WASHINGTON, D.C. – During yesterday’s Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) nomination hearing, senior committee member U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) questioned nominees Dr. Kathleen Hicks and Derek Chollet on the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (GITMO), the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), and international training programs. Hicks is nominated to be Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, and Chollet is nominated to be Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs.
Inhofe said, “While today’s nomination hearing was encouraging, I expect both individuals to uphold their pledge to openly communicate with Congress on these and other important issues. If confirmed, it is imperative that they inform and work with Congress as this government makes critical decisions pertinent to our military, GITMO, AFRICOM, and international training and equipping programs.”
On Hicks, Inhofe said, “One of the nation’s great assets is the facility at GITMO. Yet, in the last four years this Administration has failed to use this facility to its maximum potential. President Obama and his administration continue to try and close GITMO to include potentially transferring Taliban detainees to Qatar with no guarantee these terrorists will not rejoin the fight against America and its allies. The continued release of these terrorist detainees from GITMO, the increased recidivism rate of released GITMO detainees and the fact there have been no new detainee arrivals since 2008 has increased the risk to our national security. I appreciate Dr. Hicks’ commitment to consider my concerns about the future of GITMO, but I have no illusion that her boss, President Obama, will do anything but try to close this valuable facility. Additionally, I appreciated her stated dedication to ensure our security assistance and engagement programs like train-and-equip and international military education (IMET) continue.”
On Chollet, Inhofe said, “As we continue to trim our nation’s defense budget, it is crucial we do not forget about the continent of Africa. As terrorism continues to spread across this region of the world, the needs of AFRICOM continue to grow. We must meet these needs in order to provide much-needed security and stability to vulnerable regions of Africa. This includes providing adequate resources to AFRICOM as they continue to provide training and assistance on the African continent. It is also important to understand the significance of building relationships and the importance of having AFRICOM headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, and, one day, on the continent of Africa. I welcome his commitment to consider the issues I raised about AFRICOM and I look forward to helping him put them into action.”