It is a privilege to serve on the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), especially coming from a state where the military has such an important presence and economic impact. All branches of the armed forces have major bases in Hawaii. Our state is home not only to countless military installations, but also the United States Pacific Command, an entity responsible for an area that encompasses over 50% of the Earth. The committee’s top priority is the safety and security of our country, not just for today but for the future.
We must be fiscally responsible, but we also have to ensure that our troops have the equipment and weapons necessary to defend themselves and our nation. The Armed Services Committee oversaw more than $659 billion in outlays for fiscal 2012, and we worked in a bipartisan fashion to spend within our means and allocate that money responsibly and efficiently. Hawaii saw its fair share of this spending, with over half a billion dollars going into military construction projects alone throughout our island installations, creating jobs while upgrading dated infrastructure on our bases.
I have also had the honor of being named to the bipartisan Panel on Business Challenges within the Defense Industry, a panel tasked with examining the current defense business environment. Through this examination, members are seeking to understand how the Department of Defense can spur innovation, competition, and cost savings by encouraging involvement with the industrial base and fostering the transition of technology. This resulted in a roundtable that brought my colleagues, Republican and Democratic alike, to Hawaii to hear from local businesses about the obstacles that have faced doing business with the military. Our panel will produce a report and make recommendations to be incorporated in the upcoming National Defense Authorization Act. HASC has also worked to ensure our men and women in the armed forces are well protected, well trained, and well equipped.
This is a commitment we must uphold as long as we ask our service members to put their lives on the line to defend our nation. We simply cannot afford to make irresponsible cuts that undermine our readiness. The U.S. military must be a well-supplied and ready force, so our allies remain confident and our enemies remain wary and respectful. Recently, a new strategic guidance of our defense priorities was released by the Department of Defense outlining our future priorities that stated, “while the U.S. military will continue to contribute to security globally, we will of necessity rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region.”
As a representative and life-long resident of Hawaii, I have long understood the strategic importance of the Pacific. The Pacific Ocean is the lifeblood of a global system that links every country in the region to one another. Understanding the possible threats to the region will help in setting our priorities, so we can make the necessary budget adjustments across the services. The strategic and economic importance of the region cannot be understated. Our partners throughout the region depend on our continued military presence and naval supremacy to sustain trade and shared prosperity.
Our challenge is to project U.S. military power in the Pacific and across the globe that will protect our homeland, and at the same time enhance strategic and emerging alliances throughout the world. We must be proactive, rather than reactive, when we think of how best to structure our military and national defense. The security, prosperity, and vital interests of the United States are increasingly tied to other countries. This realization has to be the basis for preemptive, long-term security planning throughout our nation and the rest of the world.
For more information concerning my work and views on National Security issues, please contact my Washington, DC office.
I look forward to your feedback.