House Armed Services Committee chair Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R., Calif.) said he hopes to hear secretary of defense nominee Chuck Hagel express his support for a “robust and well equipped military” during his confirmation hearing Thursday on Capitol Hill.
Hagel, a former Republican Nebraska senator, has been criticized for advocating in favor of massive cuts to the Pentagon’s budget.
McKeon said in a statement issued Wednesday that he hopes to hear Hagel reverse this position:
Tomorrow, I hope to hear testimony from an advocate for a robust and well equipped military. I hope to hear from a nominee who discusses in real terms the resources and support our men and women in uniform need to meet the inadequate defense strategy that President Obama has mandated. In short, I want to hear from a supporter of the Department of Defense.
We live in a hostile world going through difficult times. In this world, perhaps no force is as hostile to our warfighter as the book keepers at the Office of Management and Budget. Any secretary of defense, Democrat or Republican, hawk or dove, must understand that their first obligation is to win the budget battle at the White House. After all, no military victory can be achieved unless our Armed Forces are properly resourced.
President Obama has long advocated a ‘lead from behind’ approach to national security. He places great importance on soft power and stirring words. That is all well and good, but as we have seen, this approach often ends in the need for swift, decisive military action. The job of secretary of defense is not to laud the ‘lead from behind approach’, it is not to act as a surrogate to the secretary of state nor is it to become OMB’s man on the inside. The secretary’s job is to make sure that when the commander-in-chief orders forces into harm’s way, they are ready to go.
I hope Sen. Hagel shows that he is willing to fight for our men and women in uniform as Secretaries Gates and Panetta did. I hope his lauded independent streak manifests itself in the form of skepticsm over the White House approach. I cannot see supporting a nominee I don’t believe puts the readiness and well being of the warfighters above all other concerns.