July 11, 2019
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 General Mark A. Milley, to be Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
As Prepared for Delivery:
Good morning. The Committee meets today to consider the nomination of General Mark A. Milley to be Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Thank you for being here today, we are grateful for your decades of distinguished service to our nation. We also welcome your family and friends and invite you to introduce your guests during your opening statement.
As I have often said, the world is more dangerous now than it’s been in my lifetime.
When President Trump assumed office, America’s main focus was counterterrorism. But today, America’s security challenges have grown and become more dangerous. 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. And years of budget cuts under the Obama administration left our military in a crisis that will take years to fix.
General Milley, you have been nominated to be the “principal military adviser” to the President, the National Security Council, the Secretary of Defense, and the Congress.
The Chairman plays a unique and influential role in U.S. national security policy. And so, the Chairman has an outsized impact on the state of civil-military relations. Appropriate civil-military relations are essential for a healthy democracy. We look forward to your views on this critical subject.
This committee believes the 2018 National Defense Strategy, and the recommendations made by the National Defense Strategy Commission, provide a solid foundation for how to prioritize our modernization efforts and how to position our global force effectively.
We need a Chairman who can advise civilian leaders on an integrated strategic approach to a wide array of global threats, and the tradeoffs between our strategic priorities. For example, more U.S. troops in the Middle East might help stabilize the region, but at what cost to U.S. interests in Europe and the Indo-Pacific region? How do we sustain focus on the most important theaters, not just the ones in the most recent headlines?
Our civilian leaders must decide the answers to these difficult questions, and the Chairman’s best military advice is a critical input to these decisions. The committee looks forward to your views on balancing our global force posture and modernization efforts as the Department continues to focus on competition with China and Russia.
President Trump has supported the new National Defense Strategy with defense budgets that give our troops the resources they need. And the National Defense Authorization Act, passed by an overwhelming bipartisan majority of 86-8 at the end of June, continues the positive trajectory we are on to repair readiness and restore our military advantage.
But hard work remains. Most importantly, we need a budget agreement. The NDS and a $750 billion budget request will be useless without a budget agreement.