As prepared for delivery.
Thank you, Chairman Levin, Ranking Member Inhofe, distinguished members of the Committee. It is a great honor to again appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee. The uniform I’m wearing may be different this time, but my desire to serve our nation remains as strong as ever.
For that reason, I am enormously grateful to President Obama and Secretary Moniz for their trust and confidence in putting forward my nomination as Under Secretary and NNSA Administrator.
I’m also thankful to Senator Kent Conrad for his very generous and gracious introduction. Senator Conrad has been a mentor, role model and dear friend for many years. I had the opportunity to work closely with him on several challenges confronting our nation’s nuclear deterrent forces—and, always in a very open and collaborative manner. I like to think we did some very worthy and noble work together.
I would also like to thank my wife, Nancy, for her loving and steadfast support, not just today, but for the nearly 40 years we shared on active duty—including the 29 times that she had to uproot home and family as we moved to new assignments. Our oldest son, Justin, who lives in Philadelphia, is also here today. And, our youngest son, David is watching in Boston via webcast. The spouses and children of those who wear our nation’s uniform serve in countless and often unrecognized ways, and routinely deal with many difficulties and hardships. They too deserve our deepest respect and our gratitude for their own, invaluable contributions to our country. I am certainly very proud of my wonderful family and their accomplishments.
I’m also delighted to be joined by my Air Force Academy classmate (Class of 1973) and best friend, Monsignor Stephen Rossetti. Steve was the first graduate of any service academy to become a Catholic priest. Today, he is the President of St Luke Institute in Silver Spring, Maryland.
The National Nuclear Security Administration has a unique and special responsibility for pursuing two different, but complementary principles that have traditionally guided American nuclear weapons policy. The first is that the United States must continue to lead international efforts to limit and reduce nuclear arsenals, combat nuclear proliferation and secure nuclear materials across the globe. The second is that appropriately-sized nuclear forces still play an essential role in protecting U.S. and allied security interests, even as we seek to reduce the overall number and role of nuclear weapons in our national security policy. As President Obama and congressional leaders have repeatedly emphasized, as long nuclear weapons exist, we will maintain a safe, secure and effective nuclear arsenal.
If confirmed to be the Under Secretary for Nuclear Security and the Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, my highest priority will be to ensure that NNSA delivers on the commitments to Congress and to its many stakeholders in sustaining our nuclear weapons stockpile both now and in the future, in conducting leading-edge scientific research, in preventing nuclear materials from falling into the hands of terrorists and would-be proliferators, in supporting the Navy’s nuclear reactor program, in modernizing our facilities to meet the demands of the future, and in protecting the safety and security of our sites, our employees and the public.
The military services often say that people are their most important asset. It’s true; and, it applies to NNSA as well. Highly trained, experienced and motivated scientists, engineers, technicians and security personnel are essential to performing the highly complex and technically challenging tasks associated with the nuclear security enterprise. If confirmed, I will be guided by the principle of “Mission first, people always.” To this end, I’ll be an unrelenting champion for the professional development and personal welfare of everyone associated with NNSA—including recruiting and mentoring the next generation of leaders and experts.
The NNSA performs enormously important work each and every day. Its many successes go largely unheralded. It has made tremendous progress in helping to achieve the President’s goal of securing vulnerable nuclear materials around the globe. It is delivering the life-extended W76-1 warhead to the Navy on schedule. And, it is currently transferring work at the Kansas City plant into a new, modern facility that will greatly improve efficiency—which was constructed on time and on budget.
That said, escalating costs in several major programs are cause for serious concern, especially as pressures on overall government spending continue to mount. Restoring trust in NNSA’s ability to deliver on its commitments requires strong leadership focus on managing costs to deliver capability for less expense. It also requires re-building partnerships between the headquarters and the field; between federal employees and the laboratories and plants; and between NNSA and the Congress and the Department of Defense.
In dealing with these priorities, I expect to draw upon my recent experience as the first commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, which has responsibility for all of America’s nuclear-capable long-range bombers and land-based, ballistic missiles. When we established the Command in 2009, our first task was to establish clear lines of authority, responsibility and accountability. We also placed strong emphasis on strengthening the safety and security culture, while at the same time streamlining processes and eliminating needlessly burdensome, non-value-added activities that stood in the way of our people and their incentive to innovate. Finally, we continually stressed that everyone in the organization, regardless of job, or rank, or seniority was a valued member of the team and that her or his work was absolutely essential to success. If confirmed, this is the leadership approach I intend to bring to NNSA.
I again thank you for inviting me to appear before this Committee today. It’s truly an honor. I stand ready to answer any questions you may have now; and, if confirmed, to address any questions you and your staffs may have in the future in a very open, candid way.