Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  I’d like to join you in welcoming our nominees and thanking them for their willingness to serve in positions with great responsibility in the Department of Defense.  I’d also like to thank your family members, many of whom are here today, who will play an important role by supporting you through the challenges you will undoubtedly face.

Mr. Trachtenberg, if confirmed as the Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, you will play a key role in supporting Department of Defense efforts to confront what has been termed the “four plus one” primary threats facing our nation today – namely Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, and the enduring non-state challenge of violent extremism.

While we continue to make steady military progress against ISIS – including last weekend’s recapture of Mosul by Iraqi Security Forces with U.S. and other coalition assistance – the administration has yet to articulate a broader whole of government strategy for addressing the issues that gave rise to ISIS in the first place.  Unfortunately, we similarly suffer from an absence of clear strategic guidance related to other national security and diplomatic challenges – including the civil war in Syria, expansion of Taliban territorial control in Afghanistan, Russian active measures and other malign activities, Chinese bullying of its neighbors in the Asia-Pacific region, and aggressive weapons development activities by Iran and North Korea.  Mr. Trachtenberg, if confirmed, you will be deeply involved in the formulation of strategies and plans to address these threats and the committee looks forward to hearing your views on these issues.

The Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict or ASD SOLIC is tasked with being the “Service Secretary-like” civilian in the Department with responsibility for the oversight of and advocacy for Special Operations Forces or SOF.  Last year’s National Defense Authorization Act included important reforms designed to strengthen this mandate.  Implementing these reforms while balancing other policy responsibilities for counterterrorism, information operations, counternarcotics, building partner capacity, and humanitarian operations will be no easy task.  Mr. West, we are all interested in how you plan to approach the challenges of this position, if confirmed.

Mr. McCarthy, you have been nominated to be the Under Secretary of the Army.  It is a position of great responsibility, and I appreciate your willingness to return to public service.   The Army faces many challenges today, including improving full spectrum readiness, investing in effective and efficient modernization programs, while at the same, continually deploying soldiers around the world.  Mr. McCarthy, your experience both within the Army, including in combat, in the senior echelons of the Pentagon, and in private industry, give you a unique perspective on how to solve these challenges.  I look forward to hearing your views on these complex issues. 

Mr. Stimson, if confirmed as the Navy General Counsel, you will face significant legal challenges as the chief legal officer of the Department of the Navy advising the Secretary, Under Secretary and Assistant Secretaries of the Navy and their staffs.  The Navy General Counsel works closely with the Navy Judge Advocate General and the Staff Judge Advocate to the Commandant of the Marine Corps.  The General Counsel’s office is primarily responsible for providing advice with respect to corporate issues facing the Navy, including acquisition law, business and commercial law, real and personal property law, civilian personnel and labor law, fiscal law, environmental law, intellectual property law, intelligence and national security law, law pertaining to cyberspace, ethics and standard of conduct, and Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act Law.  I am interested in hearing how you will balance these issues.

Again, thank you all for your willingness to serve our nation.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.