Wicker Warns Against Slowing Down Military Readiness in Arctic

April 14, 2021

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, questioned General Tod Wolters, the Commander of the United States European Command, and General Stephen Lyons, Commander of the United States Transportation Command, on the U.S. military’s ability to combat foreign threats at this week’s hearing in review of the Defense Authorization Request for Fiscal Year 2022.

During his line of questioning, Wicker stressed the importance of destroyers in maintaining U.S. military readiness in light of Russia’s expanded ground, air, and maritime efforts and China’s military buildup. He emphasized the role destroyers play in the Arctic and the need for two additional destroyers in Rota, Spain.

General Wolters stressed that more destroyers are needed to, “Have that competitive edge to ensure we can continue to deter effectively against China.”

“Do we have the capabilities we need to deter Russia and China in the Arctic presently?” Wicker asked.

“[Our capabilities] are adequate, but our growth is not matching theirs,” Wolters answered.

“This slowing down of readiness is of concern to members of both sides of the dais here,” Wicker said.

Wicker also discussed the need to improve U.S. shipyards to keep pace with demands for U.S.-flagged vessels to transport supplies.

Wicker cited a U.S. Government Accountability Office report on how U.S. flag-fleet shipyards have been in decline. He asked General Lyons, “Can you discuss how a diminished maritime industry impacts sealift during both peacetime and conflict?”

Lyons remarked on the importance of modernizing sealift and said, “Industrial bases are absolutely of critical importance.”