February 02, 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 nomination of Kath Hicks to serve as Deputy Secretary of Defense.
As Prepared for Delivery:
Dr. Hicks. I don't have to tell you that the world today is more dangerous than ever before in our lifetime. The greatest threat to U.S. national security comes from China and Russia; that won't change just because we've got a new Administration.
The 2018 National Defense Strategy, the bipartisan National Strategy Commission (of which you were a member), the Seante Armed Services Committee, Chairman Reed, and I — we've all endorsed this foundational concept.
If we are serious about the security of our nation — and I believe that you are — we must ensure a strong national defense that will deter China and Russia.
Our other top order of business must be making sure our troops have the resources they need to achieve our strategy. Over the past decade, as a result of the Budget Control Act and sequestration, the U.S. military lost $550 billion of planned spending.
Readiness plummeted. Shortsighted cuts across the Pentagon drove talented service members to leave, and rendered Pentagon civilians unable to conduct critical oversight activities.
As you’ve pointed out when you helped put together the National Defense Commission report, “…civilian voices have been relatively muted on issues at the center of U.S. defense and national security policy, undermining the concept of civilian control.”
Modernization was put on hold, while our adversaries rapidly jumped out ahead of us in developing technologies, like hypersonics and artificial intelligence, to exploit our vulnerabilities.
For decades, we starved investments in our nuclear weapons and infrastructure. In stark contrast, China and Russia expanded their stockpiles, building thousands of additional missiles to threaten the U.S. and our allies.
The 2018 NDS — and several years of stable funding —were the course correction we needed. Our military has started to recover. But there’s still a long way to go.
President Biden must replace the $550 billion of defense funding cut by sequestration, and Congress will need to work with him to do so.
This investment is the down payment required to maintain our position against China and Russia over the next several decades.
It will give our military leaders the predictability and certainty they’ve asked us for time and time again, in this very room.
Working with the soon-to-be Chairman, I will continue to fight for this.
Look, Dr. Hicks, our nation needs strong civilian leadership at the Pentagon. You and Secretary Austin must tackle these problems head on if we hope to preserve and defend our way of life. We cannot afford to backslide.