July 30, 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 John E. Hyten, to be Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
As prepared for delivery:
Good morning. The Committee meets today to consider the nomination of General John E. Hyten to be Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Thank you for being here today and for your decades of dedicated service to the country.
The world is more dangerous now than it’s been in my lifetime—and after years of sustained armed conflict, underfunding, and budget uncertainty—our military has fallen behind our competitors in readiness and key capabilities.
Without adequate, sustained, and predictable funding, all of the work we do on this committee to implement the National Defense Strategy would be for nothing.
That’s why I thank President Trump and congressional leaders for reaching a bipartisan budget agreement—it is critical to support our military, our veterans, and their families.
While I would have liked to see more funding for defense, at the end of the day, this budget agreement provides minimal growth to give our military what it needs and will allow the Department of Defense to plan strategically for the future.
I need to tell you where I stand on the allegations that have been levied against General Hyten. Allegations that have been bandied about in the press, with little regard for the truth. This committee has held five executive sessions, studied over a thousand pages of investigative records, and reviewed statements of more than 50 witnesses. The members of the committee have devoted countless hours to reviewing General Hyten’s service and his nomination through a fair, thorough, and methodical process. We have done this with respect for the privacy of all involved.
Each Senator was able to ask questions, receive answers, review documents and other material, listen to testimony, conduct analysis, and express their opinions. Today’s hearing is the next logical step in the deliberate, disciplined, and detailed process this committee uses to determine the suitability of a nominated candidate.
General Hyten, you have been leading STRATCOM with discipline and integrity for the last two and a half years, and you served honorably in the top leadership positions at Air Force Space Command in the four years before that. I commend the willingness of you and your family to continue your outstanding service to our military and to our country.
Addressing these allegations is critical, not just for you, General Hyten, but for every nominee going forward. This committee takes allegations of sexual assault very seriously—it is unacceptable. But this committee will not act on unproven allegations—allegations that do not withstand the close scrutiny of this committee’s process.
As we form a new United States Space Force, we need your strategic insights and guidance to move this key initiative forward—including how to improve space acquisition.
British Army Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery said: “If we lose the war in the air we lose the war and we lose it quickly.” We can say the same about space now.
When I say the world is more dangerous now than it’s been in my lifetime, one of the areas I’m talking about is the proliferation of ballistic missile and cruise missile capability. Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea use missiles as strategic leverage—and we need strategic imagination and strong leadership to counter this growing threat.
As former Defense Secretary Mattis said, we need urgent change at significant scale to implement the National Defense Strategy. I could not agree more.