Washington D.C.Air and Land Subcommittee Ranking Member Loretta Sanchez delivered the following statement on behalf of House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith at today’s EUCOM and AFRICOM posture hearing:

“Thank you Mr. Chairman, and I’d like to thank our witnesses for appearing here today.  Admiral Stavridis, General Ham, we look forward to hearing your perspectives on your commands.  I believe that this is the last time either of you will appear before this committee, and I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge your many years of service and thank you for your hard work and dedication.

“European Command remains the single most essential component of our security architecture.  Although the situation has changed, and Europe now helps provide security and forces for international missions instead of requiring forces for defense, Europe’s assistance in Afghanistan, Libya, Mali, and other vital locations remains essential. Going forward, I expect that our partnership with Europe will only continue to grow, even as the alliance and our budget and force posture change.  Admiral Stavridis, I hope that you can outline for us where you see the alliance headed, changes that may be required, and the continuing rationale for our presence in Europe.

“Turning to AFRICOM, events on the continent continue to underscore the point that the US has a strategic interest in stability in Africa.  At this point last year we were talking about the command’s role in the removal of Khadafy in Libya.  Today our attention is focused in that same region as AFRICOM supports the French and African operations in Mali against al Queda in the Magreb and associated forces.  Boko Haram in Nigeria has been increasingly deadly and is actively looking to join with like-minded violent extremist to achieve an even wider impact and across the continent. In another resource rich but very bloody part of the world, we continue to help our African partners in a hunt for Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army to bring that reign of terror to an end. 

“In somewhat brighter news, however, our method for helping our African partners deal with the very serious threat of al Shabbab in Somalia is starting to pay real dividends.  Encouragingly, in January the United States recognized the Somali government in Mogadishu for the first time since 1991.  That method could very well be the model for future engagements in West Africa, and around the globe. 

“But our interests go beyond the pressing security concerns.   Let’s be clear that AFRICOM’s good work will be for nothing if we don’t have a robust corresponding diplomacy and development strategy to support human rights, justice and freedom for commerce that address the underlying causes of instability.

Again, I would like to thank the witnesses.  I yield back.”