Mr. Chairman, distinguished members of the subcommittee, I welcome the opportunity to discuss our strategy in Afghanistan and to place it within the context of our overall strategic position.
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In order to assess the value of any particular piece of equipment or form of training, it is necessary to have a sense of what tasks the armed forces will be asked to perform, and where they will be operating in the years to come. During the 45 year-long Cold War the U.S. military focused primarily on structuring, training and equipping itself for conventional combat against the Soviet Union and its allies on the European continent and at sea.
Mr. Chairman, Congressman Issa, and distinguished members of the Committee, it is my personal honor to appear before you today to discuss the MV-22 Osprey.
The three challenges confronting the U.S. military today—the war against Islamist terrorist elements, the prospect of nuclear-armed rogue states, and the potential rise of China as a military rival—differ greatly from those confronted during the Cold War era. Nor do they resemble the threats planned for in the immediate post-Cold War era, when minor powers like Iran, Iraq and North Korea which lacked weapons of mass destruction and were assumed to present challenges not all that different from Iraq during the First Gulf War.
As we begin a new administration, we are sobered by the security challenges that have emerged in recent years: the attacks of 9/11; the deployment of U.S. troops to Iraq and Afghanistan; the erosion of barriers to nuclear proliferation; and the rapid rise of China and resurgence of Russia. Not surprisingly, there is considerable interest in what organizational changes the new administration might make in order to better meet these challenges. However, before undertaking such an enterprise, the new administration would be wise to craft a sound national security strategy to guide and inform any executive branch reorganization. Anything less would be putting the cart before the horse.
SOF have figured prominently in U.S. military operations since 2001 and have become central to the implementation of U.S. national defense strategy with respect to the war against violent Islamist extremism, which is likely to be increasingly fought indirectly and in countries with which the United States is not at war. During the unconventional war against the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan in Operation Enduring Freedom, SOF played a pivotal role by integrating U.S. precision air power with the operations of irregular Afghan opposition forces to achieve rapid regime change and eliminate al Qaeda’s primary sanctuary.