December 05, 2019
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, gave opening remarks this morning at a SASC hearing on strategic threats, ongoing challenges and implementation of the National Defense Strategy.
As Prepared for Delivery:
The Senate Armed Services Committee meets today to receive testimony on strategic threats, ongoing challenges, and National Defense Strategy implementation.
Two years ago, the National Defense Strategy, or NDS, shifted America’s military focus to a new era of great-power competition, especially with China and Russia. One year ago, the NDS Commission Report, provided a bipartisan blueprint for effective implementation of the NDS.
Both the NDS and the NDS Commission Report were welcomed by this committee with broad bipartisan support and they demand we make tough choices to achieve urgent change at significant scale. We must reshape our military, reform the Department of Defense, and recommit to strengthening alliances and attracting new partners.
It is the top priority of this committee to ensure that we turn the NDS from a strategy on paper into a strategy in action.
The good news is we’ve made progress toward this goal. The bad news is that we’ve got a long way to go, especially as we look ahead to the FY21 budget request.
When it comes to tough choices, we’ve heard a lot from Pentagon leaders about what they’re doing to implement the NDS. I’d like to hear more about what they’re not doing. What missions have been cut, or are now lower priority? What programs are being eliminated or trimmed to free up resources for priority capabilities?
We’ve also heard a lot from Pentagon leaders about prioritizing China and Russia. But with 14,000 troops deployed to the Middle East since May, we must ask if the urgent is once again outweighing the important. I’d like to hear from the Department about how it is prioritizing China and Russia in new ways since the NDS came out. I’d also like to hear more about achieving the “more resource-sustainable approach” in the Middle East called for in the NDS.
NDS implementation is not just a job for the Pentagon. It’s a job for Congress. But once again, we have failed to pass a defense authorization or appropriations bill on time. That’s bare minimum required to support our troops. We can and must do better.
Finally, the Pentagon and Congress need to do a better job including the American people in this conversation. During the Cold War, presidents of both parties sustained a “containment” strategy against the Soviet Union for decades. One of the biggest reasons for this was that the American people understood the scale and urgency of the challenges we faced. And they were willing to do what was required to meet them. We must strive to earn that kind of support again.