Thursday, March 18, 2010

House Armed Services Committee: Hearing on the FY 2011 Budget Requests from the U.S. Southern Command and the U.S. Northern Command

House Armed Services Committee: Hearing on the FY 2011 Budget Requests from the U.S. Southern Command and the U.S. Northern Command
Ike Skelton, Chairman
March 18, 2010

Opening Statement of Chairman Ike Skelton
Hearing on the FY 2011 Budget Requests from the U.S. Southern Command and the U.S. Northern Command

Washington, D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) delivered the following opening statement during today’s hearing on the Fiscal Year 2011 budget requests from the U.S. Southern Command and the U.S. Northern Command:

“The committee will come to order. Today’s hearing is part of our annual series of posture hearings with Combatant Commanders. I am very pleased to welcome General Gene Renuart of the U.S. Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command and General Doug Fraser of the U.S. Southern Command. General Renuart and General Fraser, welcome.

“I want to express my gratitude and appreciation to all the servicemen and women whom you each command. They provide an invaluable service to our country, and we are in their debt.

“We are fortunate to have the U.S. Northern Command and U.S. Southern Command represented here today. In many respects, these two commands share more than a common boundary. They take on many similar types of intractable challenges and work closely with their partners to provide for our region’s security and stability.

“Recent events, including the earthquake that devastated parts of Haiti and the drug cartel-related violence near our border in Mexico, remind us of the many important and varied missions of these commands.

“In today’s hearing, I look forward to our witnesses’ testimony on these missions and the issues that they face.

“Starting in the NORTHCOM area of responsibility, I would like to hear from General Renuart about what progress we are making in helping our Mexican neighbors combat narco-syndicates and border violence. I also look forward to hearing about how NORTHCOM is continuing to work to improve coordination with local, state and federal authorities.

“In addition, I would like to hear about how the recent Quadrennial Defense Review recommendations will impact NORTHCOM. In particular, please address the recommendations for faster, more flexible consequence management forces and improved awareness in the Arctic region.

“Turning to the Southern Command, I would like to commend General Fraser and all those men and women at SOUTHCOM for their tremendous efforts in Haiti in conjunction with Operation UNIFIED RESPONSE. Under the command of SOUTHCOM, U.S. military forces quickly responded to the urgent needs of the Haitian people and allowed them to immediately start the relief and recovery process after the devastating earthquake that struck their capitol city of Port au Prince. SOUTHCOM played a critical role in the inter-agency effort in Haiti and I am very proud of all those involved. I am also interested to hear General Fraser’s thoughts on the future of Haiti and what SOUTHCOM’s role and requirements there will be.

“I continue to be very concerned about the flow of illegal narcotics from South and Central America into the United States as well as reports of an increase in trafficking to Europe and the Middle East. I also welcome any comments that General Fraser may have on these issues.

“In addition, I would like to hear a frank assessment of the status of our relationships with militaries and governments in the SOUTHCOM region. Please address how the current state of our relationships impacts our ability to conduct counter-narcotics and other operations.
More broadly speaking, I would like to hear from both of our witnesses today on ideas you may have for improving your command’s ability to execute its missions.

“Once again, I thank our witnesses for being here. The continued efforts of their commands are critical to the security and stability of our nation and the region.
I now turn to my good friend, the Ranking Member, Buck McKeon, for any comments he might care to make.


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