U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, offered opening remarks this morning at a SASC hearing to receive testimony on the posture of U.S. Africa and U.S. Southern Commands.
As prepared for delivery:
Good morning. The Committee meets today to receive testimony on United States Africa Command and Southern Command. I welcome our witnesses and thank them for their service:
- General Thomas Waldhauser, Commander of U.S. Africa Command;
- Admiral Craig Faller, Commander of U.S. Southern Command.
General Waldhauser, this is likely your last hearing before this committee. I want to thank you for your nearly 43 years of dedicated service to the nation.
It’s also fitting to note that 12 years ago yesterday—February 6, 2007—President George W. Bush directed the creation of U.S. Africa Command. It was the right decision and AFRICOM continues to play a vital role in the defense of our nation.
This Committee’s top priority is to ensure the effective implementation of the National Defense Strategy, which identifies competition with China and Russia as “the central challenge to U.S. prosperity and security.”
Both AFRICOM and SOUTHCOM should be viewed as key fronts in our global campaign to compete with China and Russia. In both of your areas of responsibility, China and Russia are increasingly active, using economic and military means to expand their influence and challenge U.S. interests.
And while I agree with the need to prioritize our efforts against China and Russia, we cannot take pressure off of terrorist groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda. Despite operational setbacks, these groups continue to control territory in Africa and still pose a very real threat to U.S. interests and our partners.
Lastly, while the challenges in your areas of responsibility are on the rise, both of your commands have long suffered from resource shortfalls. I look to you to explain how these shortfalls increase risk to your forces and impact your ability to execute the National Defense Strategy.