Thursday, December 10, 2015


To receive testimony on increasing effectiveness of military operations

(As Prepared for Delivery)

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.  I’d like to join you in thanking our distinguished panel of witnesses for their willingness to appear today to discuss ways that we may reform the Department of Defense to improve the effectiveness of military operations.  Each of today’s witnesses bring a unique perspective to this discussion - whether having directed a geographic combatant command like Admiral Stavridis, led a military service like General Schwartz, or rigorously studied military operations and organizations from an academic standpoint like Dr. Lamb.  We have much to learn from your collective experiences and insights.

On Tuesday, our hearing highlighted the need to improve the development and production of military strategy, including the Quadrennial Defense Review or “QDR.”  As former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy said, “Over the years the QDR has become a routinized, bottom-up staff exercise that includes hundreds of participants and consumes many thousands of man-hours, rather than a top-down leadership exercise that sets clear priorities, makes hard choices and allocates risk.” 

I hope that today’s witnesses will build upon that discussion by helping us to understand what organizational, process, and cultural changes may be necessary to better implement military strategy.  Specifically, I hope our witnesses will focus on:

  • The role and authorities assigned to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, including whether the Chairman should be placed in the chain of command for military operations;
  • Improving the employment and synchronization of military capabilities through possible structural reforms to our combatant commands, defense agencies, and field activities; and
  • The potential benefits of adopting organizational changes, including consolidation of staff elements and the creation of “cross-functional teams”, to achieve efficiencies and provide senior civilian and military leaders with more impactful and timely recommendations.

Lastly, in previous hearings, several of our witnesses have rightly observed that enhancing the effectiveness of our military operations and better capitalizing upon the gains achieved through such operations may require changes to our interagency national security structure and processes as well.  This point was made last month by Jim Locher, the lead Committee staff member on the 1986 Goldwater-Nichols defense reforms, when he told the Committee:

“No matter how well you transform the Department of Defense, it is still going to be troubled by an interagency system that is quite broken and the problems that confront this nation and national security require an interagency response.  The days of the Department of Defense being able to execute a national security mission by itself are long gone, and we do not have the ability to integrate the expertise and capacities of all of the government agencies that are necessary.”

It is important that we always keep in mind that true national security involves much more than the military capabilities of the Department of Defense.  While I believe it is appropriate to start with the issues solely within the jurisdiction of this Committee, I look forward to working with other relevant committees to address our shared interest in improving the broader interagency national security structure and processes.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.