SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
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[H.A.S.C. No. 1095]
NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT
FOR FISCAL YEAR 2006H.R. 1815
OVERSIGHT OF PREVIOUSLY AUTHORIZED PROGRAMS
COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED NINTH CONGRESS
TERRORISM, UNCONVENTIONAL THREATS AND CAPABILITIES SUBCOMMITTEE HEARINGS
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TITLE IIRESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT, TEST, AND EVALUATION
TITLE IIIOPERATION AND MAINTENANCE
MARCH 10, 15, 17, AND APRIL 6, 2005
TERRORISM, UNCONVENTIONAL THREATS AND CAPABILITIES SUBCOMMITTEE
JIM SAXTON, New Jersey, Chairman
ROBIN HAYES, North Carolina
W. TODD AKIN, Missouri
JOE WILSON, South Carolina
JOHN KLINE, Minnesota
BILL SHUSTER, Pennsylvania
GEOFF DAVIS, Kentucky
JOEL HEFLEY, Colorado
MAC THORNBERRY, Texas
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCJIM GIBBONS, Nevada
JEFF MILLER, Florida
FRANK A. LoBIONDO, New Jersey
MARTY MEEHAN, Massachusetts
ADAM SMITH, Washington
MIKE McINTYRE, North Carolina
ELLEN O. TAUSCHER, California
ROBERT ANDREWS, New Jersey
JAMES R. LANGEVIN, Rhode Island
RICK LARSEN, Washington
JIM COOPER, Tennessee
JIM MARSHALL, Georgia
CYNTHIA McKINNEY, Georgia
Thomas E. Hawley,Professional Staff Member
Jean D. Reed,Professional Staff Member
Uyen T. Dinh,Counsel
William H. Natter,Professional Staff Member
Brian R. Anderson, Staff Assistant
C O N T E N T S
CHRONOLOGICAL LIST OF HEARINGS
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Thursday, March 17, 2005, Fiscal Year 2006 National Defense Authorization ActU.S. Special Operations Command Fiscal Year 2006 Budget Request
Thursday, March 17, 2005
THURSDAY, MARCH 17, 2005
FISCAL YEAR 2006 NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACTU.S. SPECIAL OPERATIONS COMMAND FISCAL YEAR 2006 BUDGET REQUEST
STATEMENTS PRESENTED BY MEMBERS OF CONGRESS
Meehan, Hon. Martin T., a Representative from Massachusetts, Ranking Member, Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee
Saxton, Hon. Jim, a Representative from New Jersey, Chairman, Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee
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Brown, Gen. Bryan D., U.S. Army, Commander, U.S. Special Operations Command
O'Connell, Hon. Thomas W., Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict
Brown, Gen. Bryan D.
O'Connell, Hon. Thomas W.
DOCUMENTS SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD:
[The Documents submitted can be viewed in the hard copy.]
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD:
[There were no Questions submitted.]
FISCAL YEAR 2004 NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACTU.S. SPECIAL OPERATIONS COMMAND FISCAL YEAR 2006 BUDGET REQUEST
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House of Representatives,
Committee on Armed Services,
Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee,
Washington, DC, Thursday, March 17, 2005.
The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 3:07 p.m., in room 2212, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Jim Saxton (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. JIM SAXTON, A REPRESENTATIVE FROM NEW JERSEY, CHAIRMAN, TERRORISM, UNCONVENTIONAL THREATS AND CAPABILITIES SUBCOMMITTEE
Mr. SAXTON. We hope to be joined by some more members in a short time. Unfortunately, we are at the tail end of one vote, and I am told there is a 10-minute debate and then two more votes. So we will get started here and just kind of play it by what happens.
The subcommittee meets this afternoon to consider the fiscal year 2006 budget request for the U.S. Special Operations Command and to review the overall status of the Special Operations Command.
Two days ago, we held a hearing on the ''home game'', how those charged with defending U.S. territory intend to carry out those responsibilities. Today, we hear from those engaged in the ''away game,'' defeating terror where it originates.
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While both efforts are important, I think we can all agree that it is in our best interest to keep terrorists and terrorism as far from our shores as possible.
Last January, Marty Meehan, Frank LoBiondo, Mike Turner, Gene Taylor and I visited special operations forces and other military deployed in several places in Afghanistan and Iraq. Even though these troops were living and working in a most austere and dangerous environment far from home, their dedication to the task at hand was unmistakable. Those intrepid troops believe in the importance of their mission and are determined to prevail. And I believe they will, whatever their individual task.
As inspiring as it is to me to visit our troops in the field, our responsibility in Congress is to do what it takes to support their efforts by ensuring the Department of Defense has the authority and resources it needs to defend the homeland and prosecute the war on terror.
We have made some changes in the last year. For one thing, the administration has proposed, and I support, the continuation of a more robust budget for the Special Operations Command for the third consecutive year.
Furthermore, with our urging, DOD (Department of Defense) recently increased the bonuses available to special forces operators nearing retirement eligibility to encourage their continued service. In the last session of Congress, we enacted new authority for the Command to pay indigenous forces in the field and created a new national intelligence director with the National Counterterrorism Center as part of the new structure. We continue to be concerned in the Command's relationship with the intelligence community and believe, as you do, that our nation is better served when your efforts are closely coordinated. We will examine how the Department and the Command interacts with the National Counterterrorist Center as it begins to operate. We are interested to see how these initiatives are working and if any adjustments are needed.
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Despite all this and despite the added supplemental funding that has been provided, I am concerned about SOCOM's (Special Operations Command) high operational tempo and the consequent stress on its personnel and equipment. The equipment can be replaced but extraordinarily trained and skilled personnel are the true heart of the Command.
Even though we are adding some modest force structure, we must watch the personnel situation very carefully. The subcommittee will continue to rely on the professional judgment of our witnesses to tell us when in advance of any fixes that are needed to ensure SOCOM's troops continue to be the finest fighting force in the world. I am personally committed to that goal as are our witnesses.
Secretary O'Connell and General Brown, we are very pleased that you are here today, and we look forward to your testimony. At this point, I would normally turn to the minority for a statement, but perhaps we can just kind of postpone that until Mr. Meehan arrives.
Okay. I am now told that the votes are going to be postponed, and so perhaps we will not be interrupted, at least in the near term.
We have one panel of witnesses with us today, both of whom have testified before the subcommittee previously. They are General Bryan D. Brown, Commander of the Special Operations Command, and the Honorable Thomas W. O'Connell, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict.
Gentlemen, welcome, and you may proceed.
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[The prepared statement of Mr. Saxton can be viewed in the hard copy.]
Mr. O'CONNELL. Who would you like to go first?
Mr. SAXTON. General Brown, please.
STATEMENT OF GEN. BRYAN BROWN, U.S. ARMY, COMMANDER, U.S. SPECIAL OPERATIONS COMMAND
General BROWN. Mr. Chairman, Mr. Hayes, distinguished Members of Congress, it is an honor to appear before the committee to report on the posture of our special operations forces. With your permission, Mr. Chairman, I would like to make a few remarks and then a longer written statement for the record.
Mr. SAXTON. That will be fine. Thank you.
General BROWN. It is a privilege to be here with the Honorable Tom O'Connell, a great supporter of special operation forces and someone who I greatly respect. Today's special operations forces are deployed around the world in support of the geographic combatant commanders. Working side by side with our conventional force, interagency partners and coalition countries, we are aggressively engaged in the global war on terrorism.
Additionally, we have a robust, joint combined exercise training plan to lay the foundation for future coalition relationships. I have defined US SOCOM priorities as the global war on terrorism, readiness of our force and building SOF (Special Operations Forces) future capability to be even more capable. We are making strides in these areas as our Command continues to be decisive on the battlefield today, reconstitute our battlefield force and grow special operations capabilities to posture for success in the future. Our adversary does not recognize traditional borders or boundaries and uses asymmetric methods to attack our vulnerabilities. Defeating this enemy requires the full range of special operations capabilities to succeed, and operating in a complex asymmetrical environment is what special operations forces do best.
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Our core task and core skills in areas such as civil affairs, unconventional warfare, direct action, strategic reconnaissance makes special operations forces uniquely suited for this type of low-intensity conflict. It is important to remember that special operating forces are also doing the difficult and critical work of preventing future conflict, as forward-deployed warrior diplomats of culturally sophisticated special operators are working closely with countries worldwide to build long-term, positive relationships with host nations and to undermine organizations determined to spread the seeds of terrorism.
However, today's operations tempo is restricting our ability to train with militaries and coalition partners in support of the geographic combatant commanders at a level we would like. Last year, I reported that special operations forces were deployed globally at the highest sustained operations tempo in their history. That is still true. More than 6,100 special operators are supporting our geographic combatant commanders, fighting in small independent teams or side by side with their conventional counterparts, coalition forces and interagency partners. We could not maintain this pace without our great Reserves and National Guard forces. They are extremely important to our capabilities.
Today, our deployments are more focused. Three years ago, our approach was to have a ubiquitous special operations force positioned around the world. Our operators trained with host nation forces and remain poised for an emerging threat. Our old paradigm was any place, any time.
Today, we have focused our deployments on key areas that will impact the global war on terrorism. A measure of our success is not how many countries we have special operations deployed in, it is to have the right special operations forces deployed at the right place, at the right time, in those places where geographic combatant commanders, in concert with SOCOM, feel they are needed most.
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US SOCOM's OPTEMPO (operations tempo) is high but our recruiting is good and our schools are full. However, because of our rigorous selection and training process for special operations forces, it takes timebetween 12 and 24 months depending upon the specialty to graduate a fully qualified special operator. We emphasize quality over quantity. We cannot dilute the high standards of our people. They are the bedrock of our capabilities.
Once special operations forces are trained and operations, we must work hard to retain them for the long term. To meet the challenges of the war on terrorism, we are increasing our special operations manpower. We are adding force structure and special forces, civil affairs, psychological operations, Air Force special operation and naval special warfare. We are also providing additional staff to our theater Special Operations Command. This process takes time because special operations forces cannot be mass produced.
In the next 4 years, we will increase our numbers by 2,300 personnel. That includes 2 additional SEAL (Sea, Air, Land Special Forces) team equivalents and approximately 500 special forces. In order to create more special operators, we are aggressively increasing our number of training instructors and support personnel, enabling us to increase our training capacity without lowering the standards.
Additionally, with the help of the services and the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), we have instituted retention initiatives that included targeted bonuses for specific operational specialties that are showing a decrease in strength and educational benefits for all members of our Command.
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Chairman, we are transforming the force. As with readiness, our future efforts will be focused primarily on the cornerstone of our special operations capabilitiesour people. Our transformation is intended to align people and equipment with the future battlefield where we will buy and build systems that make us more capable as a force to prosecute the global war on terrorism while maintaining the ability to fight in support of large theater conventional forces.
We equip the man, not man the equipment. We anxiously await a safe, reliable and maintainable CV22 Osprey. We are closely assessing our systems to field new capabilities and to identify flagship programs that will enable global special operations and directly affect our ability to fight the war on terrorism.
We appreciate the incredible support we have been given with the Congress, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and specifically Mr. O'Connell, our ASD SOLIC (Assistant Secretary of Defense-Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict, who has an enormous amount of experience in special operations and particularly the recent approved authority to fund surrogate forces in support of special operations. There is still work to be done. We look forward to your continued support in these areas.
US SOCOM is the right command for the mission; however, we understand we are only part of the equation. The asymmetric nature of the war and the matrix of challenges it poses is quite robust. It requires an interdependent working relationship between Department of Defense, the interagency to fully harness our nation's instruments of power.
The key to the success can be summed up in four words: Joint, combined, coalition and interagency. Embedded within the elements of those four words are all the aspects of a winning strategy. Cooperation is not beneficial; it is imperative.
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I want to thank you and the members of the subcommittee for your continued support of our soldier, sailor, airmen and Marines and our great Department of Defense civilians, including your field visits and those of your staffers. Your support and the support of the Secretary of Defense help ensure special operations forces will be even more capable in the future.
I will be happy to take your questions.
[The prepared statement of General Brown can be viewed in the hard copy.]
Mr. SAXTON. Thank you.
STATEMENT OF HON. THOMAS O'CONNELL, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR SPECIAL OPERATIONS/LOW INTENSITY CONFLICT
Secretary O'CONNELL. Mr. Chairman, Congressman Hayes, thank you both for the opportunity to appear before the subcommittee and comment on the status and progress of our nation's special operations forces. With your permission, sir, I will keep my opening statement brief and submit a statement for the record.
The nature of the Special Operations Command is vastly different from just a few short years ago. Not only are they at war; they are playing a pivotal and crucial role. And in almost every aspect of the global war on terrorism, they are playing the leading role.
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Whether participating in the direct action missions against the most vicious and dangerous of our adversaries, conducting civil affairs missions designed to build the peace as well as infrastructure, conducting effective psychological operations activities in support of conventional troops, flying dangerous Heliborne and fixed wing insertions in some of the most inhospitable terrain in the world, attacking Taliban formations and remnants in Afghanistan with our ranger forces, the world's best light infantry, training foreign special operations forces all over the world to build foreign capacity, or in the case of the Green Berets of the 7th Special Forces Group, helping the government and armed forces of Colombia overcome the scourge of narcoterrorists, the men and women of the Special Operations Command deserve a great deal of credit and praise, none more so perhaps than two of their leaders here today: General Doug Brown and Chief Master Sergeant Bob Martens.
Mr. Chairman, leadership is an intangible. Experience, integrity, vision and savvy are the hallmarks of great leaders. Two of them sit in uniform before you today. A few months ago, I visited our SEAL Command in Coronado, California, Naval Special Warfare Command. I came away both humbled and awed. Their contributions to the global war on terrorism and our nation's defense have been nothing short of remarkable. That is the common thread among our special operations forces. Rangers, Civil Affairs, CyOps, Green Berets, Army special operations aviation, such as Task Force 160, the Night Stalkers, Air Force special tactics teams, our great Air Force Special Operations Command aviators flying AC130 gunships, Combat Talons, PAVLO helicopters, our pararescue personnel, weathermen, Navy SEALs and special boat units all contribute daily under the umbrella of quiet professionals.
I cannot give enough credit to General Doug Brown. He is the right man, at the right time, at the right place to lead our special operations forces.
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Let me also recognize the great special operations forces' wives, led by Doug's wife, Penny Brown, who have set the standard for family support and fostering a compassionate, caring environment among the SOF ranks of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.
One of the SOF truths, humans are more important than hardware, has been particularly evident in SOCOM's efforts to equip the man rather than man the equipment. Their efforts to press the envelope with systems such as the CB22, an advanced SEAL delivery system, reflect this paradigm.
General Brown and his subordinate SOCOM staff and component commanders have worked tirelessly to develop a force structure that can optimize leading edge technology. I believe General Brown has carefully crafted a coherent path for future growth of SOF forces. His plans to increase SOF personnel by about 2,300 over the next 4 years, to include increases in both special forces and SEALs, reflect an understanding of current needs as well as recruiting and training base limitations.
The support of this subcommittee, the committee as a whole and the entire Congress has been essential to the success of our SOF elements. General Brown will likely discuss later the key to success in four wordsjoint, combined, coalition and interagencyand I echo that evaluation.
Secretary Rumsfeld has charged his Department of Defense leadership with developing forces that can meet the demands of our national military strategy as well as meeting the parameters of the Quadrennial Defense Review and other elements of guidance. I am confident that as these deliberations proceed, we will determine that our special operations forces are uniquely positioned to meet the challenges of the global war on terrorism.
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As we look forward to future challenges we face, we must recognize the tremendous support that members and staff of this committee have provided. We welcome your critical inquiries, we welcome your counsel, and, sir, this position provides me with an opportunity and deep honor to interact with America's finest. It is indeed a humbling experience and with your support we can do great things, and I welcome your questions.
Mr. SAXTON. Mr. Secretary, thank you very much.
[The prepared statement of Secretary O'Connell can be viewed in the hard copy.]
Mr. SAXTON. Let me also recognize and acknowledge the presence of Chief Bob Martens.
Thanks for being here, Chief.
At this time, before we proceed, I would like to ask the Ranking Member, Marty Meehan, of Massachusetts, if he has an opening statement to make?
STATEMENT OF HON. MARTIN T. MEEHAN, A REPRESENTATIVE FROM MASSACHUSETTS, RANKING MEMBER, TERRORISM, UNCONVENTIONAL THREATS AND CAPABILITIES SUBCOMMITTEE
Mr. MEEHAN. I do, Mr. Chairman, and thank you very much, and I apologize for being detained. I actually thought the next vote was going to happen sooner rather than later.
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But I want to welcome Secretary O'Connell and General Brown, and I thank you for appearing before this subcommittee today, and I thank you for your service to our country.
The men and women of Special Operations Command are a rare breed, and we all greatly appreciate everything you do to protect the homeland.
When the chairman and I were in Iraq, we saw firsthand how SOCOM's men and women are enduring this difficult Iraqi operation with resilience, grace and courage. I think the chairman has laid out the concerns that we share on this subject very well, and I would like to associate myself with his remarks.
This afternoon, I look forward to a candid exchange about the welfare and future of your forces. I am also pleased to see a modest increase in SOCOM's budget, but I am not so sure that it goes far enough. The decrease in research and development funding is particularly concerning, because it represents the investment we make in our future special operations capability and how we will stay technologically ahead of our enemies. R&D/T&E (Research and Development/Test and Evaluation) is how we arrive at these advanced technologies and concepts, so I want to hear why that budget has a proposed cut.
Additionally, I am concerned about the challenges in retaining experienced operatorsSOCOM's seasoned professionals. Their maturity, cultural awareness and judgment are difficult to develop and then to hold on to, so I would like to hear how we can better retain these key personnel before we lose them to the private sector. I am also concerned that the budget request force structure increase is not sufficient to keep pace with SOCOM's operational tempo. Our subcommittee will want to hear your assessment of the sustainability of the current OPTEMPO and how the pace of operations is affecting SOCOM's ability to attract and retain the kind of personnel that you need.
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Special Operations Command has traditionally supported regional combatant commanders. However, I understand that now in light of the key role special forces will play in the war on terror, SOCOM itself can be a supported command. I would like to hear your vision of how you will coordinate regional commanders in your role as a supported command.
Finally, to the extent that you can discuss it in open session, I would appreciate hearing your view of what SOCOM's role should be in covert missions.
Secretary O'Connell, General Brown, again I thank you for appearing before our subcommittee, and, again, thank you for your outstanding service to our country.
Thanks, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. SAXTON. Thank you, Mr. Meehan. Let me just start with a couple of questions, and then we will go back to the Ranking Member.
SOCOM has several statutory missions, and as your role in war fighting evolves, from time to time you need to change those statutes, and I am just curious to know, Mr. Secretary and General Brown, if there are any things on your mind that need to be changed. Does the law need to be amended in any way to eliminate some missions no longer seen as particularly relevant? If so, could you detail them for us?
Secretary O'CONNELL. Let me start there, sir. First of all, there have been changes made. If you remember the core missions that were assigned to SOCOM under the original law, we had an addition made, I think, in the mid90's by the Secretary of Defense where counterproliferation was made a specific core mission of the Special Operations Command. That has subsequently shifted within the Department.
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Also, to the extent that information operations was just developing, at least a segment of information operations was assigned to the Command, and that has been adjusted with the standup of the strategic commands so that while there are aspects of information operations that SOCOM would conduct, they would be primarily some on the classified side but in the psychological operations arena.
The Congress was good enough to pass Section 1208 of the Defense authorization bill, which for the first time in my memory allows SOCOM to recruit, train and equip surrogates in the global war on terrorism, and I think down the line, as we start doing more of this and actually do it for the first time under these authorities, there are things that I believe we can perhaps do that we have not looked at before.
General Brown and I have talked and would be happy to brief you in person about several concepts on using these surrogate forces in ways that perhaps we have not looked at before. Those would be my initial thoughts, sir.
General BROWN. First of all, off the top of my head, I do not know of any statutes we need changed at this time. What I would say is that of course all of it bears looking at. I mean, it would not hurt us to go back and review all of our core tasks, as directed, make sure that they are still appropriate, as we take on the global war on terrorism.
I would like to echo Mr. O'Connell's remarks and say thanks for the 1208 authorities. Those are very powerful. We are still working on the implementation instructions and once we get those approved and the reporting procedures, we will be prepared to use that money appropriately.
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So while I do not know of any statutes that I would like to see changed on the top of my head, I do not think it should keep us from taking a hard look at all of our core tasks and making sure that they are still appropriate.
Mr. SAXTON. Let me just ask one more quick question and then we will move over to the Ranking Member.
In the last couple of years, the make-up of SOCOM has changed some. Traditionally, you were composed of the Army, Navy and Air Force, and shortly after this committee was established 2 years ago we were briefed on the addition of the Marine component. Can you tell us how that has worked and how the Marines fit into the force and the nature of the Marine mission in SOCOM?
General BROWN. You are exactly right. We do not have a Marine Corps component, but to start this I should say that we have had a great and long relationship with the United States Marine Corps. We do actually have some Marines in some of our units, a very small number, as exchange LNOs. We actually have a Marine Corps office down at our special operations selection, and I have signed an MOU with General Bedard before he retired to ensure that the Marines and SOCOM are sharing all their technology and all their programs to ensure that we get the best piece of equipment in the field for our soldiers, sailors, airmen and our Marines.
As you know, about 2 years ago or so, rough estimate, we established a Marine Corps SOCOM det. It was about a 100-man force. It was an integrated force of intelligence capability and a whole host of different kind of skills. We then trained them with our Navy SEALs for about 6 months and then deployed them. And it was under a proof of concept.
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The intent was that we would take a look at this Marine Corps SOCOM detachment, see how it worked, and it would give us much better fidelity on how SOF and the Marines worked together for several reasons.
One is to ensure that our doctrine is correct; two, to see where we share tactics, techniques and procedures and equipment. And, quite frankly, I visited that unit about four times, three times while it was in Baghdad where we deployed it. It operated for 6 months. We then took it back, brought it back to the States where they returned back to the Marine Corps and then we did a studyand we had several studies going on at the same timeto see what aspects of it worked and what did not and should we rewrite doctrine, should we add Marines.
I would tell you that some good lessons learned came out of it. We are looking at some options for the Marine Corps and how we can work closer and better with them and make sure that we are maximizing the great assets of the Marine Corps and they can maximize special operations out on the battlefield, especially with the MUSSOCs, and we are looking at many different aspects of potentially some Marine Corps growth in the future in Special Operations Command.
Mr. SAXTON. Mr. Meehan.
Mr. MEEHAN. General Brown, the 9/11 Commission recommended a shift in responsibility for paramilitary operations from the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) to SOCOM. However, there are concerns that go along with handing over control of covert operations to our service members.
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I am most concerned about whether they would be protected by the Geneva Convention. Do you support moving covert operations to SOCOM, and if so, why?
General BROWN. I do not. I think the CIA does a great job of covert operations. I think there are some aspects we need to look at, our capabilities to ensure that the great capability that Special Operations Command has is maximized wherever required. But, quite frankly, I do not think that the covert operations should shift from the Central Intelligence Agency to Special Operations Command.
Mr. MEEHAN. General, it has been three and a half years or so into the war on terror. I assume you must have developed some opinions on the use of contract personnel. What is your assessment of the pros and cons of using contractor personnel in the global war on terror? And I am curious whether you see if there is a relationship between using a contractor personnel and the retention challenges that we are facing?
General BROWN. I think there is a direct relationship. I think the contract personnel, specifically in the security arena, provide a very lucrative opportunity for special operations soldiers, sailors and airmen that when they get to the firstwhen they have met their commitment to us that they have an opportunity to go to a contract. These are very highly skilled people. Many of them have language capability. They are all experts with their weapons. They are all very comfortable operating around the world and traveling around the world.
So they are very, very good people to hire. And I believe there is an impact on special operations forces from the number of people that have gone into the contract world. And I think it is a very lucrative business for them.
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We are working a bunch of initiatives to try and keep that from happening, to make them stay with us. The best operations forces that we have are those that stay with us through the 20-year point. They have multiple deployments into that theater, they are very mature, they are very capable with their language and cultural skills. So we have got some initiatives going on that have been approved by the OSD to pay some bonuses, and there are a couple other things that we are working to try and retain these skilled people.
I guess bottom line, I would tell you there is an impact, and we are trying to minimize it.
Mr. MEEHAN. General, finally, there have been proposals to increase end-strength numbers as high as 40,000 to 50,000 on top of the existing 49,000 personnel. Do you support an increase of this size, and how long would it take to execute that kind of increase? And, also, the fiscal year 2006 budget requests includes an increase in Navy SEAL end-strength? Why is this necessary?
Secretary O'CONNELL. I think that our Navy SEAL ops tempo has been probably one of the highest ops tempo of any of our forces, and so we are going to add SEAL team equivalents into the Navy special warfare force. To do that, we have started, and we have done the same thing in the Army in our growth of our Green Berets, by plussing up our school to maximize the capacity of the schools so that we do not change the standard. I think that is a key point.
We cannot just grow in strength, we have got to keep the standard, and to do that it requires a plus-up in the school first so that we can grow these forces. And that is why we did not go out and try and grow SEALs and Green Berets right away. We have put a lot of energy and resources into both of our schools at Fort Bragg and at Coronado, California to try and growth both those Green Berets.
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I think there is some growth that we need to do. I cannot see it in the 40,000 to 50,000 figures, but I do believe there is some growth across SOF in a lot of areas.
Mr. MEEHAN. Thanks, General.
Thanks, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. SAXTON. Vice Chairman, Mr. Hayes?
Mr. HAYES. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and, Secretary, General Brown, thank you for being here today.
Along the lines of Mr. Meehan's question, regarding recruiting and retention, obviously you all are doing a great job. There is a bonus. I will call it significant, I will not call it substantial. Given the education and the other skills that these folks have, tell us in some detail how that is playing into your recruiting and retention in relation to what you were responding to his question.
General BROWN. Yes, sir. First of all, I would like to say that recruiting is good. Every one of our seats in every one of our schools is full. So we are getting the input that we need to grow the force. We are still graduating about 23 percent of the people that walk through the door to be a Green Beret or a SEAL or a combat controller. Those numbers vary a little bit, but it usually stays in a band of about 23 percent of those people that come in actually make it through the course and go on to the battlefield as a SEAL or a Green Beret or a combat controller. The services run all of the bonuses and reenlistment initiatives up to the 19-year point. They actually run them all, but the piece of it that is unique to SOF was the bonus that we give them at the 19-year point. If they are willing to stay on for another 5 years, we will pay them a lump sum payment of $150,000. We do not know the impact of that so far. It was just too new, we are just getting started with it. But that is the only special operations unique bonus. Everything before that is a service bonus that is much like anyone in the service gets, but it is based on their skill qualification as to what level they get. And it is different among a SEAL, a combat controller and a special force or a Green Beret.
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Additionally, we are working an initiative to go back and see if we cannot correct some of theor rewicker some of the initiatives that we started with. At the 14-year point to the 19-year point, there is no bonus, so there is a zone D, what we call a zone D, where a special operation or any other member of the military is not eligible for a bonus. So the bonus is up to about the 14th and I am talking generalities, so it is a little different based on what MOS (Military Occupation Specialty) you are in, and then you are eligible for the 19-year big bonus. So we have got a little gap right there, and we are going back to work it.
And these initiatives when we take them up to OSD, quite frankly, they take very seriously and try and help.
Mr. HAYES. Anything we can do to help, Mr. Secretary, be sure that we stay focused on how we can do that. But tremendous, tremendous investment in terms of return in capabilities. You all have done some incredible research and development in weapons systems procedures and techniques. In today's world, I am not real clear on this, but there are some tracking, surveillance and locating techniques, technology. In broad general terms, given the open nature of the hearing, are there some things that we can do there to help you expand those capabilities?
Secretary O'CONNELL. Sir, let me share that question with General Brown. First, I would like to recognize Mr. Tim Morgan sitting behind me. This handsome fellow right here, sir. Anyway, Mr. Morgan has worked the Major Force Program 11 issues with Special Operations Command on behalf of the Defense Department for 16 years, I believe. But part of his duties also include assisting me in running the Technical Support Working Group, which I Co-Chair with the State Department. This money is not tied directly into Major Force Program 11, but some of the issues that you just mentioned, Mr. Hayes, are specifically tied up in the Technical Support Working Group and also in the counternarcotics aspect of my job where we do have what we call TT&L, target, tracking and location, capabilities.
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One of the things that has been mentioned is the ability to create a net of global sensors. Part of that, obviously, if you cannot pick up the target passively, you have to somehow make that target active. And we think there is significant work that can be done in that area. Some of the aspects certainly are classified, but the requirement is a significant one. It is one we are going to work very hard and one we are going to make sure we integrate.
And just in closing to this particular question, on the R&D aspects that you mentioned, as you well know, one of the strong benefits that accrue to our conventional forces are those items that have been developed by the Special Operations Command and have been advanced into the conventional force. And I offer you handheld SATCOM (Satellite Communications), night vision devices, et cetera. So great benefit because of their rapid R&D capability as accrued to the conventional force. There are some communications examples that I think General Brown may mention, but that is a big part of what we are looking at at expanding our capabilities.
General BROWN. Sir, I would just echo what Mr. O'Connell said. I think you have hit the nail on the head. I think a very important area for us in our RDT&E is the tagging, tracking and locating and persistent ISR. We are doing a lot of work in that area, and I would probably call it my number-one requirement is to solve some of those problems.
Mr. HAYES. Make sure that we support you in all those issues.
Last, B22, quick comment on that, and one comment before you do that. In my travels around, I talk to some of these special operators, again, Mr. Meehan's question. They are underpaid significantly relative to the private sector, but their ability to stay on the team, stay in uniform has a tremendous value to them as patriots and Americans. We want to make sure that we support from our side what you all are doing to give a little bit of financial backup to that capability and commitment.
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Secretary O'CONNELL. Thank you, Mr. Hayes. Thank you.
Mr. SAXTON. Thank you.
Mr. LARSEN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Just following up on the surveillance intelligence question, I am not sure if you can answer this question here straight. If not, we will move it on to another setting. But the budget looks like it requests $61.8 million for advanced tactical laser and that is about 13 percent of the R&D budget.
That is a huge chunk of that R&D budget, so if the priority is in ISR (in service review), how do you measure that against a relatively large request, considering everything else, for the advanced tactical laser? Can you help us understand that?
General BROWN. Well, I think we have a requirement for both. I think the advanced tactical laser has not got to a point where it is prepared to make a good decision on it. I think aboutI cannot remember, I should take that for the record as to exactly when we finish up and what the milestones are on advanced tactical laser. I think it is a unique weapons systems that might be of great value to special operations in the future, but I would just say that both of those are requirements, both TTL and advanced tactical laser.
Page 28 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. LARSEN. Okay. Given the operational use of the aviation and other assets, it is a pretty rough environment the last couple years, how are your air frames and other equipment holding out, and is it an area they should alert us to or not?
General BROWN. We are having to watch that very carefully. These are extremely harsh conditions for our aircraft to operate in, specifically our helicopter fleet. We have a rotational schedule that we have been able to work for rotation of our aircraft onto the battlefield in those conditions. And so we are working that piece very hard.
For our Army rotary wing, we are in bed with the Army for a program that they have, that when an aircraft comes back it gets a tremendous maintenance procedure performed on it. We are managing it on a tail number-by-tail number basis.
In addition, we have taken some of our aircraft out of our other forward-based units that would traditionally work for another geographic combatant commander and put them into flow to rotate to give our air frames a lower amount of time physically on the battlefield, and so we are managing it.
It is a difficulty. I mean, you have got to manage that every day, because this is extremely harsh terrain and conditions, and they are flown at unique weights and distances, as you know. We are managing it.
Mr. LARSEN. Pulling them out of other geographic commands, what kind of issues does that create for us in those geographic commands?
Page 29 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC General BROWN. What it does, it causes us to have to not perform missions that a geographic combatant commander would like done in his AOR. And we work very closely with them and, quite frankly, we get great support out of all the geographic combatant commanders. We keep a very smallwe are a very small force to start with, but we keep a very small force of aircraft forward. And so it is not a huge amount of rotation we can do. But, quite frankly, we are doing that with our helicopters right now out of UCOM, and they are deployed into the battlefield in Afghanistan.
The impact is that we do not have those forces to work with that geographic combatant commander.
Mr. LARSEN. Following up on that, is there an unfunded priorities list you have, and what is on the top, what are the top three?
General BROWN. I think I probably ought to take that for the record. I think our number-one unfunded is a MH47 IR (Infra-red) suppressor set. That is a suppressor that reduces the heat signature on a 47 to help it with its threat to surface-to-air missiles. That is our number-one.
Okay, I got it. Two or three I need to take for the record. Those are classified requests, and I will be glad to provide that.
Mr. LARSEN. Good. Thank you very much.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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Mr. SAXTON. Thank you.
As you may have heard, the buzzers sounded a few minutes ago telling us we have got two votes, and what we are going to do here is go ahead and adjourn the hearing, and we may submit some questions in writing to you, either by the members who were here or perhaps by some of the members who did not make it. We will proceed in that fashion.
So thank you very much for being here. Thank you for continuing to do the great job that you do for the folks that work for you and for our country and we will be seeing you soon. Thank you.
General BROWN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[Whereupon, at 3:48 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned.]