U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, gave opening remarks this morning at a SASC nomination hearing for Barbara Barrett to be Secretary of the Air Force and Ryan McCarthy to be Secretary of the Army.
As prepared for delivery:
Good morning. The Committee meets today to consider the nomination of: Mrs. Barbara Barrett to be the Secretary of the Air Force; and Mr. Ryan D. McCarthy to be Secretary of the Army.
Thank you for being here today. We also extend a welcome to your family and friends here today. At the beginning of your testimony we invite you to introduce those who are joining you.
As I have often said, the world is more dangerous now than it’s been in my lifetime. I remember during the Cold War – we knew what they had and they knew what we had – mutual assured destruction meant something.
The National Defense Strategy makes clear that strategic competition with China and Russia—not terrorism— is now our primary national security concern.
China and Russia have passed us in key areas, and are catching up in others. We can no longer take America’s military superiority for granted.
When President Trump assumed office, America’s main focus was counterterrorism. But today, the United States is properly focused on the security challenges that we face.
Years of budget cuts under the Obama administration left our military in a readiness crisis.
The last administration even thought we could cut our defense budget by hundreds of billions of dollars while fighting two wars, and everything would turn out fine.
While Obama cut our defense budget by 25 percent from 2010 to 2015. According to The Economist, China increased military spending by 83 percent from 2009 to 2018.
These budget cuts left our military in a predicament that will take years to fix. Fortunately, we’ve recognized these realities, and begun to change course.
Without sufficient, sustained, and predictable funding, we will squander the progress the military has made over the past two years—improved readiness, increased procurement of critical capabilities, and investment in future technologies.
I see no bigger imperative than this: We now have a two year budget agreement and must pass both the National Defense Authorization Act and the Defense Appropriations bill to ensure timely funding to the Defense Department.
We look forward to hearing your views on the implementation of the National Defense Strategy as it applies to the departments you have been nominated to lead.