Washington D.C. House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09) made the following statement at today’s U.S. Pacific Command posture hearing:

“I would like to welcome Admiral Willard and thank him for making a long journey to be here with us today.  I look forward to his expert testimony on a variety of important matters. 

“Earlier this year, the President released the findings of a strategic review, which clearly articulated the global threat environment, and presented a broad strategy to address those threats moving forward. This strategic review appropriately places a renewed focus on the critically important Asia-Pacific region, a shift that will surely call for additional resources and an enhanced role for U.S. Pacific Command. 

“The Asia-Pacific region is a vital region of the world that includes a number of important U.S. allies and partners.  Without question, U.S. service men and women play a crucial role in maintaining these relationships and in promoting peace in the Pacific.

“Many of our partners in the regions are concerned about the recent rise of China. While I do not believe that a conflict with China is inevitable, we should continue to work to promote mutual interests, mitigate concerns, and perpetuate multi-lateral cooperation in the region. We should also continue to develop our security relationship with India and continue to strengthen existing relationships with partners such as Japan, South Korea, Australia, and Singapore.

“Transnational threats, such as violent extremism, cyber-threats, and illicit trafficking in persons, narcotics, and weapons continue to menace the region.  Disease, malnourishment, environmental degradation, resource scarcity, and natural disaster do as well.  The more we can do to defuse tensions through cooperative efforts with our many allies and strategic partners in the region, the more we can help to realize the immense potential for growth in the region.

“The United States will continue to lead in the Pacific and to offer assurances through our forward military presence in the region, and the U.S. Pacific Command’s flexible force posture will continue to be essential to surmounting security challenges now and in the future. 

“While I believe that the defense budget provides PACOM with the resources necessary for securing our strategic objectives, I would like to remind the Committee that the defense budget is consistent with the Budget Control Act that was passed by Congress.  Although I did not support passage of that law, many members of the House Armed Services Committee did.  The Department of Defense submitted a budget that complies with congressionally-mandated funding levels and that supports our strategic objectives.

“I look forward to receiving your testimony and to continuing our dialogue on these and other important issues.  Thank you, Mr. Chairman.”