Opening Statement by Ranking Member Jack Reed, SASC Hearing on the Asia-Pacific Theatre
Opening Statement of U.S. Senator Jack Reed
Ranking Member, Senate Armed Services Committee
(As prepared for delivery)
Dirksen Senate Office Building
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
To receive testimony on U.S. defense policy issues pertaining to the Asia-Pacific theater.
Good Morning. Let me join Senator McCain in welcoming our witnesses. I am glad that we are going to have two hearings this week on this very important region of the world. While much of the public discussion in recent months has focused on the Middle East and Russia and Ukraine, it is critical that we not lose sight of the Asia-Pacific theater, home to over half the world’s population, 7 of the 10 largest militaries in the world, and one of our most difficult national security problems – North Korea.
With that, I would like to briefly touch upon some issues that I hope we can cover today.
First, I would like to hear about the strategy and implementation of the Asia rebalance. While most folks agree that the Asia rebalance is an important objective given the role that the Asia Pacific will play in shaping the global economic and security environment in the next century, there has been a lot of discussion of whether the strategy has been sufficiently articulated and resourced. I think the Department has done a good job putting some strategic pieces in place to position us better in the region for the long term, but more must be done. I would like to hear from you about how we can continue to leverage our military resources to ensure the stability and security of this vital region – including how forward stationed military forces support these objectives.
I would also like to hear from you about North Korea and the challenges posed by the Kim regime. Last week, NORTHCOM Commander Admiral Gortney stated that North Korea “has the ability to put a nuclear weapon on a KN-08 and shoot it at the homeland.” While North Korea hasn’t yet tested the KN-08, I believe that the North Korean possession of nuclear weapons and pursuit of intercontinental delivery capabilities pose serious and growing security challenges. I would like to have a frank discussion about the threat posed by the North Korean regime, what influence China might have on that regime, and what North Korea’s intentions are with regard to its nuclear weapons program.
And finally, a few issues on China that I would like to highlight as well. China has been undergoing a massive military modernization process, coupled with its aggressive and destabilizing behavior in the East China and South China seas, there is some cause for concern. With that in mind, how should we engage China? I would also note that there are some positive developments, such as the joint confidence building measures that were agreed to last year between our two nations. I invite your views on China’s role in the peace and stability of the region.
Again, we appreciate you joining us this morning and look forward to your testimony on these and other topics.