War on Terrorism

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Nominee Vows to Strengthen Homeland Defense

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

May 13, 2009 - President Barack Obama's nominee for assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and Americas' security affairs said yesterday at his confirmation hearing that he welcomes the opportunity to strengthen government partnerships at all levels. Paul Stockton began his testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee by acknowledging two "special debts of gratitude." The first was to the late New York Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who gave him what he described as his real education in government.

"Secondly, I want to acknowledge Lacy Suitor, who helped me understand the importance of building effective partnerships between the Department of Defense and local, state and federal civil authorities," he said. "Should I be confirmed by the Senate, I would welcome the opportunity to strengthen those partnerships in support of the undersecretary of defense for policy, the deputy secretary and the secretary of defense."

Part of his focus also would center on strengthening U.S. homeland defense and building security in the Western Hemisphere with the country's regional partners, Stockton said.

"Finally ... I would commit myself to respecting the vital role played by this committee and the Senate as a whole," he said.

Asked about recommendations made by the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves to increase the capabilities and responsibilities of reserve components in the homeland, Stockton sided with Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"I agree with Admiral Mullen," he said. "I believe that the current National Defense Strategy specifies that the core mission of the Department of Defense is the defense of the U.S. homeland from attack, and the securing of U.S. interests abroad.

"The civil support mission that supports civil authorities is absolutely vital," he added, "And, if confirmed, I would work to strengthen U.S. capacity for that, but the core missions are as stated in the National Defense Strategy."

Stockton is a senior research scholar at Stanford University's Center for International Security and Cooperation. He's the former associate provost at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., and was the founding director of its Center for Homeland Defense and Security.

His research focuses on how U.S. security institutions respond to changes in the threat, including the rise of terrorism, and the interaction of Congress and the executive branch in restructuring national security budgets, policies, and institutional arrangements.

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