Mar 21, 2024
Press Release

Washington, D.C.  — U.S. Representative Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Chairman of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee, delivered the following opening remarks at a hearing on the United States’ strategic forces posture for fiscal year 2025 to assess the related programs, capabilities, and priorities.

Rep. Lamborn’s remarks as prepared for delivery:
Our hearing today is situated at a critical juncture for our strategic forces. We are continuing to pursue a long overdue modernization of our nuclear enterprise while Russia and China grow their nuclear forces at a staggering pace. Recent reports even suggest Russia's contemplation of deploying nuclear weapons in space, a notion previously inconceivable among rational nations, but since Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine such outrageous and irresponsible behavior has become commonplace.
Our efforts to replace our aging nuclear systems could not come at a more challenging time.
The Sentinel missile program is undergoing the Nunn-McCurdy process after cost increases and schedule delays greatly exceeded the threshold to trigger the required review.  While I believe fully fielding a modernized and nuclear triad is something we must achieve, I would note that the witnesses before us today will not be able to comment directly on the Nunn-McCurdy review.  This process is being led by Dr. Bill LaPlante, the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment.
Beyond Sentinel, a crumbling and inefficient industrial base is exposing the Navy’s development schedule for the Columbia-class submarine to increasing risk. While it is sometimes tempting to focus only on cost-growth or missed milestones, we cannot overlook the ultimate consequence of programmatic delays – our warfighters will lack the capabilities they need to carry out their mission.
Decisions to defer nuclear modernization have left the recapitalization schedule devoid of flexibility with no room for delay.  We face the serious prospect over the next decade of our nuclear triad aging out before replacement systems are operational.
Allowing this scenario to play out would expose our nation to heightened nuclear risks in a two nuclear peer world and leave us with an older and smaller nuclear force that is unprecedented in our history.
We must avoid this outcome. Congress’s decision in last year’s NDAA to mandate a program of record for the development of a nuclear sea-launched cruise missile will help, but other creative solutions and new capabilities beyond SLCM will be necessary to ensure we avoid a deterrence gap in the next decade.  As a nation, we must be prepared to invest heavily in these solutions. All options must be on the table. General Cotton, we look forward to hearing your thoughts on this challenge.
In the space domain, our efforts to secure American superiority have unfortunately continued to be proven prescient by the growing threats posed to U.S. space assets and the joint force by Chinese and Russian space weapons. General Whiting, I look forward to hearing your priorities today and what we need to be ready to fight and win in space.
General Guillot, as the warfighter in charge of defending the homeland, we look forward to hearing from you about the evolving threats you face and whether our capabilities are staying ahead of them. Specifically, I’m interested in hearing your impression of what your command needs when it comes to defense against hypersonic weapons and domain awareness.