CJCS Designee Calls Russia "Greatest Threat" to US, But NASA Says ISS Trancends Differences

CJCS Designee Calls Russia "Greatest Threat" to US, But NASA Says ISS Trancends Differences

Two congressional hearings over the past two days illustrate the complexity of the current U.S.-Russian relationship.  At a Senate hearing yesterday, the Marine general nominated to be the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) said that Russia poses the greatest threat to U.S. national security.  Today, at a House hearing on the International Space Station (ISS), a NASA official said that human spaceflight “transcends” the differences between the two countries.

Gen. Joseph Dunford, Commandant of the Marine Corps and President Obama’s pick to succeed Army Gen. Martin Dempsey as CJCS, was asked at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Service Committee (SASC) yesterday what is the greatest threat to U.S. national security.  “My assessment today … is that Russia presents the greatest threat to our national security,” he replied, adding that Russia is a nuclear power whose recent behavior is “nothing short of alarming.” 

Conversely, at today’s House Science, Space and Technology subcommittee hearing on ISS operational challenges, Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, said the U.S.-Russian relationship on ISS is “very strong.”   NASA and its Russian counterpart, Roscosmos, are “mutually dependent” on each other for operating the ISS.

“The challenge of human spaceflight … transcends … the toughness of the outside world,” Gerstenmaier said.  He characterized the technical relationship between the two countries with regard to operating ISS “extremely strong and extremely transparent in spite of governmental tensions” and the two are working together “extremely effectively.”

The two hearings and the comments made therein are independent of each other, but taken together demonstrate the complicated U.S.-Russian relationship.

The Dunford hearing itself did not touch on space activities, though in a 75-page set of answers to questions posed prior to the hearing, Dunford agreed that space situational awareness and protecting space assets need more attention, that he would review U.S. efforts to address China’s developments in space, and review policies and programs to ensure U.S. warfighters can depend on the advantages that space confers.

The ISS hearing will be summarized in an upcoming SpacePolicyOnline.com article.  Check back here tomorrow.


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