01 Jul BERGMAN OPENING STEMENT AT HEARING ON SOF AND USSOCOM PRIORITIES FOR FY24
Mar 9, 2023 | Press Release
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representative Jack Bergman (R-MI), Chairman of the Intelligence and Special Operations Subcommittee, delivered the following opening remarks at a hearing on U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) and U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) challenges and resource priorities for Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24).
Rep. Bergman’s remarks as prepared for delivery:
I call to order this hearing of the Intelligence and Special Operations Subcommittee on “U.S. Special Operations Forces and Command – Challenges and Resource Priorities for Fiscal Year 2024.”
I would like to first welcome our newest member to the subcommittee, Representative Jennifer McClellan of Virginia. I look forward to working with her on important issues within the subcommittee over the 118th Congress.
The United States today finds itself in a shifting strategic landscape in which great power competition will be the defining geopolitical feature over the coming decades. With that, our special operations forces similarly find themselves at an inflection point.
After twenty years of the Global War on Terrorism, the SOF enterprise is retooling and retraining for the threats and competition posed by China and other strategic adversaries. This will not be easy, as limited budgets compel the Department, and Congress, to make difficult budget decisions, especially as it pertains to special operations.
While USSOCOM remains tasked with combatting the continued threat posed by violent extremist organizations and other non-state actors, our special operations forces will remain the tip of the spear in competing against, and deterring, our strategic adversaries—creating strategic dilemmas and making them think twice about their own capabilities.
As we discuss USSOCOM’s priorities for the coming year’s budget, we must examine which capabilities and tools used for the CT mission may also be used against state adversaries in great power competition, as well as what capabilities must be developed or expanded. These capabilities and tools may range from counter-UAS and advanced ISR technologies, to cyber and web-based tools to compete and win in the information environment and increased clandestine operations.
We similarly must examine the force structure of the SOF enterprise to ensure that SOCOM is adequately manned to compete and operate in great power competition. As a small, single-digit percentage of the overall force, any cuts in personnel to the SOF enterprise will have a disproportionate effect on the ability of SOF to execute require operations.
Make no mistake, as we look to compete with, and deter, adversaries like China and Russia, our special operators will remain at the tip of the spear, shaping the environment and creating conditions for successful follow-on operations by the Joint Force. In short, if we are looking to prepare the military services for a high-end fight with a near-peer adversary, then we must ensure that our special operations forces are properly manned, equipped, and trained to enable the rest of the force.
I look forward to hearing from our witnesses on the priorities for U.S. Special Operations ahead of Congress’ work on the FY24 budget and NDAA. With that I would like to welcome out witnesses here today:
- The Honorable Christopher Maier serves as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict.
- And General Bryan P. Fenton, who currently serves as the 13th Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command.
- In the interest of time, I ask the witnesses to keep their opening remarks to five minutes or less so that we have sufficient time for questions-and-answers.
With that, let me thank our witnesses for appearing before us today. I now recognize the Ranking Member for any opening remarks