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STATEMENT OF REAR ADMIRAL JOHN T. BYRD, USN
DIRECTOR OF PLANS AND POLICY
UNITED STATES STRATEGIC COMMAND
OF THE UNITED STATES NUCLEAR STOCKPILE
JUNE 12, 2002
Chairman Weldon, Congressman Taylor, and distinguished members of the Committee, I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today to testify on the safety, security, and reliability of our Nation's nuclear stockpile. Please allow me to express on behalf of the men and women of the strategic forces, and on behalf of Admiral James Ellis, the Commander of U.S. Strategic Command, our appreciation for your continuing support and recognition of the unique responsibilities we bear in regards to our Nation's nuclear weapons. Additionally, thank you for your continuing efforts in strengthening the National Nuclear Security Administration and your strong support for General John Gordon and his efforts in rebuilding the Nation's nuclear weapons complex. I am honored to be a part of today's panel. Historic Synergy
I'm particularly thankful for your invitation for the Command to appear before the committee side-by-side with General Gordon. Our appearance together illustrates the historical synergy that has always existed between the Department of Energy nuclear weapons complex and the Department of Defense strategic forces. As you know, both of our organizations are relatively young, but owe our successes to the historic legacy inherited from our predecessors who forged a culture of rigor, discipline, and analytical expertise inherent in all we do today in support of our Nation's nuclear arsenal. This synergy is what has made our nuclear deterrent so effective throughout the years and will be key to a safer and more secure future. Unitended Consequences of the Peace Dividend
As we claimed victory in the Cold War, in large part due to the efforts of our predecessors, we found ourselves at the peak of capability in terms of both our nuclear weapons complex and our strategic forces. Our overwhelming capability, made even greater virtually overnight by the disintegration of our previous enemy, allowed our Nation to make significant and prudent decisions to reap the benefits of our newfound peace dividend. For the nuclear weapons complex, these decisions included not replacing our sole means of manufacturing new nuclear weapon primaries, suspending indefinitely underground testing of our nuclear weapons stockpile, and significantly reducing both nuclear weapon facilities and personnel.
The benefit of hindsight enables us to recognize that the well-intentioned decisions made as a result of the end of the Cold War present us with unintended challenges today. These challenges include maintaining the safety and reliability of nuclear weapons that average nearly 20 years old without being able to fully test them; replacing an already reduced pool of invaluable experts in weapons design and production, half of whom are eligible to retire today; and rebuilding a manufacturing complex built primarily in the 1950s and now supporting not only the maintenance of our aging stockpile, but also life extension programs for existing warheads and, additionally, the dismantlement of nuclear weapons already identified for retirement.
These challenges did not appear overnight and there are solutions identified or in development for many of them. The Stockpile Stewardship Program was instituted to support the nuclear weapons complex in a non-testing environment. In addition, the recently completed Nuclear Posture Review clearly recognizes the nuclear weapons complex is a vital element of our Nation's strategic deterrent capability and requires significant investment to ensure its continued success. However, we must not only address the concerns identified to date, but also anticipate, study, and prepare for the concerns of the future. As the stewards of our Nation's nuclear arsenal, we must make the difficult choices to position ourselves appropriately to meet the strategic requirements of the next several decades.
toward furtherance of mutual energy security and nuclear counterproliferation. The Subcommittee looks forward to exploring these important programs at a future date.
At this point I want to turn to my good friend, and ranking member of the Procurement Subcommittee, Mr. Taylor for any remarks he would like to make. Mr. Taylor.
Thank you all for taking the time to be with us today. Your statements and comments have been very helpful.
With that, we stand adjourned.
PREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. GENE TAYLOR TALKING POINTS
HASC PROCUREMENT SUBCOMMITTEE
PERFORMANCE OF THE U.S. NUCLEAR STOCKPILE
JUNE 12, 2002
Thank you Chairman Weldon.
I also want to thank the Chairman for scheduling this hearing on a subject that gets very little attention but is a critical part of our national security strategy... maintaining our strategic nuclear weapons capability.
I am also sensitive to the fact that there are a lot of policy implications associated with the discussion of the stockpile stewardship program that are beyond the purview of the procurement subcommittee.
General Gordon, I am especially interested in hearing your comments on the implications of the proposed reassignment of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to become part of the Homeland Defense organization as it will help us to better understand the risks, if any, to our ability to maintain our strategic nuclear capability
This hearing could be the start of a dialogue that is long overdue.
STATEMENT OF JOHN A. GORDON
JUNE 12, 2002
Thank you for the opportunity to appear today to discuss the National Nuclear Security Administration's (NNSĂ) weapons work and the budget needed to ensure that we can meet our commitment to provide the Nation with a safe, secure and reliable stockpile. The Committee's strong support for the President's budget is greatly appreciated by the men and women across the complex. They are producing the thousands of parts, designing the experiments, and analyzing the data needed to sustain America's nuclear deterrent. Equally important, it sends a clear signal to our allies and adversaries alike that the United States is committed to a robust national defense. I would like to begin my testimony here today by setting a policy framework and discussing the issues and accomplishments of the NNSA.
Transforming the National Security Strategy President Bush is transforming U.S. national security strategy to meet the threats of the 21st century. The NNSA was intimately involved in the formulation of the Administration strategy through active participation in the Strategic and Nuclear Posture Reviews. This ensured that the choices, plans, and requirements being developed were within the realm of the technical and production capabilities of the NNSA. It also increased the awareness of our issues and technical capabilities within the Administration's national I security senior management team.
We responded swiftly and comprehensively to the terrorist events of September 11th, protecting our valuable national security assets and employees, and offering
our unique capabilities to the national response. We have contributed directly to the Homeland Security needs of Governor Ridge with our technology and scientific staff. This work will extend into FY 2003 and beyond.
While the policies and priorities established by the President, the Secretary, and the Congress will determine the scope of our work over the years to come, nuclear deterrence remains the cornerstone of our national defense strategy. The NNSA will make significant contributions to the Administration's new capabilities-based national security strategy that requires us to maintain our military advantages in key areas while developing new capabilities.
The NNSA faces major challenges during the next five-year period in responding to evolving customer requirements while maintaining and improving the health of the nation's nuclear security enterprise. The expanded focus on international terrorism following the September 11th attacks underscores the importance of maintaining and enhancing the strong research and development capability in the science and technology resident within the complex.
NNSA's ability to perform its national security functions depends upon revitalizing our scientific and engineering expertise to ensure the reliability, safety, and security of the Nation's nuclear weapons. Much of the physical and intellectual infrastructure of the nuclear security enterprise was built during the era of underground nuclear testing, and has eroded to the point that we are no longer able to perform some essential tasks. It is imperative that we address these issues during the upcoming five-year period. NNSA's program and budget planning emphasizes maintaining an adequate workforce of scientific, technical and business skills, and building a diverse, multi-talented leadership. We must engage the laboratories in an advanced concepts program that can provide future Presidents with the national security tools suited to the Post Cold War strategic environment. We must be able to recruit, train, and develop highly skilled employees throughout our organizations in a highly competitive employment environment. We must implement our plans to renew the physical infrastructure to ensure adequate capability and capacity, as well as compliance with environment, safety, health and security standards.
Budget Summary By way of summary, the NNSA FY 2003 budget supports the recommendations from the Nuclear Posture Review to assure the continued safety, security, and reliability of the stockpile without underground nuclear testing, develop a stockpile surveillance engineering base, refurbish and extend the lives of selected warheads, and maintain the science and technology base needed to support nuclear weapons. The request protects the operational readiness of the nuclear weapons stockpile through surveillance, experiments, and simulations for individual weapons and weapon systems, and investment in advanced scientific and manufacturing for the future.
The President's FY 2003 budget request for Defense Programs was developed based on two primary resource drivers. First, the strategic reviews of national security-related activities conducted this past year. The NNSA actively participated in the President's Strategic Review of deterrence and missile defense policy and was a key participant in the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) which lays out the direction for this nation's nuclear forces over the next five to ten years. These reviews reaffirmed NNSA's stockpile refurbishments and the need for a robust, responsive research and development and industrial base of which the nuclear weapons enterprise is a key element. The NNSA Laboratories are on the cutting edge of technology and have a vital national security role to play in combating terrorism. The other is the President's Management Initiatives on the human capital management and competitive sourcing initiatives which serve to focus our FY 2003 activities, particularly in the NNSA restructuring of the headquarters and field offices and in the Federal Program Direction budget. Recruitment, retention, and skill mix are critical to NNSA's success in the future and are key to our plans for re-engineering the workforce.
Stockpile Stewardship In spite of the many challenges we are facing, the NNSA has continued to meet the core Stockpile Stewardship mission—that is, to maintain the safety, security, and reliability of the nuclear stockpile to meet national security requirements. We have done this by deploying the best science and engineering technology at our disposal across the weapons complex. The ASCI supercomputers, experiments on DARHT, NOVA, and the Z facilities have done much to improve our understanding of the dynamic nature of the aging nuclear weapons stockpile. We have put in place new manufacturing processes at the production sites which have allowed NNSA to deliver, the thousands of parts needed each year to support the stockpile. We have
Stockpile Stewardship Program and its Relationship to Test Readiness
The technological challenges inherent in the full development of the Stockpile Stewardship Program have been compared to the Nation's efforts in the 1980s towards putting a man on the moon. The significant investments in Stockpile Sterardship tools, such as the Advanced Simulation and Computing Program, the Na tional Ignition Facility (NIF), and the Dual-Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamic Test (DARHT) Facility, are vital to ensuring the safety and reliability of our nuclear weapons. These tools are providing ever-increasing volumes and fidelity of data not available when the weapons in the stockpile were built. However, as this data is analyzed and our knowledge increases, we may actually identify a fault or age-related problem whose correction cannot be verified through modeling and simulation alone. Consequently, there may come a day in the future when United States Surategic Command may have to recommend to the Secretary of Defense that the US. conduct a nuclear test. It is prudent, whether we get to that point gradually or suddenly, we be able to conduct such a test in less than the current 24-36 month timeline.
One of many important elements of the Stockpile Stewardship Program is the annual assessment process for our nuclear weapons in which the Commander of L.S. Strategic Command plays a role, advised by members of his Strategic Advisory Group. The assessment process is a necessary element to ensure we maintain the historically high levels of confidence and reliability necessary in our nuclear weapons. Rebuilding the Nuclear Weapons Complex
On behalf of Admiral Ellis, I thank you for your continued support for the increased funding necessary to restore the infrastructure in the nuclear weapons complex for not only the proper maintenance of the stockpile but a quality work environment for the people working in the complex. One of the key elements of General Gordon's infrastructure plan is the design and development of a Modern Pit Facility to replace the Rocket Flats Facility which closed more than ten years ago and was our sole facility for producing the primaries for our nuclear weapons. Development and construction of a Modern Pit Facility will enable us to replace aging warheads as well as reduce our reliance on significant numbers of existing warheads held in reserve as insurance against a technological failure of an entire warhead type. Though the exact composition of this reserve is yet to be determined, it will none theless be a significant portion of our active and inactive nuclear warhead stockpile. Adapting to International Change
One of the many challenges we face for both the nuclear weapons complex and our strategic forces, is that due to the drawdown of our forces, we have not produced a new nuclear warhead since 1989, we have no new strategic systems in development, and only one strategic system still in production (the Trident D-5 Missile). As a result, we are faced with the dilemma of adapting nuclear weapons and strategic forces designed for Cold War missions to support deterrence in the 21st Century.
One of the most pressing threats posed by our potential adversaries in the international arena today is the proliferation of hard and deeply buried facilities capable of protecting nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons; the means of delivering them; and the leaders who would threaten the United States. Our current arsenal, developed in the Cold War, was not designed to address this growing worldwide threat. There are facilities today which we either cannot defeat, even with existing nuclear weapons, or must hold at risk using a large number of weapons. As a result, both the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy, through the Nuclear Weapons Council, have approved a study of how to effectively counter this threat. This study of a Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator (RNEP) will evaluate modifications to existing nuclear weapons that do not require nuclear testing.
The ideal outcome of an RNEP study would be a recommendation to proceed with selective modifications to existing weapons that would ultimately strengthen deterrence by improving the credibility of our strategic forces against hard and deeply buried facilities. As you are well aware, our efforts to strengthen deterrence involve denying sanctuary to our adversaries. This may mean making our nuclear weapons more tailored to the target type, which is not equivalent to making them more likely to be used. Tailored weapons strengthen deterrence, which in turn makes them less likely to be used. Also, a robust nuclear earth penetrator is only one piece of the overall solution for targets contained in these types of structures. Other capabilities such as advanced conventional, information operations, and special operations capabilities must be developed as well. A full spectrum of capabilities strengthens deter
rence and maintains the nuclear threshold by developing a range of options for the President to counter the growing hard and deeply buried target set. Nuclear Warhead Reductions
As you know, the recent treaty signed by President Bush and Russian President Putin recognized that the Cold War is over and as a result we will reduce our operationally deployed strategic nuclear warheads by two thirds over the next ten years. U.S. Strategic Command played an important role in analyzing the reductions contained in this landmark treaty. The reductions called for are fully consistent with the United States' valid military requirements.
The lower number of deployed weapons is a long awaited and welcome development, but we must now prepare for implementation. With fewer weapons and weapon types, an unpredicted catastrophic failure of a warhead type places even greater emphasis on improved test readiness. Currently, there is no need to conduct nuclear tests, but at lower inventory levels, increasing test readiness is necessary to minimize the potential impact a technological failure would have on our operationally deployed strategic nuclear weapons. U.S. Strategic Command strongly supports the findings of the Nuclear Posture Review as well as the recommendations of the Foster Panel to improved our readiness to conduct nuclear testing. This improved readiness will bolster the credibility of our arsenal and ultimately strengthen deterrence. Conclusion
On behalf of all the men and women of United States Strategic Command, we look forward to continuing our strong relationship with the National Nuclear Security Administration and its predecessors. Together, we have encountered a number of unexpected challenges resulting from our decisive victory in the Cold War. With your continuing support, we have implemented or identified many of the solutions for these pressing issues. Under the outstanding guidance of General John Gordon, the NNSA has determined a path for regaining the health of our nuclear weapons complex both in terms of infrastructure and people. Your solid support of General Gordon's initiatives to improve our nuclear test readiness and to proceed with studies to modify our existing arsenal will help this Nation meet its critical deterrence needs in the 21st Century.
I am sure the future will be a period of great change in the international environment, much as it has been during the previous ten years. As we have learned so often in the past, it is prudent to anticipate, study, and prepare for the difficult challenges that lie ahead. Throughout this period of change our strategic mission will endure as it has for the past 56 years. With your continuing support for both the nuclear weapons complex and our strategic forces, we are ensuring that our strategic deterrent will remain the Nation's ultimate insurance policy.
Thank you again for the opportunity to represent Admiral Ellis and all the men and women of the United States Strategic Command.
I welcome your questions.
STATEMENT OF C. PAUL ROBINSON, DIRECTOR
SANDIA NATIONAL LABORATORIES
COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES
JUNE 12, 2002
INTRODUCTION Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify on the efficacy of the Science-Based Stockpile Stewardship Program and related topics. I am Paul Robinson, director of Sandia National Laboratories. Sandia is managed and operated for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) by Sandia Corporation, a subsidiary of the Lockheed Martin Corporation.
Sandia National Laboratories is one of the three NNSA laboratories with research and development responsibility for nuclear weapons. Sandia's unique role is the design, development, qualification, and certification of nearly all of the nonnuclear subsystems of nuclear warheads. Our responsibilities include arming, fuzing, and