January 19, 2021
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, today delivered opening remarks at the committee’s hearing on the expected nomination of Lloyd Austin to serve as Secretary of Defense.
As Prepared for Delivery:
I don’t have to tell you that the world today is more dangerous than it has been in our lifetime. If confirmed, you will lead a Department of Defense grappling with many difficult challenges.
Throughout my tenure as Chairman, this Committee has focused on ensuring that DOD has the authorities and resources it needs to implement the National Defense Strategy.
As the Secretary of Defense – second in the chain of command – you would be responsible and accountable to the President of the United States and to the American people for the implementation of this strategy.
I look forward to learning how you will drive military readiness for the strategic competition with China and Russia, how you will counter the persistent scourge of terrorism and how you would respond to provocations from rogue nations like Iran and North Korea.
Even worse is that our military’s technological advantage is eroding. Our competitors have gone to school on the American way of war, and they are rapidly modernizing their own militaries to exploit our vulnerabilities.
The nation and the Department of Defense must tackle this problem head on if we hope to preserve and defend our way of life from those who would do us harm.
If confirmed, you would have the honor of leading a team of Americans who represent everything that is noble and best in our nation. Our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, space guardians and our military families do everything we ask of them and more.
Our many defense civil servants also sacrifice day in and day out for our national security and rarely get the credit they deserve.
The Department will require strong civilian leadership. For you to serve as the Secretary of Defense, Congress must provide an exception to the law that prohibits individuals from being appointed if they are within seven years of their military service. Last week, this Committee held a hearing on civilian control of the armed forces, which was illuminating and instructive.
I hope you will share with the committee what actions you will take to ensure your tenure reflects and protects the principle of civilian control of the military, if you are confirmed.
We look forward to hearing your views on these and other important issues.