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Public Statements

National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. HUNTER. I thank the gentleman from South Carolina, whose oldest son and I served in Iraq together.

As a United States Marine, I filled out dozens of evaluations on my marines. Some I recommended for promotions, some I did not.

As has already been said, Mr. Chairman, this amendment must be opposed because it would disrupt the vital role commanders play in the military promotion process. Our commanders are the best prepared to make the difficult judgments of balancing interests of the individuals against the need of the Armed Forces to promote the most qualified individuals. It is not ethical to ask commanders to overlook information that they believe directly bears on the member's qualification for promotion. Commanders strive to be fair, and current policies prevent prejudicial consideration of mental health treatment that carries no implications for performance and promotion qualification.

The provision attempts to replace the commander's judgment with an artificial standard that cannot account for the complexity of cases. The Nation invests immense trust in our military commanders in the most challenging of circumstances, while leading marines and soldiers in combat, and we must not betray that trust.

I urge defeat of this amendment.

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Mr. HUNTER. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from Virginia and the gentleman from Florida.

I would like to start by talking about what this means to me. This is about accountability, responsibility, and authority. All of these leadership themes are well defined throughout the Uniform Code of Military Justice, but a civilian team does not protect the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. That's the 3rd United States Infantry Regiment that

has the responsibility to honor our fallen comrades and conduct ceremonies and special events to represent the U.S. Army. One of most known tasks of this unit is the distinguished charge of guarding the Tomb of the Unknown at Arlington National Cemetery, which it has done with honor since July of 1937. Again, this is a military unit, it's not a civilian unit.

Many of our fallen heroes who were killed in action choose to be buried in Arlington, home to our Nation's military history, the men and women who sacrificed to make this country what it is today.

The current chain of command under the Department of the Army has a civilian executive director of the Army National Cemeteries reporting directly to the Secretary of the Army. Nowhere in the current chain of command does there exist a uniformed military officer of appropriate rank with commensurate command authority, accountability, and responsibility who is subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

If we are only going to have one major national cemetery that is run by a branch of the DOD, then there needs to be a uniformed chain of command that runs the cemetery in a professional, military manner.

In closing, I would state, Mr. Chairman, I have friends that may choose to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery, and I would urge adoption of this amendment.

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Mr. HUNTER. Mr. Chairman, this amendment basically appoints a Special Envoy to Iran to try and talk the Islamic leaders out of nuclear weapons and out of their nuclear weapons program.

If talk and negotiations could de-nuclearize Iran, we wouldn't have to worry about them anymore. But the reality is you can't take the crazy out of radical Islamic fundamentalists, which are the people that run Iran.

And this amendment does, contrary to what the gentlelady from California says, this amendment does, in fact, take the military option off the table because it would prevent the President from taking action, even if the U.S. were directly threatened and immediately threatened unless Congress authorized it first. The President would have to call this body back into session, from wherever we were at, and then ask us for permission, on C SPAN, to go ahead and act against an immediate Iranian threat.

This amendment does not acknowledge the six U.N. Security Council resolutions to address Iran's nuclear program. It does not acknowledge that France, Germany, and the U.K. offered Iran several proposals to resolve nuclear issues during negotiations in 2004 and 2005. It does not acknowledge that the diplomatic initiatives to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue have produced absolutely nothing. Absolutely nothing.

What this amendment does is appease and appease and appease and stall and while we talk, while we stand here in this body, right now, discussing this, Iran's getting closer and closer to a nuclear weapon. And Iran's not North Korea. North Korea is sane compared to Iran. As soon as they get enriched uranium that can be used as a weapon, it will end up on our shores. And it probably won't be by the Iranians. It probably won't be launched from Iran. It'll cross our border or come into an American port, and it will kill Americans.

So, Mr. Chairman, I oppose this amendment, and I would urge my colleagues to do the same.

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