By DoD News
By Jim Garamone
Derek H. Chollet, who’s in line for one of the most crucial jobs in the Pentagon, testified alongside Cara L. Abercrombie, Biden’s nominee for assistant secretary of defense for acquisitions.
Chollet currently serves as counselor for the Department of State and previously served as assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs. Abercrombie is a deputy assistant to the president and coordinator for defense policy and arms control at the National Security Council. She has served in the Defense Department since 2003.
“There is no more sacred mission than that of the U.S. Department of Defense to keep Americans safe and to protect our interests abroad,” Chollet said. “I am deeply humbled at the prospect of returning to the Pentagon to work with the inspiring men and women of our armed forces.”
Chollet emphasized that this is a critical time saying, “… this is a moment as challenging and complex as any we have faced in our modern history.”
He agreed with many leaders saying that China is the pacing challenge and the only competitor with the means and will to overturn the international rules-based system that has kept the peace since the end of World War II.
He also cited the “acute threat” of Russia — especially in light of that country’s unprovoked invasion of neighboring Ukraine. “If confirmed, I will continue this administration’s work to provide military support to Ukraine and rally the world for Ukraine’s self-defense,” Chollet said.
Chollet said the world cannot forget about the threats posed by North Korea and Iran and extremist groups. He said the U.S. military must be prepared to take action when necessary. “Our forces must be as modern and capable as possible,” he said. “That means having an urgency to invest and innovate, whether that’s ensuring that our undersea warfighting capability remains second to none or continuing to lead on [artificial intelligence].”
Information technology also means building and maintaining a safe, reliable and effective nuclear triad, he said.
Chollet also said the U.S. military must work with other countries, other federal agencies and with the Congress to realize these strategies. He said that, if confirmed, he will work inside and outside the Defense Department with the combatant commanders and service chiefs.
“No less important, working together means forging a close partnership with all of you on this committee and the Congress as a whole,” Chollet said. “I have long admired this committee’s bipartisan commitment to our national security, and its thoughtful and forward-thinking oversight of our military. You have my word that, if confirmed, I will treat you as the full partner that you need.”
Abercrombie stressed the need for speed in acquiring and fielding new military capabilities. “Acquisition policy has always been extremely important to the department’s function, but [it] has taken on greater significance in today’s dynamic security environment,” she said.
Innovation is moving at an increasingly rapid clip, with new technologies being developed by nontraditional sources. “We cannot be satisfied with business as usual,” Abercrombie said. “We no longer can wait decades to bring programs to fruition. Our ability to deliver capability to the warfighter rapidly is absolutely critical to ensuring the United States military remains the finest fighting force in the world.”
The committee must vote to approve the nominees, then forward the nominations to the full Senate for approval.