9/26/2017 — 

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  I also want to welcome General Joseph Dunford this morning, and thank him for his outstanding service to this nation.  General Dunford is joined by his wife, Ellyn, and his son Patrick.  I would also like to acknowledge General Dunford’s other children, Joe and Kathleen, who were not able to join us today.  On behalf of our Committee, we thank the entire Dunford family for their continued sacrifice and support. 

Under the leadership of Chairman McCain, this Committee has maintained a robust hearing schedule focused on the most pressing threats and challenges facing our armed forces.  Our Committee has heard from the most senior political leaders in the Department, the highest echelons of the military, and distinguished outside experts.  Time and again these hearings have underscored that the United States is faced with a myriad of challenges that offer no quick or easy solutions and require adroit military leadership.   

During General Dunford’s tenure as Chairman, he has provided sound military counsel and demonstrated a deep understanding of the national security threats our nation must address.  As Chairman, General Dunford has made it a priority to keep this Committee fully informed on the Department’s policy decisions impacting our armed forces and changes to our military strategy to counter the risks posed by our adversaries.  While this Committee may not always agree with General Dunford’s views, he has been honest and conducted himself with integrity.  Therefore, I believe he should be reappointed to serve as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.   

As we pause to consider the state of the world today, General Dunford’s professionalism and commitment to duty have served him well.  This is not the first time in our nation’s history that we have had to confront multiple threats from abroad, but it is an incredibly dangerous and uncertain time.  North Korea’s nuclear missile program poses an immediate and grave national security threat, and heightened tensions on the peninsula are a deep cause for concern.  The global order established by the United States following World War II is under siege by a revanchist Russia determined to reassert its influence around the world.  China continues its saber-rattling in the Asia-Pacific region by undermining the freedom of navigation and using economic coercion of its smaller, more vulnerable neighbors.  Iran continues their aggressive weapons development activities, including ballistic missile development efforts, as well as other destabilizing activities in the region.  Finally, our military has been consumed by two prolonged wars against violent extremist groups like ISIS that have sapped readiness and precluded our military personnel from training for full spectrum operations. 

As we grapple with these threats, we must also be mindful that our President continues to show a lack of in-depth knowledge or nuance in foreign policy and defense matters.  It had been my sincere hope that the magnitude of the office, coupled with the enormous challenges we face, would have encouraged the President to be more judicious with his comments and thoughtful with his actions.  Unfortunately, that has not been the case.  To date, our foreign policy has been predicated on alienating longtime allies, discounting the value of international organizations and our global commitments, and retreating from our leadership role in the world.  While at the same time, decisions on our defense posture and complicated military personnel issues are promulgated by presidential tweet.  Such trends lend more uncertainty to already dangerous times and, I believe, the risks of miscalculation and unintended consequences have never been higher.

Resolute leadership at the highest echelons of our military is a necessity, now more than ever.  I commend General Dunford for the steady hand he has demonstrated in guiding the Joint Chiefs during his tenure as Chairman, and for the sterling example he has set for all those that wear the uniform.

 

Thank you, again, General Dunford for your willingness to serve our nation.