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Gen. Paul Selva, the nominee to be vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee on July 14, 2015. Screen shot photo.

Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, the nominee to be vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that Russia, not ISIS, poses the biggest threat to the US homeland. In fact, ISIS fell behind Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea, “b​ecause right now, ISIS does not present a clear and present threat to our homeland and to the existence of our nation,” said Selva, who currently leads US Transportation Command. Although he acknowledged the terrorist organization certainly “is a threat” and must be dealt with, he reiterated “it does not threaten us at home.” The answer appeared to surprise SASC Chairman Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) who pushed back by asking whether radicalized Americans who travel to Iraq and Syria and then return to the United States are “a direct threat” to the homeland. Selva said he agreed with the assessment by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, but said ISIS “does not possess the tools or the capabilities to threaten the existence of the United States as we know it.” On the other hand, Russia “possesses the conventional and nuclear capability to be an existential threat to this nation should they choose to do so.” His comments echoed those of Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, the nominee for Joint Chiefs chairman, last week. (See Selva’s answers to advanced questions from the committee.)