U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), discussed worldwide threats with the Honorable Daniel R. Coats, Director of the National Intelligence and Lieutenant General Robert P. Ashley, Jr., USA, Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
As prepared for delivery:
The Committee meets today to receive testimony on worldwide threats. We are pleased to welcome our distinguished witnesses: Dan Coats, Director of National Intelligence; and Lieutenant General Robert Ashley, Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
It is particularly timely that we are hearing from our nation’s top intelligence officials in the context of the administrations newly released National Defense Strategy, which provides guidance for how to prioritize and address the threats we face.
I just returned from a CODEL in the PACOM AOR with Senators Rounds, Ernst, and Sullivan along with Rep. Kelly where we visited the Philippines, Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan in addition to stops in Hawaii and Alaska.
Senior military and civilian defense leaders have long warned that our competitive advantage is eroding. Gen. Dunford has stated “we are losing our qualitative and quantitative edge.” That didn’t happen overnight, and it didn’t happen by accident.
Rising powers like Russia and China have been investing in military modernization and developing capabilities specifically targeted to contest America’s overmatch capabilities – in fact China is increasing its spending in FY18 by 8.1 percent over last year, a third straight year of significant growth.
It is important to point out that Russia has made some advances in weapons systems in clear violation of the INF Treaty which Putin touted during his presentation of the Russian State of the Union last week. The INF treaty doesn’t apply to China.
While our response here at home during the last administration was to provide our military with inadequate funding, budget uncertainty, and a readiness crisis.
Now a new era of great power competition with Russia and China has emerged, and we must recognize that the threats they pose are our greatest challenge. However, we cannot ignore threats from regional actors such as North Korea and Iran, or those from terrorists and non-state actors.
Director Coats, you summed up the gravity of the current threat environment when you wrote in your prepared testimony, “The risk of interstate conflict, including among the world’s great powers, is higher than at any time since the end of the Cold War.”
Thank you for being here today. We look forward to hearing your assessment of the threats we face and how we can best prepare to confront them.