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


Location: Washington, DC


Chairman LEVIN. Thank you, Senator Manchin.
Senator Fischer.

Senator FISCHER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Mr. Inhofe.
Good afternoon, Senator. It is good to see you again.

Senator HAGEL. Thanks.

Senator FISCHER. I want to begin by thanking you for your service
to our country and to the State of Nebraska. And I do appreciate
your continued willingness to serve the United States.
But I need to be honest with you. After our meeting last week,
I still have some concerns about your nomination. Many of my colleagues
are concerned that you have changed your views, and I
share that concern. But I must admit that I am more worried that
your views have not changed.
From your meeting with me last week, it was clear that you
maintain the views that have led to so much scrutiny of your nomination.
Despite these recent claims to the contrary, you continue to
hold, I believe, extreme views far to the left of even this administration.
In particular, your clear statement to me during our meeting
that if given the opportunity to recast your vote on the Iranian
sanctions, you would still oppose those sanctions. I believe that
that indicates that you hold these concerning views.
Our Nation faces many challenges, perhaps none greater or more
immediate than Iran's continued progress towards obtaining nuclear
weapons. At the same time, the Department of Defense is entering
a period of transformation that will likely define its role for
many decades to come. The future of our nuclear deterrent could
depend on our choices made by the next Secretary of Defense.
I am going to bring up the report that we have heard about quite
a bit. You are listed as a coauthor of that May 2012 Global Zero
report on our nuclear posture. I believe there is a recommendation
in there, and I believe that the recommendation is to drastically reduce
the U.S. nuclear forces.
When we spoke last week, you described this report as being authored
by General Cartwright. And I had the impression, and I believe
you implied to me, that you weren't closely affiliated with it.
But you are listed as a coauthor of that report, as one of the five
Moreover, you told me at that time that this report discussed options.
You have reiterated that stance today. But after I have reexamined
it once again, the only options that I have found in the report
are related to how best achieve those drastic reductions that
I believe it advises. There are no alternative views or dissenting
opinions that are presented or discussed in the report.
It states many controversial opinions. It states them as facts in
support of its conclusion, and I believe it is important to determine
whether or not you agree with those positions. As it has been said
before, my time here is limited, and so I would like to quickly go
through and review some of those more concerning proclamations
that it makes with you. I would appreciate if we could kind of go
through this quickly.
For example, the United States ICBM force has lost its central
utility. That is stated in the report. Do you agree with that?

Senator HAGEL. Well, Senator, that report was not a recommendation.
That report, as we have said--it is in the report--
was a series of scenarios. And again, I use the term ""illustrative''
because that was the beginning of the report as possible ways we
could continue to reduce our warheads. Not unilaterally, but bilaterally.
Every treaty we have ever signed to reduce warheads and the
thrust capability with the Russians has been about reduction. So
that is not new. That is where it has always been.
But ICMBs, your specific question, it is a 25-page report. I assume
you have read it. Talked about one of the reasons ICBMs
may well eventually be insignificant because of the overflight over
Russia and so on. Now those aren't--those aren't fictional analyses.
Those are facts.
Now no one is recommending in that report--and you probably
know General Cartwright. When he was in Omaha, you probably
got acquainted with him. These are serious people who understand
this business, and no one is recommending that we unilaterally do
away with our ICBMs.
What that report was about was looking at where this is all
going. Again, the title of the report was ""Modernizing Our Nuclear
Strategy,'' not eliminating it.

Senator FISCHER. Correct. But do you agree with the statement
made in the report that the ICBMs, that force has lost its central

Senator HAGEL. That is not what the report said.

Senator FISCHER. I have it--I have it cited, Senator. And with respect,
I can enter that into the record. But it is cited in the report.

Senator HAGEL. The report, in the overall context, ICBMs and all
of the parts of that report were about the utilities of our triad,
where is this going, and the money that we are investing in it, and
we have to look at it. I think--I think those kinds of reports are
valuable to assess our needs, to assess our nuclear capability, to assess
our nuclear deterrent.
I mean, we do studies all the time. This was not an official report
from an official government. Think tanks do this all the time. I
think that is valuable.
Now whether policymakers----

Senator FISCHER. I, too, think--excuse me. I, too, think that reports
from various organizations--think tanks, individuals,
groups--I think those are all very important in getting information
and opinions out there. But when you coauthor a report, I think
you should be able to answer if you agree with statements that are
made in the report.

Senator HAGEL. I don't--I do not agree with any recommendation
that would unilaterally take any action to further reduce our nuclear
warheads on our capability. But again, that is not what the
report said.
But I do not agree with that. Every option that we must look at,
every action we must take to reduce warheads or anything should
be bilateral. It should be verifiable. It should be negotiated.

Senator FISCHER. Every action that this country takes needs to
be bilateral?

Senator HAGEL. I didn't say that. I said in nuclear capabilities
in our warheads. When we are talking about reducing warheads,
as every treaty we have signed with the Russians has been bilateral.
It has been verifiable.
Ronald Reagan said it best, ""Trust, but verify.'' And I think that
is the key word. He also said, as I said this morning, we should
wipe nuclear weapons from the face of the Earth.
I think almost every President has agreed with that, including,
by the way, this President has seen this report. World leaders do
agree with the continued reduction, and this is not a report that
is out of the mainstream at all. President Obama has said in his
Prague speech in 2009 that that was his goal, as Ronald Reagan
did, as many Presidents.

Senator FISCHER. Thank you.
If I could continue on this vein of questioning, please? Also, as
I read the report, it calls for all U.S. tactical nuclear weapons to
be eliminated over the next 10 years and asserts that their military
utility is practically nil.
Do you agree with that statement?

Senator HAGEL. Senator, I don't believe it calls for. These are
scenarios and schedules and possibilities and options. But none of
this could ever, ever happen unless it would be negotiated, bilateral,
and verifiable. And that was part of a letter that the Global
Zero growth group sent to the President in 2009 specifically stating
If I might, I might give you a more recent example of that. Senator
Feinstein's subcommittee--

Senator FISCHER. Just a quick one, please.

Senator HAGEL.--had a hearing on this last year. And in that
hearing, and the committee can get the transcript if it doesn't, General
Cartwright and Admiral Pickering--or Ambassador Pickering
testified. And they went into this, that this is all, everything with
any action we would take would have to be negotiated. It would
have to be bilateral. No unilateral action.
And they made that point again on the record in front of Senator
Feinstein's subcommittee. And I support that. I agree with that.

Senator FISCHER. I have another statement from the report. The
United States ICBM rapid reaction posture remains in operation
and runs a real risk of accidental or mistaken launch.
I think that statement is pretty clear. Do you agree with that?

Senator HAGEL. Yes. I mean, I think accidental launches and
those kinds of things are always to be concerned about. And we
need to assure, as we have over the years, that that doesn't happen,
both on the Russian side--

Senator FISCHER. That we run a real risk of accidental or mistaken

Senator HAGEL. Well, you take ""real'' out. You could just put
risk. But there is always a risk. I mean, when we are talking about
nuclear weapons and the consequences, as you know, you know,
you don't get a lot of second chances. So we need to be very sure
about these things, and I think that was the whole point.

Chairman LEVIN. I think you need to save any additional questions
for the second round, if you would today.

Senator FISCHER. Oh, I am sorry. I don't--thank you.

Chairman LEVIN. You may not have gotten a card. I am sorry if
you didn't.

Senator FISCHER. Oh, thank you very much.

Chairman LEVIN. Thank you.

Senator FISCHER. Thank you, Senator.

Senator HAGEL. Thank you, Senator.


Chairman LEVIN. Okay. Senator Fischer.

Senator FISCHER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you, Senator Hagel. It's been a long day and I do appreciate
your answers to these important questions.
When we spoke last week, we talked somewhat about the sequester,
also budget concerns, the modernization of our nuclear forces.
Especially being from Nebraska, you understand the importance of
STRATCOM and its mission as it deals with deterrence that we
use in this country and that we've used for many, many years and
I believe has been very, very successful and it's a good point for us.
Today you also in your opening discussed the need to modernize
our defensive forces. You spoke to Senator Blunt, also Senator
Blumenthal, about the need to modernize our Navy.
I guess I would like to hear your thought process about how
we're going to do this. Where's the money coming from? How are
you going to advise the President in making these decisions? Because
we're looking at sequester, we're looking at budget constraints.
How is this all going to tie together, and what would be
your advice to the President on how the Pentagon is going to address
all of those budget constraints?

Senator HAGEL. Well, let's start with where we are. The Pentagon
is adjusting, and I think responsibly, to our future based on
the Budget Control Act of 2011. You know the details of that. The
Chiefs have submitted plans. I think as we rebalance and refit and
unwind the second war and all the other dynamics that are changing
since the last decade, it gives us some new opportunities: au-
dits, all the acquisition focus, accountability. We are being forced,
the Department of Defense, the take a hard at its priorities.
But as I've said before, it begins with mission and then the resources
to fulfill that mission, and then what are the priorities
within that mission.
To your specific question, how do you finance it all, well, if sequestration
would take effect then all of this is going to be affected.
That's exactly right. As you know, we've deferred some decisions.
We've set back some of the schedules on some of our ships, planes,
decisions on a number of things.
It isn't just the dollars that affect this, but it's the planning, it's
the flexibility. It's the ability to bring all this together and then
project and plan.
So in no way--I hope I did not give any indication that we were
going to be able to continue to do everything for everybody everywhere.
That's just not a reality.

Senator FISCHER. We can't.

Senator HAGEL. We can't.

Senator FISCHER. How do you decide, though? You've made commitments
to members here today on philosophy, on working with
this committee. Do we have a commitment to build up the Navy?
Do we have a commitment to STRATCOM so that they can continue
their mission of deterrence? Do we have those commitments?
How do you decide what's going to be the priority? What will
your advice be? Is STRATCOM important? Should that be a priority?
Would it be a priority in your advice to the President?

Senator HAGEL. Well, the Pentagon is working off the Defense
Authorization Act of 2013, which this committee passed. And that
is the directive that frames the budgetary restraints, except if sequestration
takes effect. So that prioritizes, to your point, being
what's important, what do you budget for, what do you finance.
And we have to manage that.
If I am confirmed, then I'll be working closely with our Chiefs
and all of our managers and decisionmakers on how we do this. On
STRATCOM, I think STRATCOM is vitally important to the future
of this country. It's been my position when I was in the Senate. It
was my position long before I was in the Senate. Of the nine combatant
commands--as you know, STRATCOM is one of them--
that's a key command.
So we have to continue to fund our commands and find ways to
do that. But that's going to require some tough choices and hard

Senator FISCHER. Right. Also, I believe we need to make sure we
don't have hollow forces out there as well.
My time's up. Once again, I thank you. I thank you for your service.
I thank you for being here today. I thank you for your willingness
to continue to serve the people of this country.

Senator HAGEL. Senator, thank you.

Senator FISCHER. Thank you.

Senator HAGEL. Thank you very much.


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