Jul 11, 2018
Opening Statement

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Chairwoman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, made the following remarks, as prepared for delivery, on the Subcommittee's hearing titled “Department of Defense’s Role in Foreign Assistance.” For testimony and to watch the hearing click here.  

"Good morning everyone and welcome to this hearing of the Emerging Threats and Capabilities subcommittee. Today we have before us two panels as we examine the role of the Department of Defense in foreign assistance.

This committee is very familiar with how the Pentagon and our men and women in uniform contribute to our national security. But it has been a while since we’ve discussed this topic with an interagency panel, such as the one before us today. We are appreciative of the chance to do so, given the importance of foreign assistance in today’s uncertain and complex world.

The topic and timing of today’s hearing is fortuitous – not just because our committee is currently negotiating with the Senate for the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act.  But also because we as a nation continue to face a myriad of challenges in conflict and post-conflict regions that will require a holistic, interagency, and whole-of-society approach – to increase stability and reduce violence in many of the regions and countries we will discuss today. This will involve the Agencies that are before us now – but not exclusively.  It will also require close working relationships with nongovernmental organizations and non-federal entities – a large objective of today’s hearing. 

This committee – and indeed this subcommittee in particular – conducts rigorous oversight of ongoing counterterrorism operations and activities in conflict and post-conflict countries – and understands first-hand the challenges that we as a nation face in Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, and Libya – to name just a few.  

We have continually asked hard questions in previous hearings to understand our long-term counterterrorism and security objectives – and to ensure that our successes are not only of a kinetic nature.  And yet, as we approach year 18 of near-constant combat, it is becoming increasingly difficult to see and realize long-term and sustainable progress in many regions. How do we ensure and measure regional and strategic effects on the battlefield that contribute to security and stability? What role does foreign assistance play? And what specific role should the Department of Defense play in support of USAID and the State Department?  

Today’s panel is very well qualified to help guide us through these critical and important questions of national security.  Welcome to our first three witnesses:
• Mr. Jason Ladnier, Director of the Office of Partnerships, Strategy, and Communications, U.S. Department of State 

• Mr. Robert Jenkins, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance,the United States Agency for International Development

And – 

• Mr. Mark Mitchell, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations/Low-Intensity Conflict.

And immediately following this panel session, we will move to our second panel of outside witnesses, which consists of non-governmental experts on today’s topic: 

• Mr. Julien Schopp, Director of Humanitarian Practice at InterAction

And – 

• Ms. Melissa Dalton, Senior Fellow and Deputy Director of the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, as well as the Director of the Cooperative Defense Project"  

115th Congress