Opening Statement (As Prepared)

Click here to stream the hearing.


Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for convening this hearing on “U.S. Special Operations Forces Command - Challenges and Resource Priorities for Fiscal Year 2025.”

I think this may be the second time that two Michiganders have chaired a HASC hearing, the first time being this exact same hearing last year.

Last year, we opened this same hearing by saying “the current global security environment is dynamic.” That is even more true today.

In the Middle East, the attack on Israel by Hamas on October 7th and the ensuing conflict and humanitarian crisis have emboldened malign actors that seek to exploit and expand that conflict across the entire region. We are witnessing in real time the consequences of Iran, Iranian proxy groups, and violent extremist organizations threatening security and stability, not just in the Middle East but globally, with ramifications for national security, international trade and shipping, and domestic supply chains.

In Europe, Russia’s illegal and unjust war in Ukraine continues as the conflict enters its third year.

In the Indo-Pacific and beyond, we are facing the Communist Chinese Party’s increasingly coercive actions that run counter to the principles of a free and open Indo-Pacific. North Korea is not just a threat to our allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region, but is actively supporting Russian forces in Ukraine.

These challenges and threats demand the full attention of the Administration and the Department of Defense, including the unique capabilities of the special forces community with the ever-important assistance of partners and allies.

For over 20 years, we have asked the special forces community to focus on counter terrorism and to counter violent extremist organizations as that was the mission in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere as required.

As a former CIA officer, I worked closely alongside members of the special forces community during three tours in Iraq, and know firsthand the importance and danger of the work that our special forces community continues to do to combat terrorism.

And while we still need to maintain that capability and not lose sight of those hard-won gains, we must also look to the concerns of today and tomorrow.

In the era of great power competition, how is the special forces community postured to support this effort?

Do they have the right training, manning, equipping, institutional support, funding, and professional military education system?

Furthermore, we need to ensure that they are able to answer the nation’s call when it comes to counter terrorism, crisis response, and fulfill their role in integrated deterrence.

I look forward to hearing from our witnesses on how they have prepared to do what is needed for deterrence while ensuring we maintain the capability to find and eliminate violent extremists and be ready to respond to an international crisis.

Assistant Secretary Maier and General Fenton, I want to thank you and your teams—the men, women, and families within the special forces community today and those who came before. Their dedication and sacrifice represent the very best of who we can be as Americans.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.