Opening Statement by Ranking Member Reed at SASC Hearing on New Dept. of Defense Nominations
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and let me join you in welcoming the nominees and thank them for their willingness to serve in these positions of great responsibility at the Department of Defense. I would also like to thank the families of the nominees for the vital role they play in supporting your efforts and those of our service men and women.
Mr. Behler, you are nominated to serve in the important role of Director of Operational Test and Evaluation. If confirmed, you will have the unique job to make sure that the systems that we deploy to our warfighters are operationally effective and suitable. You will be given the special authority to report independently to this committee – and tell us the truth about how effective weapons systems and platforms really are, and we encourage you to do that on all occasions. You will also be facing all the same organizational and resource challenges that the others here are facing – while trying to help the Department of Defense move faster in a rapidly changing threat environment, and while trying to test new kinds of systems in areas like space, cybersecurity, and laser systems. I look forward to hearing how you intend to address these challenges and work with us to ensure that our warfighters get the best possible equipment in the field.
Dr. Winslow, you have extensive medical experience, including experience in private sector health care, academic medicine, public and university hospitals, community hospitals, the pharmaceutical industry as well as military medicine. As a member of the Louisiana and Delaware National Guard, you served as a flight surgeon and commanded medical units. Your military service includes several combat and operational deployments, including multiple deployments to Operation Provide Comfort, Operation Northern Watch, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom. This broad experience in all the varied aspects of medical practice should prepare you well for the position of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, where you will oversee a major change in focus in the military health care system to a system focused on medical readiness.
Dr. Winslow, we are all very proud of the outstanding medical care provided to servicemembers wounded and injured on the battlefield. Combat casualties have been significantly reduced because of the excellent care delivered by our military medical providers. We trust that, if confirmed, under your leadership, this quality of care will be maintained and improved.
Mr. Modly and Mr. Geurts are nominated to serve in leadership positions in the Navy, and if confirmed, they will be faced with a number of critical issues.
The Navy and Marine Corps have historically had to deal with the day-to-day strains of deployment and high operating tempos. With everyone’s concerns about supporting the readiness of our deployed and non-deployed forces, efforts in managing improvements in the force and its supporting structure will be crucial. As a first priority, it seems to me that the Navy leadership should focus on improving readiness of the existing forces.
However, the Navy leadership will not be able to focus on readiness alone. We will need to grow the Navy to respond to the Force Structure Assessment released by the Chief of Naval Operations late last year. As complicated as it might be to increase the number of ships in the fleet, even a ship count increase will not solve the problem. The CNO released a paper earlier this year, titled “The Future Navy,” in which the CNO said, in part: “more platforms are necessary but not sufficient. The Navy must also incorporate new technologies and new operational concepts.” His emphasis on new technologies and operational concepts are challenges that you both will face if confirmed.
Again, I would like to thank all of you for your willingness to serve our nation and I look forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.