Chair McCollum Statement at United States European Command Hearing (CLOSED)
Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN), Chair of the Defense Subcommittee, delivered the following remarks at the Subcommittee's hearing on the United States European Command (CLOSED):
This morning, the Subcommittee will receive testimony from U.S. European Command.
Our witness today is EUCOM Commander, General Tod Wolters. General Wolters, welcome back to the Subcommittee. We look forward to your testimony.
The President’s initial budget outline prioritizes the need to counter threats and destabilizing actions from Russia and China. It emphasizes the need to return to working with our allies and partners, particularly those in NATO, to defend democratic values and the rule of law.
Each of these priorities, I believe reinforces the other.
This, too, should be our focus and our witness will describe for us the tools with which EUCOM utilizes to attain these goals.
Russia continues to be the primary driver of destabilizing activities in Europe. After the Russians invaded Crimea and attacked Ukraine in 2014, the Obama Administration requested $1 billion in OCO funds to address the threat Russia posed and each successive Administration has continued to request funds for a total of approximately $27 billion over the last 7 years.
These funds have increased U.S. military presence, expanded training activities, improved and created new infrastructures, prepositioned equipment and built the capabilities of our allies including Poland and the Baltic States.
Our witness will detail if these efforts have improved Ukraine’s ability to defend itself, enhanced the readiness of U.S. troops in Europe, and boosted our relationships with our partners.
Russia’s most recent actions on Ukraine’s border continue to threaten not only Ukraine, but the entire continent.
I look forward to hearing how the Administration and the Department of Defense will work with our allies and partners to resolve this situation diplomatically with Russia.
We will also ask the witness to describe for us the threat China poses to the continent – in particular through economic pressures.
As we have discussed in previous hearings, the Arctic plays a vital role not only in the defense of our nation, but also in the security of Europe.
Both Russia and China are staking adversarial positions against the United States and our allies in the Arctic and I look forward to your views on what tools we can use to limit their attempts to control this region.
And finally, we know that Europe continues to be hit hard by COVID-19.
The Committee will want to know if the virus limited your ability to conduct operations, the status of vaccine implementation efforts, and how our Service personnel and their families are doing after a year of the pandemic.