Hearing of the United States Senate Committee on Armed Services - Confirmation Hearing of the Nomination of the Honorable Charles T. Hagel

Statement

By:  Kirsten Gillibrand
Date: Jan. 31, 2013
Location: Washington, DC

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Chairman LEVIN. Thank you very much, Senator Fischer.
Senator Gillibrand.

Senator GILLIBRAND. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you, Senator Hagel, for testifying today.
I appreciate that you have brought your family with you. I appreciate
the support of your wife.
I am going to submit several questions for the record because
they are important to me as the Senator from New York, particularly
about New York bases, cybersecurity, and children of military
families with disabilities. But today, I want to focus on the most
urgent issues from my perspective. I want to talk more about your
thoughts on Israel and Israel's security. I want to talk about Afghanistan,
and I want to talk about personnel issues.
So, on Israel. Obviously, our relationship with Israel is tremendously
important to Israel, and we are fundamentally tied to them
because of being such a strong democracy in the Middle East and
having our national securities very much being tied in many ways.
We talked quite a bit about Iran, and you have clarified your position
that containment is not an option. I am concerned about a
statement you said with regard to Iran. A nuclear Iran is an existential
threat to the United States, as well as Israel. The Iranian
government has been responsible for the deaths of U.S.
servicemembers, an attempted attack on U.S. soil, the funding,
training of terrorist groups.
Their latest in a long list of direct threats to Israel came just
today. So I want to make sure that in your statement earlier today
with regard to whether Iran is legitimate, I can understand if you
meant it is a legal entity that has international relations and has
diplomatic relations and is a member of the U.N. But I do not see
Iran or the Iranian government as a legitimate government, and I
would like your thoughts on that.

Senator HAGEL. Thank you, Senator.
What I meant to say, should have said, it is recognizable. It has
been recognized, is recognized at the United Nations. Most of our
allies have embassies there. That is what I should have said, and
thank you.

Senator GILLIBRAND. You are welcome.
With regard to Israel, Israel's security is very important, and I
have been one of the strongest advocates for our alliance, fighting
for more increases in missile defense cooperation as well as coordination
on a number of the technology programs that are fundamental
to Israel's security.
Last year, Iron Dome more than proved itself as missiles from
Gaza continually headed towards Israel. In December, Ranking
Member Inhofe and I successfully pushed for full funding of the
U.S.-Israel cooperative missile defense systems.
Will you personally support robust funding for Iron Dome, David's
Sling, and other programs? Will you also, if we have to have
a continuing resolution, the funding for Iron Dome will be well
below the authorized amount for fiscal year 2013. In such a case,
will you recommend either reprogramming other funds or sending
forth an anomaly budget requesting to fully cover our commitment
to this program?

Senator HAGEL. First, I fully support and will continue to fully
support Iron Dome and Arrow and David's Sling. As to a commitment
to the second part of your question, I would have to better
understand what our restrictions are going to be in our budgets before
I could make any decisions like that, and I would have to talk
with our Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and each of the chiefs and
want to better understand, depending on how bad and deep this sequestration
might get.
But make no mistake. It is clearly a priority program. I believe
we will continue to fund it. We should. I will support the continuing
funding.

Senator GILLIBRAND. Well, I hope you will also be a strong advocate
because our budget is, even under sequestration, significant.
And this is a very high priority certainly for me.

Senator HAGEL. Well, if I am confirmed, we will work together,
as I will with this committee, on this and other issues.

Senator GILLIBRAND. Thank you.
A number of members were just in Egypt, and we met with
President Morsi. And obviously, we are very concerned about the
Sinai becoming a route for arms coming straight from Libya going
to terrorist groups. And we, obviously, are very concerned about we
give $1.5 billion--or $1.2 billion to Egypt in aid, and we want to
figure out if there is a way to put some of those funds towards
more anti-terrorism missions as opposed to the typical technology.
Do you have any thoughts on that and what we can do to really
try to assist in cracking down on the weapons trade?

Senator HAGEL. Well, it is a huge challenge and part of obviously
what allows terrorists, extremists to advance their cause. Maritime
security, piracy issues, I mentioned in my opening statement that
that is all part of why we need to rebalance resources and why we
need the kind of flexible, agile resource base--in particular our
Navy--to be able to do this.
It also is going to continue to take cooperation with our allies.
We can't do this. As good as our intelligence is, best in the world,
military best in the world, we are the largest, wealthiest country
in the world. But we have to work with allies, and we have got to
find that through intelligence before it gets beyond the capacity to
be used to do damage against the interests of this country and our
allies.

Senator GILLIBRAND. Well, as Israel is one of our most important
allies, one of the growing risks we have now is Syria, particularly
chemical weapons being not properly locked down. And there is
concern, and obviously with what happened yesterday, will--I sus-
pect that there has been very close cooperation between our militaries
on contingency plans with respect to Syria's chemical weapons.
But will this be something that you can focus your concern on
because of your past statements about the Israel-Hezbollah war in
2006?
Is this something that you will also commit to and keeping this
alliance strong and making sure we have a strong contingency plan
with regard to any chemical weapons coming out of Syria?

Senator HAGEL. Yes. And by the way, I have said on the record
many times that Hezbollah and Hamas are terrorist groups, and I
have said many times on the record that Iran is a state sponsor
of terrorism. So, yes, I am committed to do that and will do that.

Senator GILLIBRAND. Okay. For my last minute, with regard to
Afghanistan, we have heard your views, and you didn't give a specific
statement about how many troops when. But will you, in your
capacity as Secretary of Defense, advise the President that we
should be drawing down troops sooner rather than later?

Senator HAGEL. Well, I think he has made that pretty clear that
he wants to do that. And if I am confirmed, I will need to better
understand all the dimensions of this. I don't know all those dimensions.
And I think that there is little question that--and I support
completely where the President wants to go in Afghanistan
and his commitment to unwind that war.
As we have said, there should be, there will be. He has noted
that he will, in fact, enforce a new policy and new relationship
based on a limited objective for our troops there, and I support
that.

Senator GILLIBRAND. My last question that I will submit for the
record, but you and I talked at length about it. Obviously, the personnel
of our military is our most important asset. And when we
hear reports that there are upwards of 19,000 sexual assaults in
the military against women, it is unacceptable.
We also have finally repealed ""don't ask, don't tell.'' But it is difficult
for a military spouse to even go to the commissary and be on
base or be notified if a spouse is killed in action. I will need a
strong commitment from you that you will treat our military families
and look after them in the way you would look after your own.
I want you to be concerned about every man and woman in the
military, that their well-being is being looked after, and see real
advocacy and leadership. Not status quo. Not implementing whatever
we put forward. But actually fighting for them every single
day.

Senator HAGEL. Well, you have my complete commitment on
that. I have made that commitment to, I think, all members of the
committee that I have spoken to directly and privately.
Again, I mentioned that point in my opening statement, you will
recall. I think I have a pretty clear record on that in my life. I will
continue to do that, will do that, and I agree it is not good enough
just to say zero tolerance. The whole chain of command needs to
be accountable for this, all the way down to the bottom. So I will.

Senator GILLIBRAND. Thank you.

Senator HAGEL. Thank you.

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