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Sen. Cruz Questions Secretary Mattis and General Dunford in the Armed Services Committee on Threats Facing the United States

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, participated in a hearing Thursday with the Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford, on the national security challenges facing the United States. Sen. Cruz highlighted the need to ensure U.S. combat superiority in space, to defend against hypersonic weapons from Russia and China – which Secretary Mattis identified as the Department’s number one priority – and to bolster protection of South Korea and Japan from North Korea’s conventional capabilities.

Watch Sen. Cruz’s full line of questioning here. An excerpt of his exchanges are below.

Sen. Cruz: “What would be the national security implications for the United States if Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons?

Secretary Mattis: “I think the implication for the United States and for every nation in the region would be an increased level of danger at a level we have never experienced from this regime.”

Sen. Cruz then shifted his line of questioning to focus on space as a contested domain. 

Sen. Cruz: “General Dunford, you have acknowledged that, “Unlike previous eras, when space was considered a benign and unchallenged environment, space is now a contested domain.” Based on that shared assessment, I introduced language to last year’s NDAA, which my colleagues on this committee supported, that officially labeled space a combat domain and called for a policy to develop and field an integrated system of assets to protect our space-based capabilities, to deter or deny attacks in space, and defend the US homeland, our allies, and deployed forces. In your judgement, what is the United States’ greatest military comparative advantage in space, relative to Russia and China?

General Dunford: “Senator I think there’s really a few if you don’t mind me listing them.  One is obviously, we leverage space for our command and control systems, we leverage it for navigation and that also includes our ability to deliver precision munitions and the other area we leverage it for is the area of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. You know for example when North Korea was doing testing, to put a finer point on it, the first indication we had that there was a missile test came from our space-based assets. We do leverage space for some core capabilities of the department.

Sen. Cruz: “What are our greatest vulnerabilities? And what are we doing and should we be doing you taking to mitigate those vulnerabilities?”

General Dunford: “What we see with China and Russia and to some degree some other countries, they developed the ability to jam our systems, they developed the ability to laze or blind our systems are some of the biggest challenges and then one that was referred to earlier is that we have a lot of space junk out there that puts at risk our targets and as that increases it becomes a greater threat as well, so those would be the three that I’d highlight.” 


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