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Chairman LEVIN. Thank you, Senator Blunt.
Senator DONNELLY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Mr. Ranking
Member. It is an honor to be part of this committee. I look forward
to working with my colleagues, and I am proud to serve the people
We are the heartland of America, and Senator Hagel, we have
over 14,000 members of the National Guard. In our State, we have
the fourth-largest contingent of National Guard members in the entire
country. And I want to thank you for your service to the country,
you along with all Vietnam veterans and other veterans, for
what you have done for our Nation. And I appreciate your taking
the time to meet with me.
We had an extensive discussion, and your understanding of the
complex challenges we face in the Middle East and the importance
of our alliance with Israel. It is a special and historic relationship.
I believe it is a special and historic relationship. The people of my
State believe that as well.
And I think it was important for you to let everyone know that
there can be no nuclear Iran, that there are lines that cannot be
crossed, and we will stand up and defend our friends and the entire
world in that area.
When we were together, I mentioned to you about my visit to
Crane Naval Warfare Systems in Indiana. And what they do is
they work to create the technologies to control the spectrum, in effect,
try to win the battlefield before the battle ever starts on the
And so, we were wondering what can be done in this time of
challenging budgets to ensure that in the area of technology, in the
area of spectrum, we can maintain our budget so that, as I said,
before the war is ever started on the ground, we have won it on
the spectrum level? And how critical is that in terms of your planning
in the Defense Department?
Senator HAGEL. Well, Senator, I think that focus is on as much
the core challenge that the Pentagon has in front of it as any one
thing. This committee is going to be particularly important to help
the leaders of the Pentagon sort through that because, as evidenced
in the whole series of questions that have been asked today, Senator
Blunt's most recent questions, this is a time of priorities.
Budgets drive that, but missions should always drive everything.
And what are going to be our missions in the Defense Department
over the next few years? How are we going to resource those missions?
What are the priorities going to be? And it is the entire universe
of what the responsibilities are and how do we carry those
responsibilities out to secure this Nation?
So your general questions and most of the questions asked here
today have been about this. Until I would get over to the Pentagon,
if I am confirmed, and understand more of the specifics and work
with the chiefs and get a better grasp of exactly what we have got,
I won't be in a position to be able to say this or this or we will do
this or we won't.
Obviously, that is why I say this committee, the authorizing committees
are going to be particularly important.
Senator DONNELLY. And my next question probably ties into that
as well, which is, as I mentioned, as have over 14,000 members of
the Guard in our State, Army Reserves. And they have done tour
after tour after tour in Iraq and in Afghanistan. And as we wind
down, I think it is critical to make sure that we have a strategic
plan for the Guard in the future so that the Guard we have today,
equipment wise, it is struggling on equipment. We have to upgrade
not only our vehicles, but in other areas as well.
And so, I guess the question is how do you view the mission of
the Guard in the years ahead?
Senator HAGEL. Well, as you know, during our conversation and
a couple of the questions I have had here today on the Guard, I
have said I am committed to a strong National Guard. It is an essential
part of our force structure going into the future. And again,
I think it was proven quite clearly and effectively the last 12 years.
That will be maintained. And again, I think further evidence of
that, putting a chief of the National Guard into the Joint Chiefs.
So you have my commitment that I will be continually focused on
that integration and the upgrading in every way.
Senator DONNELLY. I have had the privilege of working with
General Shinseki in recent years on veterans issues, but I think
back to when he testified regarding Iraq and talked about how
many troops he thought were needed and all the repercussions that
came out of that not only for the general, but in so many ways.
I think it is critical that the generals and the people in the Pentagon
provide you with the most unvarnished information possible.
They tell you exactly what they think. You tell them exactly what
you think. And that nobody at any time has their career affected
for telling you the truth. I want to make sure that that is the way
that you are approaching this as well.
Senator HAGEL. That is the way I would approach it. I value
that. There is no other way to assure that we are getting the best,
the most honest advice from our most capable leaders than to say
it like that.
The General Shinseki episode was a very unfortunate episode in
this country, what happened to him for telling the truth. I will assure
this committee that if I am Secretary of Defense that kind of
thing will never happen, for a general officer, a senior commander
to be handled and treated that way when he told the truth to the
Congress of the United States.
Senator DONNELLY. And I will say, and I know you know this,
the job he has done for veterans as the VA Secretary has been extraordinary.
Another area in regards to not only our veterans, which we are
challenged with right now, but also on active duty, is the suicide
rate. That it has--it has been heartbreaking. In 2012, we lost more
active duty members to suicide than we did in fighting in Afghanistan.
I know General Chiarelli has at this point basically dedicated his
life to trying to solve this problem. I want to make sure that the
Defense Department is going to lean all in to try to fix this and
provide the care and help and answers so that that number goes
to zero in the years ahead.
Senator HAGEL. Well, you have my complete commitment on this
Senator DONNELLY. It is something that our veterans then face
as well. It is also a transition issue that as much as you can work
with the VA, as our active duties transition out and our National
Guard when they go home, that they have somebody to talk to,
somebody to tell how they feel, and somebody who understands
what they are going through because if we can help with that, they
have borne the burden of battle, and we owe them. We owe them
Another question I wanted to ask you about is Pakistan. And as
we know, the incredible challenges we have in Afghanistan, so
much of it is caused by Pakistan. We spent about or provided about
$2.5 billion in aid. Do you think those were dollars well spent?
Senator HAGEL. Pakistan is a complicated relationship. It is a
nuclear power. They cooperate with the United States on some
things. We have difficulties with them on others.
As to your question on investment in Pakistan, we condition that
assistance, as you know. We must continue to condition that assistance.
I think Pakistan is too dangerous and that area of the world
is so clearly in the national security interest of this country that
we just can't walk away from it and not deal with them.
It is complicated. It is imperfect. But this is where all the levers
of influence and relationships and diplomacy and economics and
power come into play. How we wisely use all of those resources is
going to determine some of the outcomes.
We have to be honest as well. We are dealing with factors there
that we don't agree with, that we have difficulties with. But again,
we have to continue to work at it, and I believe that we will and
Senator DONNELLY. Senator, thank you very much.
Senator HAGEL. Thank you.
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