But thank you. Thank you very much.
REP. SKELTON: Thank you.
REP. ROB ANDREWS (D-NJ): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Chairman, Mr. Secretary, for your outstanding service to this country. And I think everything you've done today at this hearing further distinguishes your service to this country.
Mr. Secretary, on page 4 of your testimony, I'm going to read your comments about shifting away from the "99 percent exquisite service-centric platforms that are so costly."
"With the pace of technological and geopolitical change and the range of possible contingencies, we must look more to the 80-percent multiservice solution." I completely agree with that approach, and I appreciate the fact that it animates much of what's in this budget.
I wanted to focus on procurement reform and the meaning of that idea in procurement reform. Would you agree that the place at which we can best start to effectuate that 80-percent solution is in the requirements phase of the procurement process?
SEC. GATES: Yes. I think one of the areas that -- where we have not been sufficiently disciplined -- and this came up time and time again as we went through these various programs over the last three- months-plus -- four months -- is that the requirements really weren't vetted properly and were flawed at the outset, or, where they were not flawed at the outset, they kept changing.
REP. ANDREWS: Right.
SEC. GATES: And as anybody who ever added a room onto their house knows, once you've started building and once you start changing stuff, the cost goes through the roof.
REP. ANDREWS: That's exactly what happened to me. I wish you'd been there to help me when it did.
SEC. GATES: (Laughs.)
REP. ANDREWS: The question I want to ask you about that is that -- do you think that the present system gets enough input from the combatant commanders and the individuals who actually use these systems and define the need?
SEC. GATES: Well, let me answer, and then I think it's probably more appropriate for Admiral Mullen to answer.
I think that one of the things we tried to do in this process -- there is a procedure by which the combatant commanders each year submit their views of what the needs are. I think this year may have been the first time perhaps in a long time where they actually were invited into the process, both at the beginning and at various points along the way, to provide their view of what the needs were. Quite frankly, my perception in the couple -- two-and-a-half years I've been in this job is that their description of their needs did not receive particularly high priority when the services came to making decisions.
REP. ANDREWS: Right.
SEC. GATES: But that may be a misimpression.
REP. ANDREWS: One of the --
SEC. GATES: Let me -- but let me ask Admiral Mullen.
REP. ANDREWS: No, I would certainly want to hear the admiral's views.
ADM. MULLEN: I would put the combatant commanders in sort of the 80-percent solution. That's where they'd like to go here, first of all.
REP. ANDREWS: Yup.
ADM. MULLEN: Secondly, if I could just talk about requirements, because I think that is a critical part of the problem that we have. But there's also a point from where requirements go to where the contract gets signed, and that is space that is not visible, not transparent, not open to everybody, so that when I have a requirement -- or here's my dream, my vision -- what gets -- what am I actually paying for?
And there needs to be more clarification, more transparency and more collaboration in, "This is what I really want," when that contract finally gets signed, to those who are going to go build whatever -- whatever it's going to be.
REP. ANDREWS: We're trying to look, in our panel, at ways to address that concern, and it appears that an awful lot of the cost overruns and schedule delays are in that 20-percent space to try to get us from 80 to 100.
And what would you -- and you need not respond today, but one of the ideas we'd like you to take under consideration is whether we should change our analytical metric from "requirements" to "requirements and aspirations" -- or, you know, requirements that are truly essential to the mission and for the protection and service to the warfighter, versus those things which would be nice to have but are -- deserve a lesser degree of mandate.
What do you think about that conceptually?
ADM. MULLEN: I mean, you're trying to operate in that 20-percent space, which is enormously difficult, because the system wants to go to 100 percent.
REP. ANDREWS: Yeah.
ADM. MULLEN: So without commenting on the word itself, however you can limit that growth from 80 to 100 percent, I think, is absolutely critical and over time, because they grow, as the secretary said.
REP. ANDREWS: Have you ever seen a situation where the 20 percent, you think, was really essential in saving someone's life or making their mission more achievable?
ADM. MULLEN: I would -- there are some where you would want to --
REP. ANDREWS: I wouldn't want to exclude them. But my sense is that we get an awful lot done in the 80.
ADM. MULLEN: Yes, sir, we do.
SEC. GATES: Yeah, and that's the only, and I haven't, to be honest, I haven't read either one of the acquisition reform bills, either the Senate or the House version. But I totally agree that the focus ought to be on cost, performance and schedule.
But at a certain point, there's got to be the flexibility to focus on value, that if it's something that meets a need that we cannot meet any other way, then we ought to have the flexibility to go forward, knowing that we are going to have problems, and that there are going to be extra development costs.
And you know, who would have assessed, three or four years ago, that a $26-billion investment in MRAPs was a smart thing to do? But how many lives has it saved? How many limbs has it saved?
And there's not -- this Congress has been so supportive on that program. And it's because every member of Congress knows that it's saved our kids' lives.
REP. ANDREWS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Mr. Secretary.
REP. SKELTON: Thank you.
REPRESENTATIVE MIKE COFFMAN (R-CO): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
First of all, Secretary Gates, Admiral Mullen, thank you for your service. In early-2006, I was in Iraq with the United States Marine Corps. And things were not going all that well there.
And things were reversed later on, with the surge, with General Petraeus's concept, where we not only put in more forces, on the ground, but we dispersed those forces differently, away from the major, more secure base camps, into -- pushed into the communities and forward operating bases.
And that created a level of security that allowed the political process to move forward. When I look at the situation right now, in Afghanistan, we are going to build up to a troop presence, on the ground, that is approximately about half of that that we had, in Iraq, prior to the surge.
And I don't see a robust plan to push our forces or Afghan security forces out into those villages, where the Taliban are intimidating the population. And I just don't see that we have an assessment of the current threat commensurate with our resources that we're planning to put on the ground.
And what I would hate to see is that we get into the same situation that I experienced in Iraq in 2006. We were treading water and losing folks until we realized that we needed a greater presence to provide enough security to allow the political process to move forward. I wonder if you can respond to that.
ADM. MULLEN: Just two or three weeks ago when I was there, in Afghanistan, and specifically with new brigades in RC East, where we have been under-resourced, the 3rd of the 10th Mountain arrived in January. And the impact that they've had in -- another counterinsurgency concept -- or counterinsurgency plan, you know, is to get out and about, just like we did in Iraq. And it's starting to work there. So they're not back on their bases, they really are out doing exactly what you describe, going where the Taliban are.
We don't have those resources in the south. And the forces that have gone in, obviously, in the east, to be about right, and then we've got roughly 10,000 Marines showing up starting now over the next several months. We think that's about right for certainly this year in the south. Those are the two big areas, with the south being the most difficult and challenging right now.
As I said earlier, we think that's about right as best we can tell, but clearly the concept is the same, the approach is the same, to get out and provide the security so everything -- so development and politics, diplomacy, et cetera, can start to grow.
REP. COFFMAN: You know, I would encourage you, Mr. Secretary, Admiral Mullen, to certainly take a review, as things develop, as soon as possible. I think it's better that we put the resources in sooner that are necessary than put them in later.
Mr. Chairman, I yield back my time.
REP. SKELTON: Ms. Bordallo, please.
DEL. MADELEINE BORDALLO (D-Guam): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Secretary Gates, I want to thank you for your professionalism and our leadership in the Department of Defense. And also, Admiral Mullen, thank you for your testimony and your leadership as well.
I guess you gentlemen know in what direction I'm going. First I would like to ask you, Mr. Secretary, to get your perspective in better understanding the administration's position on the realignment of Marines from Okinawa, Japan, to Guam. Incidentally, just today the Japanese Diet approved the Guam AIP, the Agreed Implementation Plan. However, the commandant made comments at a recent House Appropriations Committee hearing that suggested the entire realignment of Marines from Okinawa, Japan, to Guam was going to be reviewed.
It was always my understanding that only training and command- and-control issues connecting Marine Corps presence in the Pacific would be reviewed in the QDR, and not the rebasing itself. So could you respond: Will the rebasing of Marines from Okinawa to Guam be revisited in any way as part of the QDR process?
SEC. GATES: We are still committed to the rebasing to Guam.
As you suggested, there are some issues related to training, clearly infrastructure issues on Guam itself, issues relating to the runway that we have to address. But we are committed to the program. I'm very happy that the Japanese Diet has approved -- I knew that the lower house of the Diet had approved it; that sounds like the upper house did today.
DEL. BORDALLO: Yes. (Inaudible) -- today.
SEC. GATES: And we have money in the '10 budget to do our part and to keep our part of the commitment, and I urge the Congress to leave that money in there.
DEL. BORDALLO: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. That's what I wanted to hear.
There has been some concern by local leaders on Guam about the level of coordination from the Department of Defense for funding local infrastructure projects, and I guess really you touched on it briefly. For the military buildup to work, the impact on our community and the costs of additional infrastructure must be shared by the military. In fact, a September 2008 and April 2009 GAO report stated that improvements to critical civilian infrastructure is needed to handle the buildup, and that DOD must do more to ensure that these requirements are resolved.
And I guess you did answer that. The efforts of your office in this regard is that you're supportive in this area. Is that correct?
SEC. GATES: Yes, ma'am. Yes, ma'am.
DEL. BORDALLO: Yes.
And my third question. With your proposal on the JCAs, what will happen to the Army Guard units that are expected to receive the aircraft, but do not necessarily have a Sherpa mission? I'm concerned about a hallow (sic) force structure.
SEC. GATES: I think this is one of the issues that has to be addressed in this context in the Quadrennial Defense Review, in terms of this balance between heavy lift helicopters, JCA and C-130s.
DEL. BORDALLO: Thank you.
Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary. I'm very enlightened with the responses to my questions.
REP. NEIL ABERCROMBIE (D-HI): Mr. Chairman? Mr. Chairman? Mr. Chairman --
REP. SKELTON: Yes, gentleman from Hawaii?
REP. ABERCROMBIE: -- if -- if the representative have any time left, would she yield it to me?
DEL. BORDALLO: I will yield to the gentleman from Hawaii.
REP. SKELTON: She yields. Minute and 30 seconds.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Thank you.
Mr. Secretary, aloha to you. Can you tell me, has the issue been resolved with regard to whether or not the basic allowance for housing will result in American construction companies being able to handle that construction? I know what the Japanese Diet passed; apparently the State Department has decided we won't get to review that.
SEC. GATES: I don't know the answer to that, Mr. Abercrombie. I'll find out.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Okay. I want -- want it clear on the record that I will -- if it's not resolved so that the Bank of Japan is not getting the stimulus but rather the United States -- construction in the United States that will be constructing, maintaining and managing the housing for the Marines, I'm afraid that we're going to have to have -- at least I will certainly put forward an amendment to that effect.
I would like to see the housing for the Marines be a -- in line with the kind of housing we do for military housing right now, where private enterprise comes in, builds the housing, maintains it, manages it, and we utilize the basic allowance for housing to do the basic financing for that.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. SKELTON: Thank the gentleman.
Mr. Akin from Missouri.
REP. W. TODD AKIN (R-MO): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I came with kind of a multi-part question. It's -- has to do with F-18s, a subject that's been raised several times today.
The first is -- is that in Section 123 of Public Law 110-417, it required the secretary of Defense to submit a report on F-18 procurement costs by March of 2009. Now, we have not received that report.
The purpose of the report was to take a look at particularly the idea of multi-year. We didn't stick that in, that we were going to force anybody to do that last year, but we thought at least it makes sense to save money. If you're going to be buying some F-18s and you're going to do it over a multi-year period, why not sort of lock in some type of a contract?
So I guess my first concern -- I'm going to hit you with a couple different questions. My first concern is, I think it would be helpful in terms of transparency to have a better communication, so we know what's going on.
Now I understand that the QDR is the reason -- we're going to wait for the QDR and everything. But it seems like to me this is a pretty straightforward situation. In 2008 the projected shortfall was 125 aircraft. That was based on the thousand-hour -- or a hundred -- a 10,000-hour run time for these jets. Now that's been proven wrong, so we're looking at a shortfall of 243,000 aircraft. And that comes out at 44 aircraft per aircraft carrier. You're looking at -- by the time you get to the year -- let's see -- it's about -- I think it looks like 2018 -- you're looking at about five aircraft carriers with no airplanes on them. I would suggest that that aircraft carriers with airplanes is not a good combination. We need to have airplanes on them.
And so regardless of what QDR says, it seems to me that there's one of a couple things. Either you're assuming we're going to get by with fewer aircraft carriers, or we're not going to have a full 44 aircraft on an aircraft carrier. That seems to be where we're going.
So I guess my question is, first of all, why the lack of transparency? And second of all, if you would comment on where you think we are on F-18s.
SEC. GATES: Well, first of all, I -- if the lack of transparency is the fact that we haven't yet gotten that report to you that was due in March, then we have an obligation to get on it. I didn't -- I wasn't aware about the report, and I'll find out where it is.
(To the admiral.) Do you want to talk to that?
ADM. MULLEN: The strike fighter shortfall is an area, Mr. Akin, I know that you're very focused on. The multi-year issue, quite frankly, is how long you going to keep the production line open. And clearly there has been a decision previously made that it was -- I can't remember the exact year. I think fiscal year '12. So how far out you could go on a multi-year right now would be a question, because that question hasn't been answered.
There's no intent to have aircraft carriers without airplanes.
I understand that. I'm very aware of the 10,000-hour desire, and obviously those airplanes are not going to last that long.
That said, I advised the secretary -- and I'm still there -- that we really need to take a pretty healthy look at this overall shortfall, not just in the Navy. What is the strike fighter future? What does it look like?
And principally, we're headed for JSF. So what's the risk? When do you take it? And obviously that backs up into whether this production line would remain open longer than is scheduled right now. There's an electronic warfare piece of this as well that I'm sure you're aware of which is included.
REP. AKIN: Yeah, we were --
ADM. MULLEN: So I really think this needs to be looked at in the QDR.
REP. AKIN: Right. Well, we were on point on that electronic warfare and I think there's been some real good progress there.
ADM. MULLEN: Yes, sir.
REP. AKIN: The -- I guess the other question I had was, Mr. Secretary, you made the statement, as I recall, on January 2009, "I will pursue greater quanitities of systems that represent the 75 percent solution instead of smaller quantities at the 99 percent." I'm think that five-and-a-half F-18s per JSF -- you know, maybe the F- 18 does make a certain amount of sense.
And I have to say that, as we've taken a look at -- more on the shipbuilding side of cost overruns and problems with missing deadlines as well as cost deadlines, but production deadlines, I guess I'm a little concerned about dropping, you know, billions of dollars into trying to rush a program if we haven't even been through testing on it. So it seems like there's a natural progression. If you drive a program too hard in terms of JSF, it can be pretty costly. So I'm -- and I'm happy, if there's a better airplane, go for it. But I don't like to see us just gamble on the (comma ?) on something where we have a huge shortfall.
I yield back.
REP. SKELTON: I thank the gentleman.
REP. JOE COURTNEY (D-CT): Thank you, Mr Chairman. And, like so many others, thank you for your outstanding service and testimony this morning to both witnesses.
And like other members, I certainly view this as a reform document and reform budget, and applaud both of you for the hard work that went into it.
I wanted to actually along that line just sort of comment on the exchange that Mr. Hunter had with Admiral Mullens (sic) regarding the disruption to families. I heard your answer basically to say that, you know, it's happening because we have had such a broken budget process where supplemental passages and late budgets have really kind of made it difficult for the services to plan adequately so that, you know, trying to be conservative and prepare for the worst-case scenario is partly our fault here in Washington because we really have not followed regular order in passing budgets in -- within a fiscal year that would allow that type of planning.
And also it would disappoint a lot of people back home if I didn't acknowledge that your budget does tip a hat to the fact that we've worked so hard to get the submarine-building program to an acceptable level in terms of hitting deadlines and budgets. And we certainly appreciate the fact that that clearly was recognized in this budget document.
I would like to ask, though, Secretary Gates, I mean, there's been a lot of talk here today about trying to focus on the national interest in this budget, and I completely agree with that. But certainly, part of the national interest is the fact that we have an economy which is in probably the worst shape of our lifetimes. And we also have a workforce and an industrial base that's part of the national interest. And certainly, your work on the MRAP was, I think, a classic example of that. We did not have an industrial base that was really ready to get to the theater vehicles that save lives, despite the fact that you were pushing for it and budgets were being passed here in Washington.
And the concern in Connecticut, very frankly, on the F-22 is that certainly the F-35 sort of vision at the end makes a lot of sense, and there's going to be work there for that plane. But the plan as is right now, of basically ending the production line at 187, is going to have an disruption to that industrial base. I mean, there's just no way that you can have that happen without a gap, and a very serious valley, in terms of what happens to the workforce.
You described a zero-sum game that we're involved in here. I guess the question I have is, there's clearly been interest in terms of our Middle East allies -- Israel and others -- in terms of acquiring the F-22. That's obviously not allowed by law right now, and I just wondered if -- what your thoughts were in terms of that as an option right now, and whether or not we can sell modified versions of the F-22, at least to keep that base working.
SEC. GATES: We didn't design an export version of the F-22. We have done that with the Joint Strike Fighter. We have eight foreign partners in the JSF. They're committed over the five-year defense plan to buy, I think, 260 of these aircraft over the next five years.
You know, I mean, the reality is I think that, at least in the recommendations that I make to the president, what I have to -- what I have to consider first and foremost is what I think is in the best national security interest of the country. Larger issues are considered by the president and by the Congress.
But I would say this -- and I realize that it's not one-for-one -- but right now, in 2009, there are 24,000 people directly involved in the construction or in building the F-22. That'll go to 19,000 in 2010, and 13,000 in 2011. But at this moment, in 2009, there are 38,000 people working on the Joint Strike Fighter, 64,000 in 2010, and 82,000 in 2011. So the reality is, as we transition from the F-22 to the Joint Strike Fighter, a significantly larger number of jobs will be created in the country and in the -- and in the air industrial base, if you will. And I've heard the figure 95,000 thrown around.
I assume that is a calculus that includes suppliers and everybody else. So if that's a factor of four, then four times eight, 82,000, means that there's a net add over the next two years of 220,000 jobs to the American economy through what we've budgeted in '10 and beyond for the Joint Strike Fighter. So that's not much solace to the folks in 2012 who are working on the F-22, but we can't keep these programs running forever.
REP. SKELTON: (Sounds gavel.) Mr. Thornberry.
REP. MAC THORNBERRY (R-TX): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Secretary, as one more opinion from the peanut gallery, I appreciate your willingness to make decisions on programs and on personnel. My perception is that there was some momentum for institutional change at the Pentagon until September 11th. That kind of changed everybody's focus. But if the last eight years have taught us anything, it's the importance of having a balanced sort of approach and getting the right people in the right jobs at the right time. And whether we may agree or disagree about some particular decisions, I appreciate you making them.
The first QDR included a required red team -- an outside group of folks whose jobs it was to offer an alternative version. It was called the National Defense Panel. Chairman Skelton and I actually tried to get that on the last QDR but were not successful. Do you think it would be helpful to kind of have these retired military think-tank type folks to offer an alternative, different sort of look at the broader questions that the QDR is supposed to address?
SEC. GATES: Well, I not only think that having a red team for the QDR is a good idea, I've already moved in that direction. And the person who will lead the red team is the same person who lead the red team for the last QDR, and that's Dr. Andy Marshall in the Department of Defense. And he will be assisted at my request by General Jim Mattis at Joint Forces Command. I think Jim Mattis is one of the most creative and thoughtful military minds anywhere. And I think the combination of Andy Marshall and Jim Mattis basically red-teaming the -- I've actually got them red-teaming both the scenarios and the QDR itself, so that we're not the prisoners of bureaucratic groupthink of people who've done this work forever.
REP. THORNBERRY: Well, I share your complete admiration for both people. I -- we might just want to think about whether someone -- some group of people outside the Department might be useful. I'm not necessarily advocating that. But I do think some sort of a fresh approach is helpful. Some -- I think some of the best ideas, for example, on change that was needed came from or at least was spurred by that National Defense Panel, and we haven't done it since the first QDR.
And we haven't done it since the first QDR.
Let me ask about -- or turn to cyber for a second. You talked about that in your statement. It seems to me that this may be an area where we are -- you are fighting the culture of the Pentagon a bit. Whereas some folks see cyber as an enabler to help them do their job -- which it certainly is -- but some folks see it also as a separate domain of warfare for which we need offense and defense. What do you think?
SEC. GATES: Well, I agree with the latter entirely. And we are putting -- the budget provides the resources to about quadruple the throughput at our cyber-schools for cyber-experts in uniform. I've been waiting for the completion of the White House review. I believe that there needs to be an integration of offense, defense and exploitation. And my inclination, and what I've talked about in the past, is moving to a sub-unified command: under Strategic Command, but with a four-star leader who would have that responsibility for the Department of Defense for cyber.
REP. THORNBERRY: And -- and --
SEC. GATES: And of course I think the Air Force is standing up its own folks and so on.
By the way, I've just gotten a note: Marshall is going to include outsiders in his red team group.
REP. THORNBERRY: Thank you. I appreciate it. That's helpful.
And I appreciate your comments on cyber. Still, we're -- you say quadruple; we're going from 80 -- according to your statement -- to 250 per year by FY '11. It just strikes me as -- when you compare the manpower that some other countries are putting on this issue, 250 doesn't sound like a whole lot. And does it stand the chance of kind of being this outsider? Because while -- I think of the space analogy: While the Air Force has had to embrace space, produce space- related people, I'm not sure who produces what service, has the train/equip responsibility, on cyber.
SEC. GATES: Well, the -- first of all, I mean, part of the problem is, obviously, there are huge demands on the force right now. And so one of the things that the service chiefs have been directed is that their first priority is to fill all those slots at the cyber- school as they're making assignments.
But I would also tell you that the reality is, with respect to the -- particularly the Russians and the Chinese, they do a lot of outsourcing of what they do on cyber, and mainly to people in their 20s and early 30s. And it gives them a great multiplier effect. I wish I could figure out how to do that.
REP. THORNBERRY: Maybe we ought to work on that together.
SEC. GATES: Unfortunately, we have rules of accountability that they don't.
REP. SKELTON: A point of clarification.
There is a proposed cybercommand and sub-commands in the Air Force, and would it also be true in the Army and the Navy?
SEC. GATES: I don't -- I'll ask that.
ADM. MULLEN: What the secretary's talking about is a proposal -- and again, we await the outcome of the strategic review from the White House. But the four-star sub-unified who would report to STRATCOM would be supported by components -- Air Force -- all the services --
REP. SKELTON: In other words, each of the services would have their own component?
ADM. MULLEN: Each of the services would have a component that would report in.
REP. SKELTON: That answers --
ADM. MULLEN: And this is becoming mainstream warfare. This is no longer niche stuff and we all recognize that. And we've got to move out on it as rapidly as possible.
REP. SKELTON: You answered the question. Thank you very much.
Mr. Sestak, please.
REP. JOE SESTAK (D-PA): Thanks, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Secretary, for whatever it's worth, I think your budget proposal is spot-on. I think it's very similar to what Mr. Rumsfeld might have done when he came to the Defense Department and tried to transform the military. But then with men and women in harm's way and two wars, it's understandable, as you found in your first year, that's where your focus needed to be.
And I wish you the best success, to where we're no longer measuring a military in how many, but in capability, particularly in cyberspace or network-centric.
But sir, could I ask you a question today? And I mean this -- these -- these two questions with the utmost respect, not as secretary of Defense, but as one of the two members of the National Command Authorities, with the president. Probably your most important job is deciding not just the execution of our operations overseas, but who commands them, or the removal thereof.
May I ask, when you decided to remove General McKiernan -- McKiernan, why did you also ask for his resignation from the service, if I might?
SEC. GATES: It's basically -- I view what has happened with General McKiernan as -- as an accelerated change of command. And he -- this was the process by which we did that in an accelerated way.
There was no -- there was certainly no intent to convey anything negative or denigrate him in any way by that.
REP. SESTAK: The reason I ask -- not about his removal, because I think as NCA that's got to be your choice. I was more trying to understand the request for his resignation from the service.
When General Eikenberry was here 2-1/2 years ago, having left Afghanistan, he told us in testimony that -- or he told us that he needed more forces there. A few short months prior to General McKiernan going over there, the chairman stated that the policy -- not his, but the administration's policy at the time was, in Iraq we do what we must; in Afghanistan we do what we can.
To some degree, is there a lesson here for younger officers, not in the removal but in the request for resignation that we may not want to have? That this was an individual who, by policy, was given second choice on resources, and never enough, despite repeated request for it. While it's understandable you need a new strategic approach, did that also call for his resignation? Is there a lesson in there that we may not want to have for our younger service members?
And I ask that with great respect, sir.
SEC. GATES: I understand. And I guess I would say that I saw it as his resignation as commander of U.S. forces and not from the service. But -- and presumably he will retire with the honor and respect that he deserves.
The reality is we have gone from about 32,000 American troops last year in Afghanistan to, within the next few months, 68,000 troops. We are now in the 40,000s somewhere. So there has been a significant increase in those resources.
My decision to make this recommendation to the president had nothing to do with civilian casualties, had nothing to do with General McKiernan's request for forces. My view is that a commander in the field should never feel constrained from asking for what he needs. And it's up to the Central Command, the chiefs, the chairman to make a recommendation to me on how to -- and thence to the president -- on how much and how to satisfy that request.
I have -- I've worked very hard to give first General Petraeus and now General Odierno the forces that they need in Iraq. We have worked very hard to come up with these additional forces for Afghanistan. And that was -- that played -- his request for additional troops played absolutely no role in that decision.
REP. SESTAK: Yes, sir. And I did not mean to insinuate; I know it didn't.
The last question is just different. Back in 2002, Defense Department had about 2 percent of all overseas developmental assistance funding in the U.S. government. Today it's about 11 percent.
As you -- we transition more to developmental assistance, do you see transferring those funds over to the State Department?
SEC. GATES: Well, some of them have become -- I think we've seen an expanded role, for a number of our combatant commanders, that have mixed where the military has been involved, in humanitarian and other kinds of activities and in trying to build the security forces of our partners, which has involved some of those development funds.
So I think that -- I think that the way we envision our mission and the expectations that the president has, of us, have evolved over the last number of years.
What I believe needs to happen, and what I have written about, is that I believe that the State Department has been deprived of both the human and dollar resources that they need, to carry out their responsibilities in this arena.
I think in the area that we're talking about, for example, for this Pakistan counterinsurgency capability fund, my view is, those dollars will transition to the State Department in FY '10 and beyond.
REP. SKELTON: I thank the gentleman.
Mr. Bishop, please.
REPRESENTATIVE ROB BISHOP (R-UT): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I've got three questions I'd like to ask. So I'm going to do this as quickly as I can. If I get kind of antsy with your answers, it's only because I want to get all three of these in here.
The first one deals with the Minuteman III Propulsion Replacement Program, which ended this summer. We now no longer have an ICBM modernization or sustainment program, even though the Russians are going to have a new IBM system by 2018.
The question; I hate to ask it in this format, but the delegation from my state sent you a letter, on March 18th, and we haven't had a response yet, from anyone in the Pentagon or from your office.
I'm going to take this opportunity to ask the same kind of question, which should have been done by letter. But in the budget documents, you talk about solid rocket motor -- (inaudible) -- program, to maintain capability and sustainment within the industry.
For as you say, solid rocket motors, in order to sustain Minuteman III weapons systems through 2030, as directed by Congress, will maintain production capability for the manufacture of solid rocket motors as well as maintain system engineering assessment capability.
That's your goal. In the '10 budget, you have enough money put in there for one set of motors, even though the industry has said they need a minimum of six to maintain the industrial capability.
So the first question which was the product of that letter is, how do you explain your analysts coming to the conclusion that one rocket motor set can maintain that industrial capability, when the industry says it can't?
SEC. GATES: I don't have an answer for you. I'll get the letter to you within the week.
REP. BISHOP: Thank you. I appreciate that.
Let me go on to the second one, which deals specifically with some of the other concerns that have been mentioned. I want to echo those at the same time, missile defense especially.
The ground-based midcourse direction and the Kinetic Energy Interceptor program, as well as the Minuteman III, all are supposed to be prevented by a solid rocket motor propulsion system.
There's only one place where those are built. And these three items that we're doing so far, I think, have a tendency of decimating that kind of industrial capacity.
And it's also ironic that the day you announced the mid-course defense rocket decision was the day the North Koreans launched their missile.
But besides that point, I want to zero in on KEI, because I am somewhat confused about some of the statements you made in response to Mr. Lamborn's question. There have been fire controls, seven static fire tests, which all have been positive. The contracts were let in '03; not a 14-year program. There is no other speed, reach or mobility, so the idea that there has to be a proximity to an enemy to launch is -- not understandable to me. And perhaps if there hadn't been 15 or more redirects coming from your -- for the Pentagon on this program, it may have been done a little bit sooner.
But the question I'm going to ask from KEI is, those rockets are already there for the launch to take place this fall. Yesterday you ordered the stop-work order to go through. It caught all of us by surprise because of the infamous gag order, which -- once again, I echo the complaints about that process. We have not had a chance to discuss this or understand why that is there. Even when your -- your announcement in April, you'd made the decision, but you didn't announce it; we had to read about this program or get it secondhand.
So the question I have -- because I've heard your arguments, and once again, we need some time to discuss this, because they don't necessarily jive with the reality of the program as I know it. But I want to know, what is the cost of your stop-work order? What is the cost of terminating this program? It doesn't come cheap. There are contractual obligations. How much is it going to cost to implement the stop-work order?
SEC. GATES: I'll have to get back to you on that. I don't know.
REP. BISHOP: I'm going to have more than five minutes with -- at this rate here, but I'd appreciate you writing back --
SEC. GATES: I'm being as brief as you asked. (Chuckles.)
REP. BISHOP: Well, that's a legitimate answer. But less than three months for the answer?
SEC. GATES: Yes.
REP. BISHOP: Deal.
Third one, though, is a final one that goes back to the Missile Defense Agency as well as the -- in the '09 appropriations, there was money in there for this booster test flight. If the stop-work order goes through, MDA has not told us what they will do with the money already in the budget to deal with this. It was already appropriated by Congress; they told you what to do; it hasn't happened; that money is sitting there. What are you going to do with the money?
SEC. GATES: Get back to you on that one too.
REP. BISHOP: I'm 0 for 3 with you, aren't I.
SEC. GATES: Well, that's because you're asking questions at a level of detail, frankly, that I don't have.
REP. BISHOP: Okay. I want more F-22s. Does that help?
SEC. GATES: (Chuckles.) That one I can answer.
REP. BISHOP: Thank you. My time is almost up. I appreciate you, and I will -- thank you, Secretary Gates --
REP. SKELTON: (Gavels.)
REP. BISHOP: -- for getting back with me, and I'll look forward to the responses.
REP. SKELTON: Ms. Giffords.
REP. GABRIELLE GIFFORDS (D-AZ): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And thank you Secretary Gates, Admiral Mullen, for appearing before us today. And thank you for your service to our nation.
Despite delaying the delivery of this year's requests until the middle of May, the department has yet to disclose some specific justification behind numerous major defense reductions. And I -- you've probably heard the frustration from (many ?) members, because, you know, we want to know why, and we certainly want to work with you to be able to justify those reductions.
I believe that some of the restructuring efforts cut disproportionately across certain forces, and this year's request would have a direct negative impact on the overall fighter-aircraft inventory and the combat search-and-rescue assets, including nearly a dozen units in my district alone.
Members here do not have the luxury of planning our nation's defense on a year-to-year basis. It's a responsibility of this committee to balance short-term security with long-term stability and to provide for the continued robust defense of our nation. So delaying the outline of future plans to a date uncertain, in my opinion, undermines this year's request and a major decision being made in this year's budget.
So specifically, Secretary Gates, the department announced last month that they would cancel the CSAR replacement program. And according to your statements, the next year will be spent researching potential alternatives and verifying the requirement.
At Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in my district, they have long awaited the final selection and delivery of a new aircraft for this crucial mission. Among operators, there seems to be no question of the need for this program.
So could you please expand on the justification for canceling the program and in making this decision, did you consider the substantial additional risk being placed on the current aircraft fleet? And were you also aware of the current fleet of paved hoc aircraft beginning to reach the end of their designed service life, actually six years ago now.
SEC. GATES: The principle reasons behind the decision on CSAR-X were first some significant acquisition problems associated with the program, and second, it was a single service, single mission kind of aircraft. It also had an operational concept flaw as far as I was concerned because it's supposed to be able to rescue pilots deep in enemy territory. It was being designed with a 250-mile range and yet both the F-22 and the F-35, as well as the F-16 for that matter have a range up to 500 miles and the notion of an unarmed helicopter being able to rescue somebody deep in enemy territory as a single mission struck me as not being plausible.
So what we discovered if we look back at the previous times, most notably in the Balkans when a pilot was down behind enemy lines, it ended up being several services and several different capabilities that were used in the rescue, and I think that's the kind of joint capability we need to think about for search and rescue. We do need to get on with it and the intent is to do that during the course of FY '10.
REP. GIFFORDS: Admiral Mullen?
ADM. MULLEN: The only comment I would add is that the fact that this program was canceled does not in any way, shape or form speak to lack of commitment to rescuing somebody when they are in that need and we will figure out a way to do that. Everybody is committed in that regard.
REP. GIFFORDS: Talking about fighter gap and we've had a lot of hearings in the subcommittees about the fighter gap shortfall and the waterfall and really losing 80 percent of our fighters in the next eight years is something that I believe that we're all concerned about.
I know that this year's budget request would cancel the F-22 program, add only a handful of F-35 test aircraft and retire 250 Air Force fighter aircraft. The current Air Force fighter fleet is roughly 200 aircraft short of the Department's stated requirement for fighters and even under the most optimistic projections, the Air National Guard would be forced to close 13 fighter wings by 2017. The total fighter gap now will grow to 800 aircraft under current plans.
So I know we've had a lot of discussion about F-22s, but I'm really specifically looking at what we're going to be doing with our Air National Guard program and the justification by some of these requests that you've made.
SEC. GATES: Well, again, as I said earlier, the bathtub in fighters depends on whether you're looking at the requirement from the standpoint of our current force structure and anticipated force structure and our desired capabilities or whether it's based on a threat analysis, and those are the kinds of issues that are going to be addressed in the Quadrennial Defense Review because if you look at the threat analysis, our lead on fifth generation fighters, for example, China, is enormous in 2020 and grows even greater in 2025.
So it really gets more to a question of force structure here in the United States versus the threat based and that's the kind of thing that's going to be looked at in the QDR.
REP. GIFFORDS: Thank you.
REP. SKELTON: Thank the gentle lady. Mr. Wilson?
REPRESENTATIVE JOE WILSON (R-SC): Thank you very much, and Admiral Mullen, Secretary Gates, thank you very much for your service. My perspective -- I greatly appreciate what you're doing, protecting American families and also providing opportunity for young people to serve our country.
Again, the perspective I have, a 31-year veteran myself, four sons who are currently serving in the military, three who have served in the Middle East, additionally, I'm very, very grateful. I represent Fort Jackson, Parris Island, Marine Corps Air Station, Beaufort Naval Hospital. I've just returned from visiting, my tenth visit in Iraq, eighth visit in Afghanistan.
What's extraordinary -- we had the opportunity to visit with the junior officers enlisted personnel from our home states and every time I go and visit in country, I'm impressed by the dedication and competence and capabilities.
And so I just want to thank you for backing them up.
I am concerned though that with the consolidated budget request, this shows that there's actually a reduction, Secretary Gates, in regard to the Army budget. There's a reduction by consolidating the budget of over $4.4 billion and my concern is with the force structure staying as it is, maybe increasing, which I think is good, that that could result in a limitation on reset and modernization.
And so how will this be addressed with the reduction?
SEC. GATES: I don't think that it would have that impact, sir. I think the reduction is primarily due to the changes in the FCS program and some other programs and not those affecting the troops, but let me ask -- the information that I have is that for the base budget, the Army is up 2.1 percent from '09 to 2010.
REP. WILSON: That's the base budget, but with the consolidated, which is the base and supplemental --
SEC. GATES: Part of the consolidated is that the personnel costs have been transferred to the base budget, so that the truth of the matter is, I've added almost $11 billion for end strength into the base budget of 2010, about $7 billion of that was Army, was end strength in the Army and so that's now being covered in the base budget.
REP. WILSON: And I appreciate your efforts to maintain the funding that can be possible.
Like so many other members, concerned about the missile defense program, in particular, with the changes that have come about, these decisions were made prior to the completion of the administration's missile defense policy and strategy review and also in the midst of extraordinary changes in Iran, in their capability of developing ballistic missiles and potential nuclear weapons, how do we address these changes as affecting, particularly the capability of Iran?
SEC. GATES: Well, I think there, the changes in terms of the deployments and the addition of six Aegis-capable missile defense ships, the addition of THAD missiles and the addition of the SM-3 missiles to the inventory were basically maxing out the production lines in terms of being able to protect against the kinds of missiles that the Iranians have deployed today.
Of course, the whole purpose behind the third site in Europe would be able to take on a longer range missile from Iran that might be aimed either at Western Europe or Russia or, for that matter, ourselves, and I think that there is still very active interest in pursuing either the third site and doing so in partnership with the Russians, whether it's using one of their radars or some other arrangement with them, but I think that most of us believe that that kind of arrangement in Western Europe, Russia, offers the best opportunity to deal with the longer range Iranian missiles.
REP. WILSON: And do you believe that Iran is proceeding with developing longer range missiles and nuclear capability, weapon capability?
SEC. GATES: Absolutely.
REP. WILSON: And it's a threat to our allies in the Persian Gulf and throughout the region and so on. I'm happy to hear of what you were indicating, but I'm very concerned that the rogue regime in Tehran could be a threat to the entire Middle East and possibly southeastern Europe, too.
SEC. GATES: Well, this is one of the reasons why we have -- we now have a full time Aegis presence in both the eastern Mediterranean and in the Persian Gulf.
REP. WILSON: Thank you. I believe it's a deterrence. Thank you.
REP. SKELTON: Thank you very much. Ms. Tsongas?
REPRESENTATIVE NIKI TSONGAS (D-MA): Thank you both for your very thoughtful and forthright leadership.
Its been a pleasure to listen to you today; you've been here quite a while.
I have a question related to the supplemental, obviously, you know, that's coming to the floor today or tomorrow or later this week and while we talk about what's happening in Afghanistan, revisiting that war, expanding the effort there, I really tend to view it as a new war, that much has changed post-9/11, whether it's through our failure to take advantage of what we secured there and also what's happened in Pakistan in the interim.
So it's a much broader effort, a much more complicated effort, and as we make the investment that the supplemental will ask us to do, I do think we owe it to the American people to know really what the long-term nature of this commitment is going to be.
So Admiral Mullen as you've talked about the 17,000 plus soldiers that we will be sending over there, I recently visited and asked a question of what kind of loss of life we could expect as a result of these additional soldiers, the Taliban will be very resistant, but you spoke about the momentum you hope to achieve with these additional soldiers going forward.
My question really is, if we don't achieve that momentum, if we don't see the impact we desire, not only from our efforts in Afghanistan, but also we're very dependent upon Pakistan doing its part, it's not just Afghanistan in isolation.
What do you anticipate coming? What are you going to ask of us in terms of potentially more soldiers, more funding, how long might we expect to be at this? And how adept are we going to be at changing course, responding to what works and doesn't work?
ADM. MULLEN: Well, as the Secretary said earlier, I think we're certainly going to be there for a while. I am very hopeful that over the next two years, '09 and '10 in particular that we can have a big impact in Afghanistan and actually in our relationship with Pakistan because I think it's both, so that we can reverse the trend of growing violence there. In the interim, we're going to have more casualties. We're going to have more that are killed and more that are wounded as we put more troops in, particularly in the south where the Taliban are heavily concentrated.
That said, it's not just about boots on the ground because the civilian capacity is important. The continued capacity development of the Afghan National Army, which is actually a pretty good story and the Afghan national police and we still have a lot of work there.
New leadership is a part of that, and that, obviously, that change was made or recommendation for change was made earlier this week.
On the Pakistan side where I've spent an awful lot of time, I think -- I would expect us to be coming back for a long-term relationship, a comprehensive program. It's not just military, so that we can establish a long-term, long-term relationship with Pakistan and not have it go up and down.
I was recently in Egypt. I was struck by the fact that we've had a relationship with Egypt from '78, '79 time frame and have invested in that and while we've had our differences; it's a very strong relationship and a very important part of the world. We were out of Pakistan for almost 12 years, very difficult to have a relationship.
So I think it's going to be a while. At what level of combat, at what level of troops, that's difficult to predict right now.
REP. TSONGAS: It's difficult to predict, and yet it seems it's very important that it be at a minimal level in order for us to achieve the objectives we have in Afghanistan.
ADM. MULLEN: And the troops that we're sending in there, ma'am, I see over the next year, certainly 2009, as the right level and that we are going to assess that and clearly commanders on the ground are going to adjust. But in the east and south the best we can tell, it looks about right from my perspective right now.
REP. TSONGAS: And as our capacity to respond to changing circumstances on the ground in Afghanistan dependent upon our draw down in Iraq, do you have sufficient forces really to deal with the dynamics of both at once?
ADM. MULLEN: They are clearly related. They are more loosely related as time goes on, but again, as we look at the projections in Afghanistan right now, we have the forces to be able to send there, to have the impact that we want.
REP. TSONGAS: For the moment, at the very least.
ADM. MULLEN: Well, certainly for the next year to two as best as I can tell right now without being able to -- the crystal ball isn't necessarily always clear.
REP. TSONGAS: Secretary Gates, do you have any comments?
SEC. GATES: Nothing to add to that.
REP. TSONGAS: Great. Thank you both. I yield back.
REP. SKELTON: Thank the gentle lady. The bells are rung for three votes, and obviously, we will not be able to get back within the time limit when our witnesses must depart at three o'clock.
So I'm going to do my best to squeeze two more members in and then we will rush to vote and in the meantime, I know, you have our gratitude for your excellent service and your wonderful testimony today.
REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL CONAWAY (R-TX): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I probably won't take all my time.
Gentlemen, thank you very much.
Mr. Secretary, just to beat a dead horse further. The freeze on communication with Congress you think has been adequately communicated across your team so that there's no residual hesitation, there's no language in there that could be interpreted that would cause anybody anxiety. And does the White House support the lifting of the freeze?
SEC. GATES: The White House had nothing to do with the nondisclosure agreements and based on today's conversation with you all, I will put out something in writing tomorrow along the lines of what I described earlier.
REP. CONAWAY: Okay. Thank you, sir. I appreciate that.
Getting this far deep into the bench, all the good questions are asked. News services are reporting that the president has decided to oppose the release of the photographs from detainees in Afghanistan or Iraq and some comments about that is in contradiction to what the Pentagon had planned to do. Could you walk us through -- will the Pentagon, of course, you'll support the president, but in terms of continuing to push this through to the courts so that -- I've got to believe that a cartoon from a Danish newspaper is inflammatory, these have got to be equally inflammatory. So could you walk us through that a little bit?
SEC. GATES: First, the basic, just to cut to the chase, we are involved in litigation. It appeared that we would be forced to turn over these photographs. If we did not appeal a decision to the Supreme Court, I think that's what under consideration.
We're looking at a number of other photographs and other litigation down the road, and so one of the considerations that I had asked for was, should we put all this together and release it all at once, so we go through the pain once instead of the Chinese water torture over a period of time.
A couple of things have changed on that, first, I think, is as you suggest, a willingness of the president to take this on, but second, and perhaps what's motivated my own change of heart on this and perhaps influenced the president is that our commanders, both General McKiernan and General Odierno have expressed very serious reservations about this and their very great worry that release of these photographs will cost American lives. That was all it took for me.
REP. CONAWAY: Okay. Thank you, Mr. Secretary, I agree. If we have to release them at some point in time, fine, but let's don't borrow trouble, particularly with the intent to get out of the cities in June in Iraq and other kinds of things. There will never been a good time to release those photographs. Let's stick with them and make the courts make us do it.
So I appreciate your change of opinion on that and I yield back, Mr. Secretary. Thank you. Appreciate you being there.
REP. SKELTON: Last member, Mr. Heinrich.
REPRESENTATIVE MARTIN HEINRICH (D-NM): Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Mr. Secretary and Admiral Mullen, thank you for being here today. It's really -- it's a great honor for me to have this opportunity.
I want to get back to something that Representative Giffords and Representative LoBiondo both brought up with the Air National Guard, the changes in force structure and, I guess, the disagreement over whether there will or will not be a fighter gap and, you know, from my perspective being new at this, I know what I know and that's my local installation. Kirtland Air Force Base, which is in my district, is home to the 150th Fighter Wing, which was originally expected to retire it's aircraft in FY '17. And so it was a little bit surprising and disappointing to find out as part of the FY '10 Air Force budget that 18 out of 21 of our aircraft would be phased out, that they'd be losing those.
And I guess what I'm grappling with is, you know, we have -- the 150th in particular is a fighter wing. Its been there for 60 years of service. Kirtland was actually ranked number one in the 2005 BRAC as a fighter base during the 2005 BRAC process and with Air National Guard fighter wings like the 150th generally maintaining a combat ready status at about one-third the cost of an equivalent active duty force, how do these major changes in Air National Guard fighter wings make sense given the potential for shortfall and what seems to be a very good record of providing a lot of service for a relatively modest amount of money?
SEC. GATES: Let me just respond in two ways and then see if Admiral Mullen has anything to add.
As I've indicated, the whole issue of the numbers of tactical air is one of the issues that we're going to have to address in the QDR and it is part of an evolution, after all, a big part of the Air Force capability going forward or a significant part is going to be unmanned vehicles like Reapers that have many of the capabilities of an F-15, but instead of a 500-mile range, have a 3,000-mile range and a dwell capability. So that's a capability we're going to have, others don't. That's a new part of our force.
We will look at this whole tack air issue in the QDR, but I'm usually very reluctant ever to pass the buck, but in this instance, the proposal to reduce 250 Legacy aircraft tack air came from the Air Force, and so it seems to me that this is an issue that when General Schwartz and Secretary Donnelly come up here, that this is an issue that they will certainly be better able to speak to than I can, certainly. I don't know if the admiral wants to add anything.
ADM. MULLEN: I would just say as a former service chief, the one way, you know, one of the ways you start to pay for the future is you start decommissioning the past and particularly as you transition in the aircraft world from many type model series as you move to the future and so, I mean, again, General Schwartz can certainly speak to this, but it certainly wouldn't surprise me that, you know, the Air Force has made this decision in order to figure out how to move to the future.
And certainly, this does not speak to the 150th. They have been exquisite for a long time. There are costs concerned associated with this, but I want to make sure when we talk about those, we're talking about apples to apples and how much time we're operating in -- is it the total costs, those kinds of things. All of that goes into service decisions and then gets integrated into the decisions we'll make in the QDR.
REP. HEINRICH: One of my concerns with that unit in particular is many of those aircraft have already been upgraded so that they have years ahead of them, and the rest could potentially -- were scheduled to be this year, most of the rest, and in the budget, it says, transitioning to another mission to be determined, which does not sound like the kind of strategy and plan that I would hope for a unit of such distinction.
ADM. MULLEN: Understood.
REP. HEINRICH: Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.
REP. SKELTON: Thank the gentleman.
By virtue of the fact that we have three votes, we will have to end our hearing. If there are any questions to be submitted for the record, I think Mr. Abercrombie might have one, please do so, or if anyone else, please do so and have the staff pass them over.
We will not return because the votes will go take us well past three o'clock, but thank you so much for your testimony, for your service and look forward to seeing you again.
The hearing is ended.
SEC. GATES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.