We’re very pleased to have several members of Congress and we’re going to turn to one of them now. We have another one in a circling pattern here and I know he has to leave shortly, so let’s get on with it. We have Congressman Mike Turner from Ohio, the third district of Ohio, he is, among other things, the chairman of a tremendously important committee in the House Armed Services Committee, that of the Strategic Forces. We’re very keen to get his take on this defense budget, the cuts that are being made, and what, in particular, in might mean for the strategic deterrent capabilities of the United States. Congressman Turner, thank you for being here, and Jack, thank you very much for filling in so ably and for jumping off. Here we go.
REP. MIKE TURNER:
Thank you for having me here this morning and also thank you for addressing this important topic. I can see you have a very good lineup. And you’ve got Doug Lamborn up here, ready to tee off next. This is obviously a very important issue and I appreciate you highlighting it and giving us the opportunity to bring out some of the information of the effects. As you are all aware, this month the president announced his new strategic guidance that will impose sweeping changes within the Department of Defense. The impact of this strategy and reductions pose a serious threat to our national security and that of our allies. These decisions were made without the input of Congress. And with very little, from what I understand, input from combat commanders. The president’s plans impose dramatic reductions in troop levels for both the Marine Corps and the Army. The Navy is being forced to reduce its fleet and the Air Force, already overburdened with mission requirements, is taking on cyber and space requirements while operating the oldest fleet in its history. However, the administration’s budget does not even consider the reductions that would result from sequestration. The current budget requests to Congress incorporates 489 billion in defense reductions over ten years. But ignores another 600 billion in automatic cuts that could result under the Budget Control Act. As the Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces which oversees our nuclear posture, space programs, and intelligence organizations within the military, this is an issue of much concern to both me and my colleagues. Secretary Panetta himself equated the effects of sequestration to shooting himself in the head and Armed Services Committee has continually expressed its concern about hollowing of the force. Secretary Panetta has said that under the large reductions resulting from sequestration, quote, we would have to reduce the size of the military sharply.
Rough estimates suggest after ten years of these cuts, we would have the smallest ground force since 1940. The smallest number of ships since 1915. And the smallest Air Force in its history. We must remember that Article 1, section 8 of the US Constitution, the Founding Fathers empowered Congress to, quote, provide for the common defense. To raise armies. And to support and to provide a navy. Specifically put into the Constitution. However, a small number of members have succeeded into blinding some into believing that spending reductions can come at the cost of our national defense. More incredibly, that these costs and reductions will somehow grow our economy. As the representative from a district that includes Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, a base that excels in the creation, growth, and development of cutting edge technology, I can tell you that this is absolutely false. We have already seen significant reductions in jobs and reduced spending in highly technical areas. These cuts will negatively impact the economy while debilitating national security. If sequestration happens, these cuts will go so deep that our current military capability is at risk. I was looking at the report and, you know, I just opened it and it went right to Ohio, which, of course, made me very happy. But of course what didn’t make me happy was what was represented here, the number of cuts that could be foreseen.
The issue that I think is important when I talk about Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and these cuts is that these are not just cuts in, you know, esoteric future plans. This goes right to the heart of our ability to have innovation. These dollars go right to sustaining our ability to maintain capabilities in the future and capabilities that we currently have. Unfortunately, the administration and the Department of Defense have decided to limit access to information from the public that will demonstrate the severity of these cuts. Where these cuts would fall. That is why the work that is being done by this Coalition for the Common Defense is so important. By resourcing publicly available information, the coalition has made it possible not only for members of Congress, but the public, to see how these cuts will impact them in their communities. In doing so, Americans will be able to see for themselves the potential impacts of the administration’s decisions for sequestration at the expense of our national security and the economy. I would recommend that everyone look very closely at this information. Fulfilling our obligation to defend this country and meeting our budgetary responses our not mutually exclusive. As a nation, we should be able to provide for our defense and balance our budget. One should not come at the expense of the other.
This is a critical moment for both our nation and our armed forces. We have service members deployed overseas in support of a number of military and humanitarian operations, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Uganda. These operations over the past ten years have taken a toll on our forces. Currently, the Army needs twenty-five billion dollars to reset its force now while the Marines need twelve billion. Our men and women in uniform are not only being asked to make further sacrifices with additional deployments, but in some cases they’re relying on equipment which is often much older than they are. For example, navy ships and light attack vehicles on average were built about twenty years ago. The Air Force is relying on bombers averaging thirty-four years in age and is refueling aircrafts with tankers that are nearly fifty years old, excuse me. Sequestration can not be allowed to occur on the backs of our men and women in uniform. When the new START treaty was ratified, it was part of a clear bargain. The administration promised that a specific detailed nuclear weapons modernization plan would be implemented. The senators consented to what amounts to a unilateral reduction in US nuclear forces because the remaining US nuclear forces upon treaty implementation would modernize. I want to say that again. The United States is taking a unilateral reduction in its nuclear weapons forces. It was based upon an agreement between the Senate and the administration that additional investment would occur so that we would be able to sustain our capability in the nuclear weapons infrastructure. The secretary’s announcement is an indication that the president is backing off of this deal when it comes to modernizing our nuclear deterrent. Ultimately the changes in the circumstances for participation in the treaty under both condition 9 of the new START treaty resolution of ratification language and language that we offered in the national defense authorization act gives grave concern as to whether or not the administration is going to go forward.
I tend to look carefully at the president’s budget requests for NSA weapons activity, specifically the CMRR and UPF projects which the president pledged to accelerate. These two facilities are absolutely critical to the ability of the US to maintain a credible and reliable deterrent and they were an essential piece of the new START treaty bargain. I’m also concerned that the administration’s missile defense plans are weakened. For three years, this administration has underfunded and diverted funds from the national missile defense programs. With rising threats from Iran, North Korea, China, and others, we cannot afford to risk the reductions in spending that the administration has pursued and this is irrational opposition to the missile defense systems of the United States. I hope the FY-13 budget undoes more than three years of neglect of our national missile defense. With these realities in mind, the Armed Services Committee is moving to head off the devastating effects of these looming cuts. I have joined in co-sponsoring a HR 3662, the down payment to protect national security act, the down payment to protect national security act would prevent a further round of cuts beyond the 488 billion already announced by the president from hitting our military as a result of sequestration. And it fully offsets it. The bill achieves the first year of savings required in sequestration through attrition in the federal workforce by ten percent over ten years. The common sense approach to preserve our national security has over thirty-five co-sponsors in the House. With the support of our colleagues in the House Armed Services Committee, we intend to offer this bill to alleviate the catastrophic effects of sequestration and ask our entire government to carry the load of budget strains, not just the men and women who are in uniform who’ve been fighting the longest war in our nation’s history. I want to thank you for your efforts to get the information out so that people can adequately evaluate the threats to our national security as a result to these looming budget cuts and so that Congress, as we take up this budget, can have a vigorous debate to support our men and women in uniform and restore funding for our national security. Thank you.
Well done. We appreciate very much you finding some time to kick this off, Congressman Turner. And God bless you and your work on the bill. We have a very short window with our next member of Congress, Congressman Doug Lamborn, also a member of the House Armed Services Committee and on the Energy and Mineral Resources Committee. Congressman, thank you for joining us and I appreciate you shoehorning this in. [APPLAUSE]
REP. DOUG LAMBORN:
Well, I have all the appreciation and admiration in the world for Mike Turner, who just spoke. He’s my subcommittee chairman on strategic forces and he did an excellent job of laying out, I think, some of the national implications of what’s going on. I’m going to focus a little bit more on what happens in my district, just as a representative, a sampling of what would happen in places all over the country. First of all, though, let me give you a quote from a Democrat. As a Republican, I like quoting Democrats to show that this is a bipartisan concern. John F. Kennedy, in his inaugural address said, quote, for only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed. And Ronald Reagan had the same view. If we have a strong defense, that makes it less likely we’ll have to use those weapons in anger. So like Ronald Reagan also said, if we have weakness, that’s provocative. That invites aggression. So I come from exactly the same position as Mike Turner and others on armed services.
We have to have a strong national defense. And I’m so distressed about these cuts that the president is wanting to make nationally. And what would it do for one state in particular? Let me just give you an example. And one city in particular. The Colorado fifth district is basically the main – the biggest county is Colorado Springs and several other smaller counties. In Colorado Springs, there are five major military installations. The Air Force Academy, NORAD, Schriever Peterson, and a huge Army installation, Fort Carson. Fort Carson is the state’s second largest employer other than the state itself. And is estimated to have a beneficial 2.1 billion dollar economic impact to help Colorado’s economy every year. Last year, that’s what it was. 2.1 billion dollars. The direct and indirect impact of this military spending gets you up to 5.3 billion dollars. Fifty-two thousand jobs are directly linked to just Fort Carson. That’s active duty and support within this private sector. Civilian sector. And these jobs have a lot of spinoff jobs in the private sector. And these are good paying jobs. So seventy percent of the military live off base. So think of what that does to the local real estate market, the retail industry and other things like that. Now the kind of cuts we’re talking about, besides just hurting our nation’s defense – and Mike Turner did a good job on that – it hurts the economy. Now I know that we don’t have defense jobs to help the economy, but, hey, it helps the economy so let’s concentrate on how that accomplishes it. Besides building our national defense.
According to Secretary Panetta, if sequestration takes place and we get up to the eighteen percent scenario that we’re talking about, not just the nine percent, that would be a million jobs lost. A million jobs in this country. And what would that do economically? My particular district would lose three billion dollars. So out of a local economy, you take away three billion dollars and you’ve taken a pretty big hit. So and – and I shudder to think that what would happen if you double that for the sequestration. Because I was just talking the three billion is just nine percent. So we’re looking at some – and right now, we have the voluntary 178 billion dollars in cuts that are being implemented as we speak. That’s already resulted in a lot of Air Force civilian jobs, Air Force related civilian jobs, and others in my district, in my state. So there are cuts being made, people being laid off as we speak now before these other cuts even take place. And of course the nine percent, the president is pushing for that. And sequestration, as you already may know, he has promised to veto having – undoing the sequestration. So he would like to see the full eighteen percent in cuts take place. This is just totally unacceptable. From an economic and civilian and job perspective. As well as from a defense perspective. So I hope that you’re getting both sides of the story. And Frank, I want to thank you for the good work that you’re putting this information out, you’re creating the website, so people can find out what happens in their states, in their communities, in their cities, in their counties. And see how devastating this would be from an economic as well as a defense standpoint. Frank, thank you.
Well, you’ve had several introductions now to what’s kind of the main course of this presentation and I want to thank the members who have joined us and we anticipate that Congress Trent Franks will be with us shortly. I also want to say again how much I appreciate my colleague Jack Klimp for standing in for me due to my delayed arrival and, unfortunately, my soon to be departure as I’ve got to catch a plane momentarily. I do want to present to you, though, this analysis that we have done thanks very largely to the terrific work of our Chief Operating Officer, Christine Brim, and other members of the Center for Security Policy staff, working together with a wonderful coalition we call the Coalition for the Common Defense. You should have at your places, I think, the joint statement of this coalition, what brings us together as national security minded experts, some of them like the general with distinguished military records. Some like myself in the civilian side of the government. Others who simply spent their careers analyzing and trying to understand what the national security requirements of this country are. And assure that if we are going to underfund them, we at least are clear about what the implications will be.
What this particular product is intended to do is, as both of the congressmen said, recognize that while the first responsibility of the government is to provide for the common defense, and while the first purpose of providing for the common defense is to actually safeguard the security of the American people, how we do that does have implications for our economy as well. This is not a jobs program. But it has jobs implications. It has other implications in the terms of both, as was mentioned, the direct and indirect economic impact. It’s easy, perhaps, to look at this as if it’s simply an abstraction, as a problem that’s maybe somebody else’s problem. What we wanted to try to do by pulling this data together, helped enormously by an analysis done for the Aerospace Industries Association, of the kinds of effects these cuts would have on the industrial base as well as what that would translate into in terms of jobs and in terms of wider economic impact. By applying some of the other data, census data, contract data, and the like, to develop in some detail, at least given the data that we have to work with in terms of kind of the topline cuts that have now been announced, what that will mean for every state and territory in the Union, for their counties, for their cities, for their various businesses, particularly some of those that are notably of concern to communities and their elected representatives. Small businesses, minority owned businesses, women owned businesses, veterans owned businesses, disadvantaged individuals’ businesses, these are the sorts of things that we thought it would be useful to develop so at least those communities can have an appreciation of what’s coming, particularly if this second tranche of cuts does in fact, eventually – the so-called sequestration or budget control act 2.0 cuts, the eighteen percent level minimum cuts. Because, after all, as you’ve just heard Congressman Lamborn say, if his congressional district is going to have to cope with a three billion dollar cut, that will have profound implications for that community. And they best be thinking about them, understanding them, and trying to prepare for them.
By the hundreds of thousands and possibly as many as a million. Jobs that exist right now. People that are bringing home paychecks, in many cases, sizable paychecks. Doing real work right now. Work that in our estimation as national security minded folks is actually needed work, whether it’s producing the equipment that our men and women in uniform rely upon to prevail in the wars we find ourselves facing. Or more importantly, I think, to deter the wars that may be in prospect. But we’re being asked to give those jobs up and bet on the come that there will be new jobs that will somehow be conjured up if we simply start throwing money at them to do maybe important work. That is something, again, that can be decided by others, but they’re not real jobs right now. They may be jobs that could usefully be done, there may be even people looking to do them. But they don’t exist right now. So it’s a bit of a bird in the hand versus the bird in the bush. And our concern is, especially, the people who rely upon those who have the jobs in hand right now, whether they’re the individuals, whether they’re their families, whether they’re their immediate communities, the tax bases of those communities, the workforce that is reliant on what those people bring to the communities. Come on up, Trent.
We’ve got a problem. We’ve got a problem. And what we simply hope is, is that this study will assist in beginning to calibrate that problem and to mitigate its unintended and certainly undesirable effects. And we’re really thrilled to have yet another very esteemed and influential member of the House of Representatives joining us now to sort of pull together what you’ve been told and to add his own insights into what’s at stake in terms of the sorts of cuts that are both underway now – and let me just hasten to add, the numbers that you see that are reflected int his study, and Christine will be sticking around to go into it in greater detail with you if you’d like, and we commend you, of course, the website forthecommondefense.org where you can get the detailed lay down of the study, but the larger point here is that we are, I think, looking at the absolute best case here. Because we’re not even taking into account the roughly 330 billion dollars that has already been taken out of defense accounts. So you had the 330 plus the 485 or so, that first nine percent for this study’s purposes, and then possibly another nine percent on top of that, and you get up to heroic impacts.
Again, both on the national security capabilities of the United States and on the communities around this country that we are sworn to defend. Let me just make one last point and then turn this over to our friend, Congressman Trent Franks. The headlines in this morning’s newspapers I hope caught your attention. Yesterday, the Senate Intelligence Committee heard testimony that Iran may very well be preparing to attack the United States here at home. We of course had a plot to do that with murderous effect in a restaurant I happen to very much like in Georgetown. And that evidently was not just a one-off affair. To be taking these kinds of cuts at this particular moment in time with that particular sort of threat now looming is beyond irresponsible, it’s reckless. And no one understands better than our next speaker, Congressman Trent Franks. One of the ways that the Iranians are believed to be preparing to attack this country with an impact that would make what they might have done to that Georgetown eatery look like a day at the beach – and I ask you to join us in welcoming Congressman Trent Franks, another member of the House Armed Services Committee [APPLAUSE] from the great state of Arizona. He’s also the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee’s committee on the Constitution. Welcome, Congressman, great to have you here.
REP. TRENT FRANKS:
I know that whenever someone follows Frank Gaffney, they make some kind of remark like I’m about to make. And that is that, you know, it’s hard to follow this man because he is such an erudite, capable, informed individual when it comes to our national security. And I would like to just get up here and say what he said and then say, thank you very much. And leave. But I know that all of you are sort of our hidden frontline of freedom in this country and I’m so grateful to be here with you. The Coalition for Common Defense and the effort that you have in pooling resources and helping people understand the dynamics facing this country is so admirable. And I feel in some ways, you know, that this is one of those situations, Frank, where we have had so much focus on the economy, so much focus on jobs, which all of those things we all believe in completely. But I’m always amazed at how people disconnect the national security component because if we only care, if all we cared about was the economy, we didn’t care about national security, we didn’t care about freedom, we didn’t care about any of those things, it was just all about economic productivity, one of the first things we would do is to make sure that the environment in which we try to be productive was protected.
This capability we have not only keeps shipping lanes open all over the world, it maintains a confidence on the part of people that are only interested, perhaps, in economic development, to know that this is the safest place on the planet to come and try to be productive and to invest your dollars and I think sometimes it’s just too bad that some of the highest echelons of our administration and even in the Congress forget that if we fail to keep this country secure the economic success we’ve had will vaporize in a moment. And I’m always amazed, too, as Frank said, you know, this notion that when you’ve got an Iran in the world that is trying not only, you know, we got two measurements for everyone that we have here in terms of our national security threat and that is intent and capacity. You all know that. I wish we talked about that more. When we were dealing with the Soviets, we knew what their capacity was. It was enormous. But we placed our security in their sanity because we knew they wanted to live. And they had certain intent elements that we could key off of and with Iran, nations like that, that’s not true. Their intent is frightening. For the country of Iran to be suggesting that they’re going to come in, almost openly come in, and attack within the United States, there’s only one reason that they’re doing this. They’re either trying to do something strategically or they just have so much contempt for this administration that they don’t think there’s going to be any response. And I’m afraid, perhaps, it’s a little of both. So I would just say to you, you know, president Obama has made much of a future – of this future force that is quote, agile, flexible, and ready for the full range of contingencies. Now it sounds to me like he’s perpetrating monotonic, polysyllabic semantic gymnastics and verbal elocution and hoping that we don’t notice that what he really means, you know, and we have an example in the drawdown under the Clinton Administration, that what he really means is a fighting force that is slow, cumbersome, and ill prepared for emerging threats. Historically the US has been caught off guard when preparing for future conflict. That’s not – that’s not been the exception, that’s been the rule. That we nearly are always caught off – Pearl Harbor in the 40s and others, some discussion, you know, that perhaps some of our people saw that coming a lot sooner than others. But Desert One in the 80s and 9-11 ten years ago. Those are examples.
What about nuclear North Korea? Everybody said, oh, we have plenty of time. No problem. But recently the Arab Spring has highlighted this trend. No one really foresaw that a Tunisian street vendor upset with his government taking his wares would be the matchstick that catalyzed a conflagration of revolutions across North Africa and the Middle East. Moreover, Iran is quickly becoming that nuclear threat that we decided a moment ago. And allies in the Middle East, included Turkey and Egypt are becoming more distant. I have to say to you, if Egypt’s not lost to us, I’m confused. I mean, when they have forty percent of their parliament being in the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood, and another close to twenty percent being in the hands of Salafists, I don’t know that we understand what a profound paradigm shift has occurred there. Mr. Obama’s lack of foresight to say is disturbing is such an understatement. And if I said what I really thought it would – it’d probably get me on the front page. [LAUGHTER] But his plan provides nothing more than a blueprint for an anemic national security and a weakened American economy. And I suppose the question always comes because this administration seems to posit it quite often, would you rather fight a war on equal terms with the enemy or have the odds stacked in your favor? So that the war’s won before it begins?
They almost have this idea that if we have a qualitative military edge, there’s something immoral about that, that somehow we think our ideas are somehow arrogantly superior. We have this notion that the American principles of, you know, holding all men and women to be created and are equal, that those things, you know, after all, those are just one viewpoint, and everyone has a right – we have to be tolerant. Well, of course we have to be tolerant. But true tolerance is not in pretending you have no difference with someone. It’s being kind and decent to each other in spite of those differences. But you do not have to surrender moral authority. You do not have to suggest that atheistic communism is on par with American freedom. You don’t have to do that, because to do so is to betray your fellow human beings in my judgment. And yet that’s what this administration would be to do is suggest that somehow because we want to have a superior military capability that we’re suggesting that all of our ideas are superior to everybody else in the world and we shouldn’t do that. And I just will say to you that that is a terrible recipe for seeing bondage overtake humanity. It is a very, very dangerous thing. So the question to most generals is – most of them would suggest, no, we don’t want to fight when the odds are even, we want to fight when we are superior in every way because in America, you and I know that when we are more capable, that we end up saving lives on both sides of the conflict. That is a fundamental truth. So the budget here in all of the battles that we’ve had – made it very difficult for people like me, it hasn’t on national defense, because I always vote for national defense, because I understand that that’s the most important thing I can do for my country in terms of our national security and also in terms of the economy and also in terms of the security of the government’s fiscal place in the world. It’s just critically important. And yet being one of the most fiscally conservative members of Congress, there is this great effort, Frank, as you know, to try to push this wedge – I mean, it happened on the Armed Services Committee in a big way on this deal to have the sequestering, people like me were saying, no, if we do that, forgive me, for the Democrats in the room, I appreciate you all. Here goes.
If we do that, the Democrats will simply still make the issue. They’ll simply lock it up because on the one hand they wanted to cut defense forever. And this notion that they will fail to do so because it might cut Medicare, well, it really didn’t cut Medicare, it cut – not the recipients, it cut the providers of Medicare. It cut the doctors and things like that. So I thought, this is just – this is not hard to see. It wasn’t anything that took any special insight, because that’s something that I don’t claim to have. I think there are three kinds of people that predict the future politically. Those are those who don’t know and those who don’t know they don’t know and those who know they don’t know. And I fit in that third category. But in this case it was pretty easy to see and I’m really sorry that we didn’t. So – but the Armed Services Committee was split on that issue. In a big way. And those of us that said, no, we’re not comfortable with that, we’re not going to do it, we were considered sort of the, you know, the rabble rousers. And so it’s difficult. I don’t have to tell all of you that a navy with 285 ships, I don’t have to tell all of you with a reduced missile defense capacity, I don’t have to tell all of you with an actual reduction in our force of significant import in a a time, as Frank said, when we are facing some great challenges in the world, is not wise policy. It is not good for America and, you know, when you are in your homes at night, you certainly worry about paying the rent, you certainly worry about paying your light bill, making sure your kids have food and all of those things, but if you think there is someone outside that may come in and harm or kill your family, all of those other things become issues of no import. So I just want you to know that I am convinced that this is not the time to do that. Let me say to you quickly that – and I’ll close here just very quickly, but with the relationship with Iran, if Iran gains nuclear weapons, we should have a new calendar. Because it will change humanity that much. Not only will terrorists the world over have nuclear weapons, but I am afraid that we will be very vulnerable to an EMP attack. Now, lately, it seems like there are those that have come forward and said, well, EMP may not be as dangerous as we thought. Well, the Department of Defense, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, all of these groups think that there is a very serious threat or we wouldn’t spend hundreds and hundreds of millions hardening our nuclear triads. And all of these things – and Iran now has, as you all know, tested for that kind of attack. Mr. Gaffney, God bless you, sir.
I’m sorry, they told me I had fifteen minutes here, so I’m just going [OVERLAPPING VOICES] We’re okay? Yeah, okay, I wish you the best. I’ll talk about – he wanted me to talk to you about Iran and EMP and I’m going to. I know that there’s a lot of discussion about this. I have a bill called the Shield Act that I think is vitally important and for those of you in this room, let me just give you a couple of reasons why. If DOD is correct, if NASA is correct, if the EMP Commission is correct, if the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is correct, if the National Academy of Sciences is correct, and there’s a couple more, that have done major studies and reports on EMP – and all of them have a very similar conclusion – this is not some right wing Y2K thing. This is something quite serious to us. If they’re correct, this is probably one of our most significant short term national security threats we face as a human family. And unfortunately, terrorists seem to be aware of it. And in Iran, all they really need at this point is one significant nuclear warhead and they have a couple of delivery mechanisms. And I won’t get into that for obvious reasons, but they do. And if they chose to do that, we would be taking a risk that all of those reports might be correct. And that a high altitude extra-atmospheric nuclear detonation of significant yield could put this country almost in the horse and buggy days without the horse and buggy. Where our electric grid would be disabled in a profound way. And I am convinced that if terrorists of the mindset that we’ve seen, willing to come and attack us on our own soil could gain that capacity that they would proceed without hesitation.
So our challenge is very significant. And people say, well, we will use our missile defense to deal with that. There are some cases where missile defense could be helpful, but let me suggest to you that with THAD and some of the other things that we’re just now beginning to bring online that some of those intercept altitudes make it very easy for an enemy to fuse or to put proximity fuses in the warhead so that if it were approached by an interceptor, it would detonate and we’d precipitate our own EMP. I mean, we would be the ones to essentially catalyze it. And there’s only one way to take that equation away from them and that’s to harden this grid so that we can intercept missiles with impunity, we can do what’s necessary to make sure that we don’t have nuclear blasts in our cities or on our soil and that we don’t have to worry in the process that we’re doing something that could damage the whole country. So with that, I know that the issues are serious beyond words and I hope you don’t grow weary because this is going to be a destiny shaping year. And I don’t know which way it’s going to go. I am an old father. I have three-year old twins. And they are my first children. And I’ve never wanted more than I do now to protect America’s future. Never. It’s hard enough for me to leave them two thousand miles away and come to this place. But I do so, as much as anything, on their behalf and their contemporaries and if we do not pay attention this year, both in our policy efforts, in the Congress, during the course of the year and the electoral politics – I’m just going to be very, ask you for diplomatic immunity here, if we don’t change presidents, our country’s national security is going to be demonstrably diminished. And children that I have and yours and your grandchildren could live in a different world where the light of freedom is dimmed pretty significantly. And I hope we understand that. I hope we understand just what is at stake. And across the years, it seems like humanity, when they really understood the challenges before them, they rose to the occasion. But as someone said a long time ago, you know, when crisis comes, we don’t always rise to the occasion, sometimes we default to our level of preparation. So this is the time for us to prepare both on electoral front and in the policy front. We need to act as quickly as we can, to be as active as we can, because the dynamics have never been more serious in my lifetime. And so I’ll leave you with a little quote that I think kind of puts it in perspective if I can remember it. It’s – was in a movie that was depicting the 1588 King Philip’s armada coming toward England. He had this massive number of ships and it looked like England’s forces were going to be summarily overwhelmed. It just looked really bad. They told Queen Elizabeth, they said, man, this looks like – this looks like the Saturday night inn here. And so she rode out personally to meet her army along the shores there when these just massive armadas of King Philip’s army were coming against England in, quote, a holy war. Not so unlike what we face today in many ways. And she said, depicted in the movie of course, they always have a little poetic license, but it was – still sounded good to me. She said, my loving friends, we see the sails of the enemy approaching. We hear the guns over the water. I will tell you that I have come out here to be among you all to live or die this day among you all. If we stand together, no invader will pass. Let them come with the armies of hell, they will not pass. And when this day of battle is finished, we’ll meet again in heaven or the field of victory. I almost think that that’s the challenge we have this year. We have to do everything possible to stand together. And I hope a year from now that we have a chance to meet in this room or one like it on the field of victory.
Well, I think it’s pretty good. We think that something like the Grid Act that would either be amended to be more like the Shield Act will move. The challenge is, some of the makers of the large transformers that we’re trying to protect feel like to put too much focus on this issue might have – precipitate calls from – to begin to re-engineer or redesign some of their major transformers. Now, that’s not my intent at all. I do hope that we can begin to implement some of these neutral phase blockers, because it’s the cheapest way in the world to do it. We can do – we can harden this country’s grid in terms of our ability to produce electricity so that the lights don’t go out and so we don’t have a catastrophic failure. We can harden the grid for a very reasonable cost. Twenty-five cents a year per ratepayer, per electric user, will harden the grid completely. Now it won’t fix our cell phones, you know, a lot of these other kind of things, but at least the lights won’t go out. At least civilization won’t come to a grinding halt. And it’s something that we should do. And the other thing is with the neutral phase blockers, that we be putting before – the neutral phase, before it goes into the transformer. These are not expensive things. We can do this for about 250 thousand dollars per major transformer. And that’s if you protected, there’s somewhere around a thousand critical transformers, around two hundred or so uber-critical transformers, very critical ones.
But we’re talking about a very reasonable cost over four years to do that. And not only is it vital for protection, but it would allow the electric companies, the power producers, to run their system at a higher level. In other words, they could run it a little closer to the red line because they would be protected. And they actually more than pay for it. So this is something we have to do and that’s my big concern and I don’t want to over-answer this question, but it is a very, very important one. My big concern is, right now, the whole focus is on let’s count on procedures and policy to deal with it, rather than the hardware solutions. Let me tell you what’s wrong with that quickly so that you can disseminate that if you can in your own areas of influence. This notion that if we had a, you know, if some of our space weather satellites indicated that we had some major CME coming, we might have twenty-four hours and think, well, this could be pretty bad. We don’t know, but it looks really bad. And then about an hour out or less, thirty, forty minutes maybe, we would get an indication, nah, it’s no big deal. Or yes, this is really bad. We got to be ready. Now the power producing companies, if we have the mechanism to warn them in time, you could say, well, they have – they’re at least on alert because of the twenty-four hour warning. We have to tell them, okay, there’s a two out of three chance that this is a no big deal. But there’s a one in three chance that it’s a catastrophic thing. If you shut down your grid, you will kill people. I mean, it always happens that way, I mean, you know what I mean, when we lose our electricity just for a few days, people die. If you don’t, maybe massive casualties.
I mean, EMP Commission, I don’t even know how to wrap my mind around the figure that they talked about. The EMP Commission says that we’ll lose as much as two thirds of the population over time. I think that’s significant. You know, I’m kind of a master at understatement here to try to emphasize the significance of something like that. But if we have – and you’re a power operator, what do you do? You suggest shut it down? Or I don’t even know if this is real and don’t, you know? Either way, you’re facing massive danger to the public and almost catastrophic liability claims if you do the right or wrong thing either way. Wouldn’t it be a lot easier if, like, we put lightning rods on houses, wouldn’t it be a lot easier to say, well, we hope we don’t get struck. But if we do, there’s a good chance that it will be redirected into the ground and we’ll be all right. Well, that’s essentially what we’re talking about here. You know, lightning is E-2. It’s a band of EMP. And this is a way for us to sort of put lightning rods on our – and that’s a terribly simplistic description, but it essentially will make sure that the current doesn’t go where it’s not supposed to go. And if that happens automatically, then those operators can duck and say, oh, I hope it works. I hope it works. And there’s a very, very good chance it will. I mean, there’s a high probability that it would protect the grid. So with that, please help people to understand that this is a significant issue and that this is not a time to cut [UNCLEAR] Mr. Grandy, how are you, sir? Yeah, if I’d seen you in the room, I’d have really gone to pieces. No kidding. A guy like you kind of intimidates us all.
I thank you. But what I’m really curious to know is assuming the president’s budget, his official budget to Congress, reflects the numbers in the Center’s breakdown, do you anticipate the Republican majority in the House to come up with an alternative budget which officially tries to restore some of those cuts and also makes provisions for maintaining a robust defense up to and including the kinds of comments you made about EMP? Can we look to the House majority to present an alternative document so that we’re not fighting something with nothing?
Yeah. Well, that is the – probably the perfect question to ask and I think the absolute clearest answer I can give you is an unequivocal yes. You will see that. There’s no question in my mind about that. Whether or not, you know, given the dynamics with Mr. Reid that we’ll even have a hearing – that’s one of the challenges that we have, you know, talking about some of the jobs bills, we have thirty jobs bills over there. That are being completely ignored without even a vote. And I’m concerned that there might be that kind of boldness or that kind of recalcitrance in an election year that might be hard to overcome. But yes, we will, you know, people like me and people like others on the Armed Services Committee will make sure that we have an alternative budget to deal with this and it will, I hope, do what’s necessary to make the right provisions for the country and its national security. But, boy, I just don’t know what’s – what to say. See, we have, you know, you’ve heard it before, but we have really control, or a nominal control of one third of government. And it puts us at an extreme disadvantage in negotiations, especially when, you know, Mr. Reid is so partisan in that regard and when he has the president to back him up and when there’s a national election going on, it is a recipe for stalemate just at the wrong time, Mr. Grandy. So, but I appreciate your question and I so appreciate all the work that you do. I mean, Fred Grandy, as you all probably know, is a former member of Congress, very distinguished member of Congress. And has been sort of a senior statesman to come back and – he says it better than the rest of us do, but he is so committed to things that I believe in and I’m very grateful that he’s here and on the job.