SEN. LEVIN: (Strikes gavel.) Good morning, everybody. This morning the committee welcomes secretary of Defense Robert Gates, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, and Robert Hale, the comptroller, for our hearing on the posture of the Department of Defense in the fiscal year 2010 budget request.
As always, gentlemen, we are thankful to you for your dedicated service to our nation; to your families for their support of that service. And please convey the thanks of our committee to the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who are defending our interests throughout the world, and to their families who share in their sacrifices on our behalf.
We received the department's proposed budget for fiscal year 2010 about a week ago. We've had the benefit of Secretary Gates's recommendations to the president even before that, when he announced them to the American public on April 6th. Today's hearing is our initial opportunity to explore and assess these strategic choices undertaken by the administration and how the department intends to align and apply resources to meet the challenges of today and the future.
An important aspect of the fiscal year 2010 budget request is the decision to instill greater discipline in the annual budget process. This budget -- this budget that's now arrived here ends the practice of moving the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan into supplemental appropriations requests separate from the department's annual base budget. Former deputy secretary of Defense John Hamre, testifying before this committee on April 30th, noted the corrosive impact on the Department of Defense's over-reliance on and misuse of supplemental appropriations over the years, and we're glad that that practice has ended.
The department's fiscal year 2010 budget request is, in Secretary Gates's words, a reform budget. In its broadest sense, this budget would shift funds away from programs and technologies that the secretary and the administration have determined have been mismanaged or are designed to addresses far less likely or distant threats, and therefore less useful to the counterinsurgency fight of today. Instead this budget would provide more funds to increase the capabilities needed for the wars that we are fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, and what the administration feels are the threats that we are more likely to face in the future.
The department faces no more immediate challenge than implementing the president's new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Key to the administration's new strategy will be growing the Afghan national security forces, so that Afghanistan can more quickly take responsibility for providing for its own security. The 2010 budget request includes significant funding for the Afghan security forces fund to grow the Afghan army to 134,000 and the Afghan police to 82,000 by 200 -- 2011.
When committee members met recently with Afghan President Karzai and his ministers, we heard directly from them that they have the manpower available to significantly expand both the Army and the police beyond those numbers and that they are in a hurry to do so, to use their word.
With the cost of adding one more U.S. soldier in Afghanistan equal to the cost of adding 60 or more Afghan soldiers, it makes sense to invest in growing the Afghan security forces faster, and I hope the witnesses will address the possibility and wisdom of doing so.
Reflecting another major component of the administration's new strategy in the region, the FY 2010 budget includes significant funding for Pakistan. This includes authorization for the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Contingency Fund to train and equip the Pakistan Frontier Corps and to build the capacity of the Pakistan army to conduct counterinsurgency operations.
I raised directly with Pakistan President Zardari last week my concern that unless Pakistan's leaders commit, in deeds and words, their country's armed forces and security personnel to eliminating the threat from militant extremists, and unless they make it clear that they are doing so, for the sake of their own future, then no amount of assistance will be effective. I sincerely hope that Pakistan's recent military operations in the North-West Frontier province reflect their long overdue realization that the extremists pose the single greatest threat to Pakistan's survival.
If Pakistan makes the fight against those extremists their own fight, then the United States should be willing to help Pakistan achieve a more stable and secure future. But we can't (buy ?) their support for our cause or appear to do so, since that would play into the hands of their and our enemy. We can and should support their cause, assuming it is aligned with ours, of course, and if they make their case openly and clearly to their own public.
Even as our focus shifts to Afghanistan and Pakistan, the stability situation in Iraq remains a source of concern and significant effort. This June, pursuant to the U.S.-Iraqi SOFA -- Status of Forces Agreement -- U.S. combat forces are supposed to be withdrawn from Iraqi urban areas, turning over the security of cities and major towns to Iraqi security forces. The agreement also sets a December 2011 deadline for the withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Iraq. President Obama has called for an end to the U.S. combat mission in Iraq by August of 2010.
I hope that the drawdown of forces in Iraq can be maintained while preserving our hard-fought gains and while continuing to build Iraqi capacity to provide for their own security. The failure of Iraqi leaders to complete the political steps that they promised to take long ago puts at risk the reaching of those goals.
Top priority for the Department of Defense and the Congress in the months ahead must be reform of the process for overseeing the acquisition each year of hundreds of billions of dollars of products and services. Last week the Senate approved the Weapon Systems Acquisition Reform Act of 2009. The House approved similar legislation this week. This legislation is an important step in getting control over the acquisition process, and hopefully, Congress will promptly work out our differences and have a bill for the president soon.
There's great interest in the department's plans for the Air Force's F-22 fighter, C-17 cargo aircraft, combat search and rescue helicopter program, the next-generation tanker, the Navy's littoral combat ship, the DDG-1000, the DDG-51, the Army's Future Combat System, missile defense and satellite acquisition programs and others. These decisions require tough choices by the Congress. They also will require a clear explanation of how weapon systems changes are derived by the new -- from the new strategy.
While the department's significant program changes focus almost entirely on major weapon systems, much of the defense budget's growth can be attributed to significant increases in the personnel and operation and maintenance accounts, and we need to look at whether any changes need to be considered in those areas, as well.
I'll put the balance of my statement in the record and call upon Senator McCain.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. And I'd like to welcome the witnesses and I'd like to thank all three of our witnesses for an excellent briefing that I received the other morning along with other members in the Pentagon.
I support the priorities as outlined in the department's 2010 budget request. Those priorities set the stage for a more thorough and much needed review of our nation's military posture. The 2010 budget is an integral part of a much longer-term process to ensure our defense dollars are spent wisely to address the threats we face today and will likely face tomorrow.
I understand, and I hope all members understand, there are additional issues that need to be addressed which will be informed by a number of other reviews, including the ongoing Quadrennial Defense Review, the Nuclear Posture Review and the outcome of post-START arms control negotiations. The committee looks forward to being briefed on the full range of those issues and their impact on future budget decisions.
The department's budget request affirms support for our military, veterans and their families; rebalances programs; and reforms the Pentagon's acquisition and contracting mechanisms. I greatly appreciate Secretary Gates continues to place the highest priority on supporting our men and women in uniform and their families. And I strongly support Secretary Gates' recommendations to restructure a number of major defense programs.
We can no longer afford to accept runaway costs and operational delays of troubled weapon systems that have languished in the throes of requirements creep and technological obstacles for far too long at the expense of supplying the needs of our deployed forces and find efficient solutions for the immediate requirements generated by emerging threats.
The budget outlines a number of significant changes to the Missile Defense Agency. Of those proposed modifications, the budget emphasizes a shift in focus from long-range ballistic threats to rogue-state in-theater threats. While I don't necessarily disagree that such a shift may be more representative of the threat we face today, I am concerned by some of the funding cuts and their impact on long-term research and development, as well as the final number of ground-based interceptors.
I fully endorse Secretary Gates' recommendations to improve the performance of the Pentagon acquisition programs and contracting mechanisms. Senator Levin and I have long advocated for the need for acquisition and contracting reform in the Defense Department. As we all know, there was unanimous votes in both House and Senate on the outlines of this bill.
We look forward to meeting with our House counterparts and resolving any differences between the two bills.
In addition to the base budget of 533.8 billion for defense, the budget requests $130 billion for overseas contingency operations, including a drawdown of combat forces in Iraq and a shift to increase presence in Afghanistan.
I support our long overdue change of course, in Afghanistan, and believe that in naming General McChrystal as the new commander and General Rodriguez to handle day-to-day operations, Secretary Gates has made a significant move in the right direction.
The war there and in Pakistan is one that we can and must win. But for years now, we've been fighting without a clear strategy, with insufficient resources and with less than total support of the government of Pakistan.
Now that we have a new strategy with a new ambassador and new commanders, I believe, we must quickly follow up with the development of an integrated, joint agency, civil military campaign plan for all of Afghanistan and for the Pakistan border area.
We also need to ensure that General Rodriguez has the staff and resources he'll need, to conduct operational planning similar to the activities conducted in Iran. Finally we must take every possible step to accelerate the growth of the Afghan security forces. I look forward to our witnesses' thoughts.
And finally Mr. Chairman, could I say that I appreciate the recommendation made, by Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen, and the president's decision, to withhold publication of additional photographs concerning mistreatment of detainees.
We are still in a war. The publication of those photographs would have given help to the enemy, in the psychological side of the war that we are in. And I applaud the president's decision to withhold those pictures at this particular time. And I hope that we can all support that decision by the president.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. LEVIN: Thank you very much.
SENATOR JAMES INHOFE (R-OK): Mr. Chairman.
SEN. LEVIN: Senator Inhofe. SEN. INHOFE: I'm the ranking member on Environment and Public Works. We have a required meeting at 10:00. It's my intention to come back and stay, for as many rounds as you'll have. And I respectfully request that you keep my place in line.
SEN. LEVIN: Your place in line will be kept like -- all members who come have their place noted. And you surely will be protected in that. And we're sorry that you have to leave. Before you leave, however, we have a quorum.
And since we do have a quorum, I would now ask that the committee consider six civilian nominations. And I know, Mr. Secretary and your colleagues, you won't mind the interruption in your testimony for this purpose. I see a broad smile on your face.
I would ask now that we consider nominations, all of which have been cleared, of the following six nominees.
Government -- Governor Raymond Mabus to be secretary of the Navy, Robert Work to be undersecretary of the Navy, Andrew Weber to be assistant secretary -- excuse me, assistant to the secretary of Defense for Nuclear and Chemical and Biological Defense Programs, Paul Stockton to be assistant secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and America's Security Affairs, Thomas Lamont to be assistant secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, Charles Blanchard to be general counsel of the Department of the Air Force.
Is there a motion to consider these favorably en bloc?
SEN. : So moved.
SEN. LEVIN: Is there a second?
SEN. : Second.
SEN. LEVIN: All those in -- do we need a roll call on this? Do we have to have a roll call on this?
STAFF (?): No.
SEN. LEVIN: No one's asking for a roll call. Those in favor say aye.
COMMITTEE MEMBERS: Aye.
SEN. LEVIN: Opposed, nay. (No audible reply.)
The ayes have it, and they will be reported to the Senate.
Mr. Secretary, thank you again for the great work you're doing, and we call on you now for your opening statement.
SEC. GATES: First, thanks for the additional help. (Chuckles.)
Mr. Chairman, Senator McCain, members of the committee, thank you for inviting us to discuss the details of the president's fiscal year 2010 defense budget. There's a lot of material here, and I know you have a lot of questions, so I'll keep my opening remarks brief and focus on the strategy and thinking behind many of these recommendations. My submitted testimony has more detailed information on specific programmatic decisions. First and foremost, this is a reform budget reflecting lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan, yet also addressing the range of other potential threats around the world, now and in the future.
As you may know, I was in Afghanistan last week. As we increase our presence there and refocus our efforts with a new strategy, I wanted to get a sense from the ground level of the challenges and needs so we can give our troops the equipment and support to be successful and come home safely. Indeed, listening to our troops and commanders, unvarnished and unscripted, has, from the moment I took this job, been the greatest single source for ideas on what the department needs to do both operationally and institutionally.
As I told a group of soldiers on Thursday, they have done their job. Now it's time for us in Washington to do ours. In many respects, this budget builds on all the meetings I have had with troops and commanders, and all that I've learned over the past two and a half years -- all underpinning this budget's three -- the budget's principal -- three principal objectives:
First, to reaffirm our commitment to take care of the all- volunteer force, which, in my view, represents America's greatest strategic asset. As Admiral Mullen says, if we don't get the people part of this business right, none of the other decisions will matter.
Second, to rebalance the department's programs in order to institutionalize and enhance our capabilities to fight the wars we are in and the scenarios we are most likely to face in the years ahead, while at the same time providing a hedge against other risks and contingencies.
Third, in order to do this, we must reform how and what we buy, meaning a fundamental overhaul of our approach to procurement, acquisition and contracting.
From these priorities flow a number of strategic considerations, more of which are included in my submitted testimony.
The base budget request is for $533.8 billion for fiscal year '10, a 4 percent increase over the FY '09 enacted level.
After inflation, that is 2.1 percent real growth. In addition, the department's budget request includes $130 billion to support overseas contingency operations, principally Iraq and Afghanistan.
I know that there has been discussion about whether this is in fact sufficient to maintain our defense posture, especially during a time of war. I believe that it is. Indeed, I have warned in the past that our nation must not do what we have done after previous times of conflict on so many occasions, and slash defense spending. I can assure you that I will do everything in my power to prevent that from happening on my watch.
This budget is intended to help steer the Department of Defense toward an acquisition and procurement strategy that is sustainable over the long term, that matches real requirements to needed and feasible capabilities. As you know, this year we have funded the costs of the wars through the regular budgeting process, as opposed to emergency supplementals. By presenting this budget together, we hope to give a more accurate picture of the costs of the wars, and also create a more unified budget process to decrease some of the churn usually associated with funding for the Defense Department.
This budget aims to alter many programs and many of the fundamental ways that the Department of Defense runs its budgeting, acquisition and procurement processes. In this respect, three key points come to mind about the strategic thinking behind these decisions. First of all, sustainability. By that, I mean sustainability in light of current and potential fiscal constraints. It is simply not reasonable to expect the defense budget to continue increasing at the same rate it has over the last number of years. We should be able to secure our nation with a base budget of more than a half-a-trillion dollars, and I believe this budget focuses money where it can be -- where it can more effectively do that.
I also mean sustainability of individual programs. Acquisition priorities have changed from Defense secretary to Defense secretary, administration to administration, and Congress to Congress. Eliminating waste, ending requirements creep, terminating programs that go too far outside the line, and bringing annual costs for individual programs down to more reasonable levels will reduce this friction.
Second, balance. We have to be prepared for the wars we are most likely to fight -- not just the wars we have been traditionally best suited to fight, or threats we conjure up from potential adversaries who, in the real world, also have finite resources. As I've said before, even when considering challenges from nation-states with modern militaries, the answer is not necessarily buying more technologically-advanced versions of what we built -- on land, at sea and in the air -- to stop the Soviets during the Cold War.
And finally, there are the lessons learned from the last eight years, on the battlefield and, perhaps just as importantly, institutionally back at the Pentagon. The responsibility of this department, first and foremost, is to fight and win wars; not just constantly prepare for them.
In that respect, the conflicts we are in have revealed numerous problems that I am working to improve, and this budget makes real headway in that respect.
At the end of the day, this budget is less about numbers than it is about how the military thinks about the nature of warfare and prepares for the future, about how we take care of our people and institutionalize support for the warfighter for the long term, about the role of the services and how we can buy weapons as jointly as we fight, about reforming our requirements and acquisition processes.
I know that some of you will take issue with individual decisions. I would ask, however, that you look beyond specific programs, and instead at the full range of what we are trying to do, at the totality of the decisions and how they will change the way we fight and prepare -- prepare for and fight wars in the future.
As you consider this budget and specific programs, I would caution that each program decision is zero sum; a dollar spent for capabilities excess to our real needs is a dollar taken from a capability we do need, often to sustain our men and women in combat and bring them home safely.
Once again, I thank you for your ongoing support of our men and women. I look forward to your questions.
SEN. LEVIN: Thank you very much.
ADM. MULLEN: Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Senator McCain, distinguished members of this committee. Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today.
I fully support not only the president's fiscal year 2010 budget submission for this department but more specifically the manner in which Secretary Gates developed it. He presided over a comprehensive and collaborative process, the likes of which, quite frankly, I have not seen in more than a decade of doing this sort of work in the Pentagon.
Over the course of several months and a very long series of meetings and debates, every service chief, every combatant commander had a voice, and every one of them used it. Normally, as you know, budget proposals are worked from the bottom up, with each service making the case for specific programs and then fighting it out at the end, to preserve those that are most important to them. If cuts are to be made, they are typically done across the board, with the pain shared equally.
This proposal was done from the top down. Secretary Gates gave us broad guidance, his overall vision, and then gave us the opportunity to meet it. There would be no pet projects, nothing held sacred. Everything was given a fresh look, and everything had to be justified. We wouldn't cut for the sake of cutting or share the pain equally. Decisions to curtail or eliminate a program were based solely on its relevance and on its execution. The same can be said for those we decided to keep.
I can tell you this: None of the final decisions were easy to make, but all of them are vital to our future.
It has been said that we are what we buy, and I really believe that. And I also believe that the force we are asking you to help us buy today is the right one, both for the world we are living in and the world we may find ourselves living in 20 to 30 years down the road. This submission before you is just as much a strategy as it is a budget.
Let me tell you why.
First, it makes people our top strategic priority. I've said many times, and I remain convinced, the best way to guarantee our future security is to support our troops and their families. It is the recruit-and-retain choices of our families -- and, quite frankly, American citizens writ large -- that will make or break the all- volunteer force in the future. They will be less inclined to make those decisions should we not be able to offer them viable career options, adequate health care, suitable housing, advanced education and the promise of a prosperous life long after they have taken off the uniform.
This budget devotes more than a third of the total budget request to what I would call the "people account," with the great majority of that figure, nearly $164 billion, going to military pay and health care. When combined with what we plan to devote to upgrading and modernizing family housing and facilities, the total comes to $187 billion, which is 11 billion (dollars) more than we asked for last year. And almost all of that increase will go to the family support programs.
I'm particularly proud of the funds we've dedicated to caring for our wounded. There is, in my view, no higher duty for this nation or for those of us in leadership positions than to care for those who've sacrificed so much and who now must face lives forever changed by wounds both seen and unseen.
And I know you share that feeling, and I thank you for the work you have done in this committee and throughout Congress to pay attention and support these needs.
And I would add to that the families of the fallen. Our commitment to them must be for the remainder of those lives. That's why this budget allocates funds to complete the construction of additional wounded-warrior complexes, expands a pilot program designed to expedite the processing of injured troops through the disability- evaluation system, increases the number of mental-health professionals assigned to deployed units, and devotes more resources to the study and treatment of post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries.
I remain deeply troubled by the long-term effects of these signature wounds of modern war, and by the stigma that still surrounds them. Last month, during a town hall meeting with soldiers at Fort Hood, Sergeant Nicole Fuffman (sp), an OIF veteran, told me they were not getting enough psychological help before and after deployments. And I told her I thought she was right, and we were working hard to meet that need. She shot back, "They're hiding it, sir," referring to the reluctance of soldiers and families to speak openly about mental- health problems. Then she added, "It's the cause of a lot of suicides, I would imagine." And I would imagine she was -- she is right.
And I've long believed that the stress of multiple deployments, the institutional pressure, real or imagined, to bear this stress with a stiff upper lip is driving some people to either leave the service or take their own lives. It can also drive them to hurt others, as this week's tragic shooting in Baghdad appears to have confirmed. In fact, General Lynch out there at Fort Hood doesn't talk about suicide or crime prevention; he talks about stress reduction. And that's where all our collective focus must be, not just from the mental- health perspective but across the force in a variety of ways.
After nearly eight years of war, we are the most capable and combat-experienced military we've ever been -- certainly, without question, the world's best counterinsurgency and fighting force. Yet for all this success, we're pressed, and we lack the proper balance between op tempo and home tempo -- we have an incredibly resilient force, and success in Iraq, the trends there, have put a skip in the step of our forces that is incredibly special and speaks to their resilience -- between -- balance between COIN capabilities and conventional capabilities, between readiness today and readiness tomorrow.
And that, Mr. Chairman, is the second reason this budget of ours acts as a strategy for the future: It seeks balance. By investing more heavily in critical enablers, such as aviation, Special Forces, cyber operations, civil affairs, and language skills, it rightly makes winning the wars we are in our top operational priority.
By adjusting active Army BCT growth to 45, it helps ensure our ability to impact the fight sooner, increase dwell time and reduce overall demand on equipment. And by authorizing Secretary Gates to transfer money, to the secretary of State, for reconstruction, security and stabilization, it puts more civilian professionals alongside warfighters, in more places like Iraq and Afghanistan.
Having just returned from a trip to Afghanistan, I can attest to the critical need for more civilian capacity. And I was shocked to learn, there are only 13 U.S. civilian development experts in all of Southern Afghanistan, where the Taliban movement is strongest and the local economy is almost entirely dependent on opium production.
We have twice as many working in the relatively peaceful Kurdish region of Northern Iraq. I've said it before, but it bears repeating. More boots on the ground are not the only answer. We need people with slide rules and shovels and teaching degrees. We need bankers and farmers and law enforcement experts.
As we draw down responsibly in Iraq and shift the main effort to Afghanistan, we need a more concerted effort to build up the capacity of our partners. The same can be said of Pakistan, where boots on the ground aren't even an option, where helping the Pakistani forces help themselves is truly our best and only recourse.
Some will argue this budget devotes too much money to these sorts of low-intensity needs, that it tilts dangerously away from conventional capabilities. It does not. A full 35 percent of the submission is set aside for modernization. And much of that will go to what we typically consider conventional requirements.
It fully funds the Joint Strike Fighter and F-18 Super Hornet programs, buys another Arleigh Burke destroyer, a nuclear submarine and a third DDG-1000. It invests $11 billion in space-based programs, including funding for the next-generation early warning satellite. And it devotes $9 billion towards missile defense.
Ground capabilities are likewise supported, with $3 billion going toward the restructured FCS program and upgrades to the Abrams and Stryker weapons systems. We know there are global risks and threats out there not tied directly to the fight against al Qaeda and other extremist groups. And we're going to be ready for them.
In all this, Mr. Chairman, we are also working hard to fix the flawed procurement process. Programs that aren't performing well are getting the scrutiny they deserve. The acquisition workforce is getting the manpower and expertise it merits. And the struggling industrial base is getting the support and the oversight that it warrants.
More critically in my view, the nation is getting the military it needs, for the challenges we face today. It is getting more than a budget. It's getting a strategy to preserve our military superiority, against a broad range of threats new and old, big and small, now and then.
Thank you for your continued support of that important work and for all you do, in this committee, to support the men and women of the United States military and their families.
SEN. LEVIN: Thank you so much, Admiral.
Mr. Hale, do you have a statement? Thank you.
We'll try a six-minute first round here, because of large attendance.
First, as it relates to Pakistan, Secretary, the FY 2010 request includes significant funds for Pakistan, including 700 million (dollars) for the counterinsurgency contingency fund, up to a billion (dollars) for coalition support funds.
I believe all of this is going to be ineffective if Pakistan's leadership has not convinced itself and its people that its own security interests require them to take the fight to the militant extremists within their borders who are destroying Pakistan militarily, economically and diplomatically; if they continue to try to buy off the support of militant extremists by allowing them to control areas of Pakistan or to give them safe havens or to look the other way as those militant extremists use Pakistan as a launching program to attack Afghanistan, their neighbor.
There is some evidence, as I indicated, that in recent week or so, that they are now beginning to take the fight to those extremists. And that, of course, would be a good direction if they continue to move that way. However, when President Zardari was here last week, I remained unconvinced that the leadership of Pakistan believes that the greatest threat to Pakistan was the danger posed by the militant extremists inside Pakistan; and instead, I think they continue to put huge resources on the border with India, acting as though India is the bigger threat to them.
So my first question -- and by the way, I was not at all pleased with President Zardari's use of the funding that we provide to AIG in our budget as somehow or other a comparison of what he considers to be the totally inadequate funds that we provide Pakistan. Our taxpayers are being asked to provide billions for taxpayers -- for Pakistan. As far as I'm concerned, they've been asked to provide much, much too much for AIG, but that's a different story. That's a domestic story. And so I wasn't at all pleased with his comparison or his analogy in that regard as a way of saying that we're not providing enough support to Pakistan.
So let me ask you first, Secretary Gates, do you agree that a commitment on the part of Pakistan's leadership to take the fight against militant extremists on their territory is a prerequisite for success and effectiveness of our assistance to Pakistan in confronting the terrorist threat?
SEC. GATES: Yes, sir, Mr. Chairman, I do. And I think that's central to the administration's new policy with respect to Afghanistan and Pakistan, and that is the recognition that without success on the Pakistani side of the border, our efforts on the Afghan side will be significantly harder.
SEN. LEVIN: Well, but you also agree that that will require the Pakistan government to not only take the fight to the extremists, but to tell their public that they're doing that and why they are doing that?
SEC. GATES: Yes, sir. They -- but they face a -- they face a difficult challenge. And that is that for all of Pakistan's history, India has been the existential threat. And I think actually it was only with the Taliban's going too far and moving their operations into Buner, just 60 miles or so from Islamabad, that for the first time they really got the attention of the Pakistani government.
The Pakistanis during these last decades have always felt that, because the Punjabis so outnumber the Pashtuns, that they could just take care of that problem, the generally ungoverned spaces in the west, by doing deals with the tribes, playing them against one another, or occasionally using military force. They've never considered it a threat to the stability of the nation.
I think that has changed in the last three weeks or so, and I think that the senior leadership of the government gets that. Being able to communicate it to the rest of the country is the next challenge that they face.
SEN. LEVIN: Well, unless they meet that challenge, our aid could be counterproductive. If it looks as though we're trying to buy their support for our goal, instead of supporting their goal, that would be used as propaganda by the people who are out to destroy them and us. So I would hope that this -- this direction continues, and that the public statement -- statements are made by that government as to what is in Pakistan's interest and they're not just being controlled or dominated by the United States.
An article in The New York Times this morning, Secretary, asserted that the United States has provided Pakistan with notice of drone operations, but stopped doing that because the information is leaked to the targets of the operations. Can you comment on that?
SEC. GATES: Let me ask Admiral Mullen to answer that.
ADM. MULLEN: Chairman, in fact, there's been articles over the last couple of days with respect to this. And where we are, we have evolved over time in support of the Pakistan military and opened up a border coordination, a joint coordination center, a few months ago, to support them in operations. And that continues -- continues to evolve. And the specifics of this article, in terms of what we're actually providing, really are classified.
That said, we don't do any of this without their requests to assist and support them in their operations. And in fact, those operations have -- those requests have ceased over the period of about the last month.
SEN. LEVIN: Have ceased?
ADM. MULLEN: From the -- yes, sir, the specific requests that are mentioned in this article have -- they haven't asked for any additional assistance along those lines over about the last 30 days.
SEN. LEVIN: All right. And have they received any control over our operations, as reported in the press, over our drone operations?
ADM. MULLEN: No, sir.
SEN. LEVIN: So those reports are inaccurate?
ADM. MULLEN: The report in the L.A. Times yesterday was very inaccurate.
SEN. LEVIN: And that report was that they have joint control --
ADM. MULLEN: Yes, sir. And that was completely inaccurate.
SEN. LEVIN: All right.
ADM. MULLEN: The report today was a much more accurate portrayal. But in terms of control, absolutely not. In terms of support and information, we certainly -- they have asked for that, and where they've asked for that, we've supported them.
SEN. LEVIN: All right. I wish they'd tell their public about their support of our operations instead of attacking us for them, because that is one of the things that just creates propaganda fodder for the very people who are out to destroy us and them.
SEN. MCCAIN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Following along the lines of the chairman's questioning, Secretary Gates, a week or so ago, General Petraeus said the next couple of weeks were critical as far as the stability, the political stability, of Pakistan is concerned. What's your brief assessment of the political situation and the stability of the government in Pakistan?
SEC. GATES: Well, let me comment and then ask Admiral Mullen, because he's, frankly, much more familiar with Pakistan than I am at this point.
I believe that the actions of the Pakistani government and the Army of the last 10 days or so, and particularly since driving the Taliban out of Buner, have been reassuring that the government does understand the nature of the threat to it and is prepared to take action to deal with that threat. So I actually think if you look at that two-week time frame, which is probably too short a time to consider, but I think the events of recent days are encouraging.
ADM. MULLEN: I would concur with that, Senator. I think -- and to speak to the Pakistani politicians, the prime minister last week -- or 10 days ago -- spoke very strongly about the need to recognize this threat throughout his country.
There is, as I understand it, increasing support from the Pakistani people. That this threat is a very serious one -- my biggest question about theses operations is their ability to sustain them over time. Historically they haven't done that. So right now I'm encouraged by what's happened, but I certainly withhold any judgment about where it goes, because of the lack, historic lack, of sustainment. And they know they need to do that.
SEN. MCCAIN: You have developed an excellent relationship with General Kayani. Do you believe that the Pakistani military now believes that the major threat comes from the Taliban and religious extremists, as opposed to India?
ADM. MULLEN: I'm -- I -- my assessment would be they think it comes from both; that they're still -- they still have a -- you know, a heavy focus on India. They are -- when I was there recently, they actually -- I actually went out and observed some fairly effective counterinsurgency training that General Kayani has put in throughout all of his divisions.
So there is much more focus on counterinsurgency and on the west than there had been. He's moved troops to the west. But I still think we've got -- we've got a long way to go with respect to the entire army thinking that the only existential threat they have is from the west.
SEN. MCCAIN: Do you still worry about the ISI cooperating with Taliban?
ADM. MULLEN: Yes, sir. I've believed over the last year, since I've been involved or -- and visited Pakistan, that the ISI, in the long run, has to change its strategic thrust and get away from the -- working both sides. That's how they have been raised, certainly over the last couple of decades, and that's what they believe. Until they think we're going to be there for a while -- I mean, one of the questions --
SEN. MCCAIN: We have to provide them with the assurance that we're going to be there.
ADM. MULLEN: Yes, sir. I mean, I think the relationship -- the relationship is going to be a sustained relationship.
SEN. MCCAIN: How confident are you about the security of their nuclear arsenal?
ADM. MULLEN: I'm comfortable that it is secure. They -- we've -- they've actually put in an increased level of security measures in the last three or four years. But there are limits on what we know in terms of a lot of the specifics, but I'm comfortable that from what I know of what we actually know and also what they told us, that right now they're secure.
SEN. MCCAIN: Secretary Gates, in -- May 10th there was an article where the general -- I'm sure I'm not pronouncing his name -- the Afghans' minister for counternarcotics, when asked what U.S. and NATO forces had done to stop the flow of opium and heroin, he said, "Nothing." Are we developing some kind of coherent, cohesive and united strategy, as far as the poppy crops are concerned?
SEC. GATES: I think that this is an important element of the new Afghan strategy of the administration. I think there is, if not unanimous, strong agreement in the administration that eradication on its own is not sustainable and largely is a recruitment tool for the Taliban. The focus needs to be on alternative agriculture for Afghanistan and making sure that -- you know, I've changed the rules of engagement for our troops, and NATO subsequently did for ISAF, in terms of being able to go after drug lords and networks and the labs that support the Taliban. But the long-term solution really is getting the Afghan farmers to adopt alternative crops to the poppies.
Now the reality is, 30 or 35 years ago, before 30 years of war, Afghanistan was a very prosperous agricultural country -- not prosperous but a very -- had a strong agricultural sector and in fact exported food and a variety of food.
So the notion of getting them to adopt alternative crops is not fanciful. But we have to figure out a strategy where they get the money and the seeds and the ability to sustain their families, before they get rid of their poppy crop.
SEN. MCCAIN: We also ought to get our allies to agree on a common strategy as well. Good luck.
I was very disappointed in President Karzai's comments about some of the precision airstrikes that have taken place within Afghanistan. I think when we review the success in Iraq, one element was the ability to disrupt and destroy the leadership of radical Islamic elements in Iraq. And one of the tools was our precision bombing or ability to hinder and destroy them.
How are we going to handle this situation within Afghanistan? Because it's pretty clear that we have taken out some of the leadership, through this employment of this weapons system that we have. And apparently President Karzai hasn't bought in and perhaps strongly objects.
SEC. GATES: One of the challenges that we face is that a central element of Taliban strategy is to either mingle with civilians -- so that whether the attack comes from the air or from the ground, innocent civilians are killed -- or simply to make up attacks, or to create situations in which innocent civilians are almost certain to be killed.
The difference between the Taliban and us is that the Taliban deliberately targets civilians. And when we accidentally -- when we kill a civilian, it is despite enormous efforts to avoid that. And it's always an accident.
I've discussed this many times with President Karzai. We have worked very hard, and General McKiernan has put out new guidance, in terms of greater care in how we choose our targets.
We have been more proactive about trying to get inside the communications loop, in terms of expressing our regret, making amends where appropriate and then investigating, so that we aren't days if not weeks or months behind the Taliban, in terms of trying to describe or describing what happened.
But we, as General Jones said on Sunday, we cannot forgo the use of airpower, because it would end up with us fighting this war with one hand tied behind us. That said, one of the charges, I think, for the new commanders, will be to look at, how can we do this, in a way that further limits innocent civilian casualties, in Afghanistan, but also gets the truth out, to the Afghan people, about what's really going on?
SEN. MCCAIN: And we have an absolute obligation to do everything necessary to protect the lives and security of our fighting men and women who are there. And this is one of the ways to do it.
And so I hope that President Karzai will realize that our commitment to Afghanistan is based on American public opinion, and to deprive us of the ability to protect the security of the men and women who are in harm's way would be a terrific mistake. And we'll continue the dialogue with him.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. LEVIN: Thank you, Senator McCain.
SEN. JOSEPH I. LIEBERMAN (ID-CT): Thanks, Mr. Chairman.
Thanks to each of you for your service and your leadership.
Secretary Gates, I wanted to ask you a quick immediate question about Pakistan and then go on to the budget. The Pakistani military offensive in Swat, which we appreciate and support, has created an enormous refugee problem, probably the most significant refugee problem since the partition of the '40s in Pakistan. And this may create problems of domestic instability if not handled correctly.
I also noticed in a new story that Lashkar-e-Taiba, the terrorist group, the one that we associate with the Mumbai terrorist attacks, is already out offering humanitarian assistance to the refugees. There's no force in the world that's better able to operate in this circumstance than the U.S. military. That doesn't mean we can handle all of these crises, but in this case -- particularly mindful of what an extraordinary indigenous public reaction there was when we helped after the tsunami and after the earthquake in Pakistan in 2005 -- are we considering giving any assistance, humanitarian assistance to the Pakistani government in handling this refugee problem?
SEC. GATES: Yes, we are. The State Department and our ambassador and Admiral LeFever in Islamabad are being very proactive in this. They are working with the Pakistanis, and obviously we are prepared to do everything we can to help them.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Thank you. Let me go on to the budget now.
You said in your opening statement that this is a reform budget. It is, and I appreciate the tough decisions you made. I support most of them. I don't support all of them. But you made some tough decisions. And it is really a reform budget -- all the more difficult because, though the number is large, in my opinion you were still budget-constrained, so it's hard to operate in that context.
I want to focus in particularly on the U.S. Army, which is bearing the largest burden of the wars we're involved in in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to put it in this context: Both you and Admiral Mullen said that your top priority is to take care of the -- of our personnel, of our all-volunteer forces. And in fact, I think in this budget, building on previous budgets, we are trying our best to take care of those personnel and their families. The problem is, there are not enough of them.
And as a result, they're under stress. And so is our military in some ways.
I know that the dwell time is not where any of you want it to be. It's still about one year to one year. The repeated deployments -- as Admiral Mullen said, I thought, quite eloquently -- contribute to the stress that the Army and particularly the families are feeling.
And I noticed that in the budget, the Army overall actually, combining the base budget and the overseas contingency operations, drops from 231 billion to 225 billion. It's a lot of money but it's a drop. I understand the base budget does go up some.
I note also that in moving from the supplemental budgets to moving expenses into the departmental budget, about $13 billion of personnel costs are put into the baseline budget. And to me that means that the actual budget, at the base, has been reduced by about 10 percent.
Just let me get beyond all the numbers to say that by any projection I've seen, we're going to need more personnel for at least the next 18 months, certainly through fiscal year 2010. And I don't think we've given you enough personnel to make this happen.
I've heard concerns about competition, for enablers, between the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan. So I wanted to tell you that I've been working, with members of the committee, bipartisan to see if we can do two things.
One, on the supplemental next week, if we can raise the legislated end strength, from 532,000 up to the 547,400, and maintain in that the 2 or 3 percent waiver that you and the secretary of the Army have, to give you the option of going beyond the 547,400, in the remainder of this year. And then also seeing if we can increase, by some number, the end strength for fiscal year 2010, to try to reduce the kind of pressure I've talked about.
So with that introduction, am I right that the dwell time at this point is not where you or Admiral Mullen would like it to be?
SEC. GATES: That's absolutely right. We hope that toward the end of this year and more likely into next that the dwell time will begin to increase, particularly as the drawdowns in Iraq take place. And we will probably move in steps. We would like to see the active force at one year deployed, two years at home; the Guard and Reserve, one year deployed and four or five years at home. And we're not there and probably not going to get there in the short term. But I would say late this year or early next, we'll begin to see an increase, perhaps to 15 months at home, a year deployed.
I would say, Senator Lieberman, that one of the things, when I took this job, was the concern -- one of my concerns was that the ground forces weren't big enough --
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Right.
SEC. GATES: -- to do all the tasks that they have been given. And with certainly the strong support of the Congress, we have added 92,000 men and women to the Army and the Marine Corps -- 65,000 and 27,000, respectively. The Army is at and actually a little above the 547,000 at this point. But the -- if -- in one sense, there are two indicators for me beyond all of the stress and other negative issues that we see --
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Right.
SEC. GATES: -- that indicate the stress on the force or that we're short, and that is 13,000 men and women on stop-loss and the dwell time, as you pointed out.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Yeah.
SEC. GATES: But the question is whether an increase beyond where we already are or beyond where the Army and the Marine Corps already are is sustainable over the long term. When we moved the end strength coverage from the supplemental to the base budget, as you suggested, the cost of that was $11 billion. The Army's portion of that alone was $7 billion --
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Right.
SEC. GATES: -- just for the added end strength. So this -- and as the admiral pointed out at the outset, a third of this budget is the people cost. And the question is balancing everything else, whether we can really sustain even more in the ground forces than we already have.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: I appreciate what you've said. I understand the challenge, and I think the pressure on the Army particularly over the next 18 months is going to be so severe, with all the stress that comes with that, that we have to find a way to increase the end strength over that period of time, with an understanding that it will not go beyond that period of time, because we're going to reach a point where we're going to be able to draw down in Iraq and hopefully in Afghanistan. I wish I could hear, Admiral Mullen, your response, but I know I'm out of time, so I'll wait for the second round.
SEN. LEVIN: Thank you so much, Senator Lieberman.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Thank you.
SEN. LEVIN: Senator Sessions.
SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R-AL): Thank you, Chairman Levin, and thank both of you, and Mr. Hale, thank you for your service to your country. And we're definitely challenged in the Defense Department. I know you are up to that challenge.
I'm concerned, fundamentally, about the budget. We are facing challenging times. The projected increases that you made and called for, Secretary Gates, I believe in 2007 at Kansas State University, was a 4 percent annual increase. I see that the OMB director, Mr. Peter Orszag, who is the force behind the administration, is projecting 3.6 percent over the next -- (audio break) -- but to do your part during your watch to create the weapons systems that are going to be needed 10, 15, even 20 years from now.
There is a moral responsibility, isn't it, for any administration to not only take care of the present needs, but to invest in the long- term strategic needs that may not ripen during your tenure.
SEC. GATES: Absolutely.
SEN. SESSIONS: And so I'm looking with some concern at the reduction of so many of the big procurement programs. I'll just tell you the one that I raised with you, and have with some of your personnel earlier, is the missile defense situation.
I think we could complete that system. We've been -- spent 40 years developing it. We had a goal of 44 interceptors in the ground. Now you're talking about cancelling a number of those, reducing that to, I think, 30 or 29. And the advanced technology that would enhance that capability, the MKV, the Multiple Kill Vehicle, has been cancelled, and so some other things have squeezed that budget.
How do you feel -- and that's just one part of it. I know there are other parts of missile defense that have gotten an increase -- the theater-based missile defense. But this is the one system that protects the homeland from ICBMs, that's completely on our land, our territory, that's under our control without having to ask permission to emplace it in a foreign nation. And how do you express your vision about that? And what confidence can you give us that the system is going to be sufficiently supported?
SEC. GATES: Senator Sessions, I've supported missile defense since President Reagan first announced his initiative in March of 1983. And let me describe where I think we are in each of the three categories.
First of all, in terms of missile defense at the terminal phase, this budget increases -- adds six Aegis-equipped missile defense ships. It adds -- we max-out the THAAD, which is a terminal defense. We max-out the inventory build of SM-3 missiles, Standard Missile-3. And so I think we're in pretty good shape on the terminal side, and we're adding to those capabilities. Those also happen to be the capabilities that provide us a lot of support for our troops, in terms of theater missile defense.
In terms of mid-course, you're discussing the ground-based interceptors. And I think the judgment -- the program, as you suggest, was to grow from the 30 interceptors that we have now, to 44. And the advice that I got is, first of all, that system really is only capable against North Korea, and that 30 interceptors at the level of capability that North Korea has now and is likely to have for some years to come -- 30 interceptors in fact provide a strong defense against North Korea in this respect.
And that budget also includes robust funding for continued development and improvement of those ground-based interceptors.
The one area that is the hardest is boost phase, and it is the one where we have had the most difficulty over the last 25 years in trying to get at this problem. And there have been a number of different attempts. One such program was the airborne -- the airborne laser. And I have kept the airborne laser test aircraft that we have, and intend to invest in directed energy as a likely way to be able to deal with the boost phase.
The problem with the operational concept of the airborne laser as an operational system was that it would have required buying a fleet of about 27 47s. And the other difficulty is that they have to orbit close enough to the launch site so that, if it were Iran, the orbit would be almost entirely within the borders of Iran, and if it were against North Korea it would be inside the borders of North Korea and China. And I just think operationally that's not going to happen. So we'll keep the research going.
On the Multiple Kill Vehicle, the policy of the Bush administration and the policy of this administration has been to develop a missile defense against rogue nations, not against China and Russia. And the Multiple Kill Vehicle, in addition to schedule and cost and technology issues, was a -- was designed against a far more capable enemy than either North Korea or Iran are going to be in -- for the next 10 to 15 years.
And finally, the Kinetic Energy Interceptor fundamentally was curtailed severely in the last administration, and we basically just took it off life support. That decision was made, actually, by the Missile Defense Agency and was not a part of this exercise.
There are also classified programs that are aimed at giving us the boost-phase capability. So I'm a strong defender and proponent of missile defense, but I want to spend the dollars on missile defense -- both on R&D and operationally -- where they will do us the most good.
SEN. SESSIONS: Thank you. I'd say you were ready for that question. (Laughter.) But I am worried about the numbers. It's a big cut overall, and we are increasing theater production, which is a good thing, but you're having some very significant cuts. And I'm not sure all of that is so healthy. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. My time --
SEN. LEVIN: Thank you, Senator Sessions.
SEN. JACK REED (D-RI): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Secretary Gates, I think you have led a -- not only the -- a process that was productive, but the outcome of this budget is one that makes -- or presents real change and, I think, matches the strategic threats and the strategic capabilities that we need. And I commend you for that, as the admiral has. I think it's a testimony to your leadership, and thank you for that very much, sir.
Let me move to some questions with respect to the issues that were raised by some of my colleagues, Senator Lieberman in particular, about the stress on military units.
And I want to focus particularly on the enablers. We have a situation where General Odierno needs to have enablers to come down, and General McKiernan needs -- did need and for the next few weeks does need, then Mr. -- General McChrystal will need enablers to come up. And that puts pressure on, I think, retraining some of the existing personnel, because in the short run, raising end strength or retaining senior people are not going to be able to deal with this issue.
So Admiral Mullen, have you directed the Army principally to begin some significant retraining effort, taking units that might be Army units and make them combat engineer units and getting them ready to report?
ADM. MULLEN: Let me -- actually, the focus on enablers is intense and constant and has been for months because we're short. Some of them we had, some of them we've learned that we needed through this war. And it covers a whole host of things, actually, that I mentioned in my statement, which is ISR, helicopters, engineers, security, medical, linguists, civil affairs, intelligence, et cetera.
And we've actually had to make some pretty difficult decisions about things that General Odierno has and move them to Afghanistan. That pressure's going to continue, and it's going to continue as we shift our weight. A very specific example, for instance, are engineers for combat support, IED surveys.
And we are actually going through a very intense discussion right now with all the services, but particularly the Army, of what does it take to train. And there's sort of a standard package that the Army uses that may -- we think there might be ways around that. I'm not trying to -- I don't want to, you know, do General Casey's job, and that's not the intent, but the focus in terms of getting those engineers out there is a priority and we're working for -- looking at creative ways to do exactly that.
I don't think increasing end strength over the next 18 months is going to help us a lot with that. What I'm trying to do is reach inside the services -- all the services that we have right now to meet these needs. And so it's a pretty intense effort.
SEN. REED: I think you're right. I, like you, have just returned recently, and the secretary, from Afghanistan and Pakistan. And we've got a window that will close, and it's not indefinite. It is (a month/of months ?). And we have to move very quickly. And I also commend your focus not just within the Army but also Seabees, others who could be adapted to some of these missions, even though that's not a traditional mission. And I think we have to do that. That will be faster and more effective. We need these units very quickly, in both areas of operation.
Let me ask another question, which is related, Mr. Secretary and Admiral Mullen, to the issue of collateral casualties, which is a hugely difficult political issue in Afghanistan. When we were there, we were -- we saw this connection between operations in the south and directly to the president. That's where his political tribal base is. He gets cell phone calls from people when they think there are accidental casualties.
Will the increase in forces help mitigate those and give us the ability to rely less upon airstrikes?
Is that part of what the buildup is about?
SEC. GATES: I think that -- that the challenge for the new military leadership is finding the right balance between providing the necessary protection for our own forces and rethinking some of their operational planning in terms of a cost-benefit analysis.
And it really -- it really boils down to are we on defense or are we on offense?
And on defense, I don't think we should make any changes. We -- we need to protect our troops. And I might -- might add that the last time I was briefed on this, I think about 40 percent of those air missions are actually flown to protect our allies, not us.
But if we're on offense, that's where I think we need to take a closer look at the operational concept and our planning and how we're going forward with this in a way to minimize the -- the chance of innocent civilian casualties.
SEN. REED: All right. Let me just ask a related question to both of you, in terms of our way forward in Afghanistan. General Rodriguez will be now a subordinate commander to General McChrystal. Will that be a NATO command, or will that be a strictly American command?
I think the point of -- at least the point that was told to me -- about an intermediate command was to unify the effort along the border from RC East all the way through RC south. So could you give me sort of a -- your sense of what General Rodriguez's role will be, either as an American commander alone or as a joint commander?
SEC. GATES: His -- his role -- and I invite the admiral to comment -- his role will be characterized, certainly at least initially, as deputy commander of U.S. Forces Afghanistan. Whether that evolves into a core commander-like role but's still limited to U.S. forces I think remains to be seen.
ADM. MULLEN: I think what -- specifically with McChrystal and Rodriguez getting there, they're going to have assess what they need. There are various views on this, on what the need is, including, you know, the Iraq model. But certainly, initially, he is to go in to -- as the deputy and in to assess this, to look at what -- what the overall requirements are.
And I've -- I've put in significant efforts in recent weeks to strategically try to guide this force to say this is the main effort. We need our best people; we need people that are going back -- that are going there who've been there before, so our ramp time is -- is somewhere around zero.
The 3rd of the 10th Mountain Brigade, when I was with them a couple weeks ago, had almost zero ramp time, because 30 percent of them had been there in Afghanistan before. And that's what we need.
So it is going to be, I think, for Generals McChrystal and Rodriguez to assess this, and then look at, structurally, what we should do in the future.
SEN. REED: Thank you.
Thank you very much.
SEN. LEVIN: Thank you, Senator Reed.
SEN. INHOFE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
First of all, I had to leave to go to the Environment and Public Works hearing. And so I don't know what was covered in all of the opening statements and other questions.
But Secretary Gates, as you discussed in your speech, to the Army War College, you had some tough decisions to make, and we all understand that. But you stated that the Army did not agree with your recommendations to cancel the FCS.
I understand that yesterday, you reversed the policy of non- disclosure, which I thank you for. It's my understanding that some of the people were going to be hampered, in terms of what they were going to be able to share with us.
But Tuesday, we'll start the hearings with the service chiefs. And I would hope that you would encourage them to give us their independent opinion, if it's different than the policy that has been articulated, by you and by the president.
And also I wanted to ask you the question. Is -- I had sent a letter out to the service chiefs, asking them for a list of the unfunded requirements that they were not able to fund in this budget. And I never heard back.
So a two-part question would be, are you going to encourage them to give their best independent judgment, in responses to the questions that we ask on Tuesday? And secondly how do you want to handle this situation in terms of the unfunded requirements?
Whether or not we're going to receive something sometime, it would be very difficult before Tuesday's hearing. But are we going to receive something from the service chiefs? SEC. GATES: First of all, what I have tried to do, Senator, is to bring some discipline to a budgetary process that, shall we say, lacked a certain measure of discipline in the past.
The -- as you indicate, when the president's budget came up here, any inhibitions created, by the non-disclosure statement, were eliminated. And I told everybody that at my staff meeting on Monday.
I'm putting out a written notice to that effect today, encouraging everybody who comes up here, to testify, to testify fully and candidly and particularly for those in uniform, to be prepared to give their best professional --
SEN. INHOFE: Yeah, I understand that.
SEC. GATES: So the answer to your first question is, absolutely.
SEN. INHOFE: All right.
SEC. GATES: The answer to the second question is, with respect to their unfundeds, I decided to actually ensure that everybody followed the statute. I have no problem with them putting together a list of unfundeds. But the law requires them to inform me, about that list, before they send it up here.
I'm having that meeting tomorrow. And so you all should get the services' list, hopefully, by Monday.
SEN. INHOFE: Okay. That's good. I appreciate that very much. And I'm curious about the decisions that made -- that drastically change what we are doing here in altering the budget, in relationship with the QDI (sic). I know this is an awkward situation because our QDR would not be received probably till, I think, December, and so it would be very difficult to do that. But with the major changes that were made, and the QDR being a very important part of that decision- making, I guess what I'd ask of you is, did you -- since you couldn't use a current QDR, and these are major changes, did you use the previous QDR? On what did you base this that would substitute for information that would otherwise come from a QDR?
SEC. GATES: Sure. First of all, I did use the last QDR. One of the principal problems, as I've been briefed, about QDRs is a disconnect between what the QDR says and how the resources are actually allocated. And so in some respects, many of these decisions implement recommendations or the analysis that was done in the last QDR.
It also builds on the National Defense Strategy, which was issued last fall, behind which there was a great deal of analysis. It obviously also built on our experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the experience of both the civilians and the uniformed folks. And I would say, in a unique situation, a combination of both appointees by President Obama and holdovers from President Bush were all involved in this process, as well.
So I think that there is a -- and I would say another factor that was involved was a fair amount of common sense. Some of these were where it was clear in the briefings that the programs were out of control and we weren't going to get anything out of the programs. In some, it was that the requirements had changed, or the requirements didn't take into account recent events.
SEN. INHOFE: Okay. That's fine. Mr. Secretary, my clock is running too fast, here.
If there was another report that you referred to, perhaps you could share that and find it, so that we'd have a chance to review that, too. SEC. GATES: Sure. I'm sure the committee got it last fall.
SEN. INHOFE: Great. Great. Okay. On the Army modernization, we're really concerned about that. I -- you know, I can remember going over this thing -- and very critical of President Bush -- back in 2002, when he axed the Crusader program. And at that time, I remember Chief Shinseki got involved, and we wanted it reevaluated.
To me, the FCS program is the first major transition of ground capability that we've had in some 50 years. And we've gone through this thing. We've made decisions. We look at the various elements of the FCS. And I would refer specifically to the -- to the NLOS cannon. The NLOS cannon is -- we're further along with that than anything else right now. A lot of money has been invested in it.
We're still using and still will use, even on the previous schedule that we had on the NLOS Cannon, the Paladin, which -- we all understand the basic Paladin was World War II technology. We've gone through some PIMs. We're going through one now.
But I would just -- in this case, I would just like to -- I disagreed with your position to dismantle the -- or to terminate the FCS program. But we do have some things written in the statutes saying that in the particular case of the NLOS Cannon, that that should go forward. And the question I would ask you is that -- how do you plan to handle the fact that we have a law that says you're going to have to do something that you said you're not going to do?
SEC. GATES: Well, first of all, let me say that the front end part, the first -- the increment one of FCS is -- not only stays in the budget but is enhanced and accelerated. And that is the networking, the UAVs, the unmanned ground vehicles and so on. All of that is not only going to be completed, but it's not going to be limited to just 15 BCTs but spread throughout the entire Army. So the whole front end -- the networking part of FCS is being preserved and will be deployed,
My problem was with the ground vehicles. And the premise behind the eight vehicles in this program, including the cannon, was that they were all going to be based on a similar chassis. That chassis started out at 18-1/2 tons in 2003 or 2004, went to 26 tons in 2006, 27 tons in 2007. It's now at 30 tons, and it's likely to go to 35 tons. But they're still thinking about putting the cannon on a 30-ton chassis.
So this thing has been filled with Band-Aids, and so what I'm asking the Congress to do is look at this thing. And it's the ground vehicle part of this that I think -- that I have taken an action and recommended to the president and is reflected in his budget. And it is because the original design of this program, including the cannon, did not take into account the lessons we have learned in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The infantry fighting vehicle had a flat bottom, 18 inches off of the ground, clearly not taking into account anything. There's no provision made to use the MRAPs, in which the Congress has invested 26 billion.
And the contract was all messed up. You've got eight vehicles divided between two manufacturers. Ninety percent of the performance guarantee -- performance fee is to be -- is guaranteed at a critical design review. So there's little performance incentive left for the rest of the program, including prototyping and so on.
So I think between the failure of the program to be redesigned to take into account the lessons of the wars we were in and the shortcomings in the contract, that it was important for the Army to take a fresh look at all of the vehicles associated with this program and then move on.
I couldn't agree more that vehicle modernization is a high priority, the Army's highest priority, and I totally support it.
But we got to get it right if we're going to spend $150 billion on it.
SEN. INHOFE: Well, Mr. Chairman, my time has expired. I'm aware of that. I would like to argue that point. As a matter of fact, as time went by and changes were made in the flat bottom and all of that, that shows that a lot of consideration was made and a lot of changes were made to update that to meet current needs.
Now, I did want to get into a lot of other areas. I understand my friend from Georgia, I'm sure, will talk a little bit about the F- 22. And I'll wait around for the next round, because I do want to get into the missile-defense part of this budget. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. LEVIN: Thank you very much, Senator Inhofe.
Just to complete just one thought of Senator Inhofe here, just fits directly here, I also understand that you said at the Army War College on this subject that all of the money for FCS in the out years will be protected to fund the new vehicle-modernization program. Is that an accurate quote?
SEC. GATES: Yes, sir.
SEN. LEVIN: Thank you.
SEN. DANIEL K. AKAKA (D-HI): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I want to thank you for your leadership in this committee, and that of the ranking member as well.
And I want to welcome Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen for being here to discuss the details. And I'm glad to hear you and also the chairman mention that we are doing a budget for defense and getting out of the supplemental. But here we are, things have been changing, we're looking at reforms, and want to thank both of you for your valuable and dedicated service to our country.
Also, please express our gratitude through to the service men and women, and especially their families, for their ongoing service and sacrifice for this grateful nation.
And I look forward to working with you on this budget as well. I would like to thank the chairman and Senator McCain for their leadership in the passage of the Weapons Systems Acquisition Reform Act. This legislation, combined with ongoing initiatives taking shape in the FY '10 budget, has set the stage for reform. And I'm really looking at this and looking at our ability to change what we can call the culture that has been in place for so long in the department.
So Mr. Secretary, I guess that my first question is, do you think that we have laid a foundation to change the culture within OSD and across the services from here on out to improve whatever we're doing for the -- our country and its security?
SEC. GATES: I believe that the legislation that the two houses have passed are a significant -- of significance in helping us move in that direction.
Acquisition reform has been a decades-long aspiration in the Defense Department and in Congress's oversight of the Defense Department. I would tell you that I think that -- that there are three things that are -- that are required for a change in culture and for there to be genuine reform in acquisition in the Defense Department.
The first is the legislative and regulatory basis, which you all have provided. The second is discipline within the services and within OSD. And the third is leadership and the willingness to make tough decisions. As Admiral Mullen discussed, too often the budget- building process at the Department of Defense is everybody putting their wants into the hopper, and then everybody taking a haircut to get to the level required, without making hard choices among programs. And I think without that third piece of it, and without the discipline of the services and OSD in applying all of these things, that -- that acquisition reform will not go as we -- as we all would hope.
And I would also say, in all candor, that acquisition reform also requires the proper approach by the Congress.
SEN. AKAKA: Thank you for that. I'm glad to hear you also mention the need to use our resources wisely. And this can be a part of that.
Admiral Mullen, the DOD has made significant progress caring for our military heroes with mental health issues. But to do that, we must be able to identify those problems.
One of the biggest issues we must address is reducing the stigma related to seeking counseling. We somehow have to get the message across, to our warriors, that one of the most courageous acts that they can do is to reach out for help. And I think this must come from the top. You did mention the need for resources in this area, for PTSD and TBI.
My question to you Admiral is, how would you assess the DOD's efforts to reduce the stigma that still deters some from seeking treatment for problems -- (inaudible) -- TBI and PTSD? And should there be a program that's done periodically to determine this, after deployment or between missions or between assignments?
ADM. MULLEN: Senator Akaka, I'm -- the secretary and I many others in leadership positions have certainly worked to address this from a leadership standpoint. But there's oftentimes a disconnect between the desires and the discussions and even the guidance, in terms of these kinds of things and in particular this area, and what we're actually doing in execution.
And I think at the heart of this is a leadership commitment to it at every level, from not just myself or the secretary but right down to the sergeant first class, the non-commissioned officers, our younger officers who are under also great pressure to get ready for deployment.
We're also -- I'm also seeing -- actually my wife and I are also seeing PTS quite frankly in families, spouses who are -- who raise their hand and say, I've got PTS. But they're also reluctant because of the stigma. And they're concerned about the impact it might have, on the member's career as well.
And we're short for psychiatric help for children. I mean, so I think the leaders have to continue to focus on this. We have to continue to provide resources. And we have had some -- some senior military officers step forward and say they had -- they have PTS and this is how they dealt with it.
We've got a host of programs. We've made significant advances in the area of programs to support. Probably the biggest area that I would want to focus on right now is execution, and are we really executing what we're supposed to be doing? Because I see the disconnect between what we say and see here, and when I go in the field and talk to members, talk to families, talk to care providers and help providers, of the continued disconnect. So we're not anywhere close where we need to be, and we need to keep that pressure on.
SEC. GATES: Senator, I'd like to add one other problem that we have.
SEN. AKAKA: Go ahead.
SEC. GATES: And that is a -- a shortage of mental health care providers. And it's particularly the case for our facilities that are in rural areas, but it's basically a national problem. And one of the things that I'd like to work with the committee -- is to see if we could expand the DOD medical education program, where we train doctors all the time, and train a lot of them, to see if we could expand that program to include mental health care providers, who are not necessarily doctors or psychiatrists but may have a master's degree in psychology and be sort of the front-line mental health care provider, to see if we could provide -- if we could pay for that kind of specialized training and education. And then they would have a certain commitment in the military, and then they would go out and be able to provide that service to the country as a whole.
SEN. AKAKA: Thank you so much for your responses.
Mr. Chairman, thank you.
SEN. LEVIN: Thank you, Senator Akaka.
SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS (R-GA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And as always, gentlemen, thank you for your service to our country. We can't state that enough.
And I want to say publicly what I mentioned to you privately before the hearing, that I was in Afghanistan four weeks ago, and had an extensive conversation with General McKiernan and his staff. And while I'm impressed with -- with his leadership, the decision to replace him has been made. And having known General Stan McChrystal for the last decade, there could not have been a better choice to replace him, and I commend you for that. And we look forward to continue to support that effort to make sure that we prevail in Afghanistan.
Secretary Gates, I want to talk to you about the budget. While I agree with a number of the major decisions that you had to make there, and I support your attempts to rebalance our military toward one that better addresses today's threats, but I take issue with your math when you talk about how 50 percent of the budget is for high-end conventional threats, 10 percent for asymmetric, irregular threats, and 40 percent is for a mix of the two.
For example, the B-52 was designed and used for decades in a conventional role. However, we're using it today for close air support in an irregular conflict in Afghanistan.
So there are few if any weapons in our inventory that cannot be applied to irregular warfare.
Regarding the F-22, you have previously said that you are not cutting the F-22 program, but that you are simply completing it, and that DOD's plan to end procurement in FY '09 has been in place for two administrations.
However, it shouldn't matter how long a current procurement plan has been in place. This is not a one-year decision or a two-year decision. This is a 30-year decision, when you look at the legacy aircraft that we're flying today. What matters is procuring the right number based on today's assessment of the requirements as well as the threat.
We had a hearing two weeks ago in which all the witnesses -- two of whom worked at the Pentagon when the 183 number was set -- stated that there has never been any analysis done to justify that number and that it was purely budget-driven. In fact, it was set during a Pentagon budget drill two days before Christmas in 2004.
In your April 6th announcement and in subsequent interviews, you said that the military advice you got was that there was no military requirement beyond 187 and that the Air Force agreed. General Schwartz has commented publicly three times on this issue since your April 6th statement and, quite frankly, none of his comments really support that statement that the military requirement is 187. Also, I've spoken privately with General Schwartz on this issue, and he has told me that his military requirement is for 243, and that he will testify to that publicly, which I expect him to do next week, based upon, particularly, your comments to Senator Inhofe earlier.
In February of this year, General Schwartz went public with his desire for 60 more F-22s, for a total of 243, calling that a moderate- risk force. On April 13, Secretary Donley and General Schwartz wrote that since arriving at the 243 number, the Department of Defense is revisiting scenarios on which the Air Force based its assessment.
Well, last week I found out what that meant. DOD is assuming that F-22s will only be required in one location, and that's the Pacific, and that every F-22 would be available for that scenario. The Air Force disagrees with that assumption and believes -- correctly, in my opinion -- that F-22s may very likely be required in another scenario, which is -- drives a higher number. Secondly, when directly asked the question on April the 15th, General Schwartz said 243 is the military requirement.
Third, I along with six other senators wrote General Schwartz last week on this issue. In his response, he states that 243 F-22s is a moderate-risk force and that 187 is a higher risk. He concludes by saying that while 60 more F-22s are desirable, they are unaffordable; again budget-driven.
General Schwartz has consistently said that while more F-22s are required, they are unaffordable given current budget constraints. That stands in contrast with your statement that there is no military requirement for more than 187 F-22s.
The need for the F-22, from a national security perspective, Mr. Secretary, derives not just from the fifth-generation aircraft, in Russia and China, but at least as much from advanced surface-to-air missiles and their proliferation.
It is clear that advanced surface-to-air missiles, which completely change the air-dominance equation, are not going to be confined to Russia and China forever. And their proliferation is happening now. The F-22 is more capable against these advanced air threats than any other aircraft, including the F-35.
Just this past summer, the Russians parked an SA-20 near Georgia, during the Russia-Georgia conflict, effectively prohibiting any airborne asset from operating within 100 nautical miles.
Only the F-22 could have entered that airspace. And for the record, with a fleet of only 187 F-22s, none of them will be stationed in Europe or be available to support our NATO allies on that continent.
You have often commented that procuring large numbers of F-35s will sustain U.S. air superiority, over the long term, and that the F- 35 is more affordable. Everyone hopes that the F-35 succeeds, including me. But in your plan, the F-35 is a single-point failure.
Any delay to the F-35 results in an even greater gap in our air dominance and greater risk. A GAO report from two months ago is strongly critical of your plan, for the F-35, and calls it a high risk.
No one knows how much the F-35 will cost. It may be cheaper. But the F-35s that we're procuring, in this budget, are going to cost $250 million per copy. And GAO has commented that the cost of the F- 35 may end up being $140 million per copy, ironically the exact same figure that today we're procuring F-22s at.
The last study on this issue, commissioned by your department in 2006, the TACAIR optimization study, concluded that 260 F-22s was the best option.
Now, Mr. Secretary, you and your staff made many of these budget decisions yourselves, and very few, if any, people in the services knew what your decisions were until you announced them. And my question is, that irrespective of what previous administrations have budgeted for, or even what the Air Force leadership recommends, what analysis did you do to arrive at the 187 number? And please describe for me the factors and threat assumptions you used to determine that that number was sufficient.
SEN. CHAMBLISS: Well, to get into a lot of that would take -- take quite a while, and I'm prepared to do that in writing for you. But I would say that this was based on the input from the combatant commanders who are actually going to have to wage these conflicts. There was discussion with the Air Force about this, the Air Force leadership.
I would say that, you know, if you're only talking about the F- 22, there may be merit to some of these arguments, but the fact is the F-22 is not going to be the only aircraft in the TACAIR arsenal. And it does not include the fact that, for example, we are going to be building -- ramping up to 48 Reapers, unmanned aerial vehicles, in this budget. It doesn't take into account the F-35, and the fact is that based on the information given to me before these hearings, the first training squadron for the F-35 at Elgin Air Force Base is on track for 2011.
The additional money for the F-35 in this budget is to provide for a more robust developmental and test program over the next few years to ensure that the program does stay on the anticipated budget.
You know, you can say irregardless of -- or irrespective of previous administrations, but the fact remains two presidents, two secretaries of Defense and two chairmen of the Joint -- three chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have supported the 183 build when you look at the entire TACAIR inventory of the United States.
And when you look at potential threats, for example, in 2020 the United States will have 2,700 TACAIR; China will have 1,700. But of ours, a thousand will be fifth-generation aircraft, including the F-22 and the F-35. And in 2025 that gap gets even bigger.
So the notion that -- that a gap or a United States lead over China alone of 1,700 fifth-generation aircraft in 2025 does not provide additional fifth-generation aircraft, including F-22s to take on a secondary threat, seems to me to be unrealistic.
SEN. CHAMBLISS: Well, my time has long expired, but I would simply say, Mr. Secretary, you noticeably did not mention surface-to- air missiles, which have changed the dynamics of air superiority and air dominance.
And I hope I can stick around for a second round. Thank you, Mr. --
SEC. GATES: I would just say the only defense against surface- to-air missiles is not something that has a pilot in it.
SEN. LEVIN: Perhaps, Secretary, you might want to expand, as you suggested, the -- any answer for the record. You feel free to do that. And that'd be true with other questions, as well.
Thank you -- thank you, Senator Chambliss.
Ben Nelson, Senator Nelson?
SEN. BEN NELSON (D-FL): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you, gentlemen, for being here, and your service.
Mr. Secretary, you said that it's important, in terms of Pakistan, to make sure that it's clear that we are supporting their goals, as opposed to asking them to support our goals. I hope that's a fair approximation of the statement. And as we've talked in the past, benchmarks or mission statements with measurements will help, I think, make that clear if we -- if we frame them in the appropriate fashion so that it -- it is obvious, to not only the Pakistanis but to Americans, what our -- what our mission truly is over there. And I would hope that as -- as they're all developed, that the so-called benchmark approach to Pakistan would make that clear so that we can measure that, they would understand it, and we'll understand as well. I'm not going to ask any questions. That's just a suggestion on my part.
I would like to go to end strength. My colleague and friend, Senator Lieberman, has been pointing out the importance of having sufficient end strength for at least some initial period of time, where it may be -- there may be greater stress on our military, you know, greater requirements, ultimately that might ratchet down just a little bit over time as Iraq ratchets down as well. It may -- we may be able to smooth the relationship.
In the meantime, rather than adding active-duty staff, is it possible that we could have a greater reliance? Considering the fact that stress is there for active duty and Guard and Reserve units, but could we -- could we find ourselves using, in the shorter term, more Guard and Reserve operational units to take care of those peak needs?
I guess -- Admiral?
ADM. MULLEN: Sir, I think one of the decisions that Secretary Gates made when he first took over in, I think, January of '07, in terms of what I call the red lines for deployment, as well as rotation, specifically with the Guard and Reserve, could get out to a one in -- one year out, five years back was a very, very important settling decision.
In -- and as we've moved towards that, we're only -- on the Guard side, we're only out to about one and three, while the goal is still to get out there to one and five.
And so there certainly is room there, but I think it brings into question, you know, the overall balance on the Guard side that we need to support continuity, stability, obviously employment on the outside, all those things. And we've been able to sustain ourselves pretty well at about one and three, getting to that point.
Over the next couple years I don't see a projection that takes us far beyond that. So in terms of significant amount of room, of adding additional units, you'd have to come to the left. And right now the balance seems about right, from that perspective.
On the Reserve side, it's much the same story, because that decision supported that as well.
So there clearly is room there, although I'd worry about adding a significant amount of stress if we started to increase that rotation as well at this point. I'm just not sure how much impact we could have over the next 18 to 24 months, which is a very, very tough time for us, because of the deployments that we have. And we can see, again, as they start to come down overall, you know, I can start to see the light at the end of the tunnel out there in 2010.
SEN. BEN NELSON: Well, we are faced with mental health challenges in the military, both prior to deployment, post-deployment. So what we don't want to do is add further stress at the time we're trying to enforce stress reduction or where the goals will be at odds, obviously. So it is going to be a challenge, and I don't know how this will all play out, but we are going to have to consider the stress implications. One further question about Pakistan. In '02 several of us went to Islamabad and met with President Musharraf shortly after the taking out of the Taliban in Afghanistan.
And at that time we asked the question, and I've raised this before, how certain he was that they had the security of all their nuclear weapons under control? And how certain was he that it was under control? And he said about 95 percent certain.
With what we've done since then, are we closer to 100 percent, Admiral Mullen, do you think, based on what you just said earlier?
ADM. MULLEN: Well I wouldn't pick a number, Senator Nelson. But we have -- and in fact --
SEN. NELSON: Are you more comfortable now than you were before?
ADM. MULLEN: President Musharraf committed to a significant increase in resources from the United States and expertise in his security force has increased dramatically in size and it has gotten a lot better.
So, that's why, at this point, I'm comfortable. I also have discussed these issues with the military leadership, General Kiyani, and certainly received some comfort there.
But as I also indicated, there's a -- we're limited in what we actually know. This is a sovereign country, they're very protective of those nuclear weapons, which I also understand. So I think we have to continue to move forward to assist, try to understand better.
They have a personal liability program that's two to three years old. I've been in the personal liability program in our own country for plus four decades and so that really speaks to the beginning of their program and I think that's got to continue to improve.
SEN. NELSON: And, of course, it's fair for them to point out and ask whether we're 100 percent certain that our weapons are at any one time as well, given the recent incidents.
One further question; former Ambassador Durrani, and you and I have spoken about him, Admiral, indicated that giving them money to help their military is appreciated but that they really need some of the more sophisticated weapons that we have, UAVs and other kinds of higher, more technologically advanced weapons, which we're sort of reluctant to turn over for technology purposes, that if they had that kind of technology they could do a better job of routing the Taliban and the other forces up in the largely ungoverned areas. Have we made any progress in being able to deal with General Kiyani and provide more sophisticated weapons?
ADM. MULLEN: We have a much more comprehensive program then we had a year ago. So we've improved in our support and focus on getting them maintenance support for their helicopters, which have lousy, what we call FMC rates, flying rates, readiness rates to support that.
We've -- we're working through night vision goggles and trying to get them into the night.
We are also working on the training side so that when you get some of these capabilities you actually know how to plan to be able to use them. And I spoke a little bit to that earlier. We see that routinely.
So there's a much more comprehensive effort. It's going to take some time. I think we have to be more patient in getting there. But I'm actually optimistic that it's improving. I don't think the solution is just turn over high tech weapons because they're going to struggle on how to use them and that would be natural for any of us.
SEN. NELSON: Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. LEVIN: Thank you, Senator Nelson.
SEN. JOHN THUNE (R-SD): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And Mr. Secretary, Admiral, Mr. Hale, thank you very much for all of your service to our country and performing difficult jobs in good times, these are difficult times and we appreciate your great leadership.
Mr. Secretary, I want to raise an issue with you which probably comes as no surprise but on April the 7th at a media roundtable you said that the 2010 Defense budget recommendations that you announced on April the 6th are, quote, "basically an outgrowth of the positions that I've been taking in speeches for the last 18 months and that your decisions didn't spring all of a sudden full grown out of the brow of Zeus in the last three months", end quote.
But I think it's fair to say that the decision on the next generation bomber must have sprung full grown out of the brow of Zeus in the last three months.
And I want to point back to something you said eight months ago during a speech at the National Defense University where you said that China's, and again I quote, "investments in cyber and anti-satellite war, anti-air, and anti-ship weaponry, submarines and ballistic missiles that threaten America's primary means to project power and help allies in the Pacific. This will put a premium on America's ability to strike from over the horizon and deploy missile defenses and will require shifts from short range to long range systems such as the next generation bomber", end quote.
And you use virtually the same language in an article for the first quarter 2009 edition of Joint Force Quarterly, as well as in a Foreign Affairs article in January of this year.
And so, for several months prior to that April 6th announcement you had established a clear record of support for the next generation bomber. On April the 6th you announced that the department would not pursue a development program for the follow on Air Force bomber.
My question is what changed between January and April to make you question the need for the next generation bomber? And how do you reconcile clearly positions that are contradictory with regard to that weapons system?
SEC. GATES: Actually, this is one of the issues, Senator, that -- where I felt we did not have enough analysis to make a firm decision. And so as one of the issues that will be addressed in both the Quadrennial Defense Review and the Nuclear Posture Review.
My own personal view is we probably do need a follow on bomber but I think we need to see what -- if you look at both of those studies, the QDR and the Nuclear Posture Review, and you observe what is going on in the arms control negotiations with Russia in particular on nuclear forces, I think all of those things will shape what decision needs to be made with respect to a next generation bomber.
One of the reasons that I said we would cancel the studies or the effort that was underway at the time was based on consultation with the chairman, the vice-chairman and others. Our concern was that if we didn't do that that when these studies were done there would be kind of a linear projection of the thinking that had existed before the studies were done in terms of exactly what kind of plane should be built.
One of the things I think we need to think about is whether, for example, the follow on bomber needs to have a pilot in it. And so I think that -- I -- this is one of those issues that I didn't make a decision against going forward with the next generation bomber but rather said let's wait and see what the result -- let's examine this in the QDR and in the Nuclear Posture Review and then make a decision on where we go with the next generation bomber.
SEN. THUNE: Well, in response to a question that was posed by Senator Inhofe earlier, you said that the last QDR, the 2006 QDR, shaped and informed a lot of your decisions and the 2006 QDR directed the Air Force to field a follow on bomber by the year 2018. And so I guess my question is what part of that QDR has been invalidated or what has changed in terms of the threat based analysis that, in your mind, modifies or changes that requirement? I mean, it was pretty well articulated in the 2006 QDR, that's actually what helped shape many of your decisions with respect to some of these decisions that you made recently.
SEC. GATES: Well, I mean, the reality is that we have a lot more experience in the last two to three years with unmanned aerial vehicles than they had at the time that the last QDR was put together.
Also, we basically weren't going anywhere at the last time of the last QDR in terms of significant potential further arms reductions with the Russians. And I think depending on where those numbers come out it's going to affect how we shape the triad or whether -- or raise the question whether we still need a triad, depending on the number of deployed weapons that -- nuclear weapons that we need.
SEN. THUNE: It doesn't seem like that those discussions with Russia though ought to have an impact on whether or not we're developing the next generation bomber. And secondly, I mean, I think that -- and you've had experience in some of those arms reductions negotiations in the past -- if they are supposed to conclude by the end of this year, I'd be very surprised if they will and this could extend sometime into the future.
So, you know, making a decision like this right now, I guess to me it becomes a question of whether or not this is driven more by budget decisions and trying to get under the top line of the Defense budget or whether it's driven by requirements.
And I guess that would be my question, I mean, is this a decision that -- did OMB say you've got to terminate this program?
SEC. GATES: No, I don't remember what their pass back said. But, frankly, I took some of their suggestions from the pass back and didn't take a lot of others. This actually didn't really have a -- this really was not a top line or a budget driven figure because the amount of money in the budget for FY '10 for a next generation bomber was very small.
SEN. THUNE: Well, if I -- do you have -- what did the Air Force recommend on this, for their -- (inaudible) -- for 2010?
SEC. GATES: I --
MR. HALE: Well I think, actually, I think they had it in until these decisions were made.
But, I mean, if I could just speak a little to this, and this actually goes to Senator Chambliss's comments as well, is, I mean, we're at a real time of transition here in terms of the future of aviation. And the whole issue of what's going to be manned and what's going to be unmanned, what's going to be stealthy, what isn't, how do we address these threats?
threats? This is all part -- and it's changing, even -- (audio break) -- until these decisions are made.
I mean, if I could just speak a little to this -- and this actually goes to Senator Chambliss' comments as well, is, I mean, we're in a real time of transition here, in terms of the future of aviation. And the whole issue of what's going to be manned and what's going to be unmanned; what's going to be stealthy, what isn't; how do we address these threats, this is all part -- it's changing, even from 2006. And I think, you know, from a warfighting perspective, I think this is at the heart of what we need to look at for the future, whether it's fighters or bombers, quite frankly.
And I think that's -- you know, that's been the essence of this discussion, despite analysis which may have been out there in the past, or some other requirement, and a Service requirement which, quite frankly, is a Service requirement -- it doesn't make it a Department of Defense requirement, necessarily.
So, what the aviation side of this is, I think, is very much focused on this change. And I think we're at the beginning of this change. I mean, there are those that see JSF as the last manned fighter -- or fighter-bomber, or jet. And I'm one of -- you know, I'm one that's inclined to believe that. I don't know if that's exactly right. But, this all speaks to the change that goes out, you know, many -- obviously, decades, including how much unmanned we're going to have and how it's going to be resourced.
SEN. THUNE: We've had all -- I shouldn't say all, we've had a lot of combatant commanders in front of this committee who've testified of the need for this capability, and also to the concern about the aging fleet, and the fact that half of our bombers are pre- Cuban Missile Crisis era bombers, and being able to persist and penetrate some of the more sophisticated air defense systems that we're expecting to encounter in the future. So, it seems like it's a very, very relevant, real-time question.
But, I guess my final question is this. What I hear you saying is, you are still analyzing and looking at this. What OMB's budget said was, "terminate." So, is this delayed? Is this terminated? What is the status of --
SEC. GATES: The program that was on the books is terminated. The idea of a next-generation bomber, as far as I'm concerned, is a very open question. And the recommendation will come out of the Quadrennial Defense Review and the Nuclear Posture Review.
And I don't want -- I certainly don't want to leave the impression that the Russians are going to help us decide whether or not we have a next-generation bomber. What I was trying to say is, when we end up with -- if it looks like we're headed for a lower number of deployed nuclear weapons, then we will have to make a recommendation to the president, and to you, how we allocate those weapons among missiles, submarines and aircraft.
SEN. LEVIN: Thank you.
SEN. THUNE: Chairman, my time's up. Thank you.
SEN. LEVIN: Thank you, Senator Thune.
SEN. EVAN BAYH (R-IN): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Gentlemen, thank you.
Mr. Secretary, I would like to congratulate you on submitting this reform budget. Frankly, it's about time we ended business as usual in this area. The country's security requires it and the taxpayers deserve it. So, I want to express my gratitude to you.
It seems to me this submission is a lot more honest than some we've seen in the past, in terms of up-front and candidly addressing the security concerns we face, rather than trying to hide a lot of it in the supplemental. We're going to, you know, set priorities; find resources; allocate them. You're doing that, rather than, sort of, pretending that some of these things don't exist, and piling up the debts and the deficits through the previous mechanism. So, I thank you for that.
This seems like it's a lot more effective in terms of addressing the challenges of today and tomorrow, rather than the legacy challenges. I've listened to some of my colleagues, if we're going to ask the Pakistanis to do that then perhaps we should do that as well. And it seems to me your budget moves us in that direction.
And finally, I like the fiscal discipline that we brought to this area. I think you're forthrightly recognizing the fiscal and economic challenges that we face in making some of the hard decisions that are required. And, you know, if these decisions were easy, they would have been made a long time ago. So, and any time you make hard decisions there are going to be some questions and concerns raised.
But, frankly, the whole procurement process and the acquisition process, too often in the past, has verged on the scandalous. Not in terms of overt correction, but in terms of delivering things too late, too far over-budget, and that do too little to address our security needs. So, this has been an issue that's been out there, that's just been kind of put off. And I salute you for addressing it.
I often remark to my constituents that if any business had been run the way the procurement and acquisition activities have been run, it would have gone out of business a long time ago. And yet it's been kind of continuing on in this way. And so you're taking the bull by the horns and I thank you for that.
I've got a couple of questions. I think the overall funding was going to be up -- what, 4.1 percent? Is that an accurate figure?
SEC. GATES: About 4 percent. Real growth is 2.1 percent.
SEN. BAYH: Correct.
Can you share with the public, the taxpayers -- I mean, if we just kind of continue, without some of these hard decisions you've made, if we just kind of continued along with business as usual, what would it have been? Or, I guess another way to put it: How much are we actually saving the taxpayers by instituting some of these reforms that you proposed? Is there any way to quantify that, Mr. Hale?
MR. HALE: Roughly, $20 billion, I'd say, in fiscal '10, associated with the "net effects." There were a number of adds, as the Secretary has said, focused on the regular warfare, and a number of cuts, and we're at around $20 billion, or so.
That was a substantial amount of money. The out-years --
SEN. BAYH: And so that's one year, and then that would compound over, you know, a (few more ?) years?
MR. HALE: Yes, although it will depend on decisions that we make beyond fiscal '10.
SEN. BAYH: Is it still true, Mr. Secretary, that the amount that we're spending next year will, in the aggregate, be more than all of our likely adversaries combined? It used to be that way. And the reason I ask the question is, if that's true, what we're really facing is not a question of the amount of resources but how we most effectively allocate them to meet the challenges that we face.
Is it still true that we appropriate more for national security and defense than all our likely adversaries combined?
SEC. GATES: Yes. But, let me just add two things to that.
First of all, more than any other country we have global interests and we have allies around the world who depend on us for their security. So, I mean, that's one of the reasons why we spend as much as we do. SEN. BAYH: To be sure. I was just trying to put it in perspective.
I don't think we've been -- we're allocating what we need to to protect the country and take care of some of these other interests. And it was by way of, again, saying we need to allocate the resources effectively to meet the likely threats, and deal with some of the legacy issues and reform issues. And I think you've done that.
One of the --
SEC. GATES: Senator, let me just --
SEN. BAYH: Yeah.
SEC. GATES: -- interject that -- just to provide some perspective: Last summer, as the economy was deteriorating, I told Admiral Mullen that no matter who was elected, I thought we'd be lucky if we got the FY '09 number -- (audio break) -- plus inflation.
SEN. BAYH: And we have real growth.
SEC. GATES: And we've got 2 percent real growth.
SEN. BAYH: Good.
From time to time, in the past, I've asked about the Predators, and Reapers, and that kind of thing, and not because we produce a whole lot of that in Indiana but because it was a weapons system that's actually helping us in real time, facing some of the challenges that we've had. And on some of my visits to the theater, some of the commanders have expressed a -- they'd like a greater capacity in that area.
Admiral, if you and the secretary -- have we asked for everything we need in this area?
SEC. GATES: We'll both answer. This is one of the significant growth areas in the budget. We will "ramp" to build 48 Reapers a year during this budget. We have maxed-out the Predator line. But, mostly there's a transition here from the Predator to the Reaper and Warriors, and so on.
But, in these areas they have played such a vital role in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and have such application in so many other places that we are really placing a major bet in this area. Let the Admiral.
ADM. MULLEN: And what's oftentimes now outpacing this -- and I want to give General Schwartz and the Air Force leadership a lot of credit, because you've got to create pilots, people to fly; you've got to have a training program; you've got to have sites to do that. And so we're doing all that as we're creating a significant additional capability in-theatre.
And as I go around the world, actually, there are now a lot of other countries asking for some of this.
SEN. BAYH: I had been my --
SEC. GATES: But, I would have to tell you, in terms of motivating a workforce, it's not as much fun to fly a plane with the joystick on the ground as it is up in the air.
SEN. BAYH: Well, I was just going to say, my impression, with regard to the pilot shortage, I mean, you get into the agency, and some other area -- they were not experiencing quite same shortage. And it looked like it was the career path -- people wanting to be in cockpit, that was leading to some of the shortage. Which is understandable, but, you know, if we have a current need, and we have a real conflict going on today, well, you know -- (audio break) -- perhaps some of that needs to be deferred, and we need to get people operating these things, and get, you know, get enough more pilots.
So, you're comfortable we're addressing that issue?
ADM. MULLEN: Yes, sir. Yes, sir.
SEC. GATES: Yeah, General Schwartz really has -- (audio break) -- (shown ?) a lot of leadership in this area.
SEN. BAYH: Good.
Well, that's -- my time is up. That's all -- (audio break) -- (I would just urge you to ?) stay the course. You know, you're going to hear, you know, -- (audio break) -- the decisions. It's not -- (audio break) -- and urge you to stay with it.
SEN. LEVIN: Thank you, Senator Bayh.
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R-ME): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
(Audio break) -- Secretary Gates, Admiral Mullen, let me begin by first thanking you both for your extraordinary service. Our country is -- (audio break) -- very fortunate to have -- (audio break) -- at the helm of the Pentagon.
I so appreciate -- (audio break) -- (that your first ?) priority is the well-being of our troops, because that's my priority as well. And that is why I was troubled to read a Press story last week that U.S. troops are being -- (audio break) -- rushed to Afghanistan so quickly that they do not -- (audio break) -- would precede the deployment of the troops. And this struck me particularly because I recently attended a sendoff ceremony for a Maine National Guard unit that is being deployed to Afghanistan.
Secretary Gates, you're quoted in the story as saying that the equipment delay is of considerable concern and that you were going to pursue it upon your return. Could you tell us, first, how did this gap occur? And what kind of equipment are we talking about? And second, what is being done to ensure that our brave men and women in uniform have the equipment and the protection that they need to accomplish this very dangerous mission?
SEC. GATES: Well, I indicated, Senator, at the outset in my opening statement that I listen a lot to troops and commanders in the field. And this impression that you quote of mine came from, first of all, a Q&A session that I had with a couple of hundred soldiers at Camp Leatherneck, and one young soldier put up his hand and said, "When am I going to get my communications equipment?" And one of his superior officers nudged one of my staff and said, "It's sitting outside the gate; we just haven't given it to him yet."
The larger concern that I had was at a lunch with captains and first sergeants where they described a gap between the people arriving on scene, the troops arriving and the equipment following behind them. And it's not clear to me how big a problem or whether we have a problem. And what I've asked is General Petraeus to look at this and to give me a report on it and see if there's anything that we need to be doing.
I think that -- and the admiral may be able to provide some enlightenment on this, but my impression is that the equipment arrival is sequenced so that they get a lot of the personal equipment that they need pretty quickly after they get there, and then the vehicles are coming in about a week or two behind that. But I think they've got it pretty well under control, given the magnitude of the logistical challenge.
There's also the issue of infrastructure, which is being built sort of as this stuff is coming in. And so sequencing all of that, I think, is pretty complicated, but I am expecting a report from General Petraeus on whether we have a real problem or not or whether everything is really pretty much going as planned.
SEN. COLLINS: Thank you.
Admiral, do you have --
ADM. MULLEN: Senator Collins, I, just out there a couple of weeks ago, met with hundreds of soldiers, both in big bases and out on the FOBs. And this issue, it really didn't come up. That said, it's come up frequently enough in recent days to certainly warrant a look.
General Petraeus's early cut at this is exactly as the secretary said, that there is a plan, and the equipment is arriving, you know, on a plan shortly after they get there, whether it's personal or the vehicles. But we'll take a very close look at it. I'm not familiar with the Maine Guard issue, and I'll go pull the string on that specifically.
SEN. COLLINS: I didn't mean to imply that there's a problem with the Maine Guard in particular.
ADM. MULLEN: Okay.
SEN. COLLINS: It's just the issue is very much on my mind because they've just been deployed, and I was concerned about this story.
Admiral, I know how concerned you are about the mental health needs of our troops, an issue we've discussed and an issue that many of us have brought up today. Can you tell me if we are now doing screening for both traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress syndrome upon the return of our troops stateside?
ADM. MULLEN: The post-traumatic stress screening is routinely occurring both on return -- although I have less faith in that than I do the 90 to 120 days after they return, which seems to be about the right window. And that is being done across the board. One, I'm told that by all units, and every unit that I am with, and asked that question. That's when it's going on.
The TBI issue occurs both in theater -- every unit goes through an immediate assessment, and then if someone goes through an explosion and then decisions are made on the ground about whether they continue or whether they go back to the FOB and are there for a few days and then return to the fight or, in fact, get returned to higher medical care. And so there is routine screening for that.
I was taken the other day -- I saw a piece where the Marine Corps is now looking at limiting after, I think, three IEDs or three explosions, and that's a very tough call. I mean, clearly, how many of these can you sustain without severe damage is a question. Everybody's focused on that. And I think that indicates -- you know, what the Marine Corps in specific is doing indicates the seriousness with which we all take this. But we also don't have all the answers. This is an area that we continue to need a lot of medical research on and longer-term answer and care.
SEN. COLLINS: Thank you.
Mr. Chairman, I know my time has expired, but I just want to re- emphasize the point that Secretary Gates made about the need to have more mental health professionals providing this care. It's a particular problem in large rural states like mine.
SEN. LEVIN: Thank you so much, Senator Collins. I think you speak for every member of the committee in terms of the concern that we provide adequate mental health screening and assistance. And I think you've heard it from many of us, but that, I think, reflects the views of every member of the committee and probably every American.
SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D-MO): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
First, Secretary Gates, before I argue with you, let me compliment you. I think you're a national treasure. And the reason I think you're a national treasure is I'm completely confident sitting here that the recommendations you're making today would have been the same, regardless of who was elected. And I think that's exactly what we need in our government, and I compliment you for it.
I also want to compliment you for your acquisition decisions as it relates to this budget. We will never get a handle on the billions of dollars that we have wasted in contracting until we make the investment in the personnel that have the skills and the ability to look over these contractors' shoulders.
They've been operating in a -- it's like the wild, wild West the way these contractors have been operating during our conflict in Iraq. And the only way that we're going to police them is by bringing some new sheriffs to town. And I appreciate the fact that you're making a commitment to that.
I want to briefly -- before I get into my arguing with you, I want to briefly also bring to your attention a story that concerned me yesterday in The New York Times about Dr. Kuklow (sp). As we approach health care reform, there is this furry, fuzzy line between pharmaceutical companies and the practice of medicine in this country as it relates to consulting fees and being paid.
And it was reported yesterday that one of our Army doctors at Walter Reed had fraudulently done surveys and studies on behalf of a private pharmaceutical company. And what really offends me about that is that potentially he was using data from our wounded warriors. And I urge you to look into that personally.
I know you brought some accountability to Walter Reed after the last scandal there. I want to make sure that our doctors there are reflecting the finest, because I know they are the finest, and I know they do great work. And so I would ask you to look into that. Okay, now what I want to argue with you about. I understand the decisions you're making as it relates to transition on stealth and unmanned and all that. But I think I'm stating factually we have a gap in fighters. If we're going to do 11 carriers, which it's my understanding you're recommending 11 carriers --
SEC. GATES: Till 2040.
SEN. MCCASKILL: Okay. Till 2040 we've got 11 carriers. We have a gap. We have the JSF, which is over-cost, behind schedule, unproven. We have an F-18 that is around $50 million a copy versus the JSF, which is around $135 million a copy now. Who's to say what it'll end up being, but that's what it is now. And we've got this gap of 200 or more fighters on our carriers.
And I'm curious, with my auditor's hat on, knowing the cost savings of a multiyear procurement, knowing of that gap, knowing of the capability and how used the F-18 is, why we would not be looking at a multiyear procurement to fill in that gap as we approach the JSF down the line.
SEC. GATES: Let me give an initial response and then invite Admiral Mullen and Mr. Hale to comment.
As you know, we have money for 31 F-18s in the FY '10 budget. The tac air issue is one that is going to be looked at more broadly in the Quadrennial Defense Review, and I think that will give us a better picture of how many more F-18s that particularly the Navy wants to buy and over what period of time.
And so we have not been prepared to go forward with a multiyear contract, partly because, under the present terms, as I understand it, the production line was shut down in FY '12. If the decision is made, as a result of the QDR, to continue the buy of F-18s beyond that, then a multiyear contract would make all kinds of sense.
So I think it's just an issue of the longer-range question. And it really goes to part of the answer that I gave to Senator Chambliss, and that is, how many tac air aircraft we need and are required depends on whether you're looking at it from a force structure standpoint in terms of how many do we need to service the units that we have now, whether they're ships or Air Force units, or are you looking at it from a threat-based basis in terms of how many, what kind of aircraft are the Chinese or the Russians or the others prepared to have?
But basically, the reason we have simply delayed the idea of a multi-year contract until we see what comes out of the QDR.
ADM. MULLEN: Ma'am, the numbers are not consistent. I mean, the input I have is this shortfall, somewhere between 60 and 120, multi- year is exactly the right answer if you're going to keep the line open. That's a decision that hasn't been made. We've had multi-year buys with this airplane, as you know. It always wasn't 50 million. We got to multi-years to get it down to actually less than 50 million fly-away at one point in time. So the tough question here is the one I know we're all dealing with, it's, how long do you keep this line open?
There's a Growler piece of this, an E-18 jeep piece of this as well. How many of those do we need? And I think that's the subject of the review. Longer-term, you know, we're going to transition to JSF. And certainly, the projected cost down the road for JSF is a lot less than 135. I know where we are in the program. I know there is risk associated with it, so we'll see. But I don't see a program, a long-term JSF program that gets us to $150 million a copy. That just isn't where we've had the program before.
So we're taking some risk now. That's been a decision that's associated with this. And we need to really do the analysis to see how we're going to fill up these decks. Right now for the next seven or eight or nine years, we've got enough airplanes to fill up those 10 carrier air wings.
SEN. MCCASKILL: Well, I know the multi-year saves $1 billion. That's real money. I want to make sure that we're not -- you know, if we know we're going to need more than one year that we're not avoiding the multi-year when we're going to come back and do it anyway. And then finally, the one overarching policy here, you know, we're all arguing for jobs in our states, which is expected, especially right now in this economy. I mean, the fact that the C-17 and the F-18 are on the line in my state with what we're going through in terms of manufacturing job loss is incredibly scary. And I guess the overarching policy that you all have to figure out here is, do we want just one tactical aircraft company in America?
That F-18 is driving the cost down of at JSF. It's keeping them honest. If we only have -- and we're going to fight between Lockheed and Boeing, and Georgia and Texas and Missouri and Washington, and we're going to do that. But the bottom line is, if we only have one, eventually what does that mean for future costs? What does that mean for the possibility of future competition? And I think that's an overarching policy decision that you guys have to embrace right now as you look at this transition to the next generation.
SEC. GATES: And the key question for us is, in order to keep a competitive base, how much stuff do we buy that we know we don't need?
SEN. MCCASKILL: And I understand completely.
SEC. GATES: Because everything that I buy that I don't need takes $1 away from someplace where I do need it.
SEN. MCCASKILL: That's why I think these are the hard decisions. But ultimately, if we end up with just one tactical aircraft company in this country, your successor 20, 30 years down the line and the people that sit in these chairs then are going to have much higher price tags and I think ultimately have much more of a security risk. So I understand the dilemma, but I want to make sure we're focused on both parts of it.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. LEVIN: Thank you very much, Senator McCaskill.
SEN. MEL MARTINEZ (R-FL): Chairman, thank you very much.
Gentlemen, thank you, all, very, very much. Having sat in your chair, I understand that at about this time, everybody wants to look for the exit door. But anyway, I'll be brief. I want to associate myself with the comments from Senator Bayh. I think that he spoke eloquently and well. And I wholeheartedly agree with the comments he had to make.
I want to ask you about he joint cargo aircraft and, obviously on the same theme of parochial interest, I was also intrigued as to where we are on that. It was to be utilized by the Air Force as well as the Army. I know that the Florida National Guard is keenly interested in this aircraft. And the decision to only procure as would be needed for the Air Force but not procure those that would be used by the Army was made in this budget. And I just wonder where we are on that issue and what the thinking was behind it.
SEC. GATES: First of all, the decision for the buy of joint cargo aircrafts, the C-27, to move from the Army to the Air Force actually was an agreement that was reached between General Casey and General Schwartz. The admiral and I were kind of witnesses to it but not a part of it. But with respect to the joint cargo aircraft, again it gets back to, what is the need? The reality is the C-27 is a niche player. It has half the payload of a C-130. It costs two-thirds as much as a C- 130. It can use just 1 percent more airfields than a C-130. We have over 200 C-130s in the Air National Guard that are uncommitted and available for use for any kind of domestic need or otherwise out of a fleet of 424 of the C-130s.
So the question is then, how many joint cargo aircraft do you need? We've budgeted for 38 which basically would recapitalize the Army's C-23 Sherpa aircraft. This mobility issue, though, is one we are going to look at in the Quadrennial Defense Review in terms of the relative balance between heavy-lift helicopters, the C-27 joint cargo aircraft and C-130s.
All I know is that I have a great deal of unused capacity in the C-130 fleet, and how does that fit with the joint cargo aircraft? And that's what we're going to be looking at.
SEN. MARTINEZ: Not to argue the point, I appreciate what you're saying precisely. I just wondered about that last tactical mile, and the Army seemed to be very excited about the utilization that this aircraft would have. And my impression was, and it appears to be wrong, was that there was a tremendously more versatile aircraft that could land in many more places than the C-130. If it was only 1 percent, I fully understand your point.
SEC. GATES: The C-130s can land at about 99 percent of the airstrips of the C-27. But there is one thing that does need to change, and happily, General Schwartz fully understands it, and that is if the Air Force is going to carry out this kind of support for the Army, their culture and their approach to the way they do it is going to have to change. Their attitude, for example, is sort of like a moving company. I'm not leaving the warehouse until I've got a full load. And sometimes the Army needs a much shorter or much less than a full load, but they need it and they need it promptly. Where the joint cargo aircraft works best is when there are like three pallets or less, basically small loads.
So the whole Air Force approach to how they support the Army is going to have to change if they're going to take on this joint support role for the Army. General Schwartz is prepared to do that. I think General Casey is prepared to have the Air Force do it. But they are going to have to work very closely together to figure out how to make it work. And that's regardless of how many C-27s we end up buying.
SEN. MARTINEZ: Admiral Mullen, I wanted to ask you about ship building. I met with Admiral Roughead in the last couple of days. He still seems to be committed to a 313-ship fleet. Does that continue to be the case? What do you see in the 30-year-out ship-building plan as well as what is in this current upcoming budget? ADM. MULLEN: Well, he is very committed to that, as am I, that that is the standing analysis. And when actually I did that analysis, you know, my comments were that was a floor, you know, that was what we saw as sort of a minimum. Clearly, he's changed strategies with respect to how he wants to get there. And as the CNO, I understand his position with respect to that.
But I remain concerned about the industrial base in ship building, stability there. The strategic relationship between, you know, Congress, the contractors, the Department of Defense is critical so that they can predict and build ships at a lower cost. So I'm concerned that we can't keep changing how we're going to do this. This budget, I think, has nine ships in it, including one for the Army and JHSV. Too often we, as has been pointed out, you get to projections in the out years that never show up in the execution years, although there's a considerable a lot more money invested in ship building than we've had in the past. And I think that's healthy.
So I think -- (audio break) -- the '10 budget, I think, puts advanced procurement in the LPD -- the 11th LPD -- delays the 11th LPD until fiscal year '11 and I supported that decision.
I think one of the things we've got to look at -- we're going to look at in the QDR is the whole issue lift -- amphibious ship support, how we're going to fight in the future.
I'm very supportive from a fighting perspective of a brigade- entry kind of force that the commandant has talked about. I think there's a question of how much ship support do you need to actually get there. The analysis that I think will be done in the QDR will help us form the answer to that.
SEN. MARTINEZ: Thank you. My time's up.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. LEVIN: Thank you, Senator Martinez.
SEN. MARK UDALL (D-CO): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Good morning, gentlemen -- Secretary Gates, Admiral Mullen. It's wonderful to have you here today. And along with everybody else on the committee, I want to thank you for your service. It's clear we need steady leadership during these difficult, challenging times and you're clearly providing it.
Secretary Gates, I'd like to also thank you -- I know the joint chiefs were there and the battalions and brigades and divisions of people you have working for you over at the Pentagon in creating the budget. Some call it a reform budget. I know you've had to make some relay tough choices, and I don't know that I agree with all of them, but I do admire your efforts. And I agree with your broad priorities, which I think you've listed as the following -- and I agree with them -- which is to focus on our people, rebalance to improve our capabilities to fight the wars of today -- the 21st century, and reforming our acquisition process. So let me start with those general comments.
If I could, I'd like to move to a question on rotary wing aircraft, otherwise known as helicopters. I've been told we need more helicopters in Afghanistan. Secretary Gates, you indicate in your testimony that the problem is not the number of helicopters available, that inadequate personnel available then affects the availability of helicopters.
Admiral Mullen you, I believe last week, were quoted as saying that we need more helicopters in the fight, that we're finding it very difficult for lots of reasons to generate more helicopters and to figure out how to get more helicopters for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq must be determined by the creative genius of those in the services.
Would you both be willing to discuss those comments and your point of view in this important area?
SEC. GATES: Sure. Let me start.
First of all, there's $500 million more -- a plus up of $500 million for rotary lift in the '10 budget. It is not all for additional personnel, but a lot of it is to increase the training throughput.
The analysis that we were given during this budget process was that the principle, but not only obstacle, to getting more helicopters into the field was a shortage of both pilots and maintenance crews and so there's a lot.
And I went down to Fort Rucker a couple of weeks ago. And I suspect that a fair amount -- some considerable part of this money is going to be spent in improving and expanding the schoolhouse for both crews and pilots at Fort Rucker and elsewhere for the Army, because the focus in this has been namely on the Army.
There is additional money in the budget for helicopters. But I think, frankly, one of the challenges we face -- and I don't know the exact percentage -- but a huge percentage of the helicopters available to our forces are in the reserves. And I don't know for sure, because the admiral and I haven't talked about it, but I would suspect that at least one consideration -- when he was talking about the creative genius of the services -- is how do we access some of that capability? But let me ask him.
SEN. UDALL: Yeah, Admiral, if you'd comment. You've used the term "lots of reasons".
ADM. MULLEN: Well, I mean, it speaks to the -- actually, it speaks to the 200 C-130s that are back here when I've got needs somewhere else. It speaks to the -- you know, my priority right now -- and I said this in my statement -- is my number one operational priority is Afghanistan. That's people, training, equipment -- everything I need. So at some times, it's difficult to reconcile that priority with services who are in a routine and supportive in so many ways. But when I have an extraordinary number of -- thousands of helicopters back here in the states -- and many of them in the Guard and Reserve, as the secretary said -- how can I access them? I mean, historically, I haven't been able to do it, except when I deploy a unit that goes to fly those helicopters.
And there are clearly, on the Guard side, state needs that have to be supported. So there's a balance there.
Can I get more Navy helicopters to displace Army helicopters, that are doing something else in support, that I can put in the fight, for example? The same would be true of the Air Force.
So I've asked the Navy and the Air Force to look for ways to create -- become more creative about how we train, how we take some and take some risk I some areas back here in the services so that we can support the fight.
The answer for me isn't always just go buy more. It can't be! We've got to use the ones -- I can't buy a lot more helicopters over the next 12 to 18 months. I need them in the fight now. So it's that piece of it that's very -- and having been a service chief, I understand this. And my perspective now, from the joint point of view, is much different.
So how can I -- how can the services become more creative in how they're doing business to support the fight.
SEN. UDALL: That's helpful. I don't know exactly the limits to what the committee can do. But the passion with -- you both responded suggest to me this is important and necessary and needed.
I'm also reminded on the House side -- and I think it was repeated over here in the last year -- that what we'll saying we'll do in the Iraq what we must and will do in Afghanistan what we can. And I hear you, Admiral, saying now we have to in Afghanistan what we must.
ADM. MULLEN: Yes, sir.
SEN. UDALL: Is that accurate?
ADM. MULLEN: Absolutely.
SEN. UDALL: If I might in the last couple minutes I have, turn back to Pakistan and direct a question at both of you: The Congress is considering -- and I know the chairman alluded to this in his questions and comments -- what sorts of limitations and conditions we put on U.S. security systems for Pakistan. I'm curious if you -- either of you have alternative approaches or other ideas about how we balance out our needs for benchmarks for conditions, but also understanding the political situation that we face in Pakistan.
SEC. GATES: Well, let me just comment briefly, because as I said earlier, Admiral Mullen is much more familiar with Pakistan than I am.
The one thing that we both find ourselves saying to our colleagues in the executive branch, as well as to folks up here, is that we're going to have to be patient. Things are going -- and it's not unlike both Iraq and Afghanistan. Things are not going to develop or move in the direction we want any of those places as fast as we want it to move.
And so I think that going back to Senator Ben Nelson's comments on measures of effectiveness, I think we have to be able to measure, in fact, whether they are moving in the right direction and take comfort from that. Do what we can diplomatically and in other ways -- and frankly, you're all -- all of you visiting places like Islamabad and underscoring these needs in terms of what our expectations of them are, are helpful.
But I think we have to be realistic about it and understand that it's going to take longer. And so I'm not speaking to any specific proposed restrictions, because I'm probably not familiar with the array that may be out there or being suggested up here. But I encourage you to give the president as much flexibility as you can in this, because we are in fact dealing with a sovereign state with a history.
ADM. MULLEN: There's a growing recognition in Pakistan that, you know, more specific visible accountability for the money that we are supplying and resources has -- they've got to get better. My view is that's not going to happen as quickly as we'd like it, but they recognize that.
I think at the heart of all this is a question of whether we want a long-term relationship with Pakistan. How important is that? And as the secretary said, I argued for the patience. It's not going to happen as fast. It can be very frustrating. I think that relationship, in terms of that part of the world, is absolutely vital. And as I indicated earlier, they do as the question, you left before. Are you going to leave again? And it's going to take them awhile, I think, to convince them we're not -- if indeed, that in fact, is our strategy.
SEN. UDALL: Thank you very much, gentlemen.
SEN. LEVIN: Thank you, Senator Udall.
Senator Graham. SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Secretary, what are the NATO nations doing in terms of their defense spending over the next five years?
SEC. GATES: Well, I don't --
SEN. GRAHAM: Do you -- is there a general trend? Is it up or down?
SEC. GATES: I don't know about the next five years, Senator, but I know that at this point I think there are only six NATO nations that meet the agreed NATO threshold of a minimum of 2 percent of GDP devoted to defense.
SEN. GRAHAM: Well, that's very disturbing, because people accuse us of being unilateral at times, but they have to have the capacity to help us. And our budget, I think, needs to understand that we are the arsenal of democracy, like it or not.
What is the current GDP spending on Defense now, including all supplementals?
Mr. Hale, would you know?
SEC. GATES: Four-point-six.
SEN. GRAHAM: Four-point-six.
In historic terms, where does that rank us, Mr. Hale?
MR. HALE: Well, it depends what history you want to look at. If you go back far enough --
SEN. GRAHAM: World War II.
MR. HALE: Well, World War II --
SEN. GRAHAM: I mean post-World War II.
MR. HALE: In recent years, it's certainly been below that. In the '90s it was down to around 3 percent of GDP -- slightly under it. It's come back.
SEN. GRAHAM: What would you say the average since post-World War II been?
MR. HALE: Since World War II, maybe 10.
SEN. GRAHAM: My point is, in the next five years, what dangers do we face out there, Mr. Secretary, Admiral Mullen? Are they less or more? SEC. GATES: There's no question that while we don't face the catastrophic -- potentially catastrophic threat of a Soviet Union, we face, I think, in many ways a more complex and more dangerous world than we faced during the Cold War.
SEN. GRAHAM: Do you agree with that, Admiral Mullen?
ADM. MULLEN: Yes, sir, absolutely.
SEN. GRAHAM: Iran, North Korea?
ADM. MULLEN: Yes, sir.
SEN. GRAHAM: You name it. And the reason I mention this is that we've got to -- we have to budget here, given the reality of the threats we face and what's going on in other places in the world. Our allies are not stepping up to the plate. That puts more pressure on us because we do have to take the lead on these issues, so I would just encourage the committee and the administration -- in their ten-year budget, defense spending in the tenth year is at three percent of GDP and I just don't believe that's appropriate, given what I think we're going to face in the next ten years and interest on the national debt is at three percent of GDP. I think that's unsustainable, that we're going to have a debt we can't afford to pay. We're going to lose our AAA credit rating and if we don't change our policies and reducing defense is not the answer to our budget problems.
MR. GATES: Senator, I would just interject that it is my personal opinion, based on the briefings that I've gotten, that for us to hold steady the program that we have in front of you for FY '10, to hold that steady in the out years, we will need at least two percent real growth in the defense budget.
SEN. GRAHAM: Well, thank you, and that's something that we'll all consider because I think we are bipartisan on this committee about national defense matters.
Now in Afghanistan, one thing we have to look at in terms of our budget is, is it true, Mr. Secretary, Admiral Mullen, that the Afghan army, the expense of a 100,000 person army, if we can ever get to that level -- 140,000 person army to maintain that is greater than the entire budget of Afghanistan?
MR. GATES: Absolutely.
SEN. GRAHAM: Well, who's going to pay for that?
MR. Gates: Well, the truth of the matter is, right now, we are. SEN. GRAHAM: Well, that's what I want --
MR. GATES: We have this Afghan trust fund in NATO and my hope had been, when this was set up a number of months ago, that those allies and partners who were not prepared to send significant troops to Afghanistan would, in lieu of that, make substantial contributions to this trust fund. And the last I checked the trust fund had about $100 million dollars in it.
SEN. GRAHAM: Admiral Mullen, do you agree with the idea that -- General Petraeus' view that we need to grow the Afghan army?
ADM. MULLEN: Yes, sir, absolutely.
SEN. GRAHAM: And the more capability they have, the less likely our soldiers will be in harm's way in the future?
ADM. MULLEN: Absolutely.
SEN. GRAHAM: Well, if the country generates less than a billion dollars of revenue and the army costs three billion, I think this is a topic for the committee to consider. Not only are we going to be paying for our army, which is going to be doing more and the world's going to be doing less, we're going to wind up paying for the Afghanistan army and I actually, quite frankly, support that, doing our fair share, but I am very frustrated with our allies.
If you're going to reduce your defense spending and reduce your capability, at least you could help us pay for the Afghan military that makes us all safer, so I think we need to look at our budget in terms of what's going on throughout the world and future obligations. The future obligations of this country are going to be greater, not smaller, when it comes to defense spending. Our allies are doing less, not more, and to win in Afghanistan you've got to have a big army. And they can't afford a big army, so somebody's going to have to pay for it.
Now on Guantanamo Bay, Mr. Secretary, to you believe it would help our national defense -- national security interest -- to basically start over and come up with a new detainee policy?
MR. GATES: Well, I think, Senator, to a considerable degree, the president has done that with his executive orders.
SEN. GRAHAM: And that would mean closing Guantanamo Bay?
MR. GATES: Yes, sir.
SEN. GRAHAM: Admiral Mullen, do you think it would probably help us worldwide if we closed Guantanamo Bay and got a new, fresh start on detainee policy?
ADM. MULLEN: I have actually been supportive of closing Guantanamo for a considerable period of time. SEN. GRAHAM: Am I --
ADM. MULLEN: But I really -- and significant steps, I think, have been taken with respect to the detainee policy.
SEN. GRAHAM: Well, I just want to end this, Mr. Chairman. I think not releasing the photos is in our national security interest and I applaud you for standing up for the troops, and I want to applaud the president for making what I think was a very reasoned decision. For the same reason we didn't need to release the photos, I think we need to start over with Guantanamo Bay. You know, I see both achieving the same goal. There is damage to be repaired out there; releasing the photos doesn't repair our damage, but starting over again with a new detainee policy, to a new location, I think will help repair some damage, so I look forward to working with you as we go forward on that issue. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. LEVIN: Thank you, Senator Graham.
Now we're going to have to end after our next two senators. We promised we'd be out of this room by 12:30 at the absolute latest. I don't see a need for a executive session and, unless I hear from colleagues in the next few minutes, we're not going to have such a session today, at least. And with that I will call upon Senator Webb.
SEN. JIM WEBB (D-VA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Just one follow-on point. Having listened to Senator Graham, I think the challenge in terms of building an Afghani army is not simply financial. As I had mentioned to General Petraeus when he was before this committee, I think you'd have to look really hard in the history of Afghanistan to find a time when they truly had a viable national army, and that's probably even a greater challenge than the money.
Gentlemen, I'd like to start by expressing my support and respect for the leadership that both of you have brought to your positions. It's been very important, not only to the Department of Defense but to the country, and I thank you for the way that you have approached your jobs and, Secretary Gates, as somebody who spent four years on the Defense Resources Board with Cap Weinberger, I think you are uniquely positioned to set about the task that you're taking on. And I know we're going to have a lot of debate. I'm going to participate in that debate at the right time, but I really do commend you for stepping forward and having taken this on.
I would like to make three quick observations, and I have a specific set of questions that I would like to ask. The first is, just having listened to what you said, I know you were summarizing, Mr. Secretary. I want to emphasize because we're building a record here, and we're going into these budget considerations, that the mission of the Department of Defense is not simply to fight and win wars. It is also to deter wars, to manage strategic confrontations, to provide an umbrella under which those countries who are aligned with us are able to manage their own external security relationships and strategic systems that do that and will, hopefully, never be deployed. I think the greatest example of that, really, is the Cold War, which was the most significant victory of the United States since World War II.
I'd also like to interject a request -- maybe you can -- I said this the other day at the confirmation hearing on the individual who's going to be the Assistant Secretary for the Army for Manpower, but I think it's very important. We're talking about the fact if we don't get the people part of it right, we don't get any of it right. It's vitally important that we address the issue of stewardship to people who serve beyond simply managing the active duty force and beyond the issues of retention or even of the programs which you have so eloquently discussed today. Seventy-five percent of the Army, 70 percent of the Marine Corps leave on or before the end of their first enlistment and these are the people who have been doing, really, the heavy lift in terms of all the rotational cycles. And I don't hear the same level of articulated concern from Department of Defense witnesses that I do on these other areas.
And we talk about you recruit a soldier, you retain the family. At the same time, these people are coming in, they're doing two or three pumps, they're getting out, they're returning to civilian life and they're bringing a lot of long-term challenges in terms of mental health and other areas with them, and that's why I introduced the dwell time amendment twice two years ago. That's why I introduced the GI Bill.
Both of those amendments were opposed by the Department of Defense, they were opposed by previous administrations, and I think we're seeing in many cases the consequences of those challenges. And one of the things that I think could be looked at is putting the same type of discipline that you're putting into your procurement policies into the management of the force in terms of examining the requests that are coming from combatant commanders to see if people can't be used more efficiently. That's something that I was saying two years ago, talking about the dwell time amendment.
(Audio break) -- security interests toward India or other non- terrorist or Taliban-related threats?
SEC. GATES: Senator, as best as I understand it, the coalition -- the only figure that I'm aware of is the Coalition Support Fund, and I think that has been about $6.8 billion for Pakistan. That has always been a reimbursement to them, and they basically have had the freedom to spend it pretty much as they liked. So I would suspect that that money went for a wide range of things, including their military -- (inaudible).
SEN. WEBB: That's one of the concerns that I have. And we have begun focusing on Pakistan simply as the way that it would address the Afghani situation, when, as we all know, if you examine this from the Pakistani point of view, India is their greatest threat.
Do we have any type of control factors that would be built in in terms of where future American money would be going as it addresses what I just asked about?
SEC. GATES: I'm not aware about the future. I know that beginning -- that we've had procedures with the Coalition Support Fund. There were problems with accountability in that, and those procedures were tightened up last June, June of '08.
It basically is a three-step process -- the Pakistani request for reimbursement for military activities in the western part of the country, which is, of course, of interest to us, and keeping our supply lines open and so on, first as evaluated by the embassy. Second, it's evaluated by CENTCOM, and the CENTCOM commander is the person held accountable for it. That had been absent before, a single person being held accountable. And then it's evaluated by the comptroller's office in the Department of Defense.
So there's a three-step validation process on Pakistani request for reimbursement. Now, if there are new programs of economic assistance and so on, I assume there'll be a different procedure established for those.
SEN. WEBB: Well, we certainly don't have the same ability to assess these programs on the ground as we do in places like Afghanistan and Iraq.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. SEN. LEVIN: Thank you, Senator Webb.
SEN. MARK BEGICH (D-AK): Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And to all of you, thank you for being here today.
First, I want to give you a couple of thank-yous, and I'll be parochial in this, and that is, thank you for the work that you're doing with this budget in Fort Wainwright and Fort Richardson regarding the Warrior Transition Units. Those will be completed up there and have a great impact; and along with that, the mental health clinic which is going to be at Elmendorf -- again, an incredible need and a positive need; and also to the Joint Chiefs for the work around the Wounded Warrior Task Force. I think that's a great effort.
And I really applaud you. And anything that I can do to help support that, I will be there for you; and the several projects and activity that will be expended in Alaska, with almost about $400 million in some of the projects for mil-con, which, again, is going to be a positive for us up there.
I have a couple of issues. One you can probably guess, which is the GMD. And here's the question -- and I recognize I don't necessarily agree, obviously, with your position at this point. I recognize tough decisions. You've got to make programmatic changes, and I understand that.
But here's the question. Based upon what my briefings have been -- and I appreciate your comments, Mr. Secretary, in regards to robust testing. I think that's important for a system of this magnitude. But if you go through that process, and assuming that this system is a 15- to 20-year system at minimum, and you have about 14 missiles still to be completed and a group of them, about 10 or so, will be available for missile testing, by about the fourth and fifth year, you'll be out of the testing capacity. The assumption is that will tell you if the system is going to continue forward.
But if it is a 15-, 20-year life span and you only test for that short period of time, you're going to have this gap for many, many years without testing. How do you address that part of the equation? I mean, I just can't imagine a system for 10, 12, 15 years with nothing happening other than just in the silos and no full-range testing.
SEC. GATES: No, we haven't discussed the long out years on this, or it has not been a part of our process. But I will tell you that my view of it is that the situation with the ground-based interceptors in Alaska and in California needs to continue to be a dynamic process. I think that we not only need continued testing, but we need continued development. We need to be able to develop -- as North Korea, for example, becomes more sophisticated in their capabilities, we need to be more sophisticated in our defense. And so the capabilities of those ground-based interceptors are going to have to improve over time.
So I see this as not a static process where we have a finite testing period and then stop and just have the status quo for an extended period of time, but rather a dynamic process where we are continually updating and improving the capabilities of those ground- based interceptors.
And, you know, the decision not to go to 44 interceptors at this point does not mean we'll never go to 44 interceptors, or at least more than 30. It's just that, over the period of the next few years, we don't see the need to go to the additional interceptors, given the pace at which North Korea is developing its program. But I don't think anybody's kind of drawing a line at 30 and saying, "No more ever," any more than we're saying we're going to have a static program after a few years of additional testing.
SEN. BEGICH: Thank you for that. Thank you for those comments. And I guess the other piece would be -- I should not read in, then, that after this period of time of testing that the program -- I don't want to use the word -- I'll use the word carefully here -- becomes dormant, meaning that it just kind of disappears over time. I shouldn't read that into that.
SEC. GATES: That certainly was not my view. I believe that this capability is very important for the security of the United States, and I think we need to -- I am comforted that we have one that we think works now, that we have some confidence could handle the North Korean threat right now. Those threats will continue to become more sophisticated, and I think we need to continue to improve our capabilities.
SEN. BEGICH: Thank you. Thank you for that reassurance.
I do want to follow up on the C-27s. And Alaska is kind of unique. You know, we use Sherpas up there a lot. And I know they're smaller load capacity. And I know the reductions, 75 or so down to 35, 40 for the C-27s. And I guess I -- again, being a little parochial here, we had anticipated, obviously, those Sherpas, which are fairly old, to be replaced with the C-27s because of the short -- how they can operate in the Alaska terrain.
How do you see the allocation of what those aircraft -- where those aircraft that will be in production go, especially because of uniqueness? C-130s are great in Alaska, but the Sherpas are really beneficial to our Guard.
SEC. GATES: The admiral may know more about this than I do; I don't know, because we haven't discussed the lay-down of these things. But I would just tell you that the 38 that are in the budget, the 38 C-27s that are in the budget, are characterized for me as a recapitalization of the C-23 Sherpa program.
SEN. BEGICH: Oh, very good.
SEC. GATES: And I don't know what the lay-down, though, is.
SEN. BEGICH: Okay. But that helps. That gets us halfway there. So I'll be working with folks as to how that will work in the sense of your whole deployment throughout the country with regard to Sherpas. But I know in Alaska the terrain requires the Sherpas, and they really are a real workhorse back there. So I just wanted to put that on the record for us here.
Two kind of global -- and I am very intrigued by this, and my time is about up, but I do -- one is actually later for discussion. One is, I was intrigued by the comment about the $20 billion savings this year. I'd be curious if you can analyze -- if there's a number over this five-year period, if you didn't cut that $20 billion and that was employed into the program and assumed the status of those programs, what would be that actual cost avoidance? Because I think it would be probably a significant number, if that makes any sense. And if not -- you don't have to answer it now; I'm not putting you on -- I saw you looking, trying to calculate quickly in your mind. I don't want you to calculate that. But these programs have actually, you know, downstream large numbers attached to them in some R&D work.
So I'm just curious how big that number is, because I'm assuming it's big. And that's in one way kind of what you're looking at is this long-term picture, which I give you a lot of credit for that. So I just will ask you that in a written document.
And then the second, the last, and I'll just leave you on this as more a thought, I'll be very curious for more discussion on manned versus unmanned operations. I think this is an interesting new technology development in all areas of aircraft. I can imagine a pilot who says, "No, you're not going to go fly; you're going to use a joystick instead in a room," maybe hard to (recoup ?), but I'd be -- this is an interesting transformation, and it's one that, if you look five, 10 years out, I can see, by the discussion today, that is a part of the equation of the new military.
And so I'd be very interested, at a later time, maybe, Mr. Chairman, through our discussion as we go through this process, how you see that and how we make that transformation (and deal with ?) personnel; but very interesting. And the technology is powerful. And so I'm just -- I'm a supporter of this type of technology. So I just want to put that on the record for you.
Thank you very much. Thank you for your time and your service.
SEN. LEVIN: Thank you, Senator Begich. We are now at the end, and I will just summarize with one thought, that I think you gentlemen have really grasped the very fundamental point that we've got to both change the way we buy weapons, which we're doing in a reform bill that hopefully will get to the president in the next week or so, but given the new threats, we also must make changes in what we are buying, not just how we are buying.
And, you know, just guiding the ship, the USS Pentagon, is a huge task in ordinary times. But to change the direction of that ship in the way that you are proposing takes special skills, special tenacity. You gentlemen have a very healthy dose of those characteristics and we're grateful that you do.
We commend your efforts and hope that you're going to find in Congress the kind of thoughtful and reasonable and nation-viewing response that you have taken; that our mission here is to give our nation the strength that it deserves and needs and that that is going to take some courageous decisions on our part. I think we're up to it, hope we're up to it, and look forward to responding in kind to the kind of courage and direction that you have set for us.
Thank you for being here today.
SEC. GATES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. LEVIN: We stand adjourned.