Opening Statement (As Prepared)

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Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I would like to welcome our witnesses for our hearing today, Ms. Rebecca Zimmerman, Performing the Duties of Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Hemispheric Affairs, General Laura Richardson, Commander, U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), and General Gregory Guillot, Commander, U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) in his first appearance before the Committee after taking command in February.

It’s appropriate for our first posture hearing to be focused on the defense of the United States. What happens here at home and in our neighborhood is of the utmost importance to securing our national interests. I appreciate Ms. Zimmerman’s focus on the new Homeland Defense Policy Guidance in her testimony, and look forward to additional detail about the Department intends to improve resilience across DoD, the interagency, and our civil society to ensure that we can deter and, if necessary, survive and prevail against any adversary who chooses to test our defenses.

I also look forward to hearing about the progress of General Guillot’s initial review upon taking command, as well as his and Ms. Zimmerman’s views on the department’s support to civilian authorities at the southern border, Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena (UAPs), DoD and national interests in the High North, and NORTHCOM.  Further, I hope to understand NORAD’s posture and future requirements with respect to integrated air and missile defense, particularly in regard to increasing our domain awareness regardless of the type of threat or origin. I expect and encourage General Guillot and Ms. Zimmerman to speak to the threats to our national security in the strategic, cyber, and traditional domains and across the full geographic breadth of our country.

Strategic competitors are active in the SOUTHCOM region and often engage in activities that undermine the rules-based order. Despite other global events that also require our attention, we should not ignore our own hemisphere. The Department needs to engage in agile and adaptive ways in the region where resources can be limited.

In the SOUTHCOM region, the Department continues to pursue security cooperation activities that enhance our partners ability to address challenges in the region like drug trafficking, migrant flows, and the fallout of the humanitarian crises in Venezuela. Such activities can effectively build the capacity of our partners while also deterring malign activity and aggression in the region. I’m interested in hearing how such activities build capacity and the extent to which they reinforce human rights.

I’m also keeping my eye on the situation in Haiti. The Department is currently supporting the Multinational Stability Support (MSS) mission and augmenting security at the U.S. embassy and I encourage General Richardson to speak about these missions.

Finally, I will repeat my concluding question to our witnesses from last year, how do we continue to protect the United States, continue to build our partnerships with the countries of the Western Hemisphere, and continue to keep our eye on efforts that may undermine U.S. interests?

I thank the witnesses for being here today and I look forward to hearing their testimony.