Skip to main content

tv   Senate Armed Services Committee Holds Hearing on Commander Nominations  CSPAN  September 28, 2018 12:00pm-1:53pm EDT

12:00 pm
film, "longines chronoscope." we're featuring kirk caldwell next saturday at 10:00 a.m. eastern. next a confirmation hearing for army general robert abrams to be the head of the u.n. command, the combined forces command and the u.s. forces in korea. we'll also hear from navy vice admiral craig foller who has been nominated for the senate command. they testify before the senate this week. before the senate this week. i before the senate this week. e before the senate this week. d before the senate this week.
12:01 pm
12:02 pm
12:03 pm
the meeting will come to order. senator reed and i agree on something we've talked about for a long period of time, and that is we'll have a meeting that starts at 9:30, 10:00, 10:30. we're going to start. it's my experience in the past when i had several years of sharing the environment with the committee, once the members knew we were starting on time, they get here on time. everybody is busy, we understand that. anyway, we are -- first of all, we want, again, to make our statement. the love that we had for john mccain, the years that we served under him in this committee, we
12:04 pm
will miss him sorely but it's something we have great memories and will stay with us forever. we meet today to review the nomination of john abrams, combined forces command, u.s. forces career and vice admiral craig fowler to be commander of united states southern command. we know today would not be possible without the support of their families, so it's been our tradition for a long period of time to make the proper recognitions, so we desire to do that. in order to exercise the overall responsibilities, we do have to ask you eight questions. so if you would audibly respond, both of you, to each question, and if you don't, i will remind you. do you agree to adhere to the laws of the conflicts of interest? >> yes. >> yes.
12:05 pm
>> do you agree that you will gi your views even if they disagree with the views of power? >> yes. >> yes. >> do you presume to know the outcome of the confirmation process? >> no. >> no. >> will you ensure your staff complies with deadlines on confirmation status, including the reporting and record and hearings? >> yes. >> yes. >> will you cooperate in providing briefings to requests? >> yes. >> yes. >> will you be present for all briefings? >> yes. >> yes. >> do you confirm to agree to testify before this committee? >> yes. >> yes. >> and lastly, do you agree to provide electronic forms of communication in a timely manner when requested by the committee or to consult with these committees regarding the basis
12:06 pm
of any good faith delay or denial in providing such information? >> yes. >> yes. >> okay, good. we thank both of you for your decades of service and personal relations we've had. the other members of this committee, adam fowler, you've been asked to lead the southern forces at a time of recent concerns and instability on the rise and venezuela potentially on the brink of collapse. the national defense strategy identifies protecting the ho homeland and sustaining american advantages in the western hemisphere as key priorities. you'll be on the front lines of that work, and that will elicit networks, smuggling drugs, people, weapons and will be even more difficult in a theater that lacks sufficient resourcing. and general abrams, you have been nominated to lead our
12:07 pm
forces in korea at a time of critical importance to our national security when it comes to north korea. i support president trump's efforts to solve this problem diplomatically. all americans should hope we can find peaceful solutions on the korean peninsula and never have to face the prospect of war with north korea. such solution will require close cooperation with our allies, south korea, and we must be cautious and deliberate so that we can ensure our alliance is maintained and strengthened. one of the things that's going to happen today, we'll be waiting because we have a long list of confirmations to do, so i would hope that some of you who are here now would remain until we can get a quorum. senator reed? >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. let me begin by joining you and recognize the service of chairman john mccain in so many different dimensions for the
12:08 pm
nation. mr. chairman, this is your first official hearing as chairman of the committee. i look forward to working with you very much so. i also want to recognize senator kyl, one of the new members. he has a lot of potential. you can barely see him down at the end down there. i think -- i got good feelings about you, senator. i think you'll get this pretty quickly, so welcome. general abrams, general fowler, you've been nominated to perform certain jobs in the organization. let me welcome your wife connie, your sister jean and brother john. also your nephews frank and nathan, and i welcome your mother martha and father henry as well. the korean peninsula has been reduced to a summit, the
12:09 pm
situation remains precarious. there remains a significant military threat to the united states and its allies because of the nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. i'm disappointed the pressure of the campaign has been lost and we've seen no denuclearization since the summit. i'm concerned about our troops because of the cancellation of joint military exercises. suspending the exercises was a substantial concession on our part and a substantial concession for north koreans. the war games were unfortunate because it set the narrative for north korea. general abrams, i would like to get your views on the military situation in the peninsula and how you would have joint forces at the same time this is taking
12:10 pm
place. it was recently viewed as three summits in desire of a peace treaty. it is not clear how this will affect our longstanding political compliance. many americans have suggested that a peace treaty may be bad for north america. the presence of our troops and the strength of our alliance remains critical and will remain critical for years to come. general abrams, i look forward to hearing from you how you plan to maintain alliance given the difficulties that have occurred. and admiral fowler, you will have the job of resources between korea and china. but the challenges you face are no less and no less compelling.
12:11 pm
venezuela poses a significant challenge and threat to the region, in addition to the korean refugee crisis in neighboring countries like peru which has placed a toll on social services, as well as ordering corruption for its neighbors. it appears some of these are going to terrorist organizations, underlying significant progress that columbia had made ruling out the park and the u.n. i look forward to seeing how you expect venezuela's neighbors to not review those items. and we're in a global strategy with russia and china to undermine our influential ability in the region. i know you're ready to address comments made recently in the press which i think is important to get before our committee. thank you for your decades of
12:12 pm
service. >> let's start with you, general abrams, and each one of you will have an opening statement. as you know, your statement will be made a part of the record, and you are recognized. >> chairman inhofe and ranking member reed and other members, good morning. thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. mr. chairman, i would like to take this opportunity to offer my condolences to you and your committee on the passing of senator john mccain. i also want to acknowledge your leadership of this committee. you have long been a staunch supporter of those of us in uniform and i'm humbled to appear before you and this entire committee. i'm honored to be selected by the president, secretary mattis and general dunford to serve the united nations command, the forces command and the forces in
12:13 pm
korea. i'm honored for this triple-headed position. i also would like to recognize general brooks, the current commander, and his wife carol for their dedicated service to the nation. i'm joined here today by my wife connie, also an army brat who for the last 26-plus years has been side by side with her soldier supporting troops and families everywhere we've been stationed. she's been my partner and best friend in this career of service in both peace and war. if confirmed, connie will make her 17th move, and i am grateful for her unconditional support. connie and i are proud to be joined today by several members of our family, mr. chairman. my sister jean and her husband, john daly. my nephew from new york city and niece. i'm proud of the family they represent. our son and daughter could not join us today, but we know they
12:14 pm
are here in spirit. mr. chairman, this is a critical time on the korean peninsula, in fact, in all the northeast asia. our relationship is relationships we've built over time, particularly japan and the republic of korea. if confirmed, i will continue to cultivate those meaningful relationships. our strong combined military power with republic of korea has sustained armistice conditions for 65 years and supported our diplomatic and economic efforts today. if confirmed, i will maintain the readiness and finite capability of republic of korea in joining u.s. forces in order to maintain credible deterrents and offer options for our
12:15 pm
credible leaders. i shall sustain the alliance, maintain the armistice, transform the alliance and sustain the force. i believe these properties remain relevant. but if confirmed, i will make my own assessment on wait forwathe forward and make it known to this committee. i will promise to do my best on behalf of our nation and republic of korea during this unprecedented time of change and opportunity. i recognize my personal and professional responsibility to provide my best military judgment and candid military advice, and if confirmed, i will do both. i'm honored to have another opportunity to command and the privilege to lead the finest our nation has to offer, and their counterparts in the republic of korea and the united stations
12:16 pm
states. if confirmed, i promise to give them my very best effort every day. thank you, chairman inhofe and senator reed for this meeting and i look forward to your questions. >> chairman inhofe and members of the committee, i'm humbled to appear before you today. i want to personally thank general mattis, chairman dunford and chairman inhofe. my support began at home with the support and encouragement of my mom and dad. i know my mom would be proud if she was here and still with us. my dad, himself an army vet, is here. thank you, dad. my wife's father lionel is from brazil. now a proud u.s. citizen, he raised a family of six here in the u.s. with a masters in
12:17 pm
chemistry. he is still as passionate about life as ever. he could not be here today. i especially would like to recognize my wife martha. we have been devoted to each other for 34 years. she's my best friend. she's been steadfast and passionate with her support in my service, our country and military families. i also want to thank my daughters jessica and abby, who could not be here today, but i want to personally thank them for their service, sacrifice, although we're apart. i want to thank those who remain with me and enable me to continue serving our nation. i am humbled, honored and truly grateful. we're fortunate to live in the western hemisphere, interconnected by a shared bonds and democratic principles.
12:18 pm
a hemisphere that shines in a beacon of opportunity in a world of complexity and rapid change. during recent travel to the region with the secretary of defense, i saw firsthand the opportunity in willing partners like columbia, brazil, chile and argentina. there is clear guidance, we will build a more ready and able force. we will build stronger partnerships, and we will scrupulously count for every resource congress finds appropriate. multiple challenges must be dealt with aggressively on the return of great power competition with russia and china to threaten networks of criminals, terror, drugs, weapons, illegal immigrants and illicit goods that undermine both our sovereignty and security at home and those of our partners. naturally the 72,000
12:19 pm
drug-related deaths last year is a crisis. and if confirmed as a commander, i will continue to do my part to deny a scourge. there is no other choice for our nation's security. teamwork wins. just as others thrive, we must work together with our team, our partners and congress. my aim is to strengthen and enhance those relations and our teamwork. my plain and simple message to our friends in the region is the united states is a reliable and trustworthy security partner. our commitment is unwavering. the united states is your security partner of choice. we offer unmatched military qualification, training and equipment with u.s. ingenuity and training to back it up.
12:20 pm
the building authorities are strategic game changers. we are a reliable security partner, and whatever the threats, teamwork is more important than ever. we compete best with our ideas and ideals, our inspiration, our education and commitment. it's our shared neighborhood. like the neighborhood of shriver, pennsylvania where i grew up, good neighbors respect each other's sovereignty, treat each other as equal partners with respect and a strong neighborhood watch. if confirmed, i assure you i will commit all my energy to ensure the united states southern command does its part to manage challenges. chairman inhofe and senator reed and this committee, i look forward to your questions.
12:21 pm
>> general abrams, it's been pretty scary since north korea has tried to make its advancements since 2017. i look around and see senator kyl, and during the five years and eight months you were out of this party, out of the committee and out of the senate, what we've seen in the number of -- the activities that are taking place from north korea, they've conducted 13 missile launches and the scariest one was on november 28, 2017 when they demonstrated clearly they had the range that we hoped they would not have. so we have now -- it's a different situation than we've had for a lot of years. they have achieved some successes, in their eyes, that are pretty scary to us. while the testing has paused, its michlz cannot reach the entire united states, and that's
12:22 pm
pretty serious. after a period of increased tensions, singapore's summit was a step in the right direction. recent meetings with president moon and kim jong-un has shown there is really progress. the time they'll meet in north korea, and they're talking about doing it in south korea, that's something we wouldn't have anticipated even a year ago. we've made progress in that respect. why don't you tell us, i think this is a good hearing, general abrams, your assessment of the current security system on the peninsula? the fact we've now had the meetings that i addressed and we also had presence in -- in the north and south meeting together. what's your feeling about that? >> chairman, the situation on the peninsula today, as you have just described, i would describe
12:23 pm
as a temporary pause and a general feeling of detente, if you will, on the peninsula. it's been 31 days since the last provocation, and since then there's been significant dialogue to include communications between the command and the dprk at a senior officer level for the first time in 11 years. i would share your characterization that all the current steps that are ongoing are significant, and we should take them at face value. having said that, you also mentioned that there still remains a significant asymmetric threat with the kprk and the fact they have the largest army in the world, and their position has not changed. my view is we should remain
12:24 pm
clear-i'd abo clear-eyed about the situation on the ground and maintain diplomacy. >> i appreciate that. we need to interrupt this for just a moment here. since a forum is now present, i ask the committee to consider the nomination of alex schafer and miss veronica diego and robert h. mcmann to be assistant secretary of defense for sustainment. dr. e.c.kowinski to be the head of manpower and reserves and alex buehler to be assistant secretary for the army renovation. is there a motion to favorably report these men and women to the senate?
12:25 pm
>> aye. >> any negatives? the confirmations are approved. is there a motion to support this report? >> so moved. >> there is a motion in the second? >> second. >> all those in favor say aye. >> aye. >> thus noted. one of the things i want to get to in my time here was a look at china. i know you're concerned about the southern command. you have your work cut out for you there. we were in the south china seas. we were very familiar with what china is doing in their area, and that's the first time that
12:26 pm
china, outside of its own territory, has built a military operation. and they're moving down into tanzania and some of the other areas. you're seeing the same thing happen soon in the southern command. my concern is that the programs that i know -- i've talked to you now is that you're very favorably inclined toward the inet program where cnn approved sales. the inet program is one that's been very successful all around the world, and it's one that china has now figured out. in the case of africa, they had a meeting where they had 53 presidents of the 54 countries in africa actually meeting there on a new type of an inet program that would bring their allegiance away from us which has been successful.
12:27 pm
i would like to have you share with us, first of all, your feeling about these programs, why they're significant and important as they are in the rest of the world? >> we pull out china as a strategic competitor. as the secretary of defense recently commented, we continue to see russia and china try to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian world view. we see that in the southern command in the area of responsibility where china is moving in with low-interest loans, with strings attached at ports, the panama canal, for example. the program that you speak of, sir, inet, is one of our best tools to build long-term trust with officers at all levels to bring students to the united states, to educate them.
12:28 pm
during some of our trips, so the best way is to power our education center. >> everywhere in the world, you run into people that were a result of the program. it seems china. >> nor reed? >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. the navy has been dealing with the fallout and consequences of the one-day summit. they've all been investigated by the fbi and the department of defense and you've been
12:29 pm
exonerated from any culpability. and also i don't believe, and you can confirm this, that you've received in any way any type of a gift or services from gdna or any type -- provided them any type of benefit. is that correct? >> senator, that is correct. after a lengthy and thorough investigation by several different law enforcement organizations, i was cleared of all wrongdoing. i've never solicited, accepted or asked for a gift from preliminary defense and every decision i made, i will contribute that to my command. >> your command is probably the least resourced major command and with incredible range of
12:30 pm
issues. you start at the bottom. the opioid crisis, the disruption, the behaviors in a place like venezuela where there is a dictator, places like guatema guatemala. can i have your top three priorities? >> if confirmed, the priority is to look for new partnerships regionally, and building on that is about people and trust. being down there, being present within the command, and i think we had the talent, from what i understand, and we build on that. we build on that with education, we build on that with exercises. we build on that with appropriate building capacities with authorities with congress
12:31 pm
is granted. then we look at what assets we need both for the exercises, senator, and for getting after the challenges like addicting drugs. that will be one of my top priorities to assess what we need, come back to the chain of command and i will ask for more if i think that's going to make an impact, senator. >> thank you, sir. general abrams, you have a range of challenges and a very difficult situation. one of the issues, and there's so many, is that the republic of korea is developing a relationship with the democratic republic of korea, and that's kind of an oxymoronic statement, which is slightly different than ours. in the past my recollection is we've been sort of shoulder to shoulder with the koreans and we've taken a leap. they seem to be moving away.
12:32 pm
how is that going to complicate your position? or is it going to complicate your position? >> senator, i think that my assessment is the relationship between the u.s. military and the republic of korea military is as strong, if not stronger, than it's ever been in its 68-year history. i think the relationship and strength of the alliance, which is described by everyone as ironclad, is unshakeable. it's withstood an unbelievable number of provocations and aggressive behavior and crises over the last 65 years. it has been baptized in fire and blood and it remains ironclad. i have no concerns about the future of our relationship. >> do you think it's critical that we resume military exercises? i think the next one is
12:33 pm
scheduled for this spring. >> senator, i believe exercises in training are routine activities of mill taeitaries a the world to maintain the readiness of their force in connection with their national defense strategies. the exercises scheduled for this spring, the naval exercises, to my knowledge they are proceeding with planning. that's a huge decision to be made by alliance leaders. >> thank you very much. again, thank you for your service to the nation, and you've been given a challenging job that you have the skill to do. thank you. >> thank you, nor veed. senator cotton? >> gentlemen, thank you for your appearance, for your years of commitment. general abrams, north korea has
12:34 pm
not agreed to denuclearize. we hope for a good deal. we must be prepared to handle the consequences of no deal, one of which is north korea's growing missile and nuclear threat. we recently passed a bill fully authorized, $284.5 million, a request for the missile defense agency for missile defenses on the korean peninsula. we've also asked for them for defense capabilities and the department is investing $500 million for the peninsula for the next three years. can you explain why these efforts are necessary and warranted on the current environment we face on the korean peninsula? >> senator, as the ranking chair
12:35 pm
recognized earlier, there still remains diplomatic efforts, which we all applaud, there still remains a significant conventional and strategic capability on behalf of the bprk. i suggest that one of the contributors that suggested us getting to this diplomatic point is with a strong deterrent and an integrated and mass defense capability is part of that deterrent. >> what is your deterrent for the intercept systems? >> sir, i think that is a capability that we need. it is something that is technologically feasible and we're appreciative of the congress' investment and the resources put in that direction. >> i'm very happy to do that. busa is a term for hitting a
12:36 pm
target still on the launching pad. it's over the bad guys' territory, not over our territory or allies' territory. some of the deployments we've seen with our traditional systems have created political controversy in the republic of korea. can you talk about these controversies? >> senator, the recent deployment last year of the high altitude defense system did cause some political consternations in the republic of korea, and in fact, in the nation. there has been a strategy both by bobby brooks had been assured of the exact limitations and capability of those systems. i believe at tht point, things
12:37 pm
have settled down to an appropriate level. >> i presume you'll mean in beijing who think those systems could consider. senator, i was referring to the chinese and their stated. there have been report recently in the media about challenges in the logistics of trying to be noncombatant in the military conflict. can you tell us about challenges we might face in the lo egyptian of noncombatant behavior? >> it's the cause of a couple
12:38 pm
exercises biannually and it's something rehearsed frequently at various levels. but we ought to be clear about this. this is a wicked problem. and it's not just american citizens, it's a large number of citizens from other countries, to include china. so it is a challenge but it is one that i have great faith and confidence that commander paycom have a plan for. >> one of those plans could be that spouses and children are not deployed there. can we keep that as an option as we move ahead? >> senator, i think we should keep all options on the table, but those options should be informed of an on the ground assessment of the situation and the risk for those family members. >> thank you. >> senator shahih.
12:39 pm
>> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, generals, for your years of service. i want to follow up on something that was said to you earlier. we have an opiate problem in new hampshire, the largest in america. when your predecessor came before this committee for a posture hearing in february, he answered in response to a question that i asked him that of the known tracks that we're aware of, and i think we have a pretty goodha handle, we're onl able to intercept about 20% of those bringing drugs into the united states. i think we all agree that's a very troubling figure.
12:40 pm
so as you look at this challenge of intersecting drug running in this country, where does it fall in the things you will have to do. >> the opioid crisis is a big problem here and it will be handled in a big manner. ho homeland defense is a number one concern. it's a top priority, it's a top priority to work with our whole government and our partners at northcomm. most of the drugs come through the central american region and up through our southern border. if confirmed, i will be u unabashed at coming forward and asking for resources that i think i need. the statistics are what i've studied and we need to look at
12:41 pm
where we can improve to tie this noose on the scourge. >> i hope you won't hold back on your resources, because the two commanders there said this is an issue, getting the resources that are needed. >> i want to follow up on another statement that tim made in that on russia and north america. he said we're trying to get through that with our spanish language and news channels. you had agreed with me about the isolation in our country. can you guarantee a reduction in
12:42 pm
that campaign? >> a lot of this is an intelligence effort, senator, where we, through our embassies and our down-range partnersie eliminate the concern, bring forward what we can, and then where we can, we bring it out into the open and we allow our public to know the truth. just this morning i was looking in line and saw an rt, an interview with one of the presidents of latin america, and it was just full of fiction that would be troubling to anyone, and unfortunately some people find that believable. >> well, thank you. i think this is a very important area to prioritize, so i'm glad to hear that you agree with that. general abrams, you've already referenced the -- in questioning the suspension of our military
12:43 pm
exercises with north korea. can you assess what the impact has been of the suspension of those exercises on the readiness of our forces? >> senator, i think the suspension of the exercise this past august and september, i would say, was prudent risk, an attempt to change the relationship with the dprk. something has to address, in my view, to be able to start to build trust and confidence as we move forward in the relationship. i think that there's certainly degradation to the readiness of the force and for the combined forces that's a key exercise to maintain continuity and to continue to practice our inner
12:44 pm
operability, but i am confident they have brought some stability until we can move forward with the mitigation plan. >> have you seen the mitigation plan? >> i have seen the mitigation plan. it assumes some exercises that would not be of the same scope. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator rounds. >> thank you, mr. chairman. general abrams, i appreciated your comments earlier with regard to your families involved and the fact that it is truly a family affair. i would also like to extend my condolences to the loss of your brother john from service to our country. general abrams, your background would suggest very clearly you have the understanding of what
12:45 pm
the needs are within the confines of the korean peninsula, specifically with regard the conventional and strategic forces. i would like to focus on other issues that are there right now and we see as challenges. and part of this will have to be answered in a classified setting, but i'm going to ask it, anyway, and you can tell me. number one, with regard to chemical weapons, what is the current situation with regard to the use of chemical weapons by the north koreans and their capabilities? and second of all, do we have the capabilities to respond to such threats? the second part of this has to do with the cyber threats that we know north korea is capable of doing, and are we capable of responding to those threats in the tactical settings and also in the strategic settings on pet ni -- the peninsula? >> senator, thank you for the mention of my brother.
12:46 pm
on nuclear action of chemical and biological weapons, i think it's fair to say the use or not use by the dprk is completely unpredictable, and there would be no way of gauging when or if they might even use it in case of conflict. our role as military members is to be prepared for all possibilities and all tin contingencies. so to your second question, are we prepared and do we have the right capability today in u.s. forces in korea, the answer is yes. this is an environment that the forces on pet nithe peninsula t extensively and they have adequate capability to deal with right now if there was initial use. more importantly, the pre dominance of the forces, if required for a war in the korean
12:47 pm
peninsula, will come from the continental united states, and a good chunk of them from the u.s. army. this has been a point of emphasis of training in a chemical and biological environment. we've been on a full court press in this domain for the last three years, and i'm happy to report that our readiness and our preparedness for operating in that environment is much higher. >> would it be fair to say, sir -- i apologize for interrupting -- would it be fair to say there would still be an anticipation of casualties in the case of a chemical or biological attack by the north koreans? >> absolutely. >> and at this point, we do not have plans that would allow us to protect most civilians from such an attack? >> senator, we will, of course, provide as much support and capability to protect civilian lives in addition to the military lives that might be
12:48 pm
affected by such an attack. >> to the best of our ability. >> to the best of our ability and capacity. >> so it would be possible to defend a biological or chemical attack upon our nation? >> that's correct. if i had it wrong, and please correct me, the dpkr has a strong and capable cyber force. to your specific question about our capabilities, i believe we lead the world in our militarized cyber capability. the recent development of cybercomm to a combatant status only solidifies the capabilities, both defensive and offensive. i have confidence that they will be able to provide adequate
12:49 pm
cyber capabilities if they came to pet nithe peninsula. >> i understand your father was also a lieutenant in the army. thank you, sir, for your family service. i have one more question and that is the need for partnerships. can you tell us, in your opinion, the status of our ability to be a good partner in southcomm? how are we today and where do we need the improvement? >> senator, just having returned from a trip with the secretary of defense in the latin american region and visited chile, venezuela and argentina, they value our training above any other partner, and they value our equipment and our expertise. i think we have a strong foundation to continue to build on and make it even stronger. a number of these countries are going through government
12:50 pm
transitions, but i think the military is rock solid. i think that's the best way to face china, venezuela and the global issues we thank you for service to our country. general abrams, as you know -- and you and i talked about -- i recently returned from south korea where i met for an update on what is happening on the peninsula, and the one thing i was struck by were the significant logistic challenges we should face should a conflict arise there. you have addressed some of the challenges in terms of moving personnel out of korea, folks who are non-combatants but also civilians that are in seoul, which is arranged by a tremendous amount of artillery and you have millions of people moving south at the same time we're trying to move north and move materials into the north. you have also mentioned much of the army's fighting power in what could be a sustained conflict would come from the
12:51 pm
continental united states, which is a long ways from korea. if you could talk about your understanding of the logistics presence on the peninsula and how we move material into the peninsula should the conflict occur and how your past assignments are going to contribute to your ability to handle what is a significant challenge? >> senator, to your first question, we have made -- the department has made significant investment in forward posturing of supplies and material and munitions over the course of the last 18 months, to levels that we have not seen previously, to better what we call set the theater in accordance with general brooks' priorities. those are now at the appropriate level when in the past they may not have always been at the appropriate level. as you got to see while you were
12:52 pm
there, this is a monumental effort to be able to receive, stage and prepare for onward movement of the forces and supply. the way we mitigate that, the way the peninsula mitigates that is we do it with pre-positioned equipment. we have equipment on the peninsula within certain capabilities that's prepared to draw so we can actually fly people in to draw that equipment, to be prepared to use. and then the remainder, of course, would come by ship, and that is a well-thought-out, well-developed, integrated plan that we have rehearsed to be able to respond in an appropriate time to meet general brooks's timelines to get the material, soldiers, airmen, marines, et cetera, into theater in accordance with his timeline. >> thank you, general. and you mentioned the importance of rehearsal, that you actually have to walk through these plans, not just put them on paper but walk through them. that leads me to just this question which you have already addressed a couple of aspects of it to a couple of my colleagues
12:53 pm
related to the exercises, and certainly you said there is a mi mitigation plan with staff level, table-top exercises, but i know you realize a large-scale exercise is necessary to fully rehearse these plans. my question is how long and how many cycles of exercises can be skipped before you really start seeing a significant decline in readiness? >> senator, that's hard to judge. to be honest, if confirmed, this will be one of my top priorities when i get on the ground, on the pen to do my own personal assessment. i know from my 36-plus years of service about what the shelf life is of readiness of our forces to be able to conduct certain activities, but i need to apply that judgment based on what i assess when i get on the ground. >> general, the other key takeaway that i had from my trip to south korea was the importance of not just a bilateral relationship with south korea but the multi lateral cooperation we see from a lot of joint partners on the
12:54 pm
peninsula. in fact, when i was meeting with the united nations command, i saw 16 flags flying from 16 nations that were there with us. in fact, i was briefed by lieutenant general ira, a canadian general, which was the first non-u.s. general office to serve as the deputy commander of the united nations command. so my question to you is -- and i know it is something that general brooks invested -- maybe your predecessor invested a great deal of effort in strengthening. my question to you is if you could comment on your understanding of the role for allies and neutral states on the peninsula and how do you see our continuing developing -- our continuation of that relationship with them? >> senator, first let me say that i fully endorse all of general brooks and his immediate predecessor's efforts to revitalize u.n. command. u.n. command is a statement by the international community of
12:55 pm
support to the armistice conditions on the peninsula, and i consider it vital to be able to sustain the current armistice conditions until such time as it needs to change. >> right. thank you, general. >> senator perdue. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank both of you gentlemen for your lifetime of service and your family's dedication to our country. general abrams, i was just over earlier this year meeting with general brooks, meeting with defectors from north korea, and i was struck by the posture that we've had for a long time with our rok partners. our agreement works under a special measures agreement as i understand it where they currently are paying about 50% of our residents' presence in the peninsula. they put about half a billion dollars a year into that and they put $10 billion into camp
12:56 pm
humphries. we are now entering in a conversation -- that expires, i believe, this year, and so we're in a conversation with them right now about that accord. how do you see their level of support and do you support the conversation that we're beginning to have with them about their participation in our operational costs? these are activities that we use the soldiers for while we're there. >> sir, i think the special measures agreement that you're referring to has been adequate since its inception in about 1990. it has gone through nine different iterations. we are in the middle of negotiations for agreement number ten. you mentioned that operational support is one of the new categories. i think it would be probably inappropriate right now for me to comment in the middle of negotiations that they hope to close out in the next 30 days, but i endorse the command's position that that should included. >> do you also support or are you concerned about their current announced reduction of
12:57 pm
outposts across the dmz and also about -- i think they're talking about something like a 20% reduction in their personnel, in their military at a very time when we're trying to establish negotiations with north korea and determine what our future posture is under our new nds? >> senator, if i can, i would like to split it into two separate issues. the first one with regard to discussions of reduction of guard posts, that was part of the discussion most recently between minister of defense of the republic of korea and his counterpart in the dprk. all activities with regards to the mill starrized zone are under the purview of u.n. command. while they may continue to dialogue, all of that will have to be brokered and adjudicated and observed and enforced by u.n. command, led by general brooks and the multi national force that's there with 17-sending stations.
12:58 pm
the second part of your question are regards to some reductions they're making, this is part of president moon's defense reform 2.0. it does include some reduction of capability, but also includes an 8.7% increase in defense spending. so this year there will be a 2.7% of their gdp, which is the highest of any treaty ally of the united states. >> thank you. >> you have already mentioned or commented on the drug int interdiction issue. i won't repeat that, but i would make a comment with 70,000 deaths a year from drug overdoses, if a state player sent a couple of cruise missiles to a couple of our cities and took out 70,000 of our citizens i think we would have a pretty strong reaction to that. you have an ally here, and i know other members up here, to get you resourced to the things that general kelly and admiral ted already told us that you need. i want to talk about russia,
12:59 pm
china and iran and the convergence of terrorism and the narco industry worldwide. china right now is going around the world, investing in these ports. they're investing through loans, proprietary loans. we just saw the foreclosure of one of those loans in sri lanka. there are 31 of these around the continent of africa and we see china making the same proprietary loans with infrastructure in central america. we see iran active in the area as well as russia. in your role as south con commander, how would you advise us to think about the growing threat from these state players in our own backyard? >> senator, china and russia are global competitors and a global threat. there -- as the secretary of defense recently stated, they're bent on imposing their authoritarian ways and it is important we look at it
1:00 pm
globally. global campaign plans have been instituted where they work hand and glove together to devise plans to counter those in real-time and information space and in the intelligence space. it is an intelligence-driven operation now, so as much as i answered to sen to shaheen, illuminating where we can, where we can declassify that, where we can share it with our partners, where we can point out to our partners the unhelpful influence the activities are having on their own sovereignty, that's how i would handle it. >> thank you. >> thank you, senator. senator warren. >> thank you, mr. chairman. admiral fuller, i hoped to talk to you about the crisis in venezuela today. instead i have to ask you about yesterday's report in "the washington post" which alleges that you were one of several officers investigated for involvement with the defense contractor leonard glen francis who pled guilty to fraud and
1:01 pm
bribery in the largest corruption scandal in u.s. navy history. now, i understand there's been an investigation. the justice department and the navy, and that this committee have this information, but this is the first time that i've heard about it. and so i have some questions here. according to "the post" you attended one of mr. francis's pay-to-play parties in december 2004 and accepted other gifts from him. this is how "the post" describes the party. you and your fellow officers were, quote, invited to a free feast on the 56th floor of a luxury hotel where you savored cocktails, cigars and courses of caviar, black truffles and lobster thermidor while mingling with, quote, attractive young women dressed as santa's little helpers wearing red hats, black boots and skimpy yuletide costumes and you were allegedly
1:02 pm
offered a prostitute. now, i know both the department of justice and the u.s. navy cleared you of wrong doing and that your superior supposedly signed off on the 2004 dinner, but i just have to say this does not pass the smell test for me. so let me start with this. as the commanding officer of the uss shiloh, had you undergone ethics training at the time of this dinner? >> senator, we had undergone ethics training. the dinner and its invitation were reviewed by an ethics -- >> and there was nothing about this dinner that set off any alarm bells in your mind, that it either might not meet ethical standards or at least give the appearance of impropriety from the outside? >> senator, it did not. it was nothing that -- >> no alarm bell? >> nothing unprofession, untoward that i witnessed at the dinner. the ethics counsellor attended the dinner. the day after the dinner we got
1:03 pm
under way for tsunami relief where we participated -- >> now, i'm asking you this question because this committee is looking at a position to confirm you to that requires good judgment. i know that this was many years ago, but it seems to me you didn't display good judgment at the time and it doesn't sound like you see anything wrong with the decision you made back then. the other thing that strikes me about this specific dinner and others that have been reported in the media is the detail about the scantily-clad women and prostitutes at the parties. you know, there's even a picture in "the washington post" story to go along with this. is it now or was it then common for senior navy officers to attend events at which prostitutes and women in scantily-clad outfits were expected to provide entertainment? >> senator, every decision i made in my nearly four decades
1:04 pm
of service has been -- tried to be through the best ethics with ethics counsellor. one of the benchmarks i use is would my wife of 34 years or my two grown daughters, if they were present or watching me or saw it on video would they be embarrassed or would i discredit them. i can look you in the eye and the committee and say that i believe i have passed that benchmark. >> i appreciate that, admiral. if i could just ask you to answer my question, which is, is it now or was it then common for senior navy officers to attend events at which prostitutes and women in scantily-clad outfits were expected to provide entertainments? >> no. >> it is a pretty straight -- you're saying no. so it was an unusual dinner in that respect. >> senator, there's a picture and it is nothing more, senator. >> you understand why i'm asking this, admiral fuller. events that feature women as objects of entertainment contribute to a culture that does not respect women.
1:05 pm
given the persistently high rates of sexual harassment and assault in the navy, across the military services and, frankly, around this country, it is long past time that we have a conversation about exactly these kinds of events. you have been nominated to serve as the four star combatant commander to the u.s. southern command. you will have many women officers under your command. what do you say to women officers when they see that this is the kind of event you have attended? >> senator, i always have the utmost respect for all service men and women. at that particular event referenced in "the washington post", there were female officers present and one from my ship that would say, as i have always said, that very much respect, and that's how i tried to operate. i believe that would bear out. i am appreciative that the secretary of defense has -- and i'm humbled that the secretary
1:06 pm
of defense is supporting my nomination. >> well, i just have to say, admiral fuller, this is a question of judgment and it not only troubles me, the decision you made back then to attend such a party, it troubles me that today you seem to think that -- >> senator, your time has expired. senator kyle. >> thank you, mr. chairman. first of all, gentlemen, thank you very much for your service. this is my first hearing of the senate armed services committee, replacing my friend and colleague john mccain. i served on the house armed services committee when i was a young person, but it is my honor today to -- in this first hearing to hear from both of you, officers of exceptional ability, who have been offered new opportunities to serve our country. let me start with general abrams with a question for you, sir. one of the perhaps to limit north korea's ability to pro
1:07 pm
live ra proliferate weapons and generate cash for its purposes, working around sanctions, is the proliferation security initiative, which attempts to interdict elicit transport of weaponry. what is the status of this program and what do we need to do to strengthen it? >> senator, that program is alive and well. as you know, it has grown over time since its inception when over almost 20 years ago under president bush. so it is -- it continues to provide a very strong combined, multi-national capability to accomplish the task that you laid out. i think what we should do going forward is continue to encourage more nations to undertake and participate in additional training and intergraduatition
1:08 pm
give them the capability and confidence to fulfill under that initiative. >> can you site recent successful interdictions or turning away shipments that were bound for someplace that were inappropriate? >> senator, there is countless examples of success stories going on with a mult tied of nations that are signators to that agreement. they're having great success. >> general, that's very good to hear. if there are other things that the committee needs to do to support that initiative, i hope you will let us know. admiral fowler, you spoke about the drug interdiction mission of the u.s. navy, and in particular with regard to the area of the world in which you are going to have to be dealing. we have a lot of other agencies, u.s. government agencies that have missions in this regard. could you be a little bit more
1:09 pm
specific about the way that the u.s. navy complements these issues or the areas in which it has a primary responsibility? >> senator, joint interagency task force south which is located in key west is the principal arm for southern command that gets after this problem. the navy works for them in detection, monitoring and interdiction phase with law enforcement doing the actual interdiction. so in every agency that is involved in the drug, anti-drug program has representatives there in key west and also in miami. so it truly is a whole government interagency team effort, and last year was a record number of interdictions for the joint interagency task force. of course, with the supply being what it is, it doesn't begin to put a dent into the overall problem. so it is both a supply/demand problem and a whole government problem to get after it.
1:10 pm
>> as to -- excuse me. as to the navy's specific missions, could you be just a little bit more elucidating as to what those are? >> senator, the navy does aerial detection monitoring with p-8s, p-3s and ship assets when available. the coast guard is a big player in this. the coast guard has the bulk of the assets for the detection, monitoring and interdiction. >> general abrams, let me ask you a question that plays off what senator cotton was asking earlier. what defense missile capabilities do you believe are necessary to effectively defend our forces, korean and other forces in the peninsula and also installations of japan as well as the population centers in korea? >> senator, we have -- the department has made significant
1:11 pm
investment in ballistic missile defense capability in both the peninsula and in japan to protect those key installations and population centers, et cetera. what we need is an integrated, some additional capability to better integrate our air missile defense command. as was previously mentioned, we are grateful for the continued support from the congress. that has been resourced. it was submitted as a joint operational needs statement. it has been approved. once that is fielded, that will be a significant additional capability to better protect our people and the people of both korea and japan. >> appreciate that. thank you. >> thank you, senator kyle. senator donnelly. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you to the witnesses. admiral fowler, earlier this year the center for disease control reported overdose deaths in my home state of indiana
1:12 pm
increased by 28% from july '16 to july '17. only six states had a larger percentage increase. this is a national epidemic that gets worse and not better, and so i'm asking you, how do you prioritize the opioid crisis in your combatant command priorities? >> senator, it is a national crisis. it will be a top priority and is a top priority for southern command. the same pathways that are bringing in heroin, cocaine and other opioids can bring in terrorists, and we have to get after those networks. we have to get after the sources of the drugs, interdict the drugs and work together as a whole government interagency to find better ways and to identify seams and gaps in assets and authorities where we can stop the supply. >> admiral, one of the things that we're seeing is that
1:13 pm
fentanyl is responsible for a huge portion of this because it is ten times more powerful than heroin. it is cheap. it is synthetic. what is happening is that it is coming from china, they're sending basically the components to your command and to mexico where it is being put together and then being shipped up to my state and into other states. do you have any specific plans in regards to this fentanyl distribution system that we're seeing? because what is happening is one time with that and people are killed, just one time. so we've seen in some cases the overall amount of drugs out there coming down a little bit, but the fentanyl is so powerful that it kills people almost instantly. and so we need -- we need you to quarterback a game plan in your region specifically regarding
1:14 pm
fentanyl as well. >> senator, look at the defense in depth of our southern approach, to further your football analogy, is the border is the goal line. my partner in northern command is responsible for that goal line, and i have the linebackers and the defensive backs as you look down range. it has to be a team effort. and as i understand the problem, sir, where we block one pathway they'll find another, and so it is an intelligence-driven effort to constantly look for the sources. and so you're exactly right, senator, and we have to get after it. >> do you need more resources? because at times we've had generals and admirals testifying that they said they were able to interdict 25% of the drugs coming in, and i asked, well, did you know about a lot more of them? it is yes, but we didn't have the resources to run that number higher. do you need more resources to be
1:15 pm
able to catch more of these drugs coming in? because in terms of threats to our young people, this is bigger than car crashes. this is bigger than anything else that's out there. >> senator, i know that the command has consistently testified that they need resources to do this. one of my first priorities will be to assess where we are in the resource shortage and come back to my chain of command and congress if necessary. >> it would really be important because, you know, naturally i would love to get 100%, and if it is a resource question to get 100%, it would be some of the best resources we could spend because the people who would survive are our next teachers, our next nurses, our next electricians. they're the heart and soul of who we are. and so i really look forward to you digging in deep on this, and i know you will. when you talk about saving lives, you would be afghanistsas
1:16 pm
not only every day, not only every hour, but every couple of minutes is the difference it can make. general abrams, i want to ask you about the korean peninsula. there was recently a report in a south korea newspaper that said if the suspension of major military exercises continued, in just two years because of routine rotations the majority of officers in u.s./south korea combined command would have little to zero experience in conducting joint exercises. do you agree with that assessment? has the cancelation of the exercises impacted our readiness and ability to fight tonight? >> senator, i think the temporary suspension of exercises that were previously scheduled for august and september were a prudent risk based on the opportunity to open up additional diplomatic efforts and negotiations between the united states and the dprk. going forward, we know
1:17 pm
inherently by not conducting training and exercises that there will be a degradation of readiness and capability in the interoperability of the combined forces. i believe that there are opportunities and some of them are being executed to mitigate some of that risk, being executed by combined forces command, by participating in much smaller scale, different scope staff exercises. having said that, if confirmed, this will be one of my top priorities to go and conduct a personal assessment of the readiness of the force and the actual true war fighting capability of the combined forces, and i will be prepared to provide my best military advice back to the chairman and the secretary in terms of the best way forward. >> your command has always been laser focused on fight tonight, and that is the major concern i have with this. when does prudent risk become no longer ready to fight tonight. thank you, mr. chairman.
1:18 pm
>> senator ernst. >> thank you, mr. chairman. gentlemen, thank you very much for being here today. we appreciate your leadership and your willingness to continue serving our great military forces. admiral fuller, i would like to start. i'm going to pick up where senator warren left off because i think it is very, very important. here in the united states i am very glad that our individuals are not tried by media personalities. the media doesn't control our justice system. now, is it correct that you were cleared of any wrong doing by the department of justice and the department of defense? >> senator, that is correct. >> do you promise that you will foster a climate of dignity and respect, that your wife, your two daughters and the women in your command would be very proud of? >> i will, senator. >> admiral, i look forward to confirming you. >> thank you. >> i would like to go on, general abrams, thank you so much. i have enjoyed working with you through the years and appreciate
1:19 pm
your wonderful leadership within our service. moving on to the peninsula, there are a number of relationships that have been touched upon throughout the course of the morning. one of those relationships that i feel very important is that of south korea and japan. now, history has proven very difficult for these two countries and our trilateral relationship. is there more we can do to capitalize on our relationship with those two countries and prepare to be stronger moving forward together? >> i think there are a number of things we can do and continue to do. the relationship, as you mentioned, there are historical differences between those two countries, but militarily there's been a wake-up call, if you will, over the last year of provocations prior -- you know, 300 days ago after the last missile launch, that really galvanized the
1:20 pm
military-to-military relationship between japan and korea. and if confirmed, i will continue. i have a relationship with the chief of land forces, the chief of staff of their army for japan, and i will certainly cultivate a very close working relationship with both rok chairman and rok chief of staff of the army once he is announced, and if confirmed and i get in position. i think i'm in a position to be able to do that. the relationship between the two countries i think has grown closer as well because of their shared threat, and they both have similar interests in a positive outcome of these ongoing negotiations. and if confirmed, i will continue to support improvements between those two bilaterally and us trilaterally. >> i appreciate that. are there specific steps we can take, whether it is military exchanges, education training, other ways that we can really drill down and forge those relationships as well?
1:21 pm
>> senator, there are a number of exercises that we're already participating in together and have encouraged the participation both ways where we've had for the first time ever japanese self-defense forces on the pen participating in an exercise, very small scale, and vice versa. we will continue to look for opportunities to bring those two together as part of exercises and training that we do back here in the united states. as you know, we have a very robust training program at joint base louis mccord with america's first core and we have a close relationship with both and can look for opportunities to do that there. >> thank you. i appreciate that very much. admiral fuller, we have a difficult situation in south com with venezuela. we know that times are tense there. how does that affect then the priorities that you see in south com, especially when it comes to their neighbors with brazil and colombia? >> senator, the migrant
1:22 pm
situation, over two million migrants have fled the brutal regime alone. that has spilled over into brazil, colombia, peru, ecuador and others. brazil and colombia have borne the brunt of this. it has affected their ability to go after securing and eradicating cocaine. it reinforces an intensive effort the deal with those migrants affected their ability to ensure the peace accords with the armed -- revolutionary armed forces of colombia, the farc. it has strained their militaries, and so the military effort by the command in support of diplomatic efforts to foster a peaceful transition in venezuela. but as you point out, it is a disaster and it is affecting the region. our principle focus will be on our partners. >> outstanding. thank you very much, mr. chairman. i appreciate it. >> thank you, senator ernst, for
1:23 pm
your very appropriate comments. senator king. >> thank you, mr. chairman. general abrams, a question that hasn't arisen is the relationship between the denuclearization issue and the movement from an armistice to a treaty. are those two issues interlinked or is there an opportunity to move toward a treaty between the north and -- or between the u.n. and the north and the south without necessarily resolving the denuclearization issue? >> senator, if i understand the question correctly, is there a direct linkage between denuclearization and the armistice. >> yes. can you have a treaty without resolving the denuclearization issue? that's my question. >> senator, as i understand it, the relation -- a designation of a peace treaty between the south
1:24 pm
korea and north korea would be a direct agreement between those two countries that would not obviate the armistice that's in -- that's laid out in u.n. security council resolution 84, signed in 1953. it would not obviate that. so there is no direct linkage between what those two countries may and the armistice. >> thank you. you mentioned -- and just briefly, i think senator perdue asked. this defense reform 2.0 shows significant reduction in troop levels by 20%, but you indicated an indication in expenditures. are you comfortable that this proposed change doesn't compromise the security balance on the peninsula? >> senator, the combined efforts that they have to -- and where they're making those defense investments will give them much,
1:25 pm
much better capability in some advanced systems that will, together with continued training and exercises, will be able to sustain at a level that the risk is acceptable with regards to contingency operations on the peninsula. >> thank you. admiral fowler, i want you to expunge a phrase from your lexicon, whole of government. every time i hear that phrase around here, what it really means to me is none of government because nobody's responsible. in your -- in this area of drugs, as everybody has pointed out, it is a devastating attack on our country. four people have died this morning since we've been talking of an overdose in america. if that were a terrorist attack we would be turning ourselves inside out to focus our resources to recover it. the problem is in the region that you're about to assume command, you've got the navy, the coast guard, intelligence
1:26 pm
assets and a group of other countries. it seems to me there has to be some centralized authority so that somebody is responsible for this. i hope that this will be beyond a priority for you. this is a crisis. it is a crisis in every one of our states. we are losing one person a day in maine, and it is going to take more than a kind of a whole of government. i have been to the command center in florida. it is going to take some delegated authority and a structure -- and you are a military man. you know that you need a chain of command and somebody that's in charge. can you talk to me about working toward that end? >> senator, having someone in charge and being able to hold someone accountable is fundamental. i'm a product of admiral rickover training and the nuclear navy, and i know full well the need to have the
1:27 pm
ability to look around the table and point at somebody and hold them accountable and ultimately fire them if the decision -- if there are no results. so we have to look to where we can get results. we have to -- i think we have to approach this problem, sir, as if there is a seam out there, we should never feel comfortable we haven't found that seam, whether it is an information seam, intelligence seam, authority seam. then we have to take that from source to -- >> i want to amend one of the comments that senator donnelly made. we're able to now interdict according to your predecessor's testimony 25% of the drug shipments we know of. we have intelligence. it is not 25% of what we may or may not know. it is 25% of those that we know are happening. to me that's absolutely inexcusable. that is a misallocation of resources. what i would appreciate it if you would think about as you assume this command, assuming
1:28 pm
you're confirmed, which i believe you will be, of coming back to this committee or to a group of committees or to the administration and suggesting a command structure that will integrate in such a way that there is a chain of command and there is someone in authority. my humble way to put this is one throat to choke. we need somebody who's responsible for this so that there is not a passing of the buck and that we -- i deeply hope when you come back to see us it won't still be at 25% of what we know of. there's no excuse for that, given the magnitude of this crisis. >> thank you, senator king. senator -- >> thank you, sir, for being here. general abrams, thank you for your hospitality in my visits to ft. bragg and your wife connie. before i move on to a question about your future commands -- and i look forward to supporting both of your nominations -- i
1:29 pm
would like for you to maybe give me a review of how you think force com is doing, what positive progress you made over the time you were there and what open switches are there that you hope your successor pays attention to. >> senator, thank you. the last three years we've seen through with the commitment and support of funding from the congress of the united states, we've been made -- been able to make enormous improvements in the war fighting readiness of our army, and specifically those in forces command. i would also say across all three components, in the regular army, the army national guard and the u.s. army reserve. as you know, i have training and readiness oversight of the guard and the reserve. so from individual qualifications through company live fire through improvement up through brigade combat team live fire, a number of emergency
1:30 pm
deployment readiness exercises that have tested our strategic agility, getting to and from exercises, from our supply accountability, the readiness rates of our fleets, for the first time in eight years our helicopters are now routinely meeting our department of the army minimum maintenance standards. we are seeing great improvements across the board. our non-deployable readiness rates of our soldiers plummeted from 17%, and in this month we are about 8.2% across the command. so we've seen enormous effort by everyone to adopt sort of a mentality change that we previously had during -- as we were rotational army to iraq, afghanistan, to a force that is postured to be ready to respond in accord answer with the national defense strategy quickly and rapidly. that requires us to maintain a high level of readiness. i think my successor will have
1:31 pm
plenty of opportunity to continue to follow through. to use a golf analogy, i have struck the ball, now it is up to him with the follow through to make sure that we get the ball well down the fairway and we have a sense of permanency in the high level of readiness of the force. >> admiral fowler, i just want to associate myself with the comments by senator ernst on the matter that was brought up by senator warren. i chair the personnel subcommittee, so i review a lot of these cases and it seems to me you did it right by the book in terms of consulting with ethics and legal counsel to determine the appropriateness of whether or not you should attend the event. i think that revisiting that would be a waste of time here because i'm looking forward to your next command. i'm confident you're going to be in charge of -- it was about two years ago, two-and-a-half years ago i had my first briefing on south com from general kelly at the time, and he said the thing that he found the most maddening
1:32 pm
about this job is because of your limited assets, the number of movements into this country, that you just simply couldn't -- you couldn't pursue. you either didn't have assets in the right place or you had other priorities. so i want to maybe leave the remaining time for both of you to answer this question. we may be lulled into a false sense of security right now because we've plussed up spending for a two year period, but we know it is not going to be there in two years. if you are confronted with sequestration, tell me what your greatest concerns are going into your new command and what effect it could have on you potentially to do your job. we will start with admiral fowler and then we will move to senator -- or general abrams. >> senator, sequestration was core rosi corrosive and impacted us, from
1:33 pm
the uncertainty it left in our families, with our civilian and military workforce, is this what we want to be a part of, do i know if i have a job, am i going to get a pay raise, am i going to be able to come to work. this is not a world class military confidence organization that we want to have -- >> so is it fair to say if you were confronted with that, then you would be so far away from what senator king and senator donnelly -- well, what we would be doing is degrading what is already an unacceptable -- i mean you are doing the best you can with the resources you have, but isn't it fair to say that we in congress, if we do not properly resource you, that you're not going to do better, you're going to do worse? >> senator, that's fair to say. >> general abrams? >> senator, i would characterize it as devastating. i assumed command two years after the government shutdown in twir 2013, and we were still digging out of the hole, very deep hole.
1:34 pm
it took us until mid of 2016 where i could come back and look the chief and the secretary of the army in the eye and say, we're on the right track and we can sleep better at night with t the readiness of the force. it would be absolutely devastating. >> thank you, senator tillis. senator nelson. >> good morning, mr. chairman. gentlemen, thank you. admiral, i've been with your previous -- your predecessors many times all over, and the whole orchestration on interdiction of the drugs is done in a joint command center in key west. they've had tremendous success. all of the agencies of government are represented there, but it has been hit and
1:35 pm
miss if you as the commander don't have enough assets. the same thing with the coast guard admiral, who is the head of jiata, if he doesn't have enough assets to interdict more of the drug shipments. you want to give me your perspective on that? >> senator, the drug crisis is a national crisis and it will be top priority, one of my first tasks will be to assess what needs i have. admiral teague has been quite clear that he could use more ships and more ships as lat forms for the law enforcement interdiction. when i assess that, if that is the case i will come back to the chain of command and will be unapologetically asking for more and being transparent to
1:36 pm
congress about the same. >> well, you will find that the cooperation between the navy and the coast guard -- the coast guard being the law enforcement agency that actually boards the drug runners, et cetera. that cooperation has been absolutely stellar. but the fact is if you have more platforms in the aor, it will be easier to direct the coast guard to those ships. so i want to help you on that. tell me, what do you think is the proper role of south com in supporting the venezuelan people now in this time of exceptional chaos? >> senator, the southern command
1:37 pm
is focused on supporting our partners, brazil, colombia, those that have been most affected by the migrants that spill over, some 1-plus million. recently visited colombia with the secretary of defense. the president is keenly aware and sharply focused on all of his security challenges and this is at the top of the list. as a result of the colombian government's request, we intend to deploy the hospital ship, comfort, it will be on its way shortly. it was delayed because of the hurricane. to the region to help offset the impacts with this, particularly with the medical care that's been required and the strain it has placed on their resources. >> how about nicaragua? >> sir, nicaragua is another challenge. the one sector that i studied has upward of 500,000 migrants being in costa rica by the end of this year. similar strains are being placed
1:38 pm
on the neighbors, another brutal regime that is all about its own authoritative power and not about its own citizens. we are -- if confirmed, we will look to partner and continue parting whe partingnerring where we can and supporting the state department with their efforts and the asid. >> isn't it interesting. in your aor we have three exceptionally totalitarian regimes, cuba, venezuela and nicaragua. so you're going to have your hands full, admiral. admiral, you've got one of the most extensive aors, and there are going to be a lot of needs. i am assuming that since you were one of the top advisers to general mattis as the secretary that you have such a
1:39 pm
relationship with him that when you need something you -- although going through the chain of the command, but he's going to listen to any request by you. are you ready to speak out very clearly what you need in order to accomplish your mission? >> secretary mattis is -- one of his fundamentals is problem definition. one of his reasons for traveling to the region recently was to get an eyes-on assessment of the challenges that we face. >> thank you, mr. chair. >> thank you, senator nelson. senator sullivan. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> sullivan, yes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. gentlemen, congratulations and thanks for your service, to you and your family. it's decades that you've been serving our nation and we very much appreciate it. admiral, i just want to touch on this issue that you are seeing from a bunch of senators on the
1:40 pm
drugs and opioids, fentanyl in particular. it is one thing that we look to countries that are sending fentanyl like mexico that might not be able to control a lot of what goes on in the country. it is another thing to look at china. isn't it true you think -- i mean you have a lot of experience. you were in china with secretary mattis recently. couldn't china stop this tomorrow if xi jinping just ordered to quit sending fentanyl which is killing our citizens? couldn't they stop it tomorrow? >> senator, it is my understanding that there are ways china could be more helpful to get after this. >> when senator king talks about one throat to choke with regard to fentanyl, i think in a lot of ways it is china. can i get your commitment when you are working on this issue to make sure, the whole government, we are more aggressive going to the chinese saying, stop it, stop it. xi jinping, you can stop this. you're killing our people, stop it. isn't that what we should be
1:41 pm
doing with china as it relates to fentanyl? >> senator, you have my commitment that -- >> thank you. general, i want to talk about the current strategy with regard to north korea. i think the trump administration's comprehensive sanctions, serious military options, bolstering missile defense, these are all things that i'm fully supportive of. i think they've brought north korea to the table. but i do want to dig in to and i want to get your personal opinion, not the administration's opinion, with what i see as a potential blind spot with regard to the strategy, and that's almost a rush -- and it might be from the president himself to remove our forces off the korean peninsula. there's been a lot of press reports on this. so what would be the tactical and strategic effects of removing a large portion of u.s. forces from the korean peninsula? your personal opinion. >> senator, let me start by
1:42 pm
saying -- >> but i have a bunch of questions. i have two-and-a-half minutes. >> personal opinion. disastrous. really bad. i think when -- this is a hypothetical. >> yes, but not that -- the president has talked about it. >> i think we should assess the risk. we need to look at a time frame by which this decision has to be made. it has to be well-informed holistically, not only by -- >> general, i need to get a little bit more granular here. let's say next year the president says we're going to remove all forces, u.s. forces off the korean peninsula. what would be the tactical and strategic effects of that in your personal opinion? >> again, senator, you are talking about a hypothetical situation. >> not that hypothetical. the president has talked about it in the press. >> well, in a suggestion or a
1:43 pm
hypothetical of that magnitude, it would be difficult to boil it down to a yes or no question. when faced with the threat that we have there today -- >> you might be asked your professional military opinion in the next two years on whether we should do this. let me give you just where it could be very -- if kim jong-un offers a deal to remove illegally-obtained ballistic missile and nuclear weapons -- illegal -- for lawfully deployed forces on the korean eninstanpe do you think it would be a smart decision? do you think tactically and strategically it would be good for what is going on in the korean peninsula, for our posture not just in the korean peninsula but in the region? >> i will split it into two. tactically without a mention of the change in his tactical capability, i would say there would be a significant amount of risk tactically if we were to do
1:44 pm
this. strategically, there would have to be a lot more discussion about what additional capabilities we would be able to bear on this. >> how do you think russia and china would react to something like that? >> which part, senator? >> removing a significant or all of our troops from the korean peninsula. >> i think both of them would strongly encourage it. >> they would strongly. that gives us an indication how that would relate to u.s. strategic interest, doesn't it? >> it does give an indication of that, senator. >> so i would like to talk to you more about this, general. i think it is a hugely important issue. the congress has weighed in on it, the ndaa that the president signed this year. we essentially said, not going to happen. we won't authorize it. we won't provide funds for it. that kind of quid pro quo, illegal nukes for lawfully troops. we think it would be strategically disastrous and the fact that the administration seems to be toying with it is
1:45 pm
very troubling, and the congress doesn't support it. it is in the law that they can't do it unless the secretary of defense certifies that that would be in the national interest of the united states and not undermine the security of the united states and our allies in the region. so i think we need to have a further discussion on that because it is something to be something you might be asking about in the next two years and it is important. with all due respect to the administration which i think is doing a great job, i think they have a blind spot on this. the rush to remove our forces is a strategically misguided issue that would hurt us tactically and strategically. our allies would wonder where u.s. credibility went. i look forward to having more detailed discussion with you on this before your confirmation. thank you. >> thank you, senator sullivan. senator blumenthal. >> thanks, mr. chairman. thank you both for your service and to your families as well.
1:46 pm
general abrams, i know you're very familiar with the attacks on this country by north korea, attacks in the cyber domain. one of the most prominent occurred in may of 2017, "wannacry", which was attributed the north korean entity lazarus group. this cyberattack impacted 200,000 victims. i'm sure you're familiar with the details. would you agree with me that we need to do more to make north korea pay a price for this kind of cyberattack? >> sir, i think that we should continue to remain vigilant and hold anyone who conducts cyberattacks against our country accountable for their actions. >> are we doing enough now to hold north korea accountable? >> senator, i'm unaware of the
1:47 pm
depth of -- in classified -- or in an unclassified setting of which i can talk about this. but in short i believe we are. >> you are unaware of the depth? >> i can't really -- excuse me. i can't really go into it in an unclassified setting, but i am aware of actions that we have taken to hold them accountable. >> do you think -- you think we're doing enough? >> i think we are. >> well, i would like to hear more in a classified setting if that's where we can do it because if we were doing enough they wouldn't continue to do it, right? >> senator, i'm not a cyber expert, but i will tell you that attribution is becoming more and more difficult in the cyber domain. with some report and being as
1:48 pm
specific as it can be, and i'm happy to share with you in a classified setting what i'm aware of. >> thank you. admiral, you've answered a number of questions about the incident, questions from senator reed, senator tillis and others. i'm more interested in the role that women can play in national security and conflict prevention and resolution. if confirmed, will you continue the tradition of your predecessor by engaging your gender adviser on national security issues and seeking counsel to better collect and share data to inform gender integration plans? >> senator, i will. >> and i'm sure you're familiar
1:49 pm
with the conference -- i think it was the second annual women in the military conference in guatemala that south com hosted. talking about guatemala for a moment, and nicaragua and other central american countries, would you agree with me that the situation for many people there, particularly for women, has become intolerable in light of the gang violence spawned by the drug trade that senator collins and donnelly asked about a little earlier? >> senator, there is a circle of despair in those countries that has driven mass migration into the united states. it has created violent conditions where citizens are making the choice of -- to take that very hazardous journey to the united states versus staying
1:50 pm
in their own country. and there is a strategy in place that congress has funded and appropriated, the central american strategy. as i assess it, it is just getting it, it is just getting started, defense plays a piece in that. it is key that we stay committed to that strategy to lower levels of violence against women, men, children. >> and many people are seeking asylum in this country as a result of that violence. correct? >> senator, that is correct. >> let me ask you one last question about hezbollah in central america. as you know, i asked admiral ted about south com actions to counter hezbollah influence in south american countries, and he categorized hezbollah as, as he put it, the a team in the southern hemisphere given its criminal activities that support
1:51 pm
terrorist activities abroad. would you agree with him? >> senator, i would. iran is the number one state response other of terrorism around the world and their proxy, lebanese heads bow la is actually fundraising across the world including central america. >> and we should do more to counter it. >> yes, sir. >> thank you. senator mccaskill. mr. chairman, first of all, thanks to both of you and your families for your service to this great nation. it's an appreciated more than probably words can express. i am interested to know, general abrams, do you agree with the statement that it's very difficult to impossible to neutralize the threat of north korea without china's help? >> i would, senator, i would align myself with that statement. >> and isn't it true that we
1:52 pm
have had an uptick in china assisting kim jong-un and north korea since the president declared the trade war against china? >> senator, i'm unaware or maybe i misunderstand your characterization of uptick. but i'll say that china generally has been supportive of the most recent u.n. security council sanctions against the dprk. >> well, i would like to know more about that. because i have heard, and maybe this is a classified setting, >> at this point, we're going to take you live to capitol hill for the senate judiciary committee meeting. members are going to be voting on the nomination of brett kavanaugh who be the next supreme court justice. the committee made up of 11 republicans and ten democrats. you're watching live


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on