Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I also welcome our nominees this morning.  Thank you for your willingness to serve our nation, and also let me express our gratitude to your family members who are here today and whose support to you throughout your careers is so important.

The nominees before the Committee today have extensive experience and are well-qualified for the positions to which they have been nominated. 

Ms. Kari Bingen, the nominee to be Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, is well-known to this Committee from her work as a senior staffer of the House Armed Services Committee.  The Principal Deputy supports the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, who serves as the principal intelligence advisor to the Secretary of Defense.  The Under Secretary oversees all intelligence and security organizations within the Department of Defense, including the National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office, and the intelligence components of the combatant commands and military services.  Through her work both on the Hill and in the private sector, Ms. Bingen has substantial expertise in the areas of defense policy, strategic forces and space policy.

The nominee to be the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, Mr. Karem, also brings significant experience on defense and foreign policy issues, including as a foreign policy advisor to the Majority Leader and a Middle East expert in the White House to the Vice President.  The Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs serves as the principal advisor to the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and the Secretary of Defense regarding defense policy and strategy for Europe, Russia, the Middle East, Africa and the Western Hemisphere.  The position involves managing critical defense and security relationships with some of our closest allies and partners. 

Mr. Rapuano has had an impressive career in government service and private sector work in the areas of national security, counter-proliferation, and policy analysis.  He has previously served as a senior advisor on issues of homeland security and counter terrorism in the President George W. Bush White House, the Department of Energy and Department of Defense.  Mr. Rapuano also served in the Marine Corps and, as a Marine Corps Reservist, served on the Iraq Survey Group.  He has been nominated to serve as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Global Security, a position in which he would be charged with developing policy and overseeing planning for countering weapons of mass destruction; cyber; space; missile defense; defense continuity and mission assurance; Defense Support of Civil Authorities; and the homeland defense activities of the Department of Defense.

If confirmed, all three of these nominees will be instrumental on a number of cross-cutting issues within the Department, including various aspects of a strategy to defeat the ISIS threat and countering the Russian malign influence threat to the integrity of our political institutions and those of our international partners.  The committee looks forward to hearing your views on these and other complex issues.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.