tv Gen. Mark Milley Discusses Defense Priorities CSPAN December 2, 2020 7:51pm-8:58pm EST
alive because i stand with people like this and try to help. thank you, madam speaker, for listening and i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. pursuant to section 4-b of house resolution 967 the house stands adjourned until 10:00 a.m. tomorrow for morning hour debate and 12 noon for legislative business.
general, we are proud to have you with us today. a difficult duty is coming up for you and remain neutral at this year's army-navy game. we have great expectations for your neutrality. thank you what you have done for our country and allies around the world. i would like to turn it around senior fell oove who will kick off the conversation about the defense challenges that you face and we face as a nation and he'll conclude with questions and answers. the session is on the record today. if you have questions, send them .edu. nts ooth brookings over to you, mike. mike: thank you, john.
and i add my personal gratitude not only for you joining us today and for the men and women in the military families and veterans who have sacrificed so much that i know you are broud to represent and lead. thank you, sir. the best way to begin our conversation was to take stock of how the military is doing in broad perspective in its readiness and the state of its people and its families. there have been a lot of stresses and strains, covid being the latest and i would love any update how the military is handling the covid crisis and also as we are handling this moment and 40 years since you finished up at princeton as rotc and hockey player star and you watched the u.s. military over
four decades and before that, four previous years as the army chief. i wondered how you would take stock of the condition of the u.s. military and get into talking about how you are preparing for the future. thank you for being with us. >> i want to thank you and general holland for those kind words. i think his picture was on the screen and over his shoulder was a painting and it was the assault landing and on that beach, it was the beach that my dad would have landed on with the 4th division and his father-in-law was the chief. their 0 marines gave lives in less than 30 days. i'm hum bled. my dad has passed away but
humbled to be a son of a world war ii veteran and my mother served as a nurse in seattle. you mentioned 40 years ago at princeton, i had no idea to make a career of military. and 40 years ago, the world is have much different place. e should be proud of 1979. rolled into afghanistan as part an attempt to quell a break-away portion. and assaults in saudi arabia and critical events, which is my senior year at princeton right before graduation. and we in and we, the military, were utterly committed in in the
middle of what we thought was almost a never-ending cold war with the soviet union. and literally, we know a decade later, the wall would come down or begin to come down in between the inter-german border. but the 1979-1980 time frame when i got commissioned 40 years ago is a fundamentally a different geopolitical world. if you look at things like technology, you know, 1971, i think, or the 1972-1973 time frame, early 70s, i think is your first email ever. i think if you go flash forward, call it 20 years, to the 1991 1990-1991 time frame, that's where you start getting the first websites, then coming forward another almost two decades to 2008, and you get -- the iphone comes out with steve jobs, so you've had an absolute explosion in information technology that did not really exist when i was commissioned. you had all kinds of different radio systems, different munitions, and so on and so
forth, and you had a different geopolitical environment. so a lot has has changed, as you well know. as far as you mentioned, taking stock in the military today, the united states military is a very powerful military, and no one should ever mistake it for anything other than that. adversaries, friends, foes, the united states military is extraordinarily capable. we are very, very powerful, we're powerful in all domains, whether it's the traditional domains of air, land, and sea, whether it's space and cyber, but what's also important to know and recognize as a fact is the gaps between us and potential adversaries, say, china or russia, for example. those have shortened and closed a little bit over the last 10, 15, 20 years. the united states has been heavily engaged in counter insurgency warfare in the middle east that we're all very familiar with. at the same time, the chinese, for example, they took stock in our operations worldwide, and they decided they would modernize. and it goes back to deng xiaoping in 1979, another critical event from that fateful year, and he modernized his --
he decided to reform the society of china, modernized their economy, and they had a run of about 10% for quite a while of their gdp growth. and today, they've slowed down to call it 6%, 7%, something in that range, but that's still extraordinary growth for an economy. so for 40 years now, 41, the chinese economy has really gone on a roll, extraordinarily powerful, and in its wake has come a modernized, reformed, very, very capable chinese military. so where the soviet military was the pacing threat, if you will, back in the 70s and 80s sort of thing, and when i became was -- when i was commissioned. today, i would argue that the chinese military and the challenge from a rising china, if you will, that is really the pacing threat of today, so a lot of geo-strategic changes, a lot of changes in the environment in terms of technology urbanization -- in terms of technology, urbanization is rapidly approaching. almost 80% of the world's population by mid-century. so there's a lot of change that's occurred at paces that are much more rapid than any
time period we've ever seen in history, so there's been a lot of change, but thanks for the opportunity to comment on it. as far as our military goes, i don't want anybody to mistake, our military is very, very capable, and we're ready for whatever comes our way. we're determined to defend the constitution of the united states, and we will protect the american people in our way of life. no one should doubt that. >> so if i could bear down a little bit on a couple of specific areas within that realm of broader u.s military capability today, and these are areas where sometimes those of us who are defense wonks track the data, and i know you do, too, on readiness, recruiting, retention, condition of equipment, condition of military pay and benefits. i wondered if you had any broad observations on those sorts of readiness trends in today's force. i mean, some people have said today's force is of, course, -- is, of course, very tired. it's been doing so much for 20 years in the broader middle
east. other people say, well, but the burden's less than it used to be, we don't have any big deployments in iraq or afghanistan anymore, and we sort of stabilized the budget environment, the trump administration has, with the congressional support of both parties, managed to increase the budget a bit, and maybe we're in better shape now. i just wondered if you could put some of these, you know, trends of readiness in perspective, compared to the last few years and compared to where you would like them to be. answer that. to the me try to answer it this way. , the marine, the navy, the air force, etc., about a third of the forces at the highest levels of readiness at a moment and done. and that is about right, because we would have a certain amount -- in force and training
training, refitting from previous deployment, and about a third of the forces ready to go at a moments notice at a high level of readiness. some organizations and units are at a higher level of readiness, others not so much. but the broad metric for you and unclassified format i would say about a third. it's factually correct. some units higher, some units less. in terms of recruiting, we are doing pretty well. there are some areas of concern. pilots and higher tech skills, such a cyber specialists that are in high demand and civil society. those are very difficult to retain. but recruiting and retention across the board is pretty good. discipline, excellent. morel, there's always comments about the force as tired. at war for 20 years. that's true, but to a certain extent that's true. but most of your younger part of
the force has not actually deployed. and if there is one common same that i get as i talked to troops around the world is they would like to deploy. and it's not that they are deploying too much. it's that they have not at all. they are training, and its all-important work, but they would actually like to deploy somewhere. and we do have forces that are deployed in a wide variety of situations. one of the things that we is a holistic review of our global foot rent and a holistic review of the disposition of the force and the tasks and purposes of all of the forces worldwide. there's a very strong argument to be made that we may have forces in places that they shouldn't be and we may have forces that are needed in places that they're not right now and that we need to adjust our global footprint in some cases
-- global footprint. in some cases there's an argument we have too many troops overseas and into many countries. broadly speaking, i would say the normal traditional readiness indicators of recruiting, retention, standard classified data, etc., we are in good shape. >> i wonder if you could speak specifically to the future. you already have mentioned china and the national defense strategy and innovation and modernization. but before we get to that, if you could add a word on covid and how the force is holding up at this late juncture late in 2020 after almost a year of the pandemic. i know that early in 2020 there were specific problems with certain naval forces that teddy roosevelt -- there had been concerns there were there was a need i believe to suspend basic training for a while back in the spring. but overall it appeared to me
through the spring and summer that the force was holding up pretty well in the face of covid and mercifully there weren't that many fatalities within the u.s armed forces from covid either. could you give us a snapshot here as we near the end of the calendar year about how the military is holding up in the face of this terrible pandemic? >> we are unique, but we have a hierarchal structure. we have discipline. we issue orders and people follow them. we took some pretty stringent measures early on to protect the force. the reason we wanted to do that, we recognize that our job as a military is to protect the american people. taske can't compass that and protect the american people and the constitution if we are all sick. we recognize the need to protect the force early on. and we did that. we pulled off the shell for our global pandemic op order that has been in existence. we tweaked it a little bit and we started doing certain conditions on our own force. we learned a lot of lessons from the tr as was known and we
doing isolation and screening prior to getting on ships or any closed operating environment, like bomber or a fighter jet. so we imposed a whole series of pretty stringent restrictions on ourselves that seems to have made some contribution but i think one of the biggest contributions to why the u.s military has fared fairly well and not perfect, we have had deaths, and those are tragic, we have had troops that are sick, etc., but relative to the whole, the number of deaths and sicknesses within the military and the force has been relatively small. probably the biggest contributing factor to that is our demographic. our demographic is not the same as it civil society. our demographic to no one's surprise is mostly young people who are highly fit and and they tend to fare reasonably well if infected. through a combination of our
demographic and the control measures that we put on ourselves early on we have done fairly well overall and i think we are at least equal to or better than any of the militaries in the world as it dealt with this particular virus. second part of that though is our contribution to the american to helping the american people through the covid crisis. and we deployed at the peak about 60,000 troops in support of covid to support troop ships. the mercy. you saw hospitals sprung up in various cities. today about 23,000 committed to the covert operations across the country. we continue to do that. and then our contributions to operation warp speed is significant. general gus perna is one of the senior logisticians a great human being. he's out there banging away and he's going to make sure that we distribute the covid vaccines
nationwide here in a very short order. i think next week or two or three they will start the distribution of those. so the military's made a contribution to protecting the society and also we've protected ourselves in the process. i think we've done reasonably well as a military. >> i'd like to now turn to the future and you've already teed up some of the big issues in mentioning china and the current and future global security environment. it's been almost three years since secretary mattis with you and others as part of the team wrote the national defense strategy under president trump that built on initiatives that occurred in the latter obama years when you first became army chief, like the third offset as it was called. the armies had its multi-domain operations you helped create the futures command when you were chief. i wondered if you would want to offer some broad commentary on where we stand with this greater effort in terms of preparing for great power competition
-- hopefully not great power war but nonetheless reinvigoration of great power deterrence and just where you see us at this juncture at the end of 2020. a couple of things. it's a very good document. that will be one of the significant contribution is that general mattis has made over the years. that document i think is rigorous. it was well thought out at the time. many people contributed to it that it really was the pen of general mattis who did that. and that's based in a solid understanding of military history, geopolitics. is it perfect? no. there's a few things that need to between. but it's pretty good. it's not a bad document at all. and and i think it's with stood the test of time here in the last three to four years. are there things that need to be modified for the nice administration? yes. i think they will do that. one of the highlights in that document talks about a return to
great power competition. you could argue the word return. maybe we've always been in a great power competition but we were engaged in counterinsurgency warfare against violent extremists and terrorist around the world. and we didn't necessarily recognize some of the changes that might have been happening in the world. we are in a multiple world for sure. with china and russia and the u.s. all three being exceptionally powerful militaries. with very powerful economies. then there's other polls. the eu, india, brazil. we are in a multiple world. what does that mean? -- multipolar world. what does that mean? the cold war was arguably a relatively stable geo strategic situation even though it was nerve-racking. it was relatively stable in part
because you had two poles that others gathered around but in the international system there were two essential powers and they could establish procedures and policies and communications sops with each other and over time that acted as a stability or stabilizing force within the environment. when you get into an environment that has multiple poles, it automatically becomes more complex almost by definition and more dynamic. that's one condition that we are in for sure and likely to remain in for a considerable length of time. another condition is this rapid emerging technology that that -- that has really occurred. 1970-ish orback to so, towards the end of the vietnam war is the introduction of precision munitions. very few countries have precision munitions in those days. precision munitions today are our most ubiquitous. most of your significant powers in the world that precision munitions.
most countries can hit targets at great distance with great precision. and then in order to do that you also have to be able to see. so what has happened say in the last you mentioned 40 years but back a little bit further. today we concealed the last 50 years we have had this information explosion. say globally better than at any time in human history. so right now, i've got a fit it on. -- fitbit on. a gps watch on. this probably iphones in this room. there's 22 electronic devices here. i would imagine the chinese the russians and a lot of other people listening in. so you can actually pinpoint people through electronic devices very quickly. we have an ability to image we have an ability to see and hear -- we have commercially available google earth that was only available to very sophisticated militaries and now it's available almost everywhere and everyone.
so you've got an ability to see and an ability to hit at range that has never existed before in human history. those two facts alone indicate that we are having a fundamental change in the character of war. the nature of war doesn't change. the nature of war doesn't change. it has to do with the politics and imposing your will and friction and the human functions of war. has sometimes and do most with technology. there are other conditions that political-- conditions, demographic conditions, etc.. technology drives oftentimes throughout history change in the character of war how we fight, the doctrine we fight, with the organizations we fight. i mentioned to wars and have been going on for 30, 40 years or so. but add to that some technologies that are emerging
and are coming very very fast -- robotics for example. it's already widely available in the commercial sector for a lot of different uses. we use it to a limited extent in military operations. you see explosive ordnance disposal teams use them in small penny packets. but you also see some experiments going on in the united states army in the air force the navy to create robotic ships and planes. his theoretical conceivable -- theoretically conceivable that you could have entire tank units without cruise or entire squadrons of airplanes without or ships without sailors. i'm not saying it's going to happen but it's theoretically possible. robotics is coming on and it's going to have a military application in the not-too-distant future. add in another technology like artificial intelligence -- that's an incredibly powerful technology that is coming very
fast not only in civil society in the commercial world but it's going to have tremendously powerful applications in the military. hypersonic's is another one. so there's there's five or ten rapidly approaching technologies that are going to have fundamental significant impact on the conduct of military operations as we move into the future. in combination with precision munitions and the ubiquitous nature of sensors and the ability to see. what does all that mean? i would argue that the country that masters all of those technologies and develops the proper military doctrines with the proper organizations and the proper leader development will have a decisive advantage in the next conflict. we've seen this before in history and i have no doubt that although the specifics are different, i think we'll see that again in the future. what does that happen?
not really sure. it depends who you listen to. but i think it is reasonable to think that am time in the mid-to late 30's, early 40's, perhaps mid-century-ish maybe at the latest, you will start seeing significant use of those technologies and combinations by advanced societies. and it's incumbent upon us the united states if we want to continue to be a free and independent nation to master those technologies and make sure that we do the proper application with our doctor and organizations, etc.. that is what you see happening today, right now. the chinese, russians, the u.s. and many countries are developing the systems and putting them together in different ways to have some military application in the future. and i think we are on the right path, i believe. but the key here, none of us are going to get it perfect. the key is to get it less wrong than your enemy is. it's going to be very dynamic, michael. >> one more question before we get to the budget environment
and then we get to some audience questions. i wanted to get a different take on the defense innovation and revolution question. how do you feel about the vulnerabilities in the u.s. armed forces today that some of these technologies are already creating? leave aside what would be the situation in 2030 or 2040 as you just mentioned. but i'm talking about our command and control systems, cyber systems, the electronic warfare environment on the tactical battlefield and what that could do to our radios, our dependence on satellites and fiber-optic cables. an issue that my colleague frank rose often harps on. do you feel it we have been making progress in mitigating vulnerabilities that perhaps we love to develop partly because we were fighting in the middle east against very violent nonetheless technologically less sophisticated adversaries? and in that period of time perhaps took our eye off some of these concerns a little bit have we made progress at addressing these kinds of achilles heels in the american armed forces as well as the broader national
infrastructure that supports the armed forces? >> you hit all the key ones. right off the bat in terms of vulnerabilities. yes, we have made improvements. no, we are not there. there are a whole series of very serious key vulnerabilities out there. , in fact,n societies all modern societies depend on electricity, for example. and each of these societies are very complex systems. systems of systems. but they all at the end of the day depend on some form of electricity to make all the radios work and planes and trains and automobiles drive so that is key. cap to also protected the internet, which was not built as anally thought of military system that needed to be protected. at the very beginning, the internet did not have a protection from the very
beginning. today, that is a vulnerability. we are quite aware of cyber threats to the u.s. and to our friends and allies. not only from criminals, but from nations. those areas that you cited are key vulnerabilities. space as a domain is critical. there's an argument to be made and many have made it in various unclassified writings that a country might try to seek a first mover advantage. to blind to the united states. the next for a harbor could happen in space. many people have written. ofyou took out a series satellites that were key to our communication systems of command and control systems or navigation systems, our position and navigation and timing systems come a that would potentially have a devastating effect and could encourage some country to try and do something like an electronic pearl harbor, with either electronic warfare systems or attack in space. so we recognize those threats. we recognize those vulnerabilities, and we are
moving at a very quick race with a lot of money into shoring up those defensive systems and redundancy, protecting them, hardening them, but also training. we're assuming that we're going to operate in a electromagnetic spectrum that is degraded. if there were a were, and hopefully there never will be, but if there was a war with a very sophisticated adversary the probability of the electromagnetic spectrum being degraded is almost a certainty -- so we have to get comfortable with operating without perfect command-and-control systems. we have to get comfortable with operating with degraded gps systems. with mimicking and and and jamming on radio and its, etc.. so these are all things that you have to do to protect but also to operate within a degraded environment. we're working on all of those right now as we speak. >> so before my last question on the budget i want to ask you a little bit about the overall state of the world as you see it
-- the several years now into the national defense strategy and the greater u.s focus on great power competition. and i guess i'll ask a little bit of a leading question because maybe i'm a little unusual among some strategists and foreign policy thinkers in believing we're actually in a somewhat better place than we were five years ago. and i was going to ask you to comment on that for example in russia, nato has now established more forward position in the baltic states in the united states largely under your leadership as both army chief and chairman has beefed up its presence in poland which makes me fear a little bit less that vladimir putin could have any designs on nato territory in the western pacific. and again i'm not trying to be partisan -- i think obama and trump administrations both contributed to this dynamic. we've maintained freedom and navigation exercises in the south china sea and i think it's increasingly clear to china are not going to be able to claim that or any other waterway as their own internal lake if
it's a place where the world depends for the sea lanes and for open access. and finally on north korea, even though that's obviously a work in progress not to mention iran being a policy that's in flux and a work in progress, nonetheless we have some pretty robust deterrent postures that have been maybe even strengthened in recent years so i'm not suggesting you want to spike the football in the end zone. i know you wouldn't go there and i know you've been emphasizing the need for continued vigilance, but do you feel that some of the policies of the last few years have at least given us a measure of greater stability than what we had maybe a half decade ago? >> over to you. -- over to you. stay at great power competition. you're going to have great power competition. that's the nature of the world. great powers are going to compete against each other for a lot of different spaces. that is ok. there's nothing necessarily wrong with the.
-- with that. but make sure it stays at great power competition and it does not shift the great power conflict or great power war. in the first half of the last century from 1914 to 1945, we had two world wars and in between 1914 and 1945 150 million people were slaughtered in the conduct of war and you heard john allen talk about my dad hitting the beach of iwo jima along with three other islands. massive amounts of blood and destruction. and we're still obviously feeling the effects of world wars one and two. and it's it's unbelievable to think of great power war and now if you think of great power war with nuclear weapons it's like -- you've got to make sure that doesn't happen. so we want to make sure that the conditions stay at great power competition. that's an important thing for the military to do. idea do that? you mentioned -- how do you do that? you mentioned deterrence.
you want to deter your opponent of even contemplating they could have a war with the u.s. or that they would be successful against they were with the u.s.. it's important that you maintain considerable levels of military power and economic power and that you engage diplomatically. and i think those three things in combination can ensure your opponent knows that you are a powerful and capable country and that it's not in a cost-benefit analysis with a rational actor and it's not going to make any sense to have a war with the united states. that's an important fact that needs to be continued and sustained today, yesterday, and tomorrow. the other thing we need to do to make sure i think is important is that your opponent knows your capability. it doesn't do any good if your opponent in the theories of deterrence has no clue to what your capabilities are. so it's important that they know that.
another key part of that is will, your opponent needs to know that you have the will to use the capabilities that you have. and part of that is communications. it's also behavior but part of it is communication. so it's important that you have lines of communications even with your enemies and your adversaries so that you communicate back-and-forth. part of the job i'm in right now as a chairman is to communicate with our adversaries and very close hold classified back channels. but i do that. in order for our opponents to clearly and unambiguously know that if action a would happen then reaction b would happen as a result. so those are all key components i think to deterring but another piece i think that needs continuous maintenance and it's mentioned in the nds is our allies and partners. the united states has a critical capability with our allies and partners. we've always had a strong capability for the last hundred years or so with our allies and
partners around the world. we have always been a believer -- we're unilateral if we have to be but we prefer to be a collective security arrangement and fight with our allies and partners. it's difficult. i had an opportunity in afghanistan to command and there were i think 42 flags underneath us from different countries. is that difficult? yes. does it require a degree of consensus? yes. but you are much more powerful when you have numbers. there's great power in nato as an alliance, with all of those countries together. there's great power with the united states and japan and south korea and australia in the western pacific, etc.. so allies and partners are key to deterrence as well so not only you have to have capability and communicate your capability and make sure that your opponent understands the will, but if you have a lot of allies and partners with you, that goes a great deal towards creating that
stable environment. and i would argue that in the last five or 10 years, we are not in a terrible position by a longshot, but there is room to improve. and we have to keep banging away. we should never be complacent. it's a dynamic world area the enemy gets the vote sort of thing. we got to continually assess the situation and continually emphasize some of the basics. the basics of deterrence, assurance, and the basics of operating in a collective security arrangement. >> my last question is on the budget environment. again, it appears in a bipartisan way that the united it's congress and -- the united states congress and the last two presidents, particularly the trump administration, have boosted up the defense budget to the point where it's now almost 750 billion dollars a year the national defense budget which is substantially higher than the cold war average even after
adjusting for inflation. that's the good news. but the more difficult news from the point of view of yourself and the service chiefs and others -- is that it now appears that budgets are likely to remain flat perhaps at best going forward given the size of the deficit and the debt the covid environment and even the world that we saw before covid because the trump administration's own projections a year ago were that the buildup would end and that defense budgets would probably at best keep up with inflation and yet we know secretary mattis in 2018 when he released the national defense strategy and the commission that followed all said that we needed three percent to five percent annual real growth indefinitely to properly implement the nds and that doesn't appear to be likely to happen. so could you give us some sense about your degree of concern about the budget environment and any words of advice for the incoming congress and new powerbrokers in washington about how to think about the defense budget? thank you.
powerorder to be a great in the system, i believe he have to have a very strong and capable military. but you also have to have a very strong and capable economy. you have to have a very resilient country as a whole. you have to have a great education system. you've got to have great infrastructure except all things well beyond the purview of the department of defense, but you have to look at it as a whole of which the military is one piece of the whole. and we do cost an enormous amount of money for the american taxpayer. as you mentioned, 750 billion dollars and a three to five percent growth rate annually not -- annually. not too long it would be a trillion dollars and so on so in an ideal world, i believe that we would need three to 5% sustained level of real growth in order to continue the modernization programs and the readiness programs and so on
that we have. that's desired. and we would want to have a sustained, predictable, adequate budget in a timely way every year. and again that's desired, but that's also not necessarily going to happen. and i don't anticipate that it will happen. uniform and in the pentagon, civilian, and military alike, we've got to do a quick reality check on the national budget and what is likely to in the not too distant future -- and i suspect that best the pentagon's budgets will start flattening up. there's a reasonable prospect that they could actually decline significantly, depending on what happens in the environment. again, your military is dependent upon a national economy, and we have had a significant pandemic, we've had a downturn in an economic situation nationally for almost
going on a year now, we've got significant unemployment and so on and so forth. the most important priority that you need to do is get take care of the covid piece, get that behind us, and brief into the economy. once you do that, then you can put additional moneys into a military. these aren't things that the chairman does or the pentagon does, these are more national type priorities, but i expect for us in the uniform, i anticipate in the coming years that it's likely to be flattened. it's possibly decreased a little bit. so what does that mean? that doesn't mean that the world's going to end for us. what that means is that we have to tighten up and take a much harder look at priorities and where we put the monies we do get. and we've got to make sure that we're absolutely optimizing the money we do get and we we get -- and we get the most we possibly can in the most efficient and effective way for the defense of the united it's. and that's what we are to have to do. we have to really take a hard
look at what we do, where we do it. that's why i was saying about our overseas disposition for example. there's a considerable amount of money that the united states expends on overseas deployments -- our overseas bases and locations. etc.. is everyone of those necessary for the u.s. defense? is everyone of those exercises that we do really critically important? at everythings that we do i think is warranted. and i have no problem in leading us through that to the extent that we can. >> thank you. that is a nice segue into some of the audience questions which i will now turn to and weave into our conversation. there are a few questions about her posture in the broader middle east which you've alluded to already. and the questions are diverse in their and their concern some people wonder why we still have such a big us military presence in the broader middle east, but others are worried that going
down to 2500 forces in afghanistan by early in the new year and maybe pulling forces out of somalia for example may put us at risk i realize that -- is that risk. i realize that these are charged questions and a lot of considerations go into them, but is there any way you would help us understand the u.s. military posture and the trends that are ongoing in the u.s. military posture towards the middle east? >> yeah, i think again, we have to rollback the clock quite a ways here. why is the u.s. military in the middle east to begin with? you've really got to go back to the 30s and the discovery of oil and the british footprint that was in the middle east at the time. and then the united states coming on the stage as a as a world power in world war one and then of course with world war ii . and at the conclusion of world war two, towards the end of it, a set of rules were drawn up on
how the world would be run and u.s diplomats along with the diplomats of several hundred other countries all met and decided on a structure a world world structure. on a world structure. the rules of the road, so to speak. today in the media people refer that as the rules based liberal world economic order. so there's different monikers to it, but the bottom line is, rules were set up and the united states at the end of world war ii, we suffered grievously in world war ii, but nothing compared to other countries you know the soviet union suffered 20 million killed in germany and japan 20 million china i think was 20 or 30 million just horrendous destruction in some of these countries. and most of them economically were just laid flat the united states had an enormous amount of aggregate power as proportionate to the whole by 1945 and we
wrote the rules. and other countries signed up to it. at least one other country didn't like it, the soviet union. so they wrote their own rules and they broke apart and called it the warsaw pact sort of thing and the world broke into two -- that all ended when the wall came down. and pretty much everybody to include the chinese subscribed to the rules that we rode back in 1945. so if you had a set, he had to have someone to enforce the rules. in that became the u.s. and our allies and partners area that is the open seas, for example. to make sure that you mentioned freedom of navigation to make sure that the global commons were properly policed. all of that fell to the united states as the main enforcer of this set of global rules now . today, people are wondering why we are where we are well that's why we are where we are because we set up a set of rules and we the united states through various administrations there
was a broad consensus that we would in fact enforce those rules with our allies and partners, but we were the enforcer of the rules. it's a fair question to ask if those conditions still obtain and if we still as a nation want to do that sort of thing. if the answer is yes, then that requires a certain degree of budgetary output and a certain degree of military capability . if the answer is no, then that requires a different solution so that's an open-ended question for the american people and the american electorate and our civilian leaders to decide. and i think there is actually a bit of a debate going on in our society right now on what our role is broadly speaking in the world, but right now, that's the reason why we are where we are and in the middle east specifically. everything had to do with the production of oil. because oil and the free flow of oil, that was the primary means by which the industrial world ran itself. we the united states actually
were never really dependent on mideast oil we only got a percentage of it, but all of western europe and all of asia and japan for example and south korea were very dependent on mideast oil. so we were the guarantor of the secure lines of communication to make sure that the oil transported from point a to point b. but there's other things at play also in the middle east besides oil. there are other things such as american values. do we think human rights matters? the we think stopping terrorism is a good thing or bad thing? and so on. youth in support of israel is good or bad? -- the -- do you think support of israel is good or bad? that is why we are there in many ways as to why we are in the
middle east to begin with. the specific disposition you're talking about with respect to afghanistan, iraq, somalia, some in thosee are particular areas specifically today because of various terrorist organizations. afghanistan specifically for another reason. to ensure that afghanistan never again became a platform for terrorists to strike against the u.s. measure, we have been at least a date successful in preventing that from happening again. we did that through a train advise assist program with the afghan national security forces and the afghan government. we believe that now after 20 years, two decades of consistent effort there, we have are achieved a modicum of success. i would also argue that over the last call of five to seven years as a minimum we have been in a condition of strategic stalemate where the government of afghanistan was never going to militarily defeat the taliban and the taliban as long as we were supporting the government of afghanistan was never going to militarily defeat the regime
. so he had a condition of strategic stalemate and the only way that that war should or could come to an end that was somewhat in alignment with u.s national security interests and also in the interests of the people of the region was through a negotiated settlement. now that's very odious for many people to think that we're going to negotiate with someone like the taliban, but that is in fact the the most common way that insurgencies end is through a negotiated power sharing settlement. those negotiations are ongoing right this minute as we speak. they're in a very critical stage in fact in doha and we've made some national decisions to go ahead and reduce our military footprint in afghanistan down to 2500 soldiers by 15 get order. president trump's made that decision and we're in the process of executing that decision right now what comes after that will be up to a new administration.
we will find that out on the 20th of january and beyond. but for right now, our plan and the decision of the president, the plan we are executing, is to go to 2500 troops but 15 january. that is also in support of the -- thents we are signed agreements we signed with the taliban back in february. the iraqi government wants the united states military to continue with a train advise assist program with the iraqi military. we think that is an important thing to do. we think that helps contribute interdicting and preventing further aggression by iran. importantink that is to continue to sustain. so it doesn't regenerate and come back. the president has also made a decision to reduce our posture and iraq. to 2500. also about 15 january.
decisions after that will come from the next administration. in somalia, somalia is an ongoing debate right this minute. not so much as to what a footprint is, it's what he footprint will look like. the extension of al qaeda like isis was. that they do have some reach and they could if left unattended conduct operations against not only was interest in the region, but also against the homeland. so they require attention. we're taking a hard look at a repositioning of the force to better enable us to conduct counterterrorist operation. relatively small footprint and relatively low cost in terms of numbers of personnel. in terms of money. but it's also high risk. as you's the news, we lost an officer from the cia who was
a former seal in somalia. so none of these operations are without risk, but we think we're approaching it rationally and responsibly to to adjust the footprint to what is necessary in order to continue the operations against the terrorists that are out there operating against the u.s.. >> just one quick follow-up on the broader middle east and afghanistan specifically and then there's a question about korea which i'd like to turn to next. to the extent you can an unclassified setting like this, what that 2500 u.s. troops would rent will look like, i think a lot of us would be curious. and some smaller keep abilities will training, advice here and there, interspersed with the afghan forces. is that a couple of big basis? kabul?ne near to what extent have you settled on what that footprint looks like? >> we have looked at that in
afghanistan. the acting secretary miller has approved the plan to go forward. torefer at this point not discuss exactly what bases are coming down. you're looking at a couple of larger bases with several satellite bases that provide the capability to continue our train advise assist mission and continue our counterterrorist mission. >> in regard to korea, there are questions that are focused on the need for vigilance and what is always a tense part of the world. speaking of going back in time, we have to go back 70 years to the origins of that conflict. there's a beasley been a lot of history that has transpired in just the last few years under the obama and trump administrations in regard to korea. hadi you feel about the overall situation on the situation of today? are you worried about a north korean resumption of nuclear or
long-range missile testing? and a comments in particular in regard to korea? -- any comments in particular in regard to korea? >> i think the alliance between the u.s. and the republic of korea is very strong and resilience. it's a senate approved defense treaty. 20,500 troops in south korea with significant capabilities. is verymilitary significant. it's one of the better militaries in the world. i am very confident in the military capability to the tour any provocations or attacks by north korea. it is also true that north korea has advanced their nuclear weapon and missile delivery capabilities. the turns capabilities of not only the republic of korea, but also in combination with japan and most importantly with the u.s. is very significant. so north korea has a wide ready of challenges internal to their own society.
do i expect north korea to do provocations at some point in the future? that is very possible. they've got a long history of doing things like that. adequatenk we have vigilance. we are monitoring the situation closely. as we always do with north korea. and we have adequate a la terry capabilities to deal with whatever might come our way. >> the very last question, thank you so much for the time you're spending with us today and all you and the men and women in uniform around the world are doing to defend us and their families. there are some questions about weapons of mass instruction. we learned anything about biological weapons with the potential of future kinds of biological weapons by watching this pandemic a naturally ,ccurring as best we know naturally occurring outbreak, but nonetheless that may foreshadow things that could be done deliberately by a future non-state actors or governments if they create more advanced
biological weapons? and then secondly in regards to nuclear weapons, i wonder if in particular the concern about limited nuclear war that we've heard russia threaten at times in recent years that secretary mattis felt the need to in some ways respond to with the nuclear posture review of 2018. if the idea of limited nuclear war is a bad idea that is being put back in a bottle, or if that is of particular concern to you was well? that some countries might take a little bit too cavalierly and assume they can do a very limited strike or two and still keep things under wraps. the final set of questions has to do with weapons of mass destruction. over to you. >> it is a complex question, actually. on the first one, it is clear the devastation that the
coronavirus 19 virus has done not only to the u.s., but to the world. it is incredible when you look back at the december-january-february timeframe. the economic devastation and obviously the loss of human life. so good that virus or any other type of virus or other biological type systems be deployed for nefarious purposes? to do that by intense, absolutely yes,. is that a concern? yes. it's a concern. is that a concern that a nationstate would do that? nationstates have the capabilities to develop those kinds of weapons and could deploy them, but that would be a very drastic move on the part of any nationstate, which would ea complete and utter act of war, which would have a devastating response from the u.s. of more concern would be a terrorist organization. someone who may or may not be operating off of rational actor
sort of rule sets. that is of great concern. and it's actually not all that difficult to imagine biological weapons being developed and then deployed by organizations that would in fact have no compunction whatsoever about deploying those sorts of weapons and causing the level of destruction that they have done. we know that some organizations in fact are trying to look at things like that. they don't have that yet, but that is a possibility. something that we need to be on the guard against in in terms of interdicting and disrupting and destroying any capability like that, but we also need to take the lessons learned from this current pandemic and roll those into capabilities to defend ourselves so in the future we have stockpiles of ppe and we have organizations that are capable of rapid deployment. we have protocols and procedures that we can quickly and rapidly impose upon ourselves in order to limit the effects of any sort of biological weapon. all of that is ongoing. we have a very rigorous lessons
learned program ongoing with the correct prices. with respect to nuclear weapons, i have a very difficult time intellectually getting my head wrapped around a limited nuclear war. nuclear weapons are so devastating. they're even these so-called small-yield nuclear weapons i mean hiroshima and nagasaki if i'm not mistaken i'm doing this from memory, i think that they were a 10 kiloton sort of thing -- and it destroyed 80,000 to 90,000 people in a flash. unbelievable. so if you took something like a one kiloton -- like one kiloton, which someone would argue is a small nuclear weapon, that will still be devastating, that would take out lower manhattan. so i'm not sure what limited means of these terms. leader would any decide to cross a nuclear threshold, that's an extraordinarily dangerous moment
in time in international politics and national security, for any leader to even contemplate doing that. and we know some have. some have developed doctrines and weapons to do that. i think that is a very dangerous path to follow. the other part of that though is again, back to terrorist organizations or some sort of rogue organization, that if they were to get their hands on nuclear weapons, then they would use them. that is a problem. it's still a problem in the world and something we need to pay close attention to. as nuclear proliferation occurs, and it is occurring north korea has nuclear weapons now and many other countries have nuclear -- weapons we have to pay close attention to the proliferation of nuclear weapons because the more nation-states that have them just by common sense, your probability of an accident happening, your probability of theft, your probability of of use goes up and the calculations of deterrence become that much more complex. so nuclear weapons are something that needs to have lots of
people's very mature very serious attention on the development, the use, the control, and the procedures and protocols that go around this. 5-15 years, since the fall of the berlin wall, a lot of our study and rigor and discipline with respect to nuclear weapons has atrophied a bit. because a cold war went away. and the fear of nuclear war , the unitedt powers states and the soviet union, when away. i think that level of academic rigor and discipline, we need to recapture some of that. because the world is getting more complex, not less complex. and more nuclear proliferation as we speak. is a limited ability, but i do think there are various controls when he to seriously redirect and blow some life back into the study of the entire nuclear environment and weapons systems out there. >> mr. chairman, you covered a
lot. we are so grateful that brookings and i know around the country for what you have done today. and continue to do. we want to wish the very best for the holidays -- wish you the very best for the holidays and new year. to everyone in the american armed forces and their families and veterans. thank you very much for being with us. >> i appreciate the opportunity to speak with you and all those listening. >> ask for watching. be sure to like and subscribe. announcer: c-span's washington journal. onryday, whitaker calls live the are with the news of the day and we will discuss policy issues that impact you. morning, thursday a discussion on the gears's $741 billion defense spending bill . of defense news and jamie raskin will talk about election legal challenges and white house transitions. republicanee congressman, john rose come on congress and the trump administration's coronavirus
pandemic response. watch c-span's washington journal live at 7:00 eastern thursday morning. be sure to join the discussion with your phone calls, facebook comments, text messages, and tweets. ♪ thursday morning, a hearing on congressional oversight of the f the's crossfire hurricane and -- the crossfire her can investigation between the chimp campaign and russian officials. watch live starting at 10:00 a.m. eastern on c-span3. at c-span.org, or listen live on the free c-span radio app. with a peaceful presidential transition of power and question following the 2020 election, sunday night, on q&a, historian susan shoulders and erik rush we talk about two of the most contentious presidential transitions and you and history in 1861 -- in u.s. history in 1861
between james buchanan and a blinken and then between herbert hoover and frank lynn was about. >> some states did not recognize the election of abraham lincoln as legitimate. they considered him a sectional president due to by and large his support came from non-placed states. than south carolina makes good on its promise to proceed towards receiving from the union. >> overheated the election on election day and really had no choice given the resounding nature of the way it was reported. it's clear he had lost the election. he never conceded the argument. he continued to believe that the represented a fundamental threat toward the american way of life, so he devoted himself to preventing roosevelt from being able to enacted. announcer: contentious presidential transitions
sunday night at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span's q&a. house and human services secretary, alex is our, left briefing with officials from operation works become a to give an update on the status of a coronavirus vaccine. they discuss how we vaccine will be distributed throughout the country once one is optimized for emergency use. this is one hour -- is authorized for emergency use. this is one hour. >> think you for joining our warp operation warp speed -- our operation warp speed briefing. we continue receiving good news through operation warp speed. with moderna's announcement on monday, two companies have now applications with the fda. out of the three companies that have shown promising data for efficacy in phase three trials. on top of that,on top of that, e ows-supported candidates are well oei