By James Beaty
Washington D.C. —
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, was unanimously elected Friday by Republican Senate Armed Services Committee members in Washington D.C to be the panel’s new ranking member. Inhofe will take over the position previously held by U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, who was term-limited in the role.
“I appreciate the support of my colleagues, and I look forward to working closely with Chairman Levin and continuing the close bipartisanship that has existed between Levin and McCain on dealing with important military issues, including our forces currently fighting in Afghanistan,” said Inhofe.
“My top priority is to avoid the devastating cuts to our nation’s forces that are scheduled under defense sequestration. There are ways to save taxpayer dollars within the Department of Defense, but sequestration is the wrong approach. It will have a terrible impact on our national security for decades to come if it is allowed to go forward. We have pushed these cuts off for two months, but now we must find a permanent fix.
“As the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, there are many issues that must be addressed on a wide range of subjects dealing with our men and women in uniform. My five top priorities are missile defense and nuclear modernization, acquisition reform, military readiness and capabilities, review defense strategy and threat assessments, and improve efficiencies within the Defense Department.”
Inhofe’s legislative director, John Bonsell, will assume the position of Republican staff director at the committee. Bonsell is a retired Army colonel. Inhofe’s military legislative assistant, Anthony Lazarski, will also move to the committee as a professional staff member. Lazarski, who goes by Lazer, is a retired Air Force colonel.
In a release from Washington, Inhofe outlined details of his Senate Armed Services Committee priorities:
• Missile defense and nuclear modernization: Ensure our nuclear programs are on track for modernization and that our missile defenses are adequate to secure the nation and our allies.
• Acquisition reform: Define program risks upfront and balance research and development and procurement funding; ensure accountability for programs; pursue contracting reforms, particularly small business, set aside abuse.
• Readiness and capabilities: Establish oversight and accountability for new processes to allow the military services to efficiently manage their installations, force structure, and resources without risk of wasteful spending or a hollow force; identify and mitigate the risks to our national security and our military forces incurred by arbitrary defense budget cuts and force structure reductions that are not grounded in sound strategy addressing the full range of current threats; preserve comprehensive health benefits for all eligible Department of Defense beneficiaries, including suicide prevention programs; ensure wounded warriors receive the best health care the nation can provide.
• Strategy: Review DOD strategy and threat assessments, and conduct an independent review to ensure that our assets are adequately and appropriately deployed; address ongoing and future contingencies.
• Efficiencies: Improve DOD efficiencies by clearing out non-essential and non-defense items from the defense budget to include research and development set-asides and green initiatives that do not help our fighting capabilities; ensure a greater degree of accountability and transparency for DOD budgets through audits and financial management oversight.
Jim Inhofe is the senior U.S. senator from Oklahoma.
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