Washington, DC - U.S. Representative Trent Kelly (R-MS), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Intelligence and Special Operations, delivered the following opening statement at a hearing on the FY22 budget request for U.S. Special Operations Forces and Command.
Rep. Trent Kelly's remarks as prepared for delivery:
Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opening remarks and your leadership in organizing this afternoon’s posture hearing. Today we will hear from two leaders across the special operations enterprise.
The FY22 budget request for Special Operations Command didn’t just fail to keep pace with inflation, but it cut the topline for the second year in a row. The FY22 budget request represents a $495M decrease from FY21, a 4% cut. And the FY21 enacted budget was a $600M cut from FY20. Proper authorization and appropriation of national defense activities is vital – we cannot force our SOF formation into the impossible choice between readiness and modernization.
As far as current operations go, maybe most pressing of all the threats right now is how SOCOM is postured to continue counter terrorism operations in Afghanistan with the impending redeployment of our troops. As we know, the Biden Administration ordered all troops out of the country by September 11th of this year, and the Department continues to push forward ahead of this deadline, now currently targeting August 31st for the completion of withdrawal activities. The way in which we plan to keep an eye on the security situation, and the way in which we conduct intelligence gathering in Afghanistan post withdraw, is of great concern to myself and members of this Subcommittee. We continue to hear about an ‘over the horizon’ capability to maintain situational awareness of Afghanistan, but I have yet to be briefed on what this actually means. I am deeply concerned about our capabilities to conduct SOCOM’s counter-terrorism mission after our military forces have redeployed.
Lastly, I’d like to publicly voice my support for SOCOM’s Armed Overwatch program. I’m pleased and assured by the work conducted by ASD SO/LIC and SOCOM to ensure the right measures have been put in place to validate the need for this platform. I’m eager to see the results of the ongoing demonstrations taking place right now and what that will mean for procurement in FY22. I’d like to thank Rep. Mike Waltz for his leadership on this issue.
I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today on all these topics, in addition to this year’s budget request and the associated priorities for Fiscal Year 2022.
I want to thank our witnesses in advance for their time today. I look forward to continuing to work with our special operations leaders during the 117th Congress to ensure we are appropriately postured to meet and defeat the threats posed by our adversaries.