Chair McCollum Statement at United States Central Command Hearing (CLOSED)

2021-04-21 14:16

Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN), Chair of the Defense Subcommittee, delivered the following remarks at the Subcommittee's hearing on the United States Central Command (CLOSED):

The Subcommittee will receive testimony on the posture of U.S. Central Command.  

Our witness is CENTCOM Commander, General Kenneth McKenzie. General McKenzie, welcome back to the Subcommittee.  We look forward to your testimony.  

Today’s hearing comes at an important time for U.S. policy and involvement in the region. 

Last week, President Biden announced that U.S. troops are coming home after two decades of war in Afghanistan. I support the President’s decision. Twenty years after September 11th, 2001, it is time for the Afghan people to take ownership over their country's future, and I am pleased that U.S. diplomatic and development support will continue. The President also stated that U.S. support for the Afghan Security Forces would continue, and that our counterterrorism capabilities in the region would be reorganized to prevent the reemergence of terrorists. 

The Subcommittee has an important funding and oversight role to play in this transition, and we look forward to working with the Department on these issues.   

Iran is another country where we see a policy change. It has been three years since the Trump Administration pulled the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal – without another deal in place. The Biden Administration has begun indirect talks with Iran to bring them back into compliance and is exploring how the U.S. may also rejoin the agreement. We look forward to hearing today how CENTCOM is postured to meet the threat of Iran and how that might change in the event of an agreement.

The war in Yemen is yet another area where we see a shift.  After many years, the U.S. is ending support for offensive operations in Yemen. We know there is no military solution to the conflict in Yemen, and I strongly support President Biden’s renewed efforts to reach a diplomatic resolution to the conflict.

Turning to the conflict in Syria, it is hard to believe that the war has now been going on for ten years, with hundreds of thousands killed and millions of people displaced. The Subcommittee would like an update on the fighting and the humanitarian situation there.   

We also understand from the President’s budget outline that the United States is shifting its focus from the Middle East towards Asia.  

At the same time, we continue to face several national security challenges and threats to stability in the region, including from ISIS and other terrorist groups, and escalating tensions between Pakistan and India. 

We must remain engaged, and to work with our allies and partners on common interests.  

We look forward to hearing how CENTCOM is postured and resourced to address these challenges and to support the 50,000 military personnel serving the CENTCOM area of responsibility. 

117th Congress