Sep 26, 2018
Opening Statement

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), Chairwoman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, made the following remarks, as prepared for delivery, on the hearing titled “U.S. Strategy in Syria.” For hearing testimony and to watch the hearing live click here. 

"The Oversight and Investigations subcommittee convenes this morning to take testimony on the U.S. strategy in Syria.

Just weeks ago, our nation commemorated the somber anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks. Among the many consequences of that strike on the United States was the increased recognition of the dangers posed by a violent ideology targeting our nation and its allies and partners. 

Those dangers remain.

For decades, the Syrian regime has been known for its barbarity and support for terrorism. But, five years ago, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria emerged from the remnants of al-Qaeda in Iraq. ISIS kills and pillages. The goal of ISIS is to develop Syria as a base of operations for a global terrorist network. ISIS had some initial success. The group quickly seized territory, including in Eastern Syria. 

While the United States continues to speak out against the atrocities of the Syrian government, ISIS poses the possibility of a ruthless anti-American terrorist group controlling a large and important region. Therefore, the United States has assisted some of those fighting ISIS. 

There have been important victories. Since March 2017, significant territory has been liberated from ISIS. Nonetheless, it continues to pose a threat. The Department of Defense has declared that ISIS 'is well-positioned to rebuild.' ISIS could recapture lost territory. 

The goal of the United States is to prevent this possibility. But, it is essential that our nation carefully calibrate its response.

The Syrian situation is extraordinarily complex. Turkey, Iraq, Israel, and Jordan are profoundly affected. The fact that Russia and Iran vigorously support the Assad regime also greatly complicates our efforts.

In recent weeks, the administration has suggested that some US military forces will remain in Syria. Furthermore, while Assad, Russia, and Turkey contemplate military activity in and around Idlib over the last week, press reports have discussed how the U.S. might respond if chemical weapons are used again. 

Today we will hear more about these topics. We will consider the Administration’s strategic objectives in Syria and the relevant authorities and resources required to achieve them. We will hear about efforts to achieve a political resolution and the status of U.S. counterterrorism efforts. We will also consider the humanitarian crisis in the region, and the reestablishment of governance in areas liberated from ISIS. 

I’m pleased to introduce our witnesses:

Mr. Robert Story Karem is the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs.


U.S. Marine Corps Brigadier General Scott Benedict is the Deputy Director of Political-Military Affairs for the Middle East with the Joint Staff."

115th Congress