Floor Statements

Washington, D.C. ­– U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, submitted the following opening statement for the record today at a hearing to consider Department of Defense nominations:

“The Senate Armed Services Committee meets this morning to consider the nominations of: 

  • “John Rood to be Under Secretary of Defense for Policy; and
  • “Randall Schriver to be Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Affairs.

“We thank you both for joining us this morning. We also welcome your family and friends here with us today. As is our tradition, at the beginning of your testimony we invite you to introduce those who are joining you. 

“It has become increasingly clear that our national defense establishment is at a critical inflection point. For 25 years after the end of the Cold War, the United States was able to operate as if the era of great power competition was over. That is clearly no longer the case. Now we must face up to this reality.

“We must recognize that as a result of the decisions we have made—as well as those we have failed to make—our military advantage is eroding. The window of opportunity to restore and maintain that advantage is upon us, but make no mistake: it is closing fast. Increasing defense spending, restoring military readiness, modernizing the force, and reforming defense acquisition are all critical to restoring American power. But none of these will relieve us of the duty to make difficult choices and to set clear priorities about the threats we face and the missions we assign to our military. Both of our nominees will have enormous responsibilities in this regard.

“Mr. Rood, if confirmed as Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, you would support the Secretary of Defense by providing civilian leadership on the major regional and functional security challenges confronting our nation. For years now, this Committee has sought to highlight the fact that we have no policy or strategy to deter and respond to cyberattacks ... that we need a new concept of deterrence to respond to the threat posed by a resurgent Russia, especially in Ukraine ... that the national security threats posed by North Korea and Iran continue to grow amid wishful thinking and strategic neglect by too many here in Washington ... that we are not winning in Afghanistan and need a different approach, especially with Pakistan, if we are to turn things around, as we must ... and that we lack broader strategies to turn our operational military gains across the Middle East and Africa into sustainable political outcomes that serve our national interests.

“These and other challenges cannot be resolved by the application of military power alone. This is why the Undersecretary for Policy is such a critical position: It must assist the Secretary in exercising civilian control over the ends, ways, and means of our nation’s defense and provide the necessary strategic guidance to our Armed Forces—guidance that cannot, and should not, be provided by the combatant commands, the military services, or the Joint Staff.

“Similarly, if confirmed as Undersecretary, you would supervise key parts of the Department of Defense responsible for strategy, planning, and force development. Particularly in light of the forthcoming National Defense Strategy, this  committee is very interested in your views on how the United States can prioritize great power competition with Russia and China in our defense strategy and force development, while achieving sustainable success in our counterterrorism and other regional security missions. 

“Finally, Mr. Rood, I must reiterate my concerns about the number of nominees from defense industry filling out the leadership ranks at the Department of Defense. As I have said before, my reservations grew out of early consultations I had with the Administration about a number of potential nominations. You are the last of the individuals we discussed at that time. Therefore, from this point forward, I will not support any further nominees with that background. 

“Mr. Schriver, if confirmed as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asia-Pacific Security Affairs, the challenge of competing effectively against a great power while managing other urgent threats to our security will define your area of responsibility. You would not only be responsible for our policy and strategy toward China, but also for containing the threat from North Korea and overseeing U.S. military operations in Afghanistan. With your deep background in the Asia-Pacific region, we look forward to hearing your views on how to balance these competing demands as part of a comprehensive, consistent, and credible policy and strategy for the region. 

“Again, let me thank both of you for your willingness to serve our nation during these challenging times. We look forward to your testimony.”