WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, made the following opening statement, as prepared for delivery, at the Full Committee's hearing entitled, "The National Defense Strategy and the Nuclear Posture Review." For testimony and other information and to watch the hearing click here.
"The Committee meets today to hear testimony on the Administration's National Defense Strategy and Nuclear Posture Review, both of which were recently released. We welcome back the Secretary of Defense and the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to discuss these important documents.
I cannot count the number of times I have heard Members of this Committee talk about the importance of having a defense strategy to help guide decisions that we and the Executive Branch have to make. Now we have one. It is a component of the broader National Security Strategy released in December, and it has within it the Nuclear Posture Review, the first of its kind since 2010.
A lot has changed since then, and both documents come at a critical time. As the National Security Strategy points out, 'America's military remains the strongest in the world. However, U.S. advantages are shrinking as rival states modernize and build up their conventional and nuclear forces.'
There will undoubtedly be criticism of both documents. Some of it will be based on valid shortcomings; some may spring from more ideological differences. Debates about the particulars are fair and to be expected. But it is also fair, I think, to commend the Administration for its attempt to bring structure and rationality to our wide-ranging national security efforts in what is surely a dangerous and volatile world.
One last point: We must never forget that with any strategy, the heart of our nation's defense - our most valuable asset - remains the people who serve. It is morally wrong to send brave men and women out on missions under any strategy for which they are not fully trained, equipped and supported with the best that this country can provide. That support should not be conditioned on any other issue. And we can never forget that there is a real, human cost to failing to fully support them. Strategy is important, but nothing is more important for Congress than for us to do our job to support the men and women who protect us, fully and unconditionally."