CQ CONGRESSIONAL TRANSCRIPTS
April 19, 2016 - Final
Senate Armed Services Committee Holds Hearing on Gen. Brooks Nomination
LIST OF PANEL MEMBERS AND WITNESSESMCCAIN:
Well, good morning. The Senate Armed Services Committee meets this morning to consider the nomination of General Vincent Brooks to the commander of the United Nations Command/Combined Forces, Command/United States Forces Korea.
General, we congratulate you on your nomination. We thank you for your decades of distinguished service and your willingness to step forward (ph) and lead once again. Of course, we know today would not be possible with the support and sacrifice of wife Carol (ph) who's with us this morning. And (inaudible) our tradition, we hope you will take the opportunity to introduce your family joining you today.
(inaudible) destabilizing behavior continues to present a real and rising risk of conflict. Over the past three months, it has defied the international community by testing a nuclear device and launching a long-range missile. And now, there are reports that it may seek to test another nuclear device. These calculated cycles of provocation continue to pose a risk of violent escalation on the Korean Peninsula. This is the (inaudible) that American forces on the Korean Peninsula confront every day, but it is one they confront together with their South Korean brothers and sisters in arms.
This committee is deeply grateful for the close cooperation of our friends in Seoul, and between U.S. Forces Korea and the ROK -- ROK armed forces. I applaud the leadership of President Park these last few months as she and her government contend with the continued menace from the North.
As I've said previously, I'm, very encouraged by the joint U.S.- Republic of Korea statement from January that our two countries will begin the process of consultation for deploying the Terminal High Altitude Area of Defense, THAAD, system for the Korean Peninsula. The development of this system by the alliance is a critical step to providing a further layer of defenses against North Korean provocations.
As the United States and South Korea continue to work together on strengthening our common security, I want to stress how important it will be for nations like South Korea to support the outcome of the Permanent Court of Arbitration's upcoming decision on disputed maritime claims in the South China Sea. The international order based on rules, standards and norms has brought decades of security and prosperity to the Asia-Pacific.
The continued strength of this order is in the interest of our nations (inaudible) responsibility of prosperous and democratic nations to speak up forcefully in its defense. (inaudible), I am increasingly hopeful that the recent agreement between South Korea and Japan on the issue of so-called comfort women will mark a new era between (inaudible) Korea based not on the burdens of history, but on the shared goal of forging a more stable, peaceful and prosperous future for the Asia-Pacific region.
Finally, I want to express my appreciation for General Brook's candid and forthright comments concerning the impact that misguided budget cuts and sequestration have made on U.S. Forces Korea and the continued risk they pose to its mission in the years ahead. It's irresponsible to continue asking our military service members and their families to serve on the Korean Peninsula, while at the same time, accepting a budget situation that reduces their readiness and degrades their ability to perform their mission.
As this committee turns its attention to this year's defense authorization bill, we look forward to your testimony on your views on how we can work together to ensure that the men and women you will lead have everything they need and deserve to defense our nation.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I join you in welcoming General Brooks, and I thank you, General, for you dedicated service to the nation over many, many years and your willingness to continue to serve in a most challenging position.
I also want to recognize and thank your family members, because I think you serve not alone, but with a great family. And your father, Major General Leel (ph) Brooks, retired. Sir, thanks for your service. Your mother, Naomi (ph), who is really in charge of the whole operation, we know that. So brother Leo, thank you, General, for your service. Your sister (inaudible) and of course, your wife Carol. Thank you, General.
As the chairman has pointed out, the actions of Kim Jong Un over the past three years illustrate that he remains determined to defy the international community to the detriment of North Korea's prosperity and growth and with little concern for the wellbeing of his own people, and also for the stability of the region and the world.
Last year, for example, land mines placed in the demilitarized zone by the regime severely wounded two South Korean soldiers and could have resulted in a major escalation of hostilities, had South Korea not limited (ph) itself to an appropriate and proportionate response that eventually was effective.REED:
Earlier this year, North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test and tested an engine design for an intercontinental ballistic missile, making it clear that North Korea will continue its reckless pursuit of ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons, thereby threatening its neighbors and the overall peace and stability of the region. And while I support the implementation of additional U.S. and United Nations sanctions, it is unfortunately likely that North Korea will continue on this dangerous path, necessitating our continued support and a strong posture on the peninsula.
And General, we look forward to your views and how you believe we can best deter and contain the threat posed by the North Korean regime.
I'd also like to make a few points regarding China's role on the recent sanctions regimes that were passed by the Congress and the United Nations. China has finally agreed to implement strong U.N. sanctions meant to curb North Korea's nuclear development. However, China's insistence on exceptions for trade, quote, determined to be for the purpose of people's livelihood, unquote, raises a serious concern about China's commitment to sanctions.
How broadly these exceptions are interpreted may determine whether the U.N. sanctions are successful overall. China is responsible for the vast majority of North Korea's trade and financial assistance and their actions are therefore (ph) key to success for the sanctions regime and we hope it's successful. Without effective sanctions, it is clear that North Korea will continue destabilizing the region with its nuclear missile developments.
General, I look forward to hearing how you view the security situation on the peninsula, the role China can play to curb North Korean ambitions and your other comments. And thank you again for your service and thank you for being here.MCCAIN:
Well thank you, Chairman McCain and Ranking Member Reid, members of the committee. I certainly appreciate this opportunity to appear before you today. And I'm honored to have been chosen by President Obama, Secretary Carter and General Dunford for this important position, this complex and tri-headed command, and I'm very grateful for the confidence.
Chairman, as you've asked, I thank you for the privilege of having my family with us today and I'd like to, again, review who they are. I'd start by saying that they've been my inspiration and really my guiding light for my life and my career and I certainly appreciate their presence here today.
I begin with my wife, Dr. Carol Brooks, who is a physical therapist and educator. She's also a fellow Army brat, married within the tribe in this case. She's been my partner in this journey of service for over 33 years since we were married.MCCAIN:
Second, my parents, General Leo Brooks, a U.S. Army retired and my mother, Naomi Brooks. They really set the foundation for the military tradition of our family and have been my inspiration for service to God and country as well.MCCAIN:
Next my brother, General Leo Brooks, Jr., U.S. Army retired, who proceeded me at West Point by one year. He was in the wrong class, but I won't hold that against him.MCCAIN:
He was in the wrong school.
I'll take that one for the record, Senator.
But Leo is a fine example of an inventory leader and was a great example for me throughout his career and now has been an example of how to transition properly and carry the same type of leadership into the corporate world.
My sister, Martita (ph) Brooks, who was an attorney with a major Washington, D.C. law firm that has international responsibilities and relationships. While the youngest, she is clearly the most accomplished and Senator Reid, she's actually the one who is really in charge of the family, exercising civilian control of the military in our house.
But I am very happy to have them here today.MCCAIN:
My Chairman and committee members, the world is changing and the dangers to our country, our interests and our friends continue to rise even as our relationships improve. If confirmed, I intend to capitalize on the relationships that I have had the privilege of developing over many years of overseas duty in peace time engagements and in combat and stability operations.
Among these relationships and particularly relevant to the positions for which I've been nominated, are United Nations sending states, regional allies and Indo-Asia Pacific neighbors, most notably Japan, China and especially the Republican of Korea Military Leaders.
Having commanded a combat infantry battalion of more than 800 U.S. and Iraq soldiers near the demilitarized zone in the late 1990's, I fully appreciate the need for continuously sharpening the edge of our readiness to deter aggression while also being ready to fight tonight.
And having spend the last three years as the commander of U.S. Army Pacific, the Army component of U.S. Pacific command, I'm under no illusions as to the challenges of shaping the environment to prevent a crisis from escalating into open warfare.
I'm also fully aware of the challenges of sustaining military operations in northeast Asia at the distant end of our Pacific lines of communication. And particularly so in a time of fiscal constraint, which raises the risks to our ability to respond.
I endorse General Scaparotti's four priorities: sustain and strengthen the alliance, maintain the armistice, transform the alliance and sustain the force. And I believe these to be the right direction for the three commands for which I've been nominated. And if confirmed, I will, as any commander would, make my own assessment of the way ahead and I hope to keep the committee informed on my conclusions.
I am most excited about the honor of commanding - once again, if I'm confirmed -- the privilege of leading the finest our nation has to offer and their counterparts from the Republic of Korea and the United Nation's sending states is what I enjoy most in what I do as a professional military officer and I pledge to give them my best as they give me their best.
I recognize in my personal and professional responsibility to provide my best military judgment and candid military advice. And if confirmed, I will fulfill both. Also if confirmed, I look forward to joining with Ambassador Mark Lippert and I pledge to do my best on behalf of our nation and the Republic of Korea during this challenging time of danger, change and opportunity.
Again, thank you Chairman McCain, Ranking Member Reid, members of the committee, for your support to our forces and for this opportunity and I look forward to your questions.MCCAIN:
Thank you very much, General. I think for the record it's pretty important for us to recognize the contributions that the Republic of Korea pays for our presence there. Isn't it the fact that it costs us less to have troops stationed in Korea than in the United States, given the contribution the Republic of Korea makes to the stationing and all the other -- the services that they provide for the American military?BROOKS:
Senator, thanks for the question. I believe, as you do, that the Republic of Korea is carrying a significant load and is dedicated to our presence there and I would give two example of that.
The first is that they pay about 50% of our personnel costs of being there...MCCAIN:
Which comes up to around $808 million. Is that correct...BROOKS:
...from the last year? $808 million.BROOKS:
That's correct. And it rises as their consumer price index rises -- they bring it up as well. The second example would be the largest DOD construction project we have anywhere in the world, about a $10.8 billion project that is really being used to relocate U.S. forces further to the south.MCCAIN:
And how much are they paying for that?BROOKS:
They carry 92% -- $0.92 on a dollar, Senator.MCCAIN:
Thank you. So it would cost more to keep those troops stationed in the United States than it would be in Korea. Is that correct?BROOKS:
Let's talk about sequestration real quick. The terms of -- our ability to fight tonight -- what has been the effect of sequestration on your ability to respond to a crisis on the Korean Peninsula?BROOKS:
Senator, at first, because Korea has such a high priority, the forces who are there are kept in high readiness.
The consequence of sequestration, though, in my view is what happens to the forces who are behind it. I have certainly had to recognize that as the commander of U.S. Army Pacific.
I have concerns that there is a shallowing of the depth of the forces that are behind to reinforce. And whether they're in a lower state of readiness that would require more time, or if they are not able to respond at all, due to other crises in the world.MCCAIN:
So, if it continues, what's the consequences, if sequestration continues?BROOKS:
Senator, I think we're going to continue to lose options that would available in the time of crisis.MCCAIN:
In recent years, North Korea has invested heavily in asymmetric capabilities -- nuclear weapons, missiles, submarines. And it's our information that their conventional capabilities have suffered.
What are -- what are -- what lesson are we to draw from that?BROOKS:
Senator, I'd say the -- the first lesson is that they're shifting their focus, but doing it on the base of a very large military. They're still the fourth largest military in the world, even though the conventional capabilities are atrophying to a degree where they don't get to train them as much they might like.
But these asymmetric capabilities you referred to, particularly long-range missiles, nuclear capabilities and cyber activity are cause for great concern. And I think that's the direction they're going to continue to head.MCCAIN:
How serious is their intercontinental ballistic missile threat over time?BROOKS:
At the present time, Senator, I think that they're struggling with getting the program up and operational, but it's very clear through the parades that they've done, what systems they have and some of the attempted launches that they have not have success in, over time, I believe we're going to see them acquire these capabilities if they're not stopped.MCCAIN:
Have you heard of cooperation between North Korea and Iran?BROOKS:
Senator, I've heard these reports, and very concerned about it.MCCAIN:
What are the benefits that deploying a THAAD system is?BROOKS:
Senator, the key benefit is that it thickens the defensive structure that is there, and I think that is very important, that there would an integrated, layered air defense system. This internal high altitude air defense takes care of a particular -- a particular set of threats that are emerging in their missile development.MCCAIN:
You think there's any additional steps that we could take to reassure allies and counter North Korea nuclear provocations?BROOKS:
I think probably the best actions to be taken, Senator, would be continue to maintain a strong alliance, and increase the number of countries that are aligned against North Korea and its development.MCCAIN:
Are you worried about the -- what apparently is the immaturity and unpredictability of the rotund ruler in Pyongyang?BROOKS:
Well, Senator, in my view, we need to take his actions with a great deal of seriousness, because of the directions he's going with these weapons and these capabilities that are emerging.
I'm very concerned about the direction he's going, and it's evident that he's not yet deterred from his pursuit. If confirmed, I intend to be a close partner with the Republic of Korea to make sure they're ready.MCCAIN:
Thank you. I forgot a that the beginning of the hearing, I have to ask the standard questions, and just say yes, or no on it.
It's the standard for this committee to ask these questions in order to exercise its legislative and oversight responsibilities, it's important that this committee and other appropriate committees that Congress be able to receive testimony briefings and other communications of information.
Have you adhered to applicable laws and regulations governing conflicts of interest?BROOKS:
Yes, sir. I have.MCCAIN:
Do you agree, when asked to give your personal views, even if these views differ from the administration in power?BROOKS:
Have you assumed any duties or undertaken any actions which would appear to presume the outcome of the confirmation process?BROOKS:
Will you ensure your staff complies with deadlines established for requested communications, including questions for the record and hearings?BROOKS:
Will you cooperate in providing witnesses and briefers in response to congressional requests?BROOKS:
Will those witnesses be protected from reprisal for their testimony or briefings?BROOKS:
Do you agree, if confirmed, to appear and testify upon request before this committee?BROOKS:
Do you agree to provide documents, including copies of the electronic forms of communications in a timely manner when requested by a duly constituted committee, or to consult with the committee regarding the basis for any good faith delay or denial?BROOKS:
Providing such documents?BROOKS:
I now pronounce you a general.
Thank you, General Brooks, for your testimony, for all of your service and your family's service.
The chairman touched on the issue of THAAD, which is critical. As I understand it, there's negotiations going on with the South Korean government, but they're influenced by the Chinese statements of disapproval or dismay at the deployment of THAAD.
Could you give us your views on this issue, how critical the system is? Do you expect it to be deployed in a reasonable period of time?BROOKS:
Senator, there is a bi-national group that is already doing the evaluation of the utility of THAAD and potential placement if it were to be approved.
And I think first and most importantly, this has to be a decision between the United States government and the Republic of Korea government, particularly so for the Republic of Korea.
I am aware that there are some concerns that have been expressed by China, and we're trying reassure. I know that this is not an issue for China, but there is a need for communication at the present time.REED:
What additional force posture upgrades would you think would be desirable in addition -- let's assume that a THAAD system was in place. Are there other systems, or force -- forces that should be moved into the peninsula or operating there?BROOKS:
Senator, first, thanks for the question. The -- there is a -- an ongoing effort by the services to provide a rotational set of forces. And this brings units that are already in a higher state of readiness to the Korean Peninsula.
First, I would say, I want to reinforce that, if confirmed. I think that's a good solution that's providing us a better foundation of readiness.
I know General Scaparrotti has raised concerns about more intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance assets and layered integrated missile defense. So, I would ask for those two, and adopt those concerns as I take command, if confirmed.REED:
So, I think in terms of priorities, it would be the delayed (ph) missile defense, including THAAD, and ISR, which is an asset that commanders desire across the world, but you think it's critical.BROOKS:
I do think those are critical, Senator.REED:
Getting back to the political dynamic you face, that the Chinese are the most influential vis-a-vis the North Korea regime, but some question of how much influence they even have.
Do you think that -- and will you work with your colleagues to try to develop a better relationship in the sense of getting the Chinese to put more pressure on the North Korean regime, is that something within your hopes or aspirations?BROOKS:
Well, Senator, I'd say, I'm fortunate that I already have relationships with the People's Liberation Army from my current position in U.S. Army Pacific.
And I would want to use those, if confirmed, to improve the posture.
I think there are challenges that have been expressed to me by the senior Chinese military leadership, that they don't have the influence that they once had.BROOKS:
I think some of that is doubtful, as well, I would want to challenge that; I do believe they have opportunities to influence greater than they have in the past. But I would want to be part of that dialogue if confirmed.REED:
And part of that is the implementation of these sanctions. So I would presume not on yourself (ph), but your civilian colleagues will be looking carefully at the actual implementation of sanctions. Is that accurate too?BROOKS:
That's accurate senator.REED:
Thank you very much.
The -- right now, we have been for a decade or so, looking at our command relationship with the South Koreans in terms of who will actually be in charge of operations there. Can you give us your assessment of where in that sort of evolution or de-evolution of command responsibility from U.S. forces, U.N. forces, to South Korean forces?BROOKS:
Yes senator. And this is a very important aspect, that if confirmed, I would concentrate a lot of my attention on. And that is ensuring that the conditions for the transfer of operational control are being met and that has to be done overtime. Not with a particular timeline.
Where we are is that we've shifted from a fixed timeline to a conditions spaced transition. And I see progress being made, whether it's in the procurement of key systems by the Republic of Korea or that the creation of things like combined divisions.
There's a combined second infantry division now that is Iraq and U.S. That's strengthening the alliance, but at the same time, building the muscle memory that makes it possible for them to pick leadership.REED:
Well, thank you very much general. And we hope and we are confident that you will do a superb job and actually regain the reputation of your brother's school.
Thank you very much.BROOKS:
Thank you senator.MCCAIN:
Thank you Colonel.
Thank you Mr. Chairman.
General, thank you for your service. China, North Korea relations could have deteriorated in recent years. How do key stakeholders in China view North Korea's growing belligerence? And to what extent, if at all, do tensions between Beijing and North Korea provide opportunities for closer, more meaningful U.S.-China collaboration on the issue surrounding North Korea?BROOKS:
Senator, thank you for the question. I'd say first -- again, this is based on my encounters with senior -- the People's Liberation Army, military leaders. The word is frustration. So they're frustrated. That's what been communicated to me.
I do think that that creates room for opportunities. First, as we look at the U.S.-Iraq relationship, we would want to make sure that that is truly ironclad, as there will need to be a discussion between the Republic of Korea and China as well.
So how we think our way through approaching nuclear disarmament when it's all said and done, will require cooperation among many nations.ROUNDS:
Sino-South Korean relations appear to have been strengthening. And some observers sense that South Koreans increasingly believe that the road to unification runs through Beijing.
Is this your assessment? And what are the implications for U.S. interests for growing Sino-South Korean ties?BROOKS:
Senator, I believe that there is an important role to be played in all the relationships in the region. And if I could broaden it just a bit, I would say the Japan, Republic of Korea relationship, the U.S.-Japan-Republic of Korea relationship, the Republic of Korea- China relationship, these are critical to the way ahead.
I wouldn't agree that it goes through Beijing. I'd say that it goes through cooperation. And that cooperation is something that is built in the present time. If confirmed, I would give -- commit myself to that purpose.ROUNDS:
Many U.S. allies and partners in the region have strong economic ties to China. South Korea in particular has worked, even its economic relationship with China through a free trade agreement. Does this economic alliance by U.S. allies on China create any complication for U.S. security strategy?
And if so, how should the United States react?BROOKS:
Senator, it is my opinion that there are some complications that come - that really just comes from the potential of leverage being exercised by someone who is a significant trade partner. And China, from time to time, asserts that leverage, on not only the countries of Northeast Asia, but many of the countries.
They are the primary trading partner with nearly every country in the Indo-Asia Pacific region that I've encountered. I don't think that that should preclude cooperation.
And I think it's necessary to then work through those pressures that emerge in order to create a greater sense of connectedness among the countries that would seek nuclear disarmament from North Korea. And if confirmed, that's where I would have my attention focused.ROUNDS:
Thank you Mr. Chairman.MCCAIN:
Thank you and thank you General Brooks for your service, for your family's service and congratulations on your nomination.
And the leadership, you're on the committee - have talked about the commitment of South Korea to a relationship to the positioning of U.S. troops and their continued contributions on the Korean peninsula.
Is there any concern that the loss by the ruling party of its recent Parliamentary elections would affect that relationship?BROOKS:
Senator, I think it's still a bit early to determine that. What I can tell you is, if confirmed, I'll be committed to whichever government and whichever structure they have. That's under obligation and that has been the case through these many years of armistice.SHAHEEN:
And, obviously North Korea's recent actions show that it's going to continue to defy the international norms, U.N. Security Council resolutions and all other reasonable actions that we would expect from a slice (ph) country.
Can you talk about what else we can do, other than increase sanctions to thwart North Korea's nuclear ambitions? You talked about that and are there other things that we should we be doing and other ways that we should be responding to North Korea's actions?BROOKS:
Senator, that's a challenging question. I would tell you that I believe that the foundation for anything that comes next is what we're doing right now. And that's a very strong alliance, and increasingly number of countries who are aligned against North Korea. And the sanctions.
We have certainly have hoped that they will have some affect. Thus far, it has not deterred Mr. Kim Jong Un and his pursuit of missiles and other technologies that are very dangerous. That would mean then, I would have to be among those, if confirmed, it would provide options and alternatives.
How military pressures could be used to try to change the calculus. And I'm not prepared to say what those would be, but I would hope to come back and report to the committee if confirmed.SHAHEEN:
Thank you. And the response to the committee's questions, you highlight North Korea's efforts to develop a submarine launch ballistic missile capability. And obviously, this signifies North Korea's commitment to continue to diversify.
And the Pacific region and -- will obviously have a impact on security. How important is our undersea superiority in the region? And have we -- is our tax summary and procurement plan adequate to meet our demands in the future.BROOKS:
Senator, I'd refer back to Admiral Harris' testimony as he gave the posture of the Pacific forces. And I agree with his point about the asymmetric advantage we have and our undersea capability. I am concerned about the pursuit of submarine-launched ballistic missiles by North Korea. While they have not been successful, this is like watching someone ride a bike and falling off of it, but eventually they could become a BMX champion.
So we can't underestimate the hazard that is emerging on this, and we have to remain strong on that. But I would defer to him and to the Department of the Navy in terms of what is required.SHAHEEN:
Well, I look forward to hearing more on that.
Finally, as you know, more than 7,800 troops remain lost and unrecovered from the Korean War. We last year had an Army first-class private, Elmer Richards, from Exeter, New Hampshire, who was returned to his family. He had been lost in December of 1950 and was listed as missing in action.
And I know this is a sensitive issue, but do you foresee any potential to restart talks with North Korea on how to recover those who are missing in action from the Korean War?BROOKS:
Senator, I think it's one of the most important obligations we can fulfill. And if the conditions change in our relationship where we can have a reasonable dialogue with North Korea, that should be one of the first things considered. And if confirmed, I would commit myself to that. It's a solemn obligation that we never, never leave those behind. If we can recover them, we will.SHAHEEN:
Thank you. I very much appreciate that. And I agree that that should be a priority for us.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.MCCAIN:
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
General, thank you very much for being here today. I truly appreciate your service to our nation. Thank you very much.
A number of topics have been covered today, and I'd like to go back to the OPCON, the transfer of the ROK military. And let's go back and specifically what areas of the ROK military will you seek to help develop to set conditions for a successful OPCON transfer in the future? And understanding that this may not occur until 2020 or so. But what are the specific areas that we can assist them with?BROOKS:
Senator, thanks for the question. I would say that some of the first things we should concentrate on, and if confirmed, this would be my focus -- their ability to exercise effective command and control over their forces and U.S. forces in a complex environment. That would be the first one.
The second would be their ability to control some of the critical operations that have to begin in the beginning of any crisis. Some of the counter-fire missions, for example, would be very important to ensure they're able to take that mission.
The third that I would want to be actively engaged in, if confirmed, would be to assist them in their leader development so that their leaders are being generated in such a way that once the transfer of operational control occurs, they're able to handle it in perpetuity with our support.ERNST:
And can you elaborate a little bit on is it a cultural divide in why we have not worked in some of those areas before, to develop their leadership further? Can you explain maybe why this hasn't happened and why maybe it's taking so long to actually go through the OPCON?BROOKS:
Senator, I can comment as an outside observer. I'm not deeply involved in the way that's happening right now. I do know that my predecessors, and I've talked to many of them, have been committed to these purposes for many years. I would want to continue that.
I do believe it's generational. I've seen the difference in my own experience from the way we interacted with the Republic of Korea military forces back in the mid-90s and to the present. An example would be their ability to be critical of themselves in the results of an exercise. In the 1990s, it just wouldn't happen. In the present time, there is hearty and healthy debate and disagreement. And I think that it's very important.
So some of this just takes time and we have to stay on it. I would do that if confirmed.ERNST:
OK. I appreciate that very much.
And the United States and South Korea currently operate under the special measures agreement in which the ROK contributes towards the U.S.'s costs. And I know this was brought up as far as contributions of the South Koreans as well.
But if we can go back. What types of specific services -- just lay it out there for Joe out on the street -- what specific services are the South Koreans providing to U.S. forces in Korea? Is it housing? Is it, you know, so forth?BROOKS:
It's a combination, but it includes housing. It includes civilian pay for those Republic of Korea nationals who are providing much of the workforce in support of the U.S. forces there that would otherwise have to be U.S. government civilian employees. And it would be another burden for this body and others to carry.
So it's those types of things. The services in particular, it's the 50 percent of the pay and allowances that happen over there are carried by the special measures agreement. But it's also those things that have to do with operational preparations. And we want to make sure that as we continue to negotiate the special measures agreement over the next few years that we keep an eye focused on the operational support aspects as well, whether that's base construction, et cetera.ERNST:
And I just wanted to reemphasize how important it is to understand those -- those measures, those basic measures that are supported by South Korea so that we make an informed decision as this occurs -- what it will cost our military and what they're providing. So I appreciate that very much. Thank you for your service.
Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chair.MCCAIN:
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Aloha, General Brooks. I want to add my thanks to you and your family for your service to the country. And of course, as you -- I fully expect that you will be confirmed in your new position. And I thank you very much for being the commander of U.S. Army Pacific.
When you look at the -- the important relationships in this part of the world, and you mentioned the U.S., Japan, Republic of Korea relationship -- very important. And as you know, the Japan-ROK relationship could be better. If confirmed, do you see a role that you could play in strengthening the Japan-South Korea relationship?BROOKS:
Senator, thanks for the question and aloha as well.
I absolutely see a role. If confirmed, I would want to capitalize on the relationships that I've already developed. I'm very close to the chief -- the ground self-defense force and the self- defense force of Japan, those two particular leaders. I also have a good relationship already with the chairman of the Republic of Korea joint chiefs of staff.
I think that position would do very well to try to use our good relationships to strengthen their relationship. And we've been very effective at that thus far. I would add to that if confirmed.HIRONO:
I think that it's clear that the military relationships are very strong. And it would be good if Prime Minister Abe and President Park could have more public kind of meetings to show that we are all on the same page.
The actions of North Korea have been, of course, extremely troubling, and the development of their long-range missile capabilities are concerning to the U.S. and our allies in the region. And you did mention I think in response to a question that the Chinese military leaders with whom you come in contact, they are frustrated with what North Korea is doing.HIRONO:
Can you elaborate a little bit more on what the frustration is and what they intend to do about their frustration, to limit North Korea's provocative actions and (inaudible) sensibility in that part of the world?BROOKS:
Senator, the -- the word frustration is the word that was used, and so I always try to characterize it that way. That's what they said to me and that's what I'm passing on, so it's frustration -- it's frustration with the -- I think a loss of the controls that perhaps they once had or perceived that they had, their ability to guide the behaviors of North Korean leadership, especially with Kim Jong Un himself. This is what the source of the frustration is.
They've not communicated to me what their intentions are on how to build pressure on that right now. I see that happening in the diplomatic arena, but I don't see what military actions are being taken. I would have concerns about their reorganization if they being to concentrate on their position adjacent to North Korea and what that would mean. I frankly think that would challenge us to have a great dialogue with them on what their intentions are.HIRONO:
So one of the things that we're contemplating doing is the THAAD and locating it in South Korea, and China has expressed their displeasure with -- with that. So how do you think we can resolve or reassure China as to our own intentions with that?BROOKS:
Senator, I believe the most important step is for us to find an opportunity for dialogue and try to work through it. There's a diplomatic aspect of that that I would want to support, if confirmed. But there's also a military aspect of it where we could talk to them very specifically about the capabilities of the system, if permitted to do so.HIRONO:
I have been a -- all of us, I believe, here are aware of the importance of the balance to the Asia-Pacific and our country's leadership role in maintaining a level of stability. So having been our USARPAC commander, what is your impression of our presence in the Asia-Pacific region? And what are our strengths in this region? What are areas we can improve? And what role do you think the U.S. Forces Korea can play in strengthening our presence and partnership in the Asia-Pacific area?BROOKS:
Senator, thanks for the question and thanks for your support in the -- our efforts to rebalance. I'd say first that i's very important that we concentrate on the totality of the Indo-Asia- Pacific region. The Northeast Asia part of it, where Korea is located, is a foundation of that, and the relationships that really help to build strength for the -- this broader Indo-Asia-Pacific engagement began there in many ways.
And so I think we have to continue to set an example of strong alliance in Northeast Asia while we also increase our presence and our activities and engagements throughout the rest of the Indo-Asia- Pacific region, and that's what's ongoing right now. This is an important opportunity for us to pursue. It will take resourcing to do that and we shouldn't underestimate the power of our presence west of the international date line and our leadership as we interact with other countries of the region. And I hope that the committee will be able to sustain (ph) that.HIRONO:
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.MCCAIN:
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Good morning, General Brooks. I want to thank you for being here. I want to compliment you on your outstanding resume and accomplishments and your career. I also want to compliment the Brooks family for a long-term dedication and service to this nation. So thank you all for being here. I'm sure you're very proud.
General Brooks, I want to go back maybe to -- to begin, with following up on some questions about rebalancing the -- when we were down in the region last year for an update, the problem that I have with where we are with rebalancing is that although we're shifting assets to an area of the word that we're having increasing concern, it's -- there's a baseline that's being reduced. While on the one hand, we seem to be moving resources in that area, it's a percentage of smaller baseline.
Do you share that concern? What should -- what should we, as we're looking at appropriations and NDAA, should we pay particular attention to in terms of making sure we have the resources, the materials down in that region?BROOKS:
Senator, I think it's -- it's very important, as I know all the service chiefs have testified to, that there's a strong foundation of the services first because it's the services that make it possible for the combatant commanders globally, but certainly in the Pacific, to do their work. I would ask that the committee consider the consequences of further reductions or the impacts of sequestration, which will limit options on responding to crises that are unfolding in the region.
That's, to me, the biggest challenge. It is the potential loss of the ability to generate options to change a situation in a time of crisis. So whether that's reclamation activities in the South China Sea or a natural disaster, like the four earthquakes that happened in one of the provinces of Japan here just in the last three days. We have to be in many places simultaneously and have to have sufficient forces to be able to respond to each of them.TILLIS:
And today, what does that look like? How many places could we be simultaneously at the current capabilities and funding?BROOKS:
Senator, we have a robust force in the Pacific. I will certainly acknowledge that, and as an Army officer, I can say that we've significantly increased the presence of forces that are assigned to (inaudible) by 40 percent over the last two years, and that gives us the ability to be in a lot of places. But if the resourcing foundation if pulled back, we will have fewer of those units in readiness, and that's the biggest concern.
We could be in a number of places. We can have small engagements that are happening in India the same day that we're in Indonesia, the same day that we're in Oceania and in the island states of the Pacific Ocean, and maintaining still a robust presence in Northeast Asia.TILLIS:
How well do you think we're doing with either partners or potential partners in the region to share in the responsibility to keep this part of the world safe?BROOKS:
Senator, I'd say first, we're doing an excellent job in Northeast Asia, where we have aligned structures to work with. We are in close dialogue with -- with other allies in the region, Australia in particular, as they are reassessing their strategy for the future and we're actively in that discussion with them.
We have to have that conversation with other countries in the region who are emerging, who are developing their capabilities and I would say that within U.S. Pacific Command, all the components are very actively engaged in helping as many countries as possible who want to work with the United States to be able to do so.TILLIS:
General Brooks, the -- you know, it seems to me that the greatest threat in that area, although China is doing what they're doing, the greatest threat in the area, I think uniformly, everyone agrees is North Korea. The -- do you see any -- any meaningful change in their behavior over the past couple of years or is this the same old antagonistic role that they want to play in that region? Do you see any trends that would concern you with the -- maybe they're looking -- maybe they're going beyond just being a nuisance and a threat in that area to a real threat that we may have to do deal with over the next couple of years?BROOKS:
Senator, it's -- it's my opinion that North Korea is moving in the wrong direction and the changes that we've seen are all provocative and more dangerous, their willingness to draw blood, to sink vessels, to fire some of their numerous artillery systems into population areas, to put land mines outside of Republic of Korea camps. All of these things are indications of an escalating approach to crisis, and we've seen more crises in the last five years than we've seen in the majority of the (inaudible). I'm very concerned about that, and if confirmed, that would be a focus of my attention.TILLIS:
Well, thank you, General. I also want to compliment you on the thorough nature of your responses to the written questions. Thank you very much. There's a lot of good information in there and I look forward to supporting your confirmation.MCCAIN:
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And thank you, General, for your service to the country. And also, just as important, your family's support for our country.
Sir, if I may, with all of this going on in the world today, and we're -- our presence in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria, and all that part of the world, we have been in South Korea for 60 years, since the Korean War.
If we had left, as we have left Iraq, and now we see what's happening. We're thinking, contemplating Afghanistan, downsizing. If we'd have had that same -- knowing hindsight, if it is 20/20 -- what would Korea look like today if we had left 60 years after the Korean War?BROOKS:
Senator, it's difficult to answer that question, but I appreciate the spirit of it.
And I would tell you that, in my view, having seen the changes that just occurred in the last 20 years, the trajectory of the Republic of Korea's rise would have been completely different. I'm convinced of that. I think that the degree of our commitment there has had impacts that are far beyond military security and preservation of the (inaudible).
It's everything; it's form of government; it's the role of civil society; it's public health. It has impacted all of those. And that's, to me, the fruit of our commitments.MANCHIN:
Is Korea -- is South Korea able to take care of itself, now?BROOKS:
Senator, it is, although I would say its defenses are not able to be taken care of by itself. But certainly, its population is well cared for by the ROK government.MANCHIN:
And also, with the new change of government -- I know it has been touched on here with the new South Korean elections, having multiple parties now and a lot of rhetoric coming. And how do you think that is going to affect our relationship there?BROOKS:
First -- Senator, I would say that that is the fruit of commitment there, and we should recognize it as such, that there are two parties, that there is political competition.MANCHIN:
I thought they had -- I thought they've had more than two parties, now.BROOKS:
They have, over time. I'm speaking of this shift of power that just happened on the most recent election.
But this is, in my view, the fruit of our commitment there.MANCHIN:
Hasn't there been rhetoric that they want to downsize our military presence?BROOKS:
To my knowledge, Senator, that is a topic of debate in Korea, just as it is here.MANCHIN:
The one question about basically, the -- the threats stemming from offensive cyber operations are not a new, you know, discussion of topic in this committee for sure.
But their attack on Sony, November 2014, made it clear that they were prepared to use their cyber capabilities against a U.S. company and its citizens, and they seemed to do it without fear of retribution. And the kind of attacks go beyond simple nuisance, especially those aimed at the government institutions.
So, I -- I guess I would ask what are we doing to curb these actions? And what do you believe is an appropriate response to these attacks?BROOKS:
Thanks for the question, Senator. This is another area that I am not optimistic about the direction that North Korea is going.
So, I agree with your point that they seem to be more and more willing to do this. They have, in fact, electronically attacked U.S. companies.
What we can do about it, first, from a military perspective, is we try to make sure our networks are protected, knowing full well that this will be one of the instruments that they will use.
And they can use it today, they can use it at any point.MANCHIN:
Are there counter attacks we can use to do harm on them, to let them know we're not going to tolerate this, and it's going to be irreversible if they do that and we hit back?BROOKS:
Senator, I would want to talk about our full capabilities in a classified session.MANCHIN:
That is an option that is available.MANCHIN:
OK. And if I can, the last question I have is an annual large scale that Korea -- U.S.-South Korea military exercise called Foal Eagle will end April 30th. I guess the end of this month, here.
I think it marks another successful year of combined training. I've been supportive of these exercises, since they prepare both of our militaries for a wide range of situations, including the fall of the North Korean regime. How they would be able to take over at that point.
And also, being a former governor of West Virginia, I was pleased to see our state guardsmen were able to participate. How is that working, the National Guard being involved in those proceedings?BROOKS:
Senator, these exercises, like the Foal Eagle exercise that you alluded to, that is about to be completed, these are very important as demonstrations of our commitment and our resolve, but they are also practice.
And so, if you want to be ready to fight tonight, we have to practice to be ready to fight tonight.
I am very pleased about the engagements we've had with the Guard, the units -- Air and Army National Guard throughout the region, but certainly in Korea, as well. They are an important part of the team, and we look for them to participate with us as much as we can on the events that we do in the region at present time.MANCHIN:
Well, General Brooks, I -- the -- congratulations has come from both sides of the aisle. I think it's a bipartisan effort here that we're going to be able to support you and do it in fine fashion.
We're happy to have you here, sir. Thank you.MCCAIN:
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And General, thanks to you and to your family for your service to the country.
General, I visited several U.S. and allied missile defense sites in the Middle East and Europe last month. And whether in Israel or the Gulf states, or among the NATO allies -- talk to you later -- I constantly heard about the need to improve the integration and the interoperability of our missile defense forces with our partner nations.
What are your top priorities for improving interoperability across the U.S. and South Korean missile defense efforts?BROOKS:
Senator, thanks for the question.
If confirmed, the first emphasis would be on building trust, which would then be followed by authority to share information.
I think the key to the interoperability efforts in all of these areas -- and I've been part of the ones in the Middle East, and certainly part of the ones in the Pacific -- it's about having the authority to share the information that can cause the systems to be actually drawn together into an effective network of response.
That would be my priority, if confirmed.DONNELLY:
General, my fellow Hoosier and friend, Senator Richard Lugar, championed nuclear nonproliferation efforts in the Senate for decades.
Historically, we've combated nuclear proliferation by extending the umbrella of our own deterrent to protect our friends and neighbors as well.
What is your view of the importance of our extended nuclear deterrent on the Korean Peninsula, both in deterring attacks and countering incentives for nuclear proliferation?BROOKS:
Senator, I believe it's very important and must be part of our arsenal of options that are available to respond in a crisis.DONNELLY:
One of the -- one of the things, when I visited General Scaparrotti there was to talk about the core of the mission is, fight tonight.
I was wondering if that is going to be one of the cores of your tenure there, following through on that fight tonight? And what is -- what is your understanding of the concept of fight tonight, as it applies to South Korea and North Korea?BROOKS:
Senator, if confirmed, that absolutely would be one of my priorities. And again, I'll adopt to General Scaparrotti's priorities.
So, this idea of being ready to fight tonight means that we have less and less warning about what can occur. We take, for example that North Korea has somewhere on the order of 160,000 artillery pieces, and most of those -- or 16,000, rather. And most of those are within 60 kilometers of the Demilitarized Zone.BROOKS:
So, it's a matter of an order to fire, in many cases. The amount of warning time, therefore, is extremely short. We must -- we have to be ready to respond to things tonight, which means we can't have a long cycle of readiness and preparation. Time gives us an advantage of being sharper, not (ph) being fundamental or foundational, and that's what I would focus on if confirmed.DONNELLY:
One of the things I remember, and I know the chairman remembers this well, was when the USS Pueblo was taken. And still sits at a North Korean port. And having read a little bit about that, one of the things that was said was that when they were taken, we had no resources in the area. We had no ability to -- to, once it was taken, we weren't able to interdict it or to stop it.
You know, we saw what just happened in the Arabian Gulf with some of our riverine boats in that area. Do you have a commitment that if there is an effort made that our ships will not -- if somebody tries to grab one of them or take one of them -- that it will be interdicted before it gets into a North Korean port again?BROOKS:
Senator, that would be my expectation, that first we would establish some rules of engagement. I think we've learned a lot about having standing rules of engagement over the years. And I would not want that to happen again. If confirmed, that would be a focus of mine to make sure we're better postured this time than last.DONNELLY:
OK. I think it would be -- it would probably be beneficial to work with our other leaders in the area just to make sure we've -- we've gamed that out, so to speak, that if this were to happen, how would we -- how would we be able to stop it from ending with one more of our ships in their ports.
As you -- as you look at your new assignment, what is -- what is the biggest concern that you have, as you look at the lay of the land there? And how do you plan to deal with it?BROOKS:
Senator, as I contemplate potentially being assigned to this -- this important position, there are several things that concern me. I would say trying to find -- this is for me personally as a commander -- to find the balance between readiness to fight tonight and the preservation of the armistice. These are two different roles and I think they have to be balanced.
That's particularly important as we think about the pressure that has been placed on the Republic of Korea and the testing of their patience. And so if confirmed, I would be actively involved in trying to find the right balance between those two, in close partnership with the ROK military.DONNELLY:
Thank you, General. Thank your family, too, for your service.MCCAIN:
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
General, I apologize for being late. I was meeting with your colleague, General Clark, on other issues this morning.
We had a good discussion, you and I, a week or so ago, and I want to follow up on some of those questions. On Senator Donnelly's question about rules of engagement, I think it's very important to be as clear as we can with the North Koreans. And I don't know whether this is via your position, the president, or somewhere in between, about what the rules of engagement, so there aren't misunderstandings about what type of incursion will draw what type of response.
Clearly, you don't want to lay out your whole battle plan, but on the other hand, most wars start based upon one side or the other misunderstanding or being surprised by a reaction. So I would hope that our rules of engagement could be -- can be rather clear in order to avoid the possibility of hostilities inadvertently escalating either along the DMZ or somewhere else on the peninsula.BROOKS:
Senator, I agree with that point.KING:
Let me ask a specific question. I understand that Secretary Carter announced that there are now official discussions about the deployment of the FAD battery or batteries on the peninsula. What are your thoughts about where that -- what the implications of that -- whether that's desirable from a military point of view and what China's reaction might be.BROOKS:
Senator, I have confirmed we would continue to work through this bilateral mechanism of discussing the utility and the possible placement of a terminal high altitude battery. In my opinion it is a needed capability, whether FAD or something like that. There needs to be that layer of protection added to a broader set of protections against ballistic missiles.
And so I -- if confirmed, that would be a point of emphasis for me.KING:
Especially given the new acceleration -- apparent acceleration of North Korea efforts toward both miniaturization of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.BROOKS:
That's correct, Senator. That's the reason why we have to have this. We see the direction North Korea is going and to be ready to fight tonight against, we have to posture.KING:
Do we have patriots in Korea now?BROOKS:
We do, Senator.KING:
You have such a challenging position. I mean, we've got ISIL in China, Russia, Iran, but yours is right up there in the top 5 for sure in terms of the -- of the -- danger and volatility of the region. I hope -- one thing I want to communicate is that you keep in touch with us to the extent we can be helpful in either the resources necessary to meet the challenges that you see and you're going to be situated on the ground. You'll see what those challenges are.
But also, policies and authorities that you think are important, I hope you will have a -- this will not be a one -- a one hearing relationship with this committee because we want to be engaged with you and I -- I want this to be an ongoing set of discussions so that we -- we know what you need and can help you to obtain those resources.BROOKS:
Thank you, Senator. If confirmed, I look forward to working with the committee.KING:
Final question about the relationship of -- between Japan and Korea -- South Korea. It's been strained historically for reasons going back into the last century. But it seems to me that strategically they have so much in common. Do you see potential for increasing at least the military to military relationship and how does that play into an overall strategy for the region?BROOKS:
Senator, I do see great potential in this and frankly great progress also, given some of the very, very deep issues that cannot be overlooked. But I am confident that the military to military relationship will be a key way for countries -- and those two countries in particular -- to move forward.
I mentioned trust a bit earlier and how important it is for trust to be established. We're not there yet. And we know that. And I think each of the countries knows that. There's not an abundant trust, so how do we build that? And that's through continued engagements like we've talked about. If confirmed, that's what I would commit to.KING:
One way we build it is by a common understanding of the danger that both face from the north and I think -- hopefully that will be a spur to these discussions, which I think, in terms of long- term stability of the region, are very important that those two allies of ours also can find a way to become allies of each other.BROOKS:
I agree, Senator. I recall having a conversation with the leaders in each of the two countries saying we can't have our friends not getting along. And so let's try to find ways to work together and we can be that candid with them because we have very close relationships.KING:
General, thank you very much for your service and I'm delighted that someone of your quality is willing to take on this very difficult assignment. And as I said, I want to reiterate, let this be the beginning of a conversation, not the end. I look forward to being in touch.BROOKS:
Thank you, General.MCCAIN:
Senator Sullivan (ph).SULLIVAN:
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and General, good to see you again. I want to thank you for taking on this important assignment an I want to thank your family as well. I know that these kind of assignments, it's not just one person serving, it's everybody. So I appreciate that, your family members here.
I want to follow on this line of questioning about allies and Korea and Japan. I think you are incredibly well-positioned to help with that trilateral relationship, which we all recognize as so important. Senator Hirono was talking about it.
Could you talk more -- specifically on that, U.S., Korea, Japan, what you could be doing helping that from a military training prospective, what we should be doing. And then if you wouldn't mind, given your previous -- the billet you're in right now -- and then where you're going to be going, just the broader importance of allies as Senator King was talking about.
You know, there is this kind of strain kind of going through the political discussion nationally. It is in the Congress. It's certainly in the presidential campaign on both sides, really, Republicans and Democrats campaigning (inaudible). They seem to be dismissive of the need for allies.
The president's interview in "The Atlantic Monthly," I thought, was kind of unprecedented that he would be dismissive of numerous allies of ours. given that he is still the president. He's not writing his memoirs yet. And you know, on the Republican side there are some presidential candidates who are equally dismissive.
Could you give us your sense of how important allies are for the security of the United States and the reason? I think some people need a little education on that issue.BROOKS:
(inaudible). Senator, thanks for the question. I -- I would begin on the question related to the trilateral relationship and what we might be able to do. Because the relationship is recognized as being important by Japan, by the United States and by Korea, I think we have a good momentum that's already undertaken -- it's underway.
What we can do militarily is look for more opportunities for engagement. Some of that would be at the highest levels of the most senior military leaders, like their political leaders, just having conversations whenever possible -- in the trilateral event. Now I've been part of some of those already, and if confirmed I would want to continue that -- to try to be part of any trilateral discussions.
There are real readiness concerns that helped inform this as well. For example, the United Nations command has a United Nations commander (inaudible) area that's in Japan. The mission in Korea cannot be fulfilled without cooperation from Japan. So we have practical military reasons to have cooperation. And if confirmed, I would highlight that those, as they need.SULLIVAN:
If I could comment on the broader question of the need for partners in the region -- it has been my experience in my military judgment that is a fundamental part of our U.S. engagements internationally. And that keeps us safe as well as our allies and helps with prosperity in the region. It's not some kind of no zero-sum gain where allies and -- it only benefits one party. Isn't that correct?BROOKS:
I agree, Senator. I would say that our history shows what happens when retrenchment occurs. And we can look at the 1930s and see the consequences that followed 1940s. What happens if we retrench ourselves back focused only on ourselves and not on the rest of the world. And certainly we've moved a long way since the '40s in terms of the role of the United States and leadership.BROOKS:
So leadership has to be fulfilled through relationship and relationships are what these engagements are all about. And so I strongly advocate for continued engagement and the resourcing to do it. That shouldn't be seen as something that's not of value for us.
It's significantly valuable. That's where our partners come from in a coalition, if we transition to crisis. That's how we keep 26 United Nations sending states, maybe even move it to 20 if we had a crisis. It's through those relationships and I strongly advocate those.SULLIVAN:
Let me just send by, again, a specific question and then a general one. You know, we're talking about -- the ability to fight tonight. Are there capability gaps and training challenges that you're seeing right now with regard to Korea? But also with regard to the issue of the size of the Army.
You know, the administration is pushing for an Army of 450,000 active duty forces. General Milley, to his credit, came in front of this committee two weeks ago. Said that put us at high military risk. That didn't make a lot of news. I thought that it should make a lot of news.
High military risk at 450. I want your view on how that could possibly impact your mission to fight tonight. And then, if you wouldn't mind commenting very briefly, as General Milley's been looking at readjusting our force posture.
He did make the decision to reverse an earlier decision by the Army to get rid of the 425 JBER, the only airborne brigade combat team in the Asia-Pacific. When he made that announcement, he said, how well they're trained, how critical they are to a contingency in Korea.
Do you support that decision by General Milley and can you explain why, if you do? I know I asked about five questions in there. Sorry Mr. Chairman.BROOKS:
Thanks senator. First, if I can comment on the very important capacity that exists in a -- in an airborne force in Alaska in close range to any of our interests or concerns. That is very important to us. It is located at a power projection platform and I strongly support the decision that was made by General Milley to defer any further reductions on that unit until later in 2017.
We're not out of the woods on that. Resourcing and the pressures on the size of the force, are driving that. I think that the ere is a clear recognition that we need those capabilities, but we will be size enough and resourced for the size hat we're giving.
And that's why I'd ask for the committee to really help us focus on the at. I think General Milley made that point very, very well. I do remained concerned about the consequences of a smaller set of forces, whether it's U.S. Army or the other services, who are also a pat of the U.S. forces Korea.
And what that would mean in terms of how much flexibility we have to respond to the unforeseen in a time of crisis. What's behind the tip of the spear in this case. It is a force that is underresourced and therefore in a lower state of readiness, then the risk is elevated. We're given a choice at that point in time.
Respond rapidly with under trained, under equipped forces, or take the time to train and equipment and perhaps, lose a significant amount of momentum or have a capacity at the start of an operation. This is the trade off that's happening. I don't think we're sized correctly for the missions we're seeing in the world.
The world has changed since some of these assumptions were made a few years ago about the force sizing. And with the committee's support, I look forward to informing that, on what we need in Korea.SULLIVAN:
Thank you. Thank you Mr. Chairman.MCCAIN:
Thank you Mr. Chairman . I would like, first of all, to thank you as others have done for your service and for your families. Service over many, many years since your graduation from West Point. And, if you're serving in a variety of different places around the world.
I want to follow a series of questions that I think Senator Shaheen asked about undersea warfare and our capabilities in the part of the world where you will have responsibility in the Asia-Pacific. In that theater, undersea capabilities are especially vital to them.
The size, geographically and the nature of the terrain, which is primarily sea, even though the most publicized part of the confrontational area with North Korea is often the land. And certainly, the Ohio replacement, in terms of nuclear deterrents, is particularly important.
I think that we can continue to produce both the Virginia class and the Ohio replacement in the way that keeps constant our need for the continued class that -- a new level of 48, which is the designated number and also replaces the Ohio class, the Ohio replacement program.
I think it is very, very important as part of our nuclear deterrent. I would like a commitment from you that you will support program. And AV (ph) has outlined it. But we still have the challenge of finding a way to pay for it.
And, I think your commitment, in terms of the interest that you have to consider in North Korea and the surrounding area, are very important.BROOKS:
Senator, thanks for the question. I can -- just first, I would defer to the Department of the Navy on exactly what the requirements are. I can tell you that if confirmed, I would be one of the consumers of the capability that's generated.
And I would certainly want to have those capabilities. In my view, if we were to find ourselves in a crisis, it would not be restricted to the Korean peninsula and it's physical geography. It would be the surrounding areas. It would be the air space over it.
It would be space. It will be in the cyber domain. So, it would be a much more expansive experience than what we saw in 1950 to 1953. We have to recognize that.
So, these capabilities are very important to me as a joint commander. And I would want to have that. So you have my commitment that I will be asking for them to be sure.BLUMENTHAL:
And, in terms of undersea warfare, you've mentioned cyber. I agree that it's critically important. The Virginia Class capability enables surveillance, intelligence, special operations. And of course, Ohio replacement, nuclear deterrent.
Would you agree that these programs have to be funded so that you as the consumer could take advantage of them?BROOKS:
I would senator, particularly when we think about where North Korea and South Korea are located and who's in the neighborhood.
We can't ignore the Pacific fleet from the eastern military reduction of Russia and what actions they might take in a time of crisis. And so these kinds of capabilities, they have to go through very important -- to maintain security and focus on the actual operation at hand.BLUMENTHAL:
Senator King asked you about the issue of how to define war and response to, in effect, a declaration war by certain attacks on our capabilities. Obviously, this issue is particularly pertinent when it comes to cyber since we are under attack, literally everyday from certain elements, including, potentially, North Korea.
And, would you agree that we need to define more precisely and more accurately, what constitutes an act of war against our country in the cyber area?BROOKS:
Senator, I would say that if confirmed I would want to lay out all options. And not to preclude any options for consideration. So I for one would offer caution about being too explicit.
I think that point was made earlier. While it seems I'm being very clear of things that we're extremely concerned about and intend not to tolerate, but we have to make sure we back up our words and this is the important part.BLUMENTHAL:
Thank you very much.
Thank you Mr. Chairman.MCCAIN:
Thank you very much for this hearing.
General Brooks, in the first four months of 2016, we've seen a nuclear test, a space launch, multiple short-range ballistic missile launches and the ground test of ICBM engine (ph) from North Korea. Do you believe that our current strategy is successfully halting or slowing down North Korea's missile technology development?
And do you think that the newest sanctions agreed to by China will have an effect? And if North Korea's technology continues to advance, what are our options for halting it?BROOKS:
Senator, thanks for the question. I believe the first part of the strategy, which has led to deterrence and the preservation of the armistice is working. I think its too early to make judgments on U.N. Security Council Resolution 2270 and what effect that that might have on their programs.
At the present time, it has not stopped them in pursuing these capabilities.GILLIBRAND:
As many as 70 of North Korea's top leaders have been executed in the last five years, how do you think these purges have impacted stability of the regime in Chi-young (ph) and in the event of a significant destabilization in North Korea, what would be your primary security concerns?BROOKS:
Senator, the approach that Mr. Kim Jong Un is taking toward his military leadership is a cause for concern. The potential of having anyone who can counterbalance him or provide advice, that potential is going down. It's not evident that he's able to receive advice.
What that then means in terms of a cycle of provocation and having any breaks that would stop that, I believe, should be a cause for concern. I don't know what mechanisms we have to influence that directly. And I think the alternative is, as a military leader, I would have to be more concerned with what I do if he uses the capabilities that he has?
How do I prepare to fight tonight? I'd have to rely on other mechanisms, other parts of our governmental efforts that would have a better influence on changing his calculus and changing the way he approaches it. But, to me, it's very concerning. I don't know which direction that this can go.
I -- frankly, I'm not optimistic about the direction that North Korea is going. On March 8th, the South Korean government announced that dozens of its top officials had their smartphones hacked by North Korea. Have you assessed the cybertech capabilities of North Korea relative to our and our allies' ability to defend against them.
And what can you tell us about this in an unclassified setting about what we are doing to increase our cyber warfare advantages?BROOKS:
Senator, I'd say this is an area of growth. This is part of the asymmetric effort that North Korea's undertaking. While I wouldn't characterize them as the best in the world, they are among the best in the world and the best organized.
So, what they're experimenting with, what they're willing to do, their demonstrated attacks against a U.S. company. That shows a boldness and a capability. And that is cause for concern. From a military perspective, our first concern, first approach is to protect our networks. Protect our capabilities, so that we remain ready to fight tonight without disruption.
But I think that also has to be applied beyond the military domain as is clearly evident. And that's a whole of government effort that the United States and the Iraq government would have to undertake. If confirmed, I would want to advise and inform that what options there might be and the nature of the problem as we see it.GILLIBRAND:
On April 13th, the ruling party in the South Korean parliament lost its majority for the first time in 16 years. How do you think this development will impact regional security?BROOKS:
Senator, I'm not sure. I think it's too early to say whether there will be any differences in the approach to policy, the international engagements of the Republic of Korea. I'm confident, though, there will not be a change in the recognition of the need for a strong alliance.
How that manifests itself inside of Korea, we'll work through that. If confirmed, I'll do that closely with Ambassador Mark Lippert.GILLIBRAND:
OK. And last question. On December 28, 2015, South Korea and Japan signed an agreement addressing the issue of comfort women. The agreement has yet to be fully implemented, but its signing reflects an effort to improve the relationship between the two countries.
Our strategy in the region is tied to effective coordination with both Japan and South Korea. How would you assess the current state of relations between the two sides? And do you think this will change following the recent elections? And what can the U.S. do to assist our allies moving towards a better relationship between them?BROOKS:
Senator, I think it was a very important step that -- that -- those steps that you alluded to in the agreement, and recognizing that very complex and deep-rooted issue. I think both countries recognize there's still work to be done, but it created an opening for us militarily, and that's what I would highlight. That by those political decisions, military engagement increased nearly immediately.
And I want that to continue, because we know the importance of having a close connection between the Republic of Korea, Japan and the United States in security. That would be where I'd concentrate my attention if confirmed.GILLIBRAND:
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.MCCAIN:
Thank you, Chairman.
I want to thank you, General, and your family for your leadership and service and willingness to step up to this important position.
I wanted to reiterate my agreement with Senator Shaheen on where -- where you can to re-start recovery operations for those missing in action in North Korea, obviously where conditions warrant our ability to do that. In New Hampshire, we have at least 42 that have been identified that are missing in action. So this is an important issue I think to all of us. But I understand the conditions on the ground are very difficult in North Korea.BROOKS:
They are, Senator. And thanks for your continued pursuit of that. As I mentioned, this is a solemn obligation. And if confirmed, I would remain committed to that, in support of the Defense POW-MIA Accounting Agency.AYOTTE:
Thank you, General.
I wanted to ask about the ballistic missile testing by North Korea, in particular the KN-08, what the capability of those missiles are; what activity we see right now in North Korea that is of concern to us; how you think we should address it.
And I'd also like you, in turn, to address the cooperation between North Korea and Iran when it comes to their missile programs, because we also know that recently Iran has been testing ballistic missiles as well.BROOKS:
Senator, the -- the KN-08 missile is one of the capabilities that we see North Korea trying to develop. We haven't seen success on that yet, but we know that that's a pursuit. What that would mean to us, then, is more of U.S. territories and the homeland also could be threatened if they're able to achieve that.
The big concern that we see is that some of the technologies that would be needed to put together this type of a system, they've demonstrated those capabilities. And when we see that long-range missile capability that was able to put a satellite into space, for example, that, coupled with nuclear development, the chemical weapons that they already have, and the biological weapons, creates a significant hazard.
So we have to make sure we're ready first to defend the homeland and defend the Republic of Korea and our forces who are there. This is -- this is where I would concentrate.AYOTTE:
And what -- what can you speak to the cooperation between Iran and North Korea on the missile programs?BROOKS:
Thank you, Senator.
This is an area of great concern for me. I believe that any cooperation between two proliferating nations who are pursuing this kind of technology is very dangerous for the world. It's very dangerous for the region, certainly for the command that I would be in if confirmed.AYOTTE:
Do you know how great that cooperation is at this point?BROOKS:
Senator, I'm aware of some cooperation and I'd want to detail it in a classified session.AYOTTE:
I would like to ask you that in your response to the advance policy question, you state that the early deployment of more Patriot systems in the event of crisis is critical to the defense of our assets on the peninsula. So, could you speak to, if we're going to need more Patriot air-missile defense systems in the event of a crisis in Korea, why aren't we deploying them now?
Just as I understand, obviously, with some of the actions of the leader in North Korea that are deeply troubling, that we can't always predict what this individual will do.BROOKS:
Senator, it's -- this is a very important question as well. I -- because of the size of our forces, to commit them in one place where you have a hazard is to make them unavailable in another. So a portion of the U.S. Patriot force has to be held in readiness to be committed to any number of regions. In a time of crisis, a decision would be made by the joint staff to prioritize that.
I would say, though, that there's positive news here, and that is that the Republic of Korea in its procurement programs has chosen to purchase the Patriot Advance Capability III, which is the same type of system we have. And that relieves some of the burden on us committing U.S. assets to solve this problem that still exists.AYOTTE:
Is this something that as you are in this position going forward you'll look at, recommending if we have enough assets in terms of the Patriot to defend our own forces?BROOKS:
Senator, it is. I will focus on that as a high priority if I am confirmed.AYOTTE:
Thank you. Really appreciate it.
Finally, in the advance policy questions, you state that China, Russia and North Korea all share similar goals concerning U.S. military activity in the region and on the peninsula. What are those goals, in your view?BROOKS:
First, I'd say a non-nuclear North Korea is the first common interest. And that's been expressed diplomatically and publicly. The second is stability on the Korean peninsula. That, too, has been expressed. We express it through our commitment to the armistice and that's been expressed verbally by other countries like China.
So those, I think, are the -- the two most important. There clearly are differences as well that must be highlighted, how that's to be fulfilled.AYOTTE:
Just so I understand, what are the concerns about China, Russia and North Korea in terms of what their alliance might be to undermining our interests?BROOKS:
I'm sorry, Senator. I misunderstood your question.AYOTTE:
No, no (inaudible).BROOKS:
I -- I believe that we have to be thoughtful of the interests of Russia and China as they regard North Korea. There has been a historic relationship among them. In my estimation, it is strained right now in each case. But what that would mean in a time of crisis is a very different thing.
So coalitions of convenience, coalitions of common interest, can create a much more complex problem for a United Nations command or a combined forces command in Korea.AYOTTE:
Thank you, General.MCCAIN:
One followup question. General, you mentioned the cyber capability of North Korea, which I think is -- is very real. Did the United States respond in any specific and identifiable way to the Sony hack to North Korea?BROOKS:
Senator, I think there were evident responses in the public domain; some of the condemnation; some of the issues that followed that. I wouldn't want to detail in this session any precise electronic measures that were taken as a result of that; be happy to discuss that in a classified session.KING:
Thank you. I'd like to do that. Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.MCCAIN:
General, you mentioned that relations are strained between Russia, China and North Korea, but I don't see any result from that. China controls the economy. They could shut down the North Korean economy in two weeks. It can't be too strained.BROOKS:
Senator, I -- I'm waiting to see what the actual result is going to be. They -- they do have significant economic influence and it has not been shut down. These sections, if they agree to them and implement them, could have a significant effect that hasn't occurred yet.MCCAIN:
So do you think that the Chinese are going to harm what little there is of the North Korean economy?BROOKS:
Senator, I honestly don't know. I think that they are going to take additional measures, but they may have some back doors that are open.MCCAIN:
How much arms sales does the United States do to North Korea roughly -- I mean, to South Korea roughly?BROOKS:
Senator, I don't know the exact amount. I -- I do know that some of the critical systems have been purchased over the last two years.MCCAIN:
Is it in the hundreds of millions?BROOKS:
I'd say it's probably in that -- in that order, and I'd be happy to give you a more precise answer.MCCAIN:
Do you think that it'd be a good idea for South Korea to develop -- the Republic of Korea to develop their own nuclear capability?BROOKS:
At this time, Senator, I have not seen anything that would move us in that direction. We're still looking for a non- nuclear Korean Peninsula.MCCAIN:
So the removal of the nuclear umbrella that's been in place for 70 years would not be a good idea to remove that?BROOKS:
It would not at the present time, Senator, if you're talking about the U.S. nuclear umbrella...MCCAIN:
Would it at any time?BROOKS:
I -- I -- I think that there could be a time where we don't have a nuclear hazard, but we -- we're not at that time now and nor will we be in the near future.MCCAIN:
So for us to notify the South Koreans that we are no longer -- the government upshot of -- of the Republic of Korea that we will no longer provide them with a nuclear umbrella would motivate them to then develop nuclear capability, wouldn't you think?BROOKS:
Senator, I think they would have to contemplate that to maintain their own security (inaudible) question would likely come up.MCCAIN:
How's the attitude towards -- the people of Korea towards the United States and its military?BROOKS:
In my opinion, Senator, it's better now than it was 20 years ago. There is a greater appreciation in this new generation, which surprised me, I thought we were going the other direction some time ago. But perhaps some of the provocations have increased that recognition and awareness.MCCAIN:
So you see no lessening of the relationship and the Republic of Korea's commitment to supporting our forces that are there?BROOKS:
I don't see any diminution (ph) of that.MCCAIN:
And their military is quite capable?BROOKS:
They're very capable, about 640,000 strong and getting stronger all the time with these additional capabilities and our support.MCCAIN:
And they are now, I believe, the world's fifth largest economy?BROOKS:
Senator, they are, and they're continuing to rise.MCCAIN:
And the North Korean economy is about 150th?BROOKS:
It's depressing, the conditions that exist in North Korea, Senator.MCCAIN:
Have you seen anything of value from this North Korean officer who defected?BROOKS:
I'm not aware of anything at this point, Senator. I've not seen any intelligence or any results.MCCAIN:
Have you any intelligence about the capabilities of the North Koreans, particularly since they seem to be investing in isometric capabilities as opposed to conventional capabilities?BROOKS:
I do see that development, Senator, and remain concerned about it.MCCAIN:
And their submarine capability?BROOKS:
My understanding is they have somewhere in the order of 70 submarines and of course, they're trying to create a submarine launched ballistic missile at this time, and that's cause for great concern.MCCAIN:
Have we been surprised that their -- despite repeated failures, their ultimately success? In other words, they seem to be moving towards greater and greater capabilities, despite their repeated failures.BROOKS:
I don't think, Senator, that's a surprise that they've been able to achieve that. I don't find it as a surprise. They're pursuing it and they're going to have success through iterations if they're not stopped.MCCAIN:
And where does their technological base come from for that?BROOKS:
Senator, that's something I don't know, and it would be a cause of great concern for me if it's from proliferating parties elsewhere, Iran and others for example, and I have some concerns that that might be the case.MCCAIN:
Well, I thank you, General, and I thank your family for being here.
We look forward to, unless Senator King objects, probably moving forward with your candidacy.
CQ Transcriptions, April 19, 2016List of Panel Members and Witnesses
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZ. CHAIRMAN
SEN. JAMES M. INHOFE, R-OKLA.
SEN. JEFF SESSIONS, R-ALA.
SEN. ROGER WICKER, R-MISS.
SEN. KELLY AYOTTE, R-N.H.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-S.C.
SEN. DEB FISCHER, R-NEB.
SEN. TED CRUZ, R-TEXAS
SEN. MIKE LEE, R-UTAH
SEN. TOM COTTON, R-ARK.
SEN. MIKE ROUNDS, R-S.D.
SEN. JONI ERNST, R-IOWA
SEN. THOM TILLIS, R-N.C.
SEN. DAN SULLIVAN, R-ALASKA
SEN. JACK REED, D-R.I. RANKING MEMBER
SEN. BILL NELSON, D-FLA.
SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL, D-MO.
SEN. JOE MANCHIN III, D-W.VA.
SEN. JEANNE SHAHEEN, D-N.H.
SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND, D-N.Y.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, D-CONN.
SEN. JOE DONNELLY, D-IND.
SEN. MAZIE K. HIRONO, D-HAWAII
SEN. TIM KAINE, D-VA.
SEN. MARTIN HEINRICH, D-N.M.
SEN. ANGUS KING, I-MAINE
GENERAL VINCENT K. BROOKS (USA), NOMINATED TO BE COMMANDER, UNITED NATIONS COMMAND/ COMBINED FORCES COMMAND/ UNITED STATES FORCES KOREA