Mar 20, 2024
Press Release

Washington, D.C.  — U.S. Representative Jack Bergman (R-MI), Chairman of the Intelligence and Special Operations Subcommittee, delivered the following opening remarks at a hearing on the goals, challenges, and priorities of U.S. Special Operations Command and U.S. special operations forces.
Rep. Bergman’s remarks as prepared for delivery:
I would like to first welcome our witnesses, Assistant Secretary Christopher Maier and General Bryan Fenton, and all of our subcommittee members to this crucial hearing on the operational and fiscal challenges facing our Special Operations community. I look forward to working with everyone in this room on these important issues and I am confident we will discuss them at length throughout this year.
Our objective today is to thoroughly examine the alignment of our Special Operations Forces and USSOCOM with the National Defense Strategy. This includes examining the challenges they face, the resources required to surmount these challenges, and their strategic role in the context of Great Power Competition.
As the U.S. attempts to shift its focus away from the threats in the Middle East, we are quickly learning that the threats in the Middle East have not shifted their focus away from us. Counter-terrorism, addressing Violent Extremist Organizations, and proxy threats are not missions we can wish away, and as our footprint in the Middle East grows increasingly smaller, we will continually rely on our elite Special Operations community to suppress these threats as we attempt to shift our primary focus to the challenges of Great Power Competition.
This is not to say that our Special Operations Community is not engaged in Great Powers Competition—quite the opposite. There is a false notion floating around that the Special Operations Community had their time in the sun and enjoyed bountiful resourcing, but now it is time for them to take a back seat. This could not be more incorrect. Since 2001, Special Operations may have doubled in size, and they may have doubled in resourcing, but they have quadrupled in requirements. They are busier today than ever. They are asked to do more today than ever.
As such, I am dismayed that USSOCOM is again funded at a flat level. When it comes to bang-for-your-buck, there is perhaps nothing as effective as the dollars we spend on our Special Operations Community. At less than two percent of the Department of Defense’s budget and roughly three percent of its manpower, USSOCOM punches far above its weight. In a time of shaping and information operations, hybrid competition, partner-training, and grey-zone conflict, the Department should be looking to resource USSOCOM’s return-on-investment propositions to the greatest extent possible. Spending each dollar more effectively than each Chinese Yuan is how we win Great Power Competition, and that is what our Special Operations Community can provide.