Opening Statement (As Prepared)

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Thank you, Chairman Lamborn. Thank you to all our witnesses for being here and for helping us begin the important work of writing the fiscal year 2025 National Defense Authorization Act.

I would like to begin by welcoming General Whiting and General Guillot to the subcommittee. The work at SPACECOM and NORTHCOM is becoming increasingly important to protecting and defending the United States and our partners and allies as we face an increasingly complex security situation globally. I look forward to working with you across your areas of responsibility to ensure we are prepared and postured to defend U.S. territory, personnel, and assets both here on earth and in space.

The issues this subcommittee tackles are at the very core of our national security as a nation. Therefore, it is important that we continue to work together in a bipartisan fashion to address the critical issues before us.

As we sit in this hearing, war criminal Vladimir Putin continues his criminal war against Ukraine, last week reintroducing veiled threats of nuclear weapons. We have also recently heard that Russia is developing a space weapon that would violate the Outer Space Treaty, and would target critical national security satellites in orbit.  

Meanwhile, the CCP continues to expand their nuclear arsenal at a rate that is exceeding U.S. intelligence estimates of just a few years ago. They are developing more sophisticated delivery platforms that are dual-capable, and as such, have deployed several hypersonic weapons that can carry nuclear weapons. They are also launching satellites that have concerning military utility, putting U.S. systems at risk.

North Korea has been consistently launching ballistic missiles that target our deployed forces and allies in the region, and have demonstrated consistently the technology and range to reach the United States.

Lastly, Iran’s influence in the Middle East demonstrates daily their intent to fuel terrorist and proxy organizations to target U.S. deployed forces, allies, partners, and commercial infrastructure in the region.

All that to say, the mission of this subcommittee is growing in scope, importance, and urgency.

While we are clear-eyed about the advancements our competitors are making in various weapons systems, we must also reflect on how our decisions, actions, and statements are understood by those competitors and adversaries to avoid starting or escalating an arms race, or worse, a miscalculation that could have catastrophic effects. Ultimately, we should have two shared goals: ensuring our credible deterrence and strategic advantage over our adversaries; and reducing the number of weapons and chances of warfare on all sides.

When we look at our own capabilities, we cannot ignore the elephant in the room. The recent announcement of a Nunn-McCurdy breach on the Sentinel program, with a potential $30 billion increase in cost, is alarming. As I have stated multiple times – I wish we lived in a world without nuclear weapons – we would all be safer without them. But as long as our adversaries have them we need them, too, and that is why I support investing in this cornerstone of our strategic stability, as decades of no wars between superpowers have proven. I hope to not relitigate debates of the past, as multiple reviews and Administrations have come to the same conclusion – we need the land-based ICBMs to maintain strategic deterrence. Further, when the GBSD – now Sentinel – program was initiated, we were facing a single peer nuclear adversary. The world has changed a lot since then, unfortunately, and General Cotton, I would like to understand from you how you are beginning to think about a world with two near-peer nuclear capable adversaries, and how that might adjust your requirements to maintain deterrence between both.

With regards to the space domain, much of the work being done here we still cannot talk about in this setting, but we see our adversaries developing and deploying systems that could put nearly every U.S. satellite at risk, whether it be a national security system or a commercial capability. I will continue to press the Department to make sure we are appropriately classifying these programs so we can explain to our constituents back home why we need to invest $34 billion in this year’s budget to develop space capabilities, resilient architectures, and enhanced space command and control.

Lastly, I continue to have concerns with regards to our policies and plans for both our conventional prompt strike hypersonic weapons and strategic missile defense capabilities. As I mentioned previously, we cannot develop systems without having an understanding on how we intend to use them and how our adversaries will respond to them. These should be basic, straightforward questions, and yet the Department has floundered repeatedly in answering them, most recently last week when they told us it would take until the end of the year to tell us how they want to use the hypersonic missiles they have spent $15 billion on to date. How many of you have had success spending a huge percentage of your family budget on something that you cannot explain to your spouse how you intend to use?

The strategic posture of the United States must remain a top priority across both the Administration and Congress. I look forward to working closely with the members of this subcommittee and our witnesses in ensuring we are thinking not just about developing the next capability for the battlefield, but the dire consequences the policies surrounding these weapon systems could spark—a future nuclear exchange.  

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.