Mr. DICKS. Mr. Chairman, in fact I think Secretary Longuemare makes a good point in support of what the gentleman just said:
Delaying the backfit of 4 SSBNs with D-5 missiles sends the wrong message to Russia. It removes Russia's incentive to ratify START II in a timely manner and begin START III negotiations as agreed in Helsinki.
I have to agree. I think this would send the wrong message. If we are going to bring down the strategic forces, we want to bring them down on both sides.
I also would take some umbrage about the status of the Russian Navy. As the ranking Democrat on the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and someone who has served 19 years on defense appropriations, this is one area in the submarine area where the Russians are still making significant investments. I would not characterize their submarine capabilities as defective or weak. They have very capable submarines, particularly in the attack area.