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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 Department of Defense’s intelligence strategies, policies, and programs.

Rep. Kelly’s remarks as prepared for delivery are below:

Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opening remarks and your leadership in organizing this morning’s posture hearing.  Today we will hear from three leaders across the Defense Intelligence Enterprise.  In particular, I would like to welcome Mr. Moultrie and congratulate him on his recent confirmation.

Today’s threat landscape continues to grow in scope and complexity; our intelligence enterprise professionals are tasked with yeoman’s work on a daily basis to help our nation prepare, defend and react to these threats.  

Recent, high visibility, cyber attacks have shown just how vulnerable both our government and commercial sectors are to this type of offensive operation.  From SolarWinds to Colonial Pipeline to JBS, this threat continues to grow at an alarming rate.

Earlier this year in mid-March, this subcommittee conducted a hearing on “Disinformation in the Gray Zone”.  These aggressive tactics, encompassing offensive actions just below the threshold of armed conflict, are utilized by adversaries like China, Russia, and Iran to discredit and destabilize American interests.  A memo signed last year by nine Combatant Commanders drives home just how important this issue is.  Recognizing the need for increased support from the Intelligence Community to combat this threat, they note malicious efforts by Russian and China across the information domain to seed discontent, weaken trust, and undermine alliances.

Maybe most pressing of all the threats right now, is how the Defense Intelligence Enterprise 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 recent reporting has indicated that the Department is well ahead of this deadline.  The conversation as to whether we should or should not withdraw is not for today’s hearing; however, the way in which we plan to keep an eye on the security situation in Afghanistan post withdraw is very much germane to today’s discussion.  The Biden Administration has stressed there will be an ‘over the horizon’ capability to maintain situational awareness of Afghanistan, but to my knowledge this plan remains a ‘work in progress’.  I am deeply concerned about our intelligence collection capabilities after our military forces have redeployed.

I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today on all these topics, in addition to this year’s budget request and what each organization’s priorities are 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 Defense Intelligence Enterprise leaders during the 117th Congress to ensure we are appropriately postured to meet and defeat the threats posed by our adversaries.

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