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September 23, 2021

Inhofe Questions Van Ovost About Afghanistan, Key TRANSCOM Contract at Nomination Hearing

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today questioned General Jacqueline Van Ovost at a SASC hearing. Sen. Inhofe asked Van Ovost, who is nominated to be Commander, United States Transportation Command (TRANSCOM), about her role in the noncombatant evacuation operation in Afghanistan and about TRANSCOM’s Global Household Goods Contract process. 

Inhofe: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The Biden administration’s horrific attempt at a successful withdrawal from Afghanistan went down in my opinion, and the opinion of many others, as one of the biggest blunders in American military history. However, it's given us a great opportunity, through your efforts, I've seen, in training and lessons that we have learned. As commander of Air Mobility Command and the Air Component Commander for TRANSCOM, you oversaw operations with over 250 military aircraft. In fact, my staff told me that they had the number of sorties were at 2,627 — I had them go back and check the accuracy of that. It’s just a huge undertaking of what went on. It included C-17s, C-130s, refuelers, KC-135s, KC-10s, maybe even the 46. But it was huge. General, in AMC’s planning for the withdrawal, and specifically for the airlift, what were the limiting factors in when and what military advice did you give to your senior leaders on how to withdraw — and how a withdrawal would be conducted?

Van Ovost: Senator, I am proud of how the Airmen, the Air Mobility Command, executed this campaign in such a dynamic situation.

Inhofe: You know, I think they’re probably still riding high on this. They did — you all did such a great effort.

Van Ovost: Yes, Senator, and while my advice was limited to the mission I was tasked with, which was airlift out of Kabul international airfield, my goal was to ensure that airlift and our supporting ground operations were never a constraint for the Central Command commander, and due to the heroic efforts of our Airmen, we achieved that goal.

Inhofe: Well, that is great, and that is really a job well done. I mentioned in my opening statement where we are right now in this global household goods contract, and the fact that I'm hoping we’re in a position now to get this behind us. It’s my understanding it’s now being competed again, with an award date of this coming month. So what was your feeling about it? Do you believe a new system is needed? Do you believe that TRANSCOM’s approach is the best path forward? How do you feel about it now?

Van Ovost: Senator, you've hit upon a key quality-of-life issue for our service members and their families, and it's clear that the current program is really incapable of consistently providing that quality capacity, accountability and transparency that our members and family members deserve. If confirmed, I will ensure as I assess the contract, as we move forward in letting that contract, that all the mechanisms are in place for the single move manager to be able to effectively execute and meet the standards that our members and families deserve.

Inhofe: And we'll get it behind us.

Van Ovost: Yes, Senator.

Inhofe: Thank you.

Click here to watch Inhofe’s opening remarks.

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