WATCH HEARING HERE
WASHINGTON – Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio) – Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces – delivered the following opening statement at a subcommittee hearing entitled “Near-Peer Advancements in Space and Nuclear Weapons.”
Remarks as prepared for delivery:
Mr. Chairman, I would like to thank you for making this the first hearing in the 117th Congress for the Strategic Forces Subcommittee and for bringing in these experts to learn more about Russia and China’s nuclear and space capabilities and how they threaten U.S. and allied national security. I’d like to extend my thanks to all the witnesses here today. I look forward to hearing your perspectives on these important matters.
To illustrate some of these capabilities that Russia and China are acquiring, I will offer a few quotes from our defense intelligence and military leaders:
- General Robert Ashley, then Director for the Defense Intelligence Agency, publicly stated in 2019, “Russia’s stockpile of nonstrategic nuclear weapons, already large and diverse, is being modernized with an eye towards greater accuracy, longer ranges and lower yields to suit their potential war-fighting role.” “The U.S. has determined that Russia’s actions have strained key pillars of arms control architecture.” The “United States believes that Russia probably is not adhering to the nuclear testing moratorium in a manner consistent with the zero-yield standard.” And, “Russia is also pursuing novel nuclear delivery systems that create a strategic challenge for the U.S. and which are difficult to manage under current arms control agreements.”
- On China, according to General Ashley, “China soon will field its own version of a nuclear triad, demonstrating China’s commitment to expanding the role and centrality of nuclear forces in Beijing’s military aspirations. And like Russia, China is also working to field nuclear theater-range precision strike systems. While China’s overall arsenal is assessed to be much smaller than Russia’s, this does not make this trend any less concerning.”
- Admiral Charles Richard, the Commander of U.S. Strategic Command, this January publicly reinforced these troubling trends by stating: “More than a decade ago, Russia began aggressively modernizing its nuclear forces, including its non-treaty-accountable medium-and short-range systems.” “Russia’s nuclear modernization is about 70 percent complete and on track to be fully realized in a few years.” And on China, he stated “China is also on a trajectory to be a strategic peer and should not be mistaken as a “lesser included” case.” “China’s nuclear weapons stockpile is expected to double (if not triple or quadruple) over the next decade.”
- “Russia and China have begun to aggressively challenge international norms and global peace using instruments of power and threats of force in ways not seen since the height of the Cold War—and in some cases, in ways not seen during the Cold War, such as cyberattacks and threats in space,” according to Admiral Richard.
- General John Hyten, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a National Security Space Association event in January, “Russia and China are building capabilities to challenge us in space because if they can challenge us in space, they understand as dependent as we are in space capabilities that they can challenge us as a nation.”
The Defense Intelligence Agency has also reported that China and Russia, in particular, have taken steps to challenge the United States in space and have developed military doctrines that indicate that they view space as important to modern warfare and view counterspace capabilities as a means to reduce U.S. and allied military effectiveness.
I believe Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks, based on their confirmation hearings, recognize the strategic and existential threats that Russia and China pose to the United States. Failing to ensure that we have a credible nuclear deterrent as well as space and counterspace capabilities will have a profound and incalculable impact on our national security and that of our allies.
This makes it even more critical that we execute the modernization of all legs of the nuclear triad, its related nuclear infrastructure, and warhead stockpiles, as well as the nuclear command, control, and communications capabilities that underpin them. We also need to see that the Space Force, and its enterprise, is fully implemented. We must maintain the capabilities our military needs for deterrence and in reassuring our allies of our commitments.
This is necessary for us to keep world peace, and to deter Russia and China from even considering escalation of a conflict with the United States or our allies.
We simply do not have time to overlook the pace and scale of the threats Russia and China pose, and we must do everything we can to maintain our capabilities to deter, and if necessary, to defend the United States and the international order, and the way of life, we have fought to achieve and preserve.
I look forward to hearing testimony from our witnesses on these issues. Thank you and I yield back.
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