WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today pressed Defense Secretary Robert Gates at an Armed Services hearing for a commitment to the Army's modernization program, the Future Combat System (FCS), and other military and national security priorities. One component of FCS, the Non- Line of Sight Cannon (NLOS-C), is being integrated outside of Fort Sill in Elgin, OK. Secretary Gates was testifying to the Senate Armed Services Committee on the challenges facing the Department of Defense in FY09 and his priorities for the coming year. Secretary Gates will continue on as Secretary of Defense under President Obama, and this was the first opportunity for the Senate Armed Services Committee to question the defense priorities of the Obama Administration.
"With the FCS program, the Army is undertaking a full-scaled modernization of its weapon systems that is long overdue," Senator Inhofe said. "It is of vital importance that Defense Secretary Gates makes continuing this program one of his top priorities. FCS will enable our military to continue taking the fight to our enemies, across the full spectrum of warfare. Components of FCS are currently in the field and in the hands of our warfighters saving Soldiers’ lives. When I pressed Secretary Gates for a commitment to FCS, he said it had been useful that the Army re-examined the entire FCS program, assessing what capabilities could be accelerated and spun out to the warfighter. He committed to taking a closer look at all other elements of FCS to determine the value of each for ‘hybrid’ complex wars - a mixture of both conventional and unconventional warfare. I will continue fighting to ensure FCS is fully-funded and that Secretary Gates, President Obama and the rest of Congress understand its necessity."
During the hearing, Senator Inhofe asked Secretary Gates for and received a commitment to maintain Department of Defense (DoD) funding for ongoing global train and equip initiatives, such as the International Military Education Training (IMET) and the Building Global Partnerships programs, to include military-to-military, civilian-to-civilian, and small-scale special forces training. "Secretary Gates confirmed the importance of these programs and the positive impact they are having throughout the globe," Inhofe said. "Secretary Gates stated that the current approach, DoD funded programs with the Departments of State and Defense working together, is the way is it should be executed."
Senator Inhofe also took the opportunity to ask Secretary Gates about the newly formed U.S. African Command (AFRICOM). Senator Inhofe has been a strong supporter of AFRICOM, especially its focus on working alongside Africans to improve their preparedness and response to security issues and humanitarian crises, as well as increased governmental accountability and economic development. "Because of my concern that the new African Command will not be adequately resourced or adequately focused on building partnerships among African nations, I asked Secretary Gates to continue prioritizing resources to AFRICOM,” Inhofe said. “Secretary Gates committed to continue to look at the resources being allocated to AFRICOM, ensuring that General Ward can effectively execute its mission. Importantly, Secretary Gates also committed to reassess the location of AFRICOM's headquarters from Stuttgart, Germany to a location possibly in Africa within three years."
Finally, Senator Inhofe expressed to Secretary Gates his strong disapproval of President Obama's commitment to close Guantanamo Bay, stressing that he would strongly oppose any effort to relocate prisoners to American soil, especially sites in Oklahoma. On Friday, January 23, 2009, Senator Inhofe joined other members of the Oklahoma Congressional Delegation to say “No” to terrorists being relocated from Guantanamo to locations in Oklahoma.