Good morning Chairman Levin, Ranking Member Inhofe, and distinguished members of the Committee on Armed Services.
I’m honored to appear before the committee this morning alongside my friend and colleague General Marty Dempsey.
The military is a family business, and I’m pleased to have with me today my wife Mary, who has been a tireless advocate for military families and wounded warriors and their caregivers.
My sons James and Jonathan would have joined us today were they not both at athletic tournaments, but they remind me every day about the importance of honorable service.
It has been my privilege to serve our nation as Vice Chairman for the past two years, and I’m honored to have been asked by the President to serve another term.
If reconfirmed, I’ll continue to provide independent and objective advice to the Chairman, Secretary of Defense, and President on the shape, readiness, health and use of the military instrument of power . . . and to keep this committee informed . . . and to give my best effort within the three portfolios of policy, investment, and people.
In a world growing more rather than less dangerous at the same time we face considerable financial pressure, there are plenty of challenges in all three portfolios.
In the area of policy, as you know we’ve been grappling with a host of threats to our national security interests . . . in Afghanistan, Iran, and the Korean Peninsula; with the continuing evolution of al-Qaeda and its affiliates; in the aftermath of the Arab Awakening in Libya, Syria, Egypt and other nations; and within the increasingly complex cyber domain.
In the investment portfolio, I was first confirmed for this job on the same day the Budget Control Act was passed, and we continue to cope with the financial challenges in its wake that are quietly eroding our readiness to defend our nation today and have so impacted our ability to plan for tomorrow.
In the people portfolio we’re doing our best to manage the enormous uncertainty to which our military and civilian members and their families are being exposed during this budget crisis.
We’re also expending considerable effort to ensure we’re properly caring for our wounded, ill, and injured members . . . as well as finding every lever we can to eliminate the pernicious insider threat of sexual assault.
These are only a few of the challenges we face, and much remains to be done in all three of these portfolios.
If confirmed, I look forward to continuing to serve our great nation in uniform, and pledge to work with the committee on the difficult choices required to achieve a capable and strategically shaped force that can keep America safe and our interests secure.
Let me close by saying how deeply grateful I am for the energy the members of this committee and your able staff bring to all of these issues, and for your long-standing support for our men and women in uniform and our DoD civilians.
I look forward to your questions.