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Scott Air Force Base generals outline threats in confirmation hearing

Gen. Paul Selva, left, and Gen. Darren McDew
Air Force photographs
Gen. Paul Selva, left, and Gen. Darren McDew

Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and all of the groups that follow the ideology of Al Qaeda from 2001 to the present are threats Air Force Gen. Paul Selva sees facing the United States -- and in that order. He also says the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration present “a direct threat to the morale of our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, who deserve the best maintained and the best equipment available to fight the threats that face this nation.”

President Barack Obama has nominated Selva to be the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Selva said the effects of sequestration and the potential declines in the defense budget impact readiness. “They affect our ability to train those young men and women to do their work. They affect our ability to maintain and reset the equipment that they have been using for the better part of that last decade and a half in Iraq and Afghanistan. And they affect our ability to retain the best of those soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines as they make the decision on whether or not they believe they have the full support of the nation and the work that they do defending our freedom and liberty every day.”

Gen. Darren McDew is the president’s pick to take over for Selva in leading the U.S. Transportation Command. He told lawmakers that the country must address the threat of a cyber-attack that could shut down major systems in the U.S. and disrupt the military’s ability to ship equipment and supplies to service members all around the world. McDew said the Transportation Command has taken steps to minimize that risk, “but as we go forward, the threat only gets worse. Our ability to deal with it must evolve and we have to find ways of doing better with it going forward.”

McDew also said that 90 percent of the work the Transportation Command does with private sector companies takes place via commercial Internet service providers.

Tuesday’s hearing on Capitol Hill was the first opportunity for both men to face question from members of the committee. A committee vote on their nominations is expected in the coming weeks, and both men appear to be on their way to easy confirmation by the Senate, with no known opposition to their nominations.

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