Opening Statement by Ranking Member Jack Reed, SASC Hearing on Alternative Approaches to Defense Strategy & Force Structure
OPENING STATEMENT OF U.S. SENATOR JACK REED
RANKING MEMBER, SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE
DIRKSEN SENATE OFFICE BUILDING
Thursday, October 29, 2015
To receive testimony on alternative approaches to defense strategy and force structure
(As Prepared for Delivery)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I’d like to join you in thanking our witnesses for their willingness to appear today to discuss important topics related to the formulation of our defense strategy and the future force structure needed to support that strategy. Each of you brings unique professional experiences and perspectives that will be critical to the Committee’s consideration of these issues. I’d also like to again thank the Chairman for providing the Committee with an opportunity to undertake a deliberate and holistic review of the Defense Department’s organization and structure to help inform any legislative actions that we may decide to take.
Last week, the Committee heard from former Secretary Gates and a panel of former government officials, historians, and academics about the strategic security context and how the Department of Defense is currently postured to address challenges within that context.
As Dr. Gates pointed out last week, “Americans, including all too often our leaders, regard international crises and military conflict as aberrations, when in fact, and sad to say, they are the norm.” Dr. Gates also repeated his conclusion, informed by more than four decades of public service, that our record in predicting the future remains perfect – we have never gotten it right. Because of this, Dr. Gates said, “we must place a premium on acquiring equipment and providing training that give our forces the most versatile possible capabilities across the broadest possible spectrum of conflict.”
Following Dr. Gates testimony, we heard comments from several of last week’s panelists about outdated DOD processes and the way in which our strategic defense guidance – including the National Security Strategy and Quadrennial Defense Review – are developed. Among other things, our witnesses highlighted that these documents consume significant energy and resources and are frequently overtaken by global developments by the time they are published. I would be interested in hearing the views of our witnesses on this matter and if alternative approaches and timelines, many of which are congressionally mandated, should be considered.
Another theme of Dr. Gates’ testimony was the need for strong civilian leadership of the Department, particularly by the Secretary. While this point is self-evident, Dr. Gates emphasized that “satisfying critical operational and battlefield needs cannot depend solely on the intense, personal involvement of the Secretary.” He continued, “The challenge is how to institutionalize a culture and incentive structure that encourages war-time urgency simultaneous with long-term planning and acquisition as a matter of course.” Several of our witnesses today have previously stated that the Department’s organization and processes are outdated, and I would be interested in your suggestions for preserving and enhancing civilian control of our military, while streamlining the bureaucracy to make it more responsive and efficient.
Given the dynamic and evolving security challenges facing our nation today, and nearly 30 years after the passage of the Goldwater-Nichols Act, it is appropriate to ask what missions our military should perform in the future, how that military should be structured and postured to most effectively carry out such tasks, and how we might reform the development of strategic defense guidance to make those products more relevant to planning and budgeting efforts.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.