Pre-confirmation Hearing Questions for VADM Dennis C. Blair
More than a decade has passed since the enactment of the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986 and the Special Operations reforms. You have had an opportunity to observe the implementation and impact of those reforms, particularly in your assignments as Deputy Director for Joint Assessment, J-8 Joint Staff, Deputy Director for force Structure and Resources, J-8 Joint Staff, Associate Director of Central Intelligence for Military Support, and Director of the Joint Staff.
Do you support full implementation of these defense reforms?
Yes, I fully support the changes that the Goldwater-Nichols Act brought about. As you suggest, Iíve seen the "before and after" picture and the improvements have been significant. These reforms have strengthened our Armed Forces and especially the combatant commandersí ability to conduct operations in support of our strategy of engagement in peace and to direct joint and combined operations in war.
What is your view of the extent to which these defense reforms have been implemented?
"Jointness" has become the core of the American way of war. It dominates the way we operate across the full spectrum of conflict - the joint commander is clearly in charge. It dominates the way we train - joint exercises are the capstone of the training hierarchy. It is becoming dominant in our doctrine, which is continually becoming more based on joint concepts and less based on a simple combination of service concepts. It is asserting an ever-stronger role in our acquisition decisions, as the JROC ensures that service systems are built with interoperabilility from the beginning, and that choices among service systems are made based on joint value.
What do you consider to be the most important aspects of these defense reforms?
The most important impact of Goldwater-Nichols has been to place jointness at the heart of the thinking and activity of the Department of Defense. The Act served as the impetus to improve strategic planning and operations, joint doctrine and training, professional military education and acquisition. An essential feature is the clarity of each CINCís responsibility and authority to execute his assigned mission and prepare his forces. This clear assignment of mission has significantly strengthened the execution of the national military strategy.
The goals of the Congress in enacting these defense reforms, as reflected in section 3 of the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act, can be summarized as strengthening civilian control; improving military advice; placing clear responsibility on the combatant commanders for the accomplishment of their missions; ensuring the authority of the combatant commanders is commensurate with their responsibility; increasing attention to the formulation of strategy and to contingency planning; providing for more efficient use of defense resources; and enhancing the effectiveness of military operations and improving the management and administration of the Department of Defense.
Do you agree with these goals?
Yes - strongly.
Recently, there have been articles which indicate an interest within the Department of Defense in modifying Goldwater-Nichols in light of the changing environment and possible revisions to the national strategy.
Do you anticipate that legislative proposals to amend Goldwater-Nichols may be appropriate? If so, what areas do you believe it might be appropriate to address in these proposals?
There are three areas in which I believe the Department of Defense should further develop the implementation of the goals of Goldwater-Nichols:
It is not clear whether improvements in these areas will require legislation, or can be accomplished within current authorities. The important thing is to keep improving jointness within the armed forces, based on the goals of Goldwater-Nichols.
Section 162(b) of title 10, United States Code, provides that the chain of command runs from the President to the Secretary of Defense and from the Secretary of Defense to the combatant commands. Other sections of law and traditional practice, however, establish important relationships outside the chain of command. If confirmed, what will be your relationship with:
The Secretary of Defense
The chain of command flows from the President to the Secretary of Defense to the Commander-In-Chief, US Pacific Command. The Secretary is my immediate supervisor and I will report directly to him and provide the best possible military advice to execute my duties and responsibilities in the Pacific. As is custom and traditional practice, I will communicate with the Secretary through the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The Deputy Secretary of Defense
The Deputy Secretary of Defense, on occasion, serves as the acting Secretary in the absence of the Secretary. During these periods my relationship with the Deputy Secretary will be essentially the same as with the Secretary. I will endeavor to provide him with the best possible military advice and the same level of support as I would the Secretary. Otherwise, I will consult with and coordinate with him in those areas and issues which the Secretary has assigned him to lead for the Department.
The Under Secretaries of Defense
Under current DoD Directives, Under Secretaries of Defense coordinate and exchange information with DoD components, to include combatant commands, in the functional areas under their purview. If confirmed, as a combatant commander, I will respond and reciprocate. I will use this exchange of information as I formally communicate with the CJCS and provide the best military advice to the SECDEF.
The Assistant Secretaries of Defense
With two exceptions, all Assistant Secretaries are subordinate to one of the Under Secretaries of Defense. This means any relationship US Pacific Command would have with subordinate Assistant Secretaries would be working with and through the applicable Under Secretary of Defense. Since the Assistant Secretaries of Defense for C3I and Legislative Affairs are principal deputies to the SECDEF, the relationship with them would be conducted along the same lines as with the various Under Secretaries.
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
The Chairman is the principal military advisor to the National Command Authority (NCA). The law does allow communications of the President or SECDEF with the combatant commanders to be transmitted through the Chairman. President Clinton has directed this policy in the Unified Command Plan to keep the Chairman fully involved so that he can execute his other legal responsibilities. If confirmed, I will continue the same outstanding relationship with General Shelton as I have enjoyed while serving as his Director of the Joint Staff.
The Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
When functioning as the acting Chairman, the Vice Chairmanís relationship with CINCs is exactly that of the Chairman. The 103rd Congress amended Title 10 to give the Vice Chairman the same rights and obligations of other members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. As a CINC, I would exchange views with the Vice Chairman on any general defense matter considered by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Vice Chairman also heads or plays a key role on many boards and panels that affect readiness and programs and, therefore, the preparedness of US Pacific Command. I would anticipate exchanging views on matters before these boards and panels as they affect the Pacific Command. If confirmed, I anticipate continuing the close working relationship with General Ralston as CINCPAC that I have enjoyed for the last two years as Director of the Joint Staff.
The Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
The Assistant to the Chairman represents the Chairman in the interagency process, and works particularly closely with the leadership of the Department of State. Combatant CINCs and their staffs also work in an interagency setting. While there is no command relationship between the Assistant to the Chairman and a combatant commander, informal exchanges of view are of mutual benefit. If confirmed, I would expect to continue such exchanges.
The Director of the Joint Staff
I am very familiar with this relationship. The Director of the Joint Staff is generally the Joint Staff point of contact for soliciting information from all the CINCs when the Chairman is developing a position on any important issue. On a day-to-day basis, the Deputy Commander in Chief works with the Director of the Joint Staff to exchange positions and clarify direction. However, on occasion it is important for the CINC to deal directly with the Director of the Joint Staff to ensure that his position is correctly understood by the Director.
The Secretaries of the Military Departments
Title 10, section 165 provides that, subject to the authority, direction, and control of the SECDEF and subject to the authority of combatant commanders, the Secretaries of Military Departments are responsible for the administration and support of the forces they have assigned to combatant commands. Each Service has a component commander subordinate to CINCPAC who administers and supports Service forces, but on occasion it is important for a CINC to exchange views personally and directly with a Service Secretary on issues.
The Chiefs of Staff of the Services
Service Chiefs now have two significant roles. They are responsible, in accordance with Goldwater-Nichols, to organize, train, equip, and provide trained and ready forces for CINCs to employ across the spectrum of conflict--peace, crisis, and war. Without the full support and cooperation of the Service Chiefs, no CINC can hope to ensure the preparedness of his assigned forces for whatever missions the NCA directs. Next, as members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Service Chiefs have a lawful obligation to provide military advice to the NCA. Individually and collectively, the Joint Chiefs are a source of experience and judgment that every CINC can and should call upon. If confirmed, I intend to conduct a full dialogue with the Chiefs of all Services.
The other combatant commanders
My relationship with other CINCs will be one of mutual support, continued dialogue on key issues, and frequent face-to-face interaction during periodic CINC Conferences and other meetings, as required. In todayís security environment, an atmosphere of teamwork and cooperation is critical to executing US national policy. In each of my supporting and supported relationships with other CINCs, I will do my utmost to assist them in the execution of their duties and responsibilities. If confirmed, I will take this duty especially seriously, because the area of responsibility of the Pacific Command is the largest of any CINC, and has mutual boundaries with each of the other four combatant commanders.
Political leaders of the nations within the United States Pacific Command area of responsibility?
It will be essential to maintain active working relationships with the military and defense chiefs of the Asia-Pacific region. These relationships are one of the most effective ways to reinforce our commitment to Asia-Pacific security, enhance transparency, and provide opportunity for dialogue throughout the region.
As my predecessors have done, I will endeavor to continue or expand official contacts with the heads of state throughout Asia as appropriate to advance U.S. interests.
Part of my engagement strategy will also be to meet periodically with civilian ministers of defense and foreign affairs throughout the region to complement the relationships of the SecDef and CJCS as well as other Washington officials.
As the current economic crisis in the Pacific illustrates, effective engagement, from a national perspective, requires a carefully orchestrated balance of the three key elements of national power: political, economic, and military. Military security and stability provide the conditions for effective diplomacy and economic growth. Consequently, CINCPACís engagement with the regionís political and military leaders helps lay the foundation for continued strong bilateral relationships and regional cooperation.
Soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines and their families within the United States Pacific Command?
My first responsibility is to ensure that when I order them into harmís way it is for a clearly understood mission, in forces adequate to carry out the mission, with the necessary rules of engagement, training and support.
It is my responsibility to ensure that throughout the Pacific Command there is an ethical and principled working environment, in which all servicemembers deal with one another with dignity and respect.
I am their advocate for a suitable quality of life. This includes appropriate pay and retirement benefits, uniform access to quality health care services, and housing.
OPTEMPO and PERSTEMPO must be carefully managed. While we will always support our national interests, we must ensure our troops are afforded adequate time to care for their families and participate in bolstering their communities. While meeting our commitments, we must improve the predictablility in the lives of our members and their families.
Major Challenges and Problems
In your view, what are the major challenges confronting the Commander-in-Chief United States Pacific Command?
The major challenge facing U.S. Pacific Command is to shape a secure and stable AOR while sustaining U.S. force readiness and living standards in an austere fiscal environment.
From the political-military perspective, ADM Prueher has clearly defined the near-term challenges:
From a readiness perspective, the challenge is having the right forces in the right place at the right time in peace, crisis, or war to advance U.S. interests. To do this, we must meet the following challenges:
U.S. Pacific Command has capable, ready forces. There are some areas of concern (PERSTEMPO, recruiting and retention, aging equipment, infrastructure and aviation) but the risk is manageable at present.
Finally, we must ensure our people are treated fairly and enjoy reasonable and sustainable standards of life. This includes appropriate pay, uniform access to quality health care and services, appropriate retirement benefits, and housing.
Assuming you are confirmed, what plans do you have for addressing these challenges?
We must maintain our readiness to respond promptly and effectively in crisis and war. Integral to this effort are our component and joint training exercises, as well as continuing combined exercises with U.S. friends and allies in the region. Periodically we must test U.S. Pacific Commandís forcesí ability to execute standing operational and concept plans. We must be prepared to take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves to secure additional access to military facilities, such as training ranges, and ensure interoperability with our friends and allies.
With respect to the political-military challenges in the region:
If confirmed, you will be entering this important position at a time of concern about the adequacy of the budget, force levels and readiness of our forces.
What background and experience do you have that you believe qualified you for this position?
There are several components of my experience that have prepared me for this position . First, I have enjoyed a remarkable career at sea, serving in positions of increased responsibility from captain of a ship to command of a Carrier Battle Group. Years of sea duty have contributed to my understanding of the operational warfighting requirements of air, ground, and naval forces. Building on these operational assignments, I have served on staffs within the Navy, the Joint Staff, with the Director of Central Intelligence, and on the staff of the National Security Council. These tours of duty have given me unique insights into the workings of national security policy and strategy formulation at the highest levels of the Department of Defense and the US Government. Additionally, I have spent a significant portion of my career serving in the Pacific, from San Diego to Japan. Finally, my experiences with the many soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines -- Americaís sons and daughters Ė are an important qualification. I have had a great opportunity to serve with an outstanding group of people for these past three decades and have come to understand how important it is that senior military leaders contribute to the professional development of their subordinates, and to care for the safety and welfare of servicemembers and their families. It is a cherished responsibility to develop in our junior commanders the sets of skills they will need to lead our forces into the 21st Century. I know I can make an appropriate contribution.
Do you believe that there are any steps that you need to take to enhance your expertise to perform the duties of the Commander-in-Chief, United States Pacific Command?
Although I consider myself qualified to step into the duties of CINCPAC, if confirmed for this position, I would intend to use any time available to me before taking command to consult with a wide range of those interested and knowledgeable in Asia-Pacific matters in the Executive and Legislative branches, and in the private sector.
SUPPORT OF PACIFIC COMMAND FORCES
The United States Pacific Command area of responsibility is geographically dispersed and includes a wide range of cultures.
What will be your approach to promoting stability within your area of responsibility?
The foundation to promoting stability within the AOR is credible, combat-capable, forward-deployed forces, ready to respond to crises and, if necessary, fight and win a major theater war. These forces deter conflicts, reassure friends and allies, and provide the United States with substantial influence in the region.
The Asia-Pacific region is largely at peace, but there exists the opportunity for tension to rise or a crisis to occur with little warning. Sustaining our military-to-military relationships throughout the AOR is the most effective method of encouraging transparency and sustaining dialogue on regional security matters.
What do you consider the biggest strategic lift challenge in CINCPAC?
The biggest mobility challenge in the U.S. Pacific Command AOR is the aging and inadequate enroute fuel infrastructure to support theater requirements. Significant sustained surge-refueling capability on both the North and South Pacific air bridges has suffered since 1992 due to the loss of bases and infrastructure. It is essential to halt further losses in U.S. Pacific Command petroleum capabilities at enroute airbases.
There are several projects planned for FY2000-2005. U.S. Pacific Command has 16 fuel projects approved for design and/or construction totaling $411.6M (68% of DOD petroleum MILCON funding for FY 00-05). U.S. Pacific Commandís continued pursuit of host nation support is a viable means of augmenting U.S. systems by using commercial airports, and equipment such as pipelines, rail systems, trucks and barges. We will continue to seek strong support for MILCON. The emphasis should continue to focus on funding for out-year projects.
What regional alliances do you consider to be keys to stability and what alliances do you consider unsettling?
Our alliance with Japan is the most important bilateral security relationship in Asia and is the cornerstone of U.S. Pacific Commandís theater strategy. Other key alliances important to regional stability include defense treaties with the Republic of Korea, Australia, Thailand, and the Philippines. These alliances signify the United Statesí commitment not only to the security of the individual nations but also to the security of the Asia-Pacific region as a whole.
Although it does not have formal alliances, China is destined to be more influential in Asia and around the globe. Consequently, we continue to watch closely strategic relationships between the China and the other countries in the region - Russia, North Korea and India.
Does the United States Pacific Command have adequate live-fire training ranges, training facilities, and training weapon allocations to enable assigned forces to maintain readiness?
Maintaining the readiness of forward-deployed forces is a prime focus of the U.S. Pacific Command. There are opportunities during joint and combined training exercises to use host nationsí live-fire ranges. This practice helps to compensate for diminishing range availability elsewhere in the theater. Thus, training during Exercises COBRA GOLD (Thailand), TANDEM THRUST (Australia and Northern Marianas Islands), and NORTHERN EDGE (Alaska) helps to sustain readiness levels of our forward-deployed forces.
Due to unit rotations and other competing operational requirements, not all forward-deployed forces are able to participate in these exercises. They depend on the few remaining live-fire ranges within the theater. The loss of ranges in the Philippines, and greater restrictions on the use and availability of Japanese ranges increase the readiness challenge for these forces.
In summary, we have appropriate weapons-training allocations and live-fire opportunities during major theater combined exercises. As in prior years, it is a significant challenge to ensure readiness for forces that are unable to participate in the larger exercises.
Replenishment of such a dispersed force as you will have responsibility for requires prioritization and coordination.
What are the critical non-United States owned port facilities required for the United States Pacific Command to carry out everyday peacetime operations?
During everyday peacetime operations, the following non-U.S. owned ports support U.S. Pacific Command operations:
Which of these are critical way points should conflict arise in the United States Pacific Command area of responsibility?
All of the non-U.S. owned aerial and seaports listed are essential for varying levels of crisis response up to and including major conflict. Although not listed, there are many other port facilities in the U.S. Pacific Command AOR that we expect to use depending on the location and nature of the crisis and level of support required. The key is to have a deep and flexible net of air and seaports so that in a particular crisis sea and air bridges can be established from the United States across the region to the crisis area.
What specifically are our national interests in Southeast Asia, and how do United States Pacific Command operations relate to those interests?
Our national interests in Southeast Asia include prevention of its domination by a hostile power, protection of U.S. citizens and assets, free trade access to theater markets and resources, and maintenance of our treaty obligations to Thailand and the Philippines. U.S. Pacific Command operations support these national objectives by shaping the international environment, being ready to respond to crisis, and preparing now for an uncertain future.
U.S. forward presence is the most important aspect of our engagement strategy. Only by interacting with the countries in the region are we able to shape the regional environment in which we operate. Forward presence provides visible support to allies and friends and gives pause to antagonists and potential enemies, ensures freedom of navigation, supports treaty obligations, and promotes military access Ė all of which are vital in responding to crisis.
Maintaining treaty commitments with our allies and developing key bilateral relationships also help maintain regional security and stability. Major exercises, such as COBRA GOLD with Thailand, help to build strong military-to-military relations which translate to increased regional access when shared interests are threatened.
Another key ingredient is our ability to influence force modernization and interoperability with friends and allies through Foreign Military Sales. Security Assistance programs also help us shape the attitudes of the regionís future military leaders.
Taken together these endeavors support the tenets of shaping the international environment while honing both U.S. and allied capability to respond to crisis and prepare for an uncertain future.
What is your prognosis for implementation of the Visiting Forces Agreement with the Philippines?
The Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) will go into effect upon ratification by the Philippine Senate. Currently, the Executive Branch of the Philippine government plans to submit the VFA to the Senate for ratification in October. However, Senate Majority Leader Franklin Drilon stated the Senate would not debate the VFA in 1998 due to pressing domestic issues. Philippine President Estrada has repeatedly expressed confidence that the Senate will approve the agreement. National Defense Secretary Orlando Mercado, as well as Secretary for Foreign Affairs Domingo Siazon, are actively lobbying for approval. Once the Senate VFA debate begins, it could become protracted and contentious. In the end, we are optimistic the VFA will be approved.
What do you anticipate your relationship will be with the Commander-in-Chief United Nations Command/Combined Forces Command and United States Forces Korea?
This relationship is unique and must be seamless. While Korea is the single most dangerous single flashpoint within his area of responsibility, the focus of the Commander-in-Chief U.S. Pacific Command, is Asia/Pacific-wide. While ensuring that Pacific Command forces are capable of fighting and winning a Korean conflict, it is the responsibility of USCINCPAC to deal with Korea in the wider context of the region. For example, he must ensure that Russia, China and Japan are cooperating with the United States in deterring conflict and promoting reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula. General Tilelli has a narrower focus. He acts as both a subordinate Unified Commander under USCINCPAC and as Commander-in-Chief United Nations Command/Combined Forces Command. His primary focus must be deterrence of a North Korean attack, and successful conflict termination should deterrence fail.
This division of labor gives a shared mission to prevent a cataclysmic outcome on the peninsula and work for reconciliation and eventual reunification by peaceful means. If conflict were to occur, CINC UNC/CFC will fight and win that war, with U.S. Pacific Command providing support.
In your opinion, should we have a separate combatant command for Northeast Asia?
No. Current command arrangements have worked very successfully to deter conflict in Korea and should be continued. In the future, when there has been some form of a reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula, there should continue to be a single Asia-Pacific combatant commander to work US national security policy across this entire interconnected region, linked by air and sea lines of communication to the United States.
Should Korea unify, what do you believe the implications will be for the United States Pacific Command?
The elements of continuity in our relationship with Korea will be stronger than the elements of change. It will still be in the interests of both countries to remain allies, and for US forward deployed forces to remain in Korea, with the costs of that burden shared between the two countries. As was the case in Western Europe, when the immediate threat of aggression ended, there are still the long-term mutual interests which provide continuity in military relations. Some of the specific nature and conditions of the military relationship will be adjusted, but the basics will be the same.
Are sufficient forces assigned and allocated to the United States Pacific Command to perform simultaneous operations for both a Major Regional Conflict in Korea and presence in the Area of Responsibility?
There are sufficient forces assigned and allocated to U.S. Pacific Command to perform operations for both a Major Theater War in Korea while continuing limited presence in the rest of the AOR. During an MTW in Korea, the Pacific strategy will be focused on supporting success on the Korean peninsula. U.S. military presence in South and Southeast Asia will be reduced. There will be a surge presence focused on Korea, Japan, Guam and other locations of strategic importance.
How important is our presence in Okinawa?
Very important. U.S. forces based on mainland Japan and on Okinawa are a visible demonstration of our commitment to the U.S.-Japan Mutual Security Treaty. In addition, from this strategic location, the U.S. is able to help maintain regional peace and stability and protect our vital interests. By our forward presence, U.S. forces have provided a security guarantee that has contributed to U.S. economic prosperity.
In order to exercise its legislative and oversight responsibilities, it is important that this Committee and other appropriate committees of the Congress are able to receive testimony, briefings, and other communications of information.
Do you agree, if confirmed for this high position, to appear before this Committee and other appropriate committees of the Congress?
Do you agree, when asked, to give your personal views, even if those views differ from the Administration in power?
Do you agree, if confirmed, to appear before this Committee, or designated members of this Committee, and provide information, subject to appropriate and necessary security protection, with respect to your responsibilities Commander and Chief, Pacific Command?
Do you agree to ensure that testimony, briefings and other communications of information are provided to this Committee and its staff and other appropriate Committees?