At a hearing today, U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the top Republican on the Strategic Forces Subcommittee, questioned General Anthony J. Cotton, Commander of U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM). Senator Fischer asked about the Strategic Posture Commission report and the urgent need to modernize our nuclear command, control, and communications (NC3) architecture.

Click the image above to watch video of Sen. Fischer’s remarks

Click here to download audio

Click here to download video

On America’s Current Strategic Posture: 

Senator Fischer: Last October, the bipartisan, bicameral Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States released their final report on America's strategic posture. Its findings were sobering. We face two major nuclear adversaries for the first time in history, and we are woefully underprepared to address this future threat environment. In their report, the commissioners also unanimously endorsed 81 recommendations.

On the Need to Act on Recommendations from the Strategic Posture Commission:

Senator Fischer: If we can act upon most of these, the United States should retain the capability and the capacity to maintain a safe, reliable, effective, and credible nuclear deterrent throughout the next several decades. Over the coming months, I'm going to be working with my colleagues on this committee to include many of these recommendations in the FY2025 NDAA.

On the Strategic Posture Commission’s Report:

Senator Fischer:
 General Cotton, I appreciate our earlier conversations about this Strategic Posture Commission's report, and your very careful review and consideration of their findings and recommendations. Do you agree with the commissioners’ statement that: ‘The nuclear force modernization Programs of Record is absolutely essential, although not sufficient to meet the new threats posed by Russia and China, and that the elements of the Programs of Record should be completed on time, expedited wherever possible, and expanded as needed?”

General Cotton: I do, Senator.

On Modernizing U.S. Nuclear Command, Control, and Communications (NC3) Architecture:

Senator Fischer: Senator King and I often refer to NC3 as the fourth leg of our nuclear triad. And, the President's ability to command control and communicate with our nuclear forces, that’s essential in maintaining that credible nuclear deterrent we must have. If NC3 fails, then the deterrent fails.

We've previously discussed, General, the importance of moving forward quickly with NC3 modernization and building out that roadmap with clear and achievable near- and long-term goals. And, I appreciate you briefing our subcommittee on that earlier this week about your plan.

But, in this setting, can you please share with the committee how STRATCOM is working with the Services, with the Undersecretaries of Acquisition and Sustainment, and Research and Engineering to integrate new technologies and new systems into that NC3 architecture?

General Cotton: Senator, I'd love to. One of the things that was first on the agenda for us was to ensure that, as we articulate the modernization of the NC3 force, that we look at it in different bins. The first thing we must do, to your point, is ensure that the NC3 system that is currently available to the President of the United States and to decision makers of the United States has the ability to fight through. So, we want to make sure that we looked at the systems today and ensure that we're taking care of systems today.

The other piece that we wanted to make sure that we did is look at the midterm. And, to your point, we have collaborated
 — and thank you for hosting us to present that, you and Senator King, for allowing us to present that to the subcommittee and show the relationship that I have with A&S, with our Acquisition and Sustainment, with Dr. LaPlante. The increased relationship that I have with R&E. Dr. Heidi Shyu, that was missing prior, and then the relationship that I have with our CIO, Mr. John Sherman.

Because of that, we're able to coalesce and be able to come up with a plan that's executable. We were able to brief that to the Deputy Secretary of Defense last summer, in which the service components were also in the room. And now, they have measured milestones to grade themselves against, where that was missing in the past. So, we still have a lot of work to go though, Senator, but I'm pleased with the work that we've done so far.

Pursuant to Senate Policy, petitions, opinion polls and unsolicited mass electronic communications cannot be initiated by this office for the 60-day period immediately before the date of a primary or general election. Subscribers currently receiving electronic communications from this office who wish to unsubscribe may do so here.