Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. 

Before I turn to today’s witness panel, I must say a few words about the weekend appointment of Anthony Tata to perform the duties of Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Policy.  As everyone here is aware, this Committee had a thorough and thoughtful process for the consideration of the nomination of Mr. Tata to be Undersecretary of Defense for Policy.  We dedicated an entire week of this Committee’s time to him.  But after a closed Executive Session last week, and much discussion, it was determined that there were too many questions and concerns on both sides of the aisle to move forward on his hearing.  Yet after the Senate declined to give its consent to this nomination, the President and the Department of Defense appointed him to perform the duties of a Senate confirmed position. 

Moreover, it is one that actually has a person confirmed for it – Mr. Anderson was confirmed to be the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Policy on June 8th.  The President has the prerogative to appoint individuals to positions – and there are a myriad of unconfirmed positions in the Defense Department and National Security Council for Mr. Tata.  Yet he was put in a position that requires a Senate confirmation that he does not have.  I find this to be an outrageous abuse of Presidential power which not only ignores, but insults, the Senate and this committee.  I believe the Committee should carefully consider an appropriate response to this end-run around our rules and our constitutional prerogatives.

Now I will turn to the nominees before us today.  I thank them for their commitment to service and to their families for their support.

Mr. Whitley, you have been nominated to serve as the Director of the Cost Analysis and Program Evaluation office, or CAPE.  In this important role, we hope you will provide independent and data-driven analysis that gives both Defense Department leadership and Congress real facts on the costs of programs.  We need to make sure that independence and transparency in cost estimation are preserved in the face of pressure from the military services, the senior leadership of the Pentagon and Administration, and the defense industry to support their particular programs.  I would like to hear how you would maintain this transparency.

I would also like to hear how you would evaluate the ever-escalating costs of COVID-related response efforts in the Department, including support to the defense industrial base, and how you would provide independent and apolitical assessments of those costs.

Mr. Manasco, if you are confirmed as Under Secretary of the Air Force, you will face a number of critical issues that confront the service.  Although not at the same level as the Army and Marine Corps, the Air Force has had to support operating tempos that are very high compared to normal.  In doing that, the Air Force leadership has to face the difficult challenge of balancing its modernization needs against the costs of supporting ongoing operations.

If confirmed, you will likely run the day-to-day operations of the Department, but will undoubtedly have other duties, such as taking significant steps to build up the acquisition workforce and maintain confidence in the Air Force acquisition system as we look to expand the size of the Air Force.  The Under Secretary will also have to address the retention of pilots and aircraft maintainers, positions which already have shortfalls that are expected to get worse before they get better.  All of these duties will only be more complicated as you try to maintain high levels of readiness, while leading the airmen and civilians of the Air Force under the challenging conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic.  I am interested in hearing how you plan to balance so many competing demands.

Ms. Pearce, you have been nominated to be the General Counsel for the Department of the Army and you appear to be very well-qualified to serve in this position.  You served as the Acting Army General Counsel for several months and you have also been served as the Principal Deputy General Counsel.  Based on this experience, you know full-well the challenging legal issues the Army faces.

For example, the Army General Counsel is a key advisor on the Army’s efforts to ensure diversity.  Historically, this has been a difficult legal issue that requires a careful balancing of the desire to increase diversity without crossing a Constitutional red-line of giving preference based on ethnicity or gender.

The Army General Counsel will also provide legal and policy advice to the Secretary on Army programs to prevent and respond to the significant issues of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and domestic violence.  We continue to have concerns about senior leader accountability for misconduct, ethical lapses, and for failures of leadership.  As General Counsel, you will have a significant role in advising the Secretary and Army leadership on these matters.

And lastly, Mr. Hardy, you are well-qualified to serve as a judge on the highest military appellate court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.  Your experience as a clerk for a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces has given you a very unique opportunity to learn about the Uniform Code of Military Justice.  Clerking for a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and for a Supreme Court Justice gives you another vantage point from which to assess the military justice system.  And finally, teaching classes on military justice at two elite law schools, Harvard and Notre Dame, keeps you up-to-date on current developments in military law.  In light of this background, I’ll be very interested in your view of the military justice system as it currently stands as well as proposals to reform it.

Again, I thank the nominees for their willingness to serve and I look forward to their testimony.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.