Contact: Josh Holly; 202.226.3988
Washington D.C. –Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, today released the following opening statement for the House Armed Services Committee’s posture hearing on the Fiscal Year 2008 budget request for the U.S. Pacific Command and U.S. Forces Korea:
“Thank you to my good friend, Ike Skelton, for holding today’s hearing. I would like to welcome our witnesses who traveled great distances to be with us today, Admiral William J. Fallon from Hawaii and General Burwell B. Bell, III all the way from South Korea. Gentlemen, welcome back. Admiral Fallon, thank you for your service and leadership of Pacific Command.
“Today’s hearing launches the beginning of a series of hearings to review the posture of our regional combatant commands for fiscal year 2008 within their respective areas of responsibility. This morning, the committee is focused on Pacific Command and what it is doing to advance U.S. national security interests, as well as what they are doing to address current and unexpected security challenges in the region and on the Korean Peninsula. We look forward to your testimony and appreciate your appearance this morning.
“As we prosecute the Global War on Terrorism, much of the public’s attention is focused on the Middle East and the ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. But a global war on terror is just that, global, and our brave U.S. military men and women, along with our coalition partners, are taking the fight to radical Islamists throughout the world. Particularly, in South East Asia, where the Philippines, Indonesia and the waters of the South China Sea continue to be home to radical Islamists who seek to do harm and promote extremist ideologies.
“For example, in the jungles of the southern Philippines, often a forgotten front in the global war on terrorism, U.S. Special Forces are advising and training the Philippine military. With this U.S. assistance, the civilian authorities and the Armed Forces of the Philippines are making progress in defeating terrorists and establishing the conditions for a secure and stable environment. I look forward to hearing more about the success of this indirect approach by U.S. Special Forces and any plans for expansion in the region.
“In addition to our partners’ efforts to combat radical Islamists in their neighborhood, some of our Asia-Pacific partners are providing military and financial support to ongoing military operations and reconstruction efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. These contributions to the Global War on Terrorism are significant and illustrate a global unity of effort focused on a common enemy. PACOM should continue to engage our regional partners for their valuable and appreciated support.
“In addition to combating radical Islamists around the world, U.S. strategic and defense relationships are also evolving to meet changing developments and complex security challenges. In the Asia-Pacific region, current and future strategic prospects require U.S. forces to maintain a watchful eye but they also call for continued engagement and a flexible and adaptable overseas military presence.
“In July and October 2006, North Korea challenged the international community with its ballistic missile and nuclear tests. Underestimating regional and global solidarity in response to these tests, North Korea was forced back to the diplomatic table. Last month at the Six-Party Talks in Beijing, the participating nations, including China, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, Russia and the United States, reached an ‘action for action’ agreement that serves as an initial step towards a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. Admiral Fallon and General Bell I am interested in your assessments of this agreement as well and its impact on future security and stability in Northeast Asia.
“The Pentagon’s 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review Report noted that ‘China has the greatest potential to compete militarily with the United States.’ China’s rapid economic growth, double-digit growth in defense spending, investments in military modernization with a focus on power projection, and drive for energy resources continued during the last year and will likely persevere. These unwavering trends and lack of openness add to ongoing tensions across the Taiwan Strait and impact the greater region.
“Furthermore, China’s recent successful anti-satellite missile test and the November 2006 Chinese submarine encounter with the USS Kitty Hawk illustrate the need for greater transparency and a continued bilateral dialogue between the United States and China.
“Of course, possible challenges to our security don't stop there. But these developments, the on-going struggle against radical Jihadists in Southeast Asia and examples of political instability in the region, including non-violent coups in Thailand and Fiji, highlight U.S. security interests in Asia-Pacific. They also reinforce the need to realign U.S. Asia-Pacific based forces and maintain military readiness in this critical region.
“Gentlemen, you are on the front lines dealing with these security challenges and leading the necessary efforts to ensure they do not evolve into threats to the security of the United States. We are grateful for your service and the dedication of our American soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen in your respective areas of responsibility. We look forward to your testimony.”