“I would like to join Chairman McKeon in welcoming General Kelly and General Jacoby. We appreciate your time and look forward to hearing your thoughts.
“General Kelly, I am interested in your thoughts on the important issues in your portfolio, such as rising violence and instability in Central America, our military to military cooperation in the area, countering transnational organized crime, building partner capacity, planning for contingencies and counter narcotics. While SOUTHCOM may not always get the headlines, you have a lot on your plate and our investments in the region certainly translate to tangible successes.
“SOUTHCOM continues to lack traditional military threats, and the primary challenges often require an interagency approach to address. I am interested in hearing more about how you work with other U.S. government agencies and partner nations to accomplish your goals in Latin America, especially as resources have diminished. In counties like Colombia, our partnership is becoming more mature, with the Colombians beginning to export capabilities and lessons learned throughout the region. Our success in Colombia has helped establish a growing partner in the region, and I’m interest in hearing how that relationship is progressing.
“While most of the region is fairly stable, we continue to see instability in places such as Venezuela and Honduras. I am concerned that instability in these countries could have a ripple effect on other countries in the region and I am interested in hearing your perspective on this point.
“General Jacoby, NORTHCOM and NORAD continue to face challenges that seem to grow each year. Your homeland defense mission remains synonymous with national security with all its myriad aspects, and is complicated by the troubles facing Mexico to the south and increasing access to the Arctic in the North. The support your command provides to civil authorities remains critical to how we deal with natural and man-made disasters and it is imperative that that complex system works smoothly in a crisis.
“In NORTHCOM’s area of responsibility, missile defense remains an important element of our defense against the growing missile threats from North Korea and Iran. Most recently the last interceptor tests have been back-to-back failures, raising serious questions about the reliability and credibility of the current missile defense system. We cannot continue to spend billions of dollars on a system that does not work. But I believe we can agree that the focus should instead shift to much-need improvements to discrimination, reliability, acquisition processes and cost-effectiveness to make sure we have a workable system. In support of NORTHCOM’s mission in this area, we need better sensors and better kill vehicles as an effective foundation to counter a limited missile threat.
“In addition to investments in missile defense, we must also support intelligence capabilities to increase our options to prevent missile attacks, so as not to rely disproportionally on our last line of defense.
“On a topic that touches both of your commands, I’d be interested in how the recent capture of drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman will impact your work moving forward. The capture is a good example of our cooperation with Mexico and represents a serious hit to one of the most notorious drug cartels in the region.
“Again, thank you all for your time.”