Inhofe Opening Statement at SASC Strategic Command, Cyber Command Posture Hearing

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), today delivered the following opening statement at a full committee hearing to review U.S. Strategic Command and U.S. Cyber Command:

As prepared for delivery:

I would like to welcome Admiral Haney and General Alexander to today’s hearing on U.S. strategic and cyber forces.  This is Admiral Haney’s first posture hearing as commander of U.S. Strategic Command, and General Alexander’s last posture hearing before this committee as commander of U.S. Cyber Command.  I thank you and your families for the many years of dedicated service to our country.  I wish General Alexander and his family all the best in his upcoming and well-deserved retirement.

Admiral Haney, the 5-year debate over the course of U.S. nuclear weapons policy is, for the most part, settled. The President’s June 2013 Nuclear Weapons Employment Strategy hews closer to the deterrence policy that has guided U.S. nuclear policy since the end of the Cold War than to the President’s naïve vision of a world without nuclear weapons.  The updated guidance not only emphasizes the instrumental role of nuclear weapons in deterring threats and assuring allies, but also reaffirms the need to maintain a modern nuclear triad “as the best way to maintain strategic stability at reasonable cost and hedge against uncertainty.”      

One of your great challenges, however, will be to ensure that the commitment to nuclear modernization expressed in this guidance, and more recently by Secretary of Defense Hagel, is carried out in a funding constrained environment. In a sign of Congressional support, the Fiscal Year 2014 Omnibus spending bill provided virtually all that the President had requested for nuclear modernization. Unfortunately, the President’s request fell short of the commitment that was made in 2010 to secure ratification of the New START Treaty.   

Department of Energy funding for nuclear weapons activities over the past three years is about $2 billion short and virtually every nuclear weapon life extension program is behind schedule.  Likewise, the follow-on nuclear ballistic missile submarine and replacement for the air-launched cruise missile are both two years behind schedule, and a decision on a follow-on ICBM has yet to be made.  I look forward to hearing about your priorities for nuclear modernization and what steps you intend to take to ensure programs are effectively implemented to avoid further delays and unnecessary cost growth.

The committee will also want to know your views on recent plans by the Missile Defense Agency to enhance U.S. homeland missile defense systems by improving sensor capability and developing a new kill vehicle for the ground-based interceptor.

Cyber Command has made considerable strides in normalizing cyber planning and capabilities. Notable progress has also been made towards fielding a Cyber Mission Force of nearly 6,000 Cyber Warriors who will be critical in ensuring that we remain ahead of our adversaries and capable to address a threat landscape that is rapidly evolving.

Despite these important strides, I remain concerned that little progress has been made towards developing a strategy to effectively address the growing number and complexity of threats in the cyber domain. The status quo is unacceptable and the Administration is to blame for its inability to develop and employ an effective cyber deterrence strategy. Our adversaries continue to test our networks freely and without meaningful consequences. Two well publicized events involving Iran, one involving an enduring campaign of cyberattacks on U.S. banks and the financial sector and another involving the exploitation of a critical Navy network are deeply concerning. The apparent inaction of the Administration underscores its failed cyber deterrence strategy.  This must change. Until our adversaries understand there will be serious consequences for cyberattacks against the United States, these attacks will continue.

In closing, I’d like to comment briefly on Edward Snowden. This man isn’t a whistleblower or a hero as some have portrayed him to be. He’s a traitor who stole nearly two million documents – the vast majority of which have nothing to do with the activities of the NSA.  In the process, he’s potentially given our enemies, including Russia and China, access to some of our military’s most closely guarded secrets.  He’s undermined our ability to protect the country and has put the lives of our military men and women at greater risk. These are the hallmarks of a coward, not a hero. It’s time the American people fully understand the damage Snowden has done to our national security.