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July 28, 2020

ICYMI: NORTHCOM, SPACECOM Nominees Describe Threats from China, Russia at Inhofe-Led Confirmation Hearing

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, questioned witnesses this afternoon at a committee hearing to consider nominations to lead United States Northern Command and United States Space Command. 

Witnesses included: Lieutenant General Glen D. VanHerck, nominated to be General and Commander, United States Northern Command, and Commander, North American Aerospace Defense Command, and Lieutenant General James H. Dickinson to be General and Commander, United States Space Command.

Inhofe: General VanHerck, from your opening statement, you mentioned your support for the National Defense Strategy that’s this document here that we are all adhering to, and defense of the homeland being the number-one priority.  You also mentioned that threats to the homeland are here now. Can you expand a bit on the strategic environment that you would expect to face when confirmed as Commander of USNORTHCOM or have you already responded to that question?


VanHerck: Senator, I have not. If confirmed, I would expected a very dynamic environment. Over 32 years of service, I don’t think I’ve ever seen as strategic and dynamic a national security challenge as we have today. Over the last three decades, our competitors and potential adversaries have watched the United States and our way of deterring and our way of competing and our way of conflict. They have taken the opportunity to adapt to that environment by watching us, specifically China and Russia, across all domains. Russia develops strategic capabilities, such as their submarines, which now are a significant challenge for tracking and pose the potential for cruise missiles that can strike the homeland. China will do the same in the not so distant future as they continue to develop their capabilities and become more expeditionary. Russia will continue with their cruise missile development, which is a significant challenge that we talked about earlier as well. DPRK with a nuclear capability and the potential to strike the homeland. Iran, although not having a nuclear capability at this time, continues down a path developing space capability, which could translate into ICBM capability, and of course they’re state sponsors of terrorism, and their proxies will continue attacks on the western nations as well. Couple that with the VEO and transnational criminal organizations, I expect a full challenge if confirmed as the NORTHCOM Commander.


Inhofe: Very good. General Dickinson. The National Defense Strategy (NDS) and great power competition — in your view, does the 2018 NDS accurately assess the current strategic environment as it pertains to the domain of space? 

Dickinson: Senator, I think it does, and when I look across the spectrum of competitors that we’re looking at today, in particular two of them, China and Russia, are very active. We’ve seen that over the last few years, particularly with China in 2007 with their direct ascent and anti-satellite capability tests that they demonstrated, their proliferation of jammers and directed energy. Similarly, Russia has been in the news the last couple of weeks, actually the last few months, in terms of what they’re doing on orbit in terms of advancing their capabilities. North Korea in particular, again, not advancing quickly in the space domain, but is definitely using that in terms of developing missile technology, and likewise with Iran, their ability to put satellites into orbit, albeit it not as capable, still able to demonstrate that missile technology to do that, so Senator, Chairman, I would just tell you they are active, and I agree with the NDS.


Inhofe: Yes. Thank you very much.

Click here to watch Inhofe’s opening statement.   

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