Inhofe Opening Statement at SASC Central Command, Africa Command Posture Hearing

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), today delivered the following opening statement at a full committee hearing to receive testimony on U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) and U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) in review of the Defense Authorization Request for Fiscal Year 2015 and the Future Years Defense Program:

As prepared for delivery:

I’ve spent a lot of time recently talking about the growing threats to U.S. national security around the world.  Nowhere are these threats more pronounced than in the areas of responsibility of our two witnesses today.

The men and women of AFRICOM and CENTCOM are tasked with confronting some of the most vexing threats that our nation faces.  However, massive cuts to the national security budget are making their jobs even more difficult.

This is particularly true in AFRICOM.  General Rodriguez, your area of responsibility encompasses military-to-military relations with 54 countries and spans over 12 million square miles. 

These countries are confronted with a wide array of challenges, ranging from a growing Al-Qaeda threat to feeble governments and rising violence.

Despite a surplus of challenges across the continent, AFRICOM suffers from persistent resource shortfalls.  It has no assigned forces, lacks sufficient ISR and mobility support, and relies on manpower from the other combatant commands. 

Additionally, a lack of basing and strategic access to the continent continues to hamper your ability to engage with partners and respond to crises and contingencies in a timely manner.

General Austin, the challenges you face are no less daunting.  Iran continues to pose one of the greatest threats to our national security. Their toxic influence and terrorist proxies are spreading across the Middle East and into Africa, Europe and the Pacific. 

Additionally, Iran is developing more complex anti-access and area-denial weapons. And current nuclear negotiations have done nothing to halt their pursuit of an ICBM and nuclear weapons capability. 

In Afghanistan, President Karzai’s refusal to sign a Bilateral Security Agreement—despite support by the Afghan people—has cast doubt about the future of  Afghanistan’s security, stability and progress.

We must ensure that decisions about the future of our mission in Afghanistan post-2014 are based on sound strategy and the facts on the ground.  We can’t afford to repeat the mistakes from Iraq and draw down too many troops too fast. 

Our military men and women have made enormous sacrifices over the past twelve years. We can’t allow their sacrifice to be in vain. There’s too much at stake for our national security and the stability of the region.