WASHINGTON, July 18, 2017 —
The challenges the United States faces as a global power and the readiness of U.S. forces dominated questions for Air Force Gen. Paul J. Selva today during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing considering his nomination by President Donald J. Trump to serve another two years as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Senators asked Selva about worldwide threats, the budgetary problems facing the military and military readiness concerns.
North Korea was the first threat he was asked about. Selva said the recent test of an intercontinental ballistic missile shows North Korea has the technology to reach the United States, and that the Defense Department is working closely with the intelligence community to understand the North Korean effort.
"I'm reasonably confident in the ability of our intelligence community to monitor the testing, but not the deployment, of these missile systems," he said. "Kim Jong Un and his forces are very good at camouflage, concealment and deception."
Readiness Issues, Defeat-ISIS Campaign
Senators also questioned Selva regarding readiness. He said readiness stems from the availability of funds and resources to do the high-end training required for high-intensity combat against a peer competitor.
"The budget in '17 is helpful," Selva said. "The proposed budget for '18 will move us down the pathway to being able to restore much of that training. But it will be a two-year process, beyond the initial insertion of those resources, before you see the readiness improve."
Concerning the campaign to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, Selva said that while the Iraqi forces' liberation of the key city of Mosul is impressive, a lot of fighting remains. There must be a push into Iraq's Anbar province to secure the border with Syria, the general said.
Selva also said he is aware of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s threat to retaliate against U.S. forces serving in Iraq if the United States declares the group’s Quds Force to be an international terrorist organization.
"We will have to posture ourselves to be ready for that, but I don't think we should take that threat and keep it from taking action against the Quds Force," he said.
Third Offset Strategy
Selva also discussed the leap-ahead technology of the Defense Department's Third Offset Strategy. The technology would allow the U.S. military to contest the anti-access and area-denial strategies that many adversaries – particularly China and North Korea – are attempting to develop.
The American military’s greatest advantage is to be able to project power and then sustain that power once where needed, Selva said. Protecting this capability is at the heart of modernization efforts for the department, he added, and he assured the senators that it has the highest priority.
Selva also addressed Russia and its actions in Ukraine. He said the Joint Staff is working with U.S. European Command to determine what lethal defensive aid might look like.
"It will be more than just a military recommendation," he said. "This will be a policy choice on whether or not we're going to give the Ukrainian government the tools they need to defend themselves against what we believe to be a Russian-supported insurgency movement in the Donbass."