WASHINGTON - Today, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, made the following remarks, as prepared for delivery, on the Subcommittee's markup. To view the mark and to watch the markup live click here.
"We meet today to consider the Strategic Forces Mark of H.R. 2810 — National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018.
Before diving into the details of the Mark, I just want to take a moment and thank my colleague and friend, Jim Cooper.
For the past 5 years, we have worked together, in a truly bipartisan fashion, to lead the subcommittee in its oversight of some of the military’s most critical systems.
We are tackling some key issues in the Mark this year on incredibly important topics like reform of the national security space enterprise – his vision and bipartisanship has been critical to getting us here today. I appreciate his wisdom and diligence and couldn’t ask for a better partner in tackling these issues.
The only other thing I could ask for out of him would be an occasional roll-tide.
I’ll now turn to the details of the Mark.
Let’s begin with national security space.
The Mark addresses the significant flaws in the organization and management of the national security space enterprise.
This is an issue the subcommittee has studied for months and I can’t even tell you how many meetings with space experts and leaders Jim and I have had on this subject.
We both have come to the same conclusion – that the Department can’t fix itself on this, Congress has to step in.
And that is why the Mark creates a new Space Corps within the Department of the Air Force, under its Secretary, but separate from the Air Force itself.
It also re-establishes a Space Command as a sub-unified command under U.S. Strategic Command.
These changes won’t be easy and will be disruptive in the short-term, but our adversaries will never be less capable than they are today – we must act now if we wish to maintain the advantages the U.S. military obtains from by operating in, through, and from space.
Now, I had no illusions they were going to embrace our reforms.
But when I see arguments that we are actually going set back efforts to respond to adversary space threats, well, as we say in Alabama, I’m pissed. What’s the word for it in Tennessee?
My colleagues and know me. They know Mr. Cooper.
We’re not easily provoked.
But, since we’ve rolled out our Mark with these reforms to the national security space enterprise, I have to say I’ve been shocked by the response by the Air Force leadership.
Did they miss where the Chinese and the Russians have already reorganized their space operations?
The Chinese literally have a space force today.
Yet, the Air Force would continue to force space to compete with F35s. Who’s going to win that competition? I wonder.
Yesterday, the Secretary of the Air Force stated that, 'This will make it more complex, add more boxes to the organization chart, and cost more money…I don’t need another chief of staff and another six deputy chiefs of staff.'
Well, the Secretary should tell me where in this proposal it says she needs to add six more deputy chiefs of staff?
If she can’t implement this proposal without creating six new Deputy Chiefs of Staff, that’s on her.
Maybe we need a Space Corps Secretary instead of leaving it to the Secretary of the Air Force.
I hear these comments, by the way, after the Secretary has taken credit for something the Air Force announced three months ago: creating a new deputy chief of staff of the Air Force and a new box on the org chart.
The Pentagon always resists change.
It resisted the creation of the Air Force itself – the great irony here.
It resisted Goldwater-Nichols, which has been a vital reform to the way the military fights as a team.
The Air Force resisted the unmanned aerial vehicles.
Who can imagine if we’d listened to the Air Force then when it claimed the resources could be better spent.
The Rumsfeld Commission.
The Allard Commission.
A dozen other reports and studies over the past 15 years.
What do they have in common? They have all concluded that the current organization isn’t working.
Now the Air Force leadership would have us trust them again to get it right. They just need a few more years to rearrange the deck chairs.
This is the same Air Force that got us into the situation where the Russians and the Chinese are near-peers to us in space.
We will not allow the status quo to continue.
To be clear, I’m willing to work with the Air Force, and the Secretary and the Chief to reform the national security space enterprise.
But, at the end of the day, whether or not they’re in the room when decisions are made is their choice.
But they better shape up or they’ll figure out who is in charge here.
I’ll let you in on a secret: it’s the branch of our government that controls the purse strings.
Ok, with that friendly warning out of the way, let’s focus on the rest of the Mark.
The Mark also provides for the establishment of an annual 'Space Flag' training event for space professionals, modeled after the Air Force’s Red Flag event, in an effort to further improve and develop our warfighting capabilities and doctrine in the space domain.
On the subject of Russian violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the Mark includes a significant set of actions to send Russia a message: your violations of this treaty are going to cost you and you will not be permitted to obtain a military advantage from this lawless behavior.
Turning to the nuclear enterprise, the Mark will create strong oversight processes to ensure the nation’s nuclear command, control, and communications system remains robust and secure during ongoing recapitalization efforts.
The Mark also directs an independent assessment of the contracting methods for running the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) national labs. We need to evaluate how we’re managing and operating these national treasures to understand whether the current 'for-profit' model makes sense.
We recommend to the Chairman authorizing the full budget request funding level for NNSA’s nuclear weapons activities and defense nuclear nonproliferation program, including critical efforts to modernize the nuclear weapons stockpile and related infrastructure.
We know that the increased funding requested for these efforts this year is just to execute the Obama Administration’s nuclear modernization program. This funding was a recognized need by former Secretary of Energy Ernie Moniz, and it is encouraging to see the new Administration agrees.
On missile defense, ensuring our ballistic and cruise missile defenses continue to stay ahead of the threat is more important now than ever before.
As Admiral Syring testified before this Committee less than a month ago, 'it is incumbent upon us to assume that North Korea today can range the United States with an ICBM carrying a nuclear warhead.'
We cannot afford to shortchange our missile defense in the face of such threats – unfortunately, that’s just what we’ve been doing for the last eight years.
Broadly speaking, the Mark addresses the growing threat from adversary ballistic missile proliferation by recommending to the Chairman more than $2 billion in additional funding for missile defense, while also including mechanisms for enhancing the research, development, and procurement of missile defense programs.
Specifically, the Mark supports the committee’s broader effort to move acquisition authorities down from OSD to the individual services by requiring the transfer of acquisition authorities from the Director of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to a military department by the time the FY2020 President’s Budget is submitted.
The Mark also requires the Director of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation (CAPE) to review the contracting strategy for the Ground Based Midcourse Defense system, which I might add is the only system we currently have to guard us against an ICBM launched by North Korea, and prevents the MDA from changing the strategy until 30 days after Congress receives CAPE’s review.
It also requires the Missile Defense Agency to develop a space-based sensor layer to enhance our ballistic missile defense capabilities.
It continues the committee’s commitment to ensuring the Aegis Ashore sites in Romania and Poland are equipped with organic anti-air warfare capabilities by requiring such capabilities are deployed in Romania within one year and at Poland within one year after the site is declared operational.
And, something I find hugely important: it gives the U.S. Army one last chance to show it is serious about modernizing its new missile defense radar. The Army will get until April of 2018 to develop a modernization schedule that acceptably meets warfighter requirements for a replacement to the legacy Patriot air and missile defense radar system or have acquisition program transferred to the Missile Defense Agency. We have been pushing the Army for three years on this matter, and all we’ve gotten is delays and red tape. Enough is enough.
Lastly, and this is a very significant issue to me, we recommend to the Chairman a significant increase of over $550 million to fully fund the request of our allies in Israel. We would provide a total of $705 million for co-development and co-production of Iron Dome, David’s Sling, and Arrow 3.
I’ll now turn it over to my friend, the Ranking Member, for any comments he would like to make."