Senate Committee Hears Nominees for Unified Command Posts
By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jul. 21, 2004 The Senate Armed Services Committee held hearings today on nominations for two critical leadership positions within the Defense Department.
Navy Vice Adm. Timothy J. Keating is up for appointment to admiral and has been nominated by the president to be commander of the U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command.
Army Lt. Gen. Bantz J. Craddock is being considered for promotion to general and is tapped to lead the U.S. Southern Command.
If confirmed, Keating's primary focus will be defending the United States against threats to its homeland. He also will be responsible for security cooperation with Canada and Mexico, as well as for providing civil support as directed by the president or the secretary of defense.
In a prepared statement, the 33-year Navy veteran said his military training and experience make him well prepared for both positions. Keating served as commander of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command during Operation Iraqi Freedom, where he executed joint warfighting missions. He also was director of the Joint Staff, where he took part in joint operations and worked closely with combatant commanders.
Keating said protecting the United States will be one major challenge. "Our enemies today are like no other we have faced in our nation's history," his statement said. "U.S. Northern Command should remain prepared to deter and defeat traditional and unconventional means of attack."
He said a "robust exercise program, involving participants from the Department of Defense, the interagency community, as well as state and local officials," will be the cornerstone to deterring any enemy attack. Keating said he believes "the information-sharing culture fostered in U.S. Northern Command is the right approach to help protect Americans where they live and work."
Addressing the debate on what role the National Guard should play in defending the homeland, Keating wrote that the National Guard is fundamental to homeland defense and plays an "important role in planning for and responding to terrorist attacks in the United States." He said he "is confident National Guard forces will be available when needed to defend our nation."
Craddock also will face many challenges if he is confirmed as head of U.S. Southern Command. A former 1st Infantry Division commander, he would be responsible for U.S. military forces assigned in 30 countries throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.
In his prepared remarks, Craddock said that as the head of Southern Command his major concerns would be in how to address security and stability threats to those nations. All 30 countries in the command's area of responsibility have democratically elected leaders, he noted, and many "are faced with threats that are undermining the security and stability of their nations." Those threats, he continued, include "terrorism, transnational threats and the challenges of supporting partner nations in their efforts to deal with the threats they face."
Craddock stated that, if confirmed, he intends to ensure that Southern Command's "Theater Strategy" incorporates as a central theme the collective security of each of those nations.
The general said his plan calls for fostering improved security relationships to promote regional solutions to shared regional challenges. He also wants to ensure that security activities are prioritized to areas that offer the greatest leverage for protecting and advancing U.S. regional and global interests.
Furthermore, he plans to continue to promote "military-to-military" contacts to enhance the professionalism of the region's militaries, his statement said.
Craddock also promised to work diligently to fully coordinate and synchronize with other U.S. government agencies.
"It is imperative to remain active in assisting countries to maintain stability, promote prosperity and enhance regional cooperation in this area of significant strategic importance to the United States," his statement said.