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

Statement

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Chairman LEVIN. Thank you, Senator Blumenthal.
Senator Blunt.

Senator BLUNT. Thank you, Chairman.
And Senator Hagel, thank you for being here today. Thank you
for your service to the country in so many ways and your willingness
to serve again. To see your wife and your brothers there behind
you is an indication of the family commitment as well as your
personal commitment.
There are several things that I may get to in a second round on
Iran and sanctions. I was very involved in that unilateral sanctions
effort when I was in the House. We drafted some of that legislation
in my office when I was in the House.
Our relationship with Israel is of great concern to me, and it is
a priority to our efforts in the Middle East. And I think that is
largely exhausted in this first round, at least from my point of
view. I may want to come back to some of it later.
I want to talk a little bit about the ongoing structure of the force.
The Wall Street Journal in an editorial today said that the current
American military was the smallest, least modern, and least battle
ready in recent memory.
And I don't think that means we are not maybe more modern
than anybody else in the world or more battle ready than anybody
else in the world. But I think that is a recognition that our investment
and the way we have used those resources has gotten them
in a position where we maybe need to be more focused on rebuilding
than we do building down.
Secretary Panetta has been very forthcoming in his comments
about the sort of across-the-board cutting approach of sequestration.
What do we do to get our worn-out equipment and our wornout
personnel in a better position a year from now than they are
right now? And your brief strategic view of that because I don't
have very much time here.

Senator HAGEL. Yes. Senator, you have just identified one of the
priorities of the next few years at the Department of Defense. Resetting
equipment and essentially reshaping our force structure,
but also renewing our force structure.
I mean, the fact is we have been at war for 12 years. Every Senator
here knows and you have got constituents that we keep sending
these kids back and back and back to two wars. Well, of course,
there is going to be a consequence. Something is going to break
down, not only your equipment, but your manpower. And you can't
keep doing that.
So that is going to be an overall challenge, Senator, that is going
to take as much of my time, if I am confirmed, as anything, as it
will our chiefs. Our chiefs know this better than anyone, as we
structure and rebalance and renew and re-outfit.
We have got, I believe, a force structure that is as capable as
ever. I mean, I don't accept that our force structure is somehow behind
or not modern or not capable. I don't think that is true.

Senator BLUNT. I think the point that the editorial was making
was not that we were behind, but we are not at the quite as far
on the cutting edge as we may have been. And I would hope you
and I would both want to see us get there.

Senator HAGEL. Yes.

Senator BLUNT. Let me ask a question about that. Secretary
Gates said recently that his--one of his big concerns was that we
repeat the mistakes of what I think he referred to as a ""procurement
holiday'' that we took in the 1970s and then, to some extent,
again in the 1990s. And we spent a lot of time in the 10 years after
that trying to get built back up to where we had hoped to be.
How, in these discussions of cutting, do we keep the lines open,
do we keep our effort ongoing? And one of the things that I know
quite a bit about is the F--18 line because it is in St. Louis, Missouri,
where Boeing Military is. And I do know that if you ever
close that line down, we are always talking about, well, what other
country needs some version of this, and how do we keep our capacity
at a time when there is this talk about cutting and not just cutting,
but sort of cutting everything a little bit, which means that
some of the things that get cut a little bit I think disappear because
they can't survive if they are only partly there.

Senator HAGEL. Mm-hmm. Well, Senator, you have just again
identified one of the great challenges that lies ahead, and that is
maintaining our industrial base. You use the F--18.

Senator BLUNT. And there are lots of other lines. That just happens
to be the one I have been on the most times.

Senator HAGEL. No, I understand. And, but that is a good example
of what we are going to have to continue to keep strong.
But the reality is, as you say, because we know what we have
got to deal with, what our budgets are as a result of the Budget
Act of 2011. What we don't know brings us back to the uncertainty
of sequestration. And some of the examples you are using are good
examples of areas that will and can be, could be cut arbitrarily in
order to fulfill budget requirements.
So I think what you have just noted again is going to be a huge
part of keeping our technological superiority, our edge. Senator
Blumenthal mentioned submarines. I mean, that is another component
of this. All the superior technical edge this country has possessed
since World War II has kept us, along with other things and
for other reasons, the strongest military power in the history of
man. That must be maintained.
Threats change. Cyber is a good example. I mean, 10 years ago,
nobody had any idea what we were talking about, cyber. Even 5
years ago. We have got to adjust to that challenge, that reality.

Senator BLUNT. Let me see if I can----

Senator HAGEL. The core base, though, Senator, is exactly right,
and we have got to protect that.

Senator BLUNT. Well, we do. And you know, we have made efforts
with our allies and friends to give them some other version
of equipment we had, maybe not quite as good as we had, but
something that keeps our defense procurement lines in place so
that when we do need them, they are still there. And that is critically
important.
Before you were designated Secretary of Defense, as the potential
nominee for this job, in talking about sequestration, you made a
comment about there is lots of bloat--I am sure you have talked
about this comment quite a bit and are very familiar with it, more
than you were before you made it probably--in the Pentagon. What
do you have in mind there?
What is being done at the Pentagon that could maybe better be
done somewhere else or is being duplicated somewhere else? I
think in some of maybe the follow-up of that, I saw you mentioned
things that should be in the State Department have gotten over to
the Pentagon. Are there examples of that that we can work on and
you will want to lead on?

Senator HAGEL. Two things. First, that comment came in a large,
extended interview about budgets about everything, and it was--
that interview was done in 2011 prior to the Budget Control Act,
just to get the timeframe right on that. I never supported sequestration,
by the way.
Now, to your question about what we could do. Well, obviously,
much of the conversation here in the last few hours has been about
acquisition, about waste, fraud, and abuse, billions of dollars. Why
aren't we auditing these programs? Where is the accountability?
That is certainly an area that we are going to have to take a look
at.
My reference to State Department programs, some of the general
areas--and I mentioned this this morning--where we have pushed
down on the military the last 12 years to do things that usually
are done out of State Department, aid type programs and exchange
programs, helping civilian type programs in areas. That was all
given to the--not all, but a great deal of it was given to the military
at the time we were at war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
So the military has taken on a tremendous volume of assignments
and funding that goes with that. That needs to be sorted
through, I think. Those are areas where I think we--

Senator BLUNT. And one of your commitments will be to help us
sort through that?

Senator HAGEL. It has to be, Senator. It has to be.

Senator BLUNT. I am out of time, Senator. I will be here for the
second round.

Senator HAGEL. Thank you.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

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

Senator BLUNT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Again, I join everybody else, Senator Hagel, in thanking you for
staying today and the answers you've given.
One of the things we were frustrate about was the difficulty of
getting information on the groups you've spoken to in the last year,
and of course the hundreds of groups you've spoken to in the course
of your career would be too much to ask. I do have three comments
from groups that I'm going to enter into the record, two comments
you made before groups, one the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination
Committee conference in 2002; another Arab-American audience
in 2007; and then in 2006, the one I'll put in the record right
now and just enter the others, the Council on American-Islamic Relations
Forum. ""University of Chicago Professor John Mearsheimer
praised Hagel for not being pro-Israel. He said 'Potential presidential
candidates for 2008, like Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Joe
Biden, and Newt Gingrich, were falling all over themselves to express
their support for Israel. The only exception to that rule was
Senator Chuck Hagel.''' Unfortunately, I don't have anything to go
with that of what you might have said.
But some of the concerns of being--you know, I used to say when
I was the Whip in the House that you could count on the House
and the Senate to be, among other things, always pro-Israel, and
I think that's been the mainstream of our views. I've seen a number
of times, in fairness to you, where you've said you're pro-Israel,
but that doesn't mean you have to be reflexively for everything that
Israel is for.
These statements are a little--they're what they are. They're the
things that were reported from comments you made that are out
of the context of the other comments. But I'm going to put those
all in the record.

[The information referred to follows:]
[COMMITTEE INSERT]

Senator BLUNT. Also, earlier today I asked you about the comment
about the bloated Pentagon. I want to get this straight. You
said that that, those comments, were before the sequestration bill
passed, and they were after. Sequestration passed on August 2.
The Financial Times interview was on August 29. And what you
said on August 29 in that Financial Times interview was you said
""I think''--August 29, 2011. The quote out of the article was:
""The Defense Department I think''--this was your quote. ""The
Defense Department I think in many ways has been bloated. Let's
look at the reality here. The Defense Department's gotten everything
it wanted the last 10 years and more. We've taken priorities,
we've taken dollars, we've taken programs, we've taken policies out
of the State Department, out of a number of other Departments,
and put them over in Defense.''
So that ""bloated'' comment was after sequestration. Of course,
this is the Department you now, 18 months later, if this nomination
is approved, would be running. And again, where do we find
that, those bloated things in the Defense Department, and what
are you prioritizing? Another way to ask what Ms. Fischer was
asking maybe is, are we going to let money drive strategy here or
strategy drive the money? And as Secretary of Defense, which of
those positions are you going to take and how are you going to advocate,
here's the money we need for the strategy we must have
until we get to the reality of here's the money you have, now do
the best you can with it? I hope you're an advocate for strategicdriven
spending in the Pentagon, rather than just the caretaker of
the money that winds up there.

Senator HAGEL. Senator, thank you. There are a lot of pieces and
I know we've got time issues, but let me start this way. First, on
the comments I made in the Financial Times interview, again as
I addressed that today, that was an extensive interview about a lot
of things. So I was three weeks off.

Senator BLUNT. Well, you were after the sequestration bill had
passed, though. So you were talking----

Senator HAGEL. Not sequestration; the Budget Control Act.

Senator BLUNT. But that's what included--they were talking
here about what would happen if you took these cuts.

Senator HAGEL. That's what I was talking about. But the Budget
Control Act that was passed was implemented a few months later,
which I agreed with, and obviously the majority of the Congress
did as well, to try to find a trillion dollars overall in our government
in savings and $490 billion is coming out of DOD for the next
10 years.
But to your bigger point, you start there with the reality of what
the Congress has passed, what the Congress has decided to appropriate
for each Federal agency. In this current fiscal year that
we're living in, as you know, it's a $525 billion operating budget
and $88 billion for overseas contingencies. So the Department of
Defense works within the framework of those numbers.
I've said a number of times here that I agree with you that budget
alone should not drive our national security, of course not. What
is the mission, as I've said? What are the priorities, which you just
brought up about different projects that Senator Fischer and others
have asked me about? How are going to fund everything? Should
you fund everything?
Do times change? Are there different threats? Ten years ago, we
put a lot of money in the Defense Department budget; there was
no such thing as a cyber warfare threat. Do we need to do more
there?
Do we need to change our force presence in Asia? Well, we've decided
we're going to do that. That changes things. We're moving
Marines around in the Pacific. That wasn't the case 10 years ago.
So things change. You manage and you direct your efforts and
you lead based on the security interests of your country first. If I
am confirmed, Senator, I will be a strong, have to be a strong advocate
for the Defense Department. That will be part of my job. But
that doesn't mean that I don't have some responsibilities for efficient
use of the taxpayers' dollars and effective use of the taxpayers'
dollars.

Senator BLUNT. Just the opposite, you do have that responsibility.

Senator HAGEL. I do, that's right.

Senator BLUNT. But I think the point is we want to be sure that
you're advocating for the money you think you need to strategically
accomplish what we can. Then obviously at the end of the day you
have to deal with the will of the process to provide the money you
have. But we ought to let the money as much as possible be defined
by the strategy rather than the other way around, Senator.

Senator HAGEL. I agree with that.

Senator BLUNT. I'm once again out of time.

Senator HAGEL. I agree with that, Senator. Thank you.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT


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