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 budget requests for the U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM), Northern Command (NORTHCOM), Transportation Command (TRANSCOM); and Southern Command (SOUTHCOM):
“I would like to welcome our combatant commanders, General James E. Cartwright, Commander, U.S. STRATCOM, Admiral Timothy Keating, Commander, U.S. NORTHCOM; General Norton A. Schwartz, Commander, U.S. TRANSCOM; and Admiral James G. Stavridis, Commander, SOUTHCOM. Gentlemen, thank you for your service and for appearing here today.
“As Combatant Commanders, you represent different perspectives – from providing security in the Western Hemisphere to sustaining and modernizing U.S. strategic, airlift and sealift capabilities – but you share a common purpose – to protect the American people against evolving security challenges and to advance U.S. national security interests. This morning, the committee meets to receive testimony on the posture of your respective Commands for fiscal year 2008. We appreciate your appearance this morning and look forward to hearing the military strategies and operational requirements within your areas of responsibility.
“First, Congratulations to Admiral Keating on your recent confirmation as the Commander of Pacific Command – we wish you well and look forward to meeting with General Reneurt, the new NORTHCOM commander in the future.
“In 2005, Hurricane Katrina demonstrated the importance of NORTHCOM’s mission of support to U.S. civil authorities. The recently released National Guard Commission Report recommends that NORTHCOM should increase its capacity to execute its civil support mission. At the appropriate time, I would like you to comment on how NORTHCOM executes its civil support mission and how it is reaching out to the National Guard and working with state and local entities to ensure it has full situational awareness.
“Admiral Stavridis, welcome to your first hearing as SOUTHCOM Commander. Latin America and the Caribbean are America’s neighbors and although there are no conventional threats in the region at this time, developments in the region do impact U.S. security.
“The United States and South America continue to work together. While there are examples of progress, there continue to be regional security and political challenges. Illegal drug production and trade – particularly in the Andean Ridge – continues to be a problem. In Columbia, President Uribe – the first modern Columbian President to win re-election – is fighting narco-terrorism in his country with U.S. support. In Venezuela, President Chavez maintains close relations with Cuba and Iran while aggressively importing arms and defense capabilities not proportional to its defense needs. Furthermore, there are indications that radical Islamists may be taking advantage of instability in the region. I am interested in learning how SOUTHCOM is working with its regional and interagency partners to address these challenges.
“Lastly, this committee continues to remain focused on SOUTHCOM’s responsibilities for Guantanamo Bay (GITMO), but I will reserve most of my comments until next week when the committee intends to hold two hearings. Let me make one quick point though. We, as a nation, cannot afford to close Guantanamo. It houses dangerous people who are intent on killing innocent Americans. If you need a reminder of this fact, all you have to do is read the transcript from Khalid Sheihk Mohammed’s Combatant Status Review Trial.
“General Cartwright, thank you for testifying before us twice in two weeks. In this post-Cold War environment, we must have a range of capabilities to deter and respond to multiple threats and adversaries that span the gamut, from transnational terrorists; rogue nations, like North Korea who tested their missile and nuclear capabilities in the span of three months; and potential emerging powers.
“This Committee would appreciate hearing about our nation’s strategic posture needs. I am particularly interested in the Conventional Trident Modification program and hearing about the need for the Reliable Replacement Warhead and the Combatant Commanders missile defense needs.
“Lastly, I am deeply troubled by the Chinese anti-satellite test that occurred in January. Though its target was a Chinese weather satellite, it clearly sent a message that the Chinese have a capability to hold our military and commercial satellites at risk. It also marks a new era of military competition where we must give serious thought and focus to the protection of our space assets. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this.
“General Schwartz, welcome. Today, we also focus on the current and future state of our airlift, sealift, and land component transportation forces. While the United States continues to reduce its overseas presence, it must maintain the same level of global engagement and maintain the capabilities to move U.S. forces to the fight quickly and over great distances. TRANSCOM is critical to maintaining our wartime mission while supporting world-wide operations such as stability operations, humanitarian missions, and military exercises.
“I look forward to your testimony as you help us better understand the current status and future requirements for our airlift and sealift transportation forces.
“Today’s security environment is complex. Gentlemen, I commend each of you for your leadership within your respective commands. Our nation is grateful for your service and the dedication of our American soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen and their families in your respective areas of responsibility.”