The Senate Armed Services Committee held a confirmation hearing on several military nominations. They heard from senior military nominees for Air Force Chief of Staff, U.S. Southern Commander and National Guard Bureau chief.
Members asked the nominees a range of questions focusing on the impact of budget cuts to the Department of Defense, sexual assault crimes in the military, drug trafficking and shifting focus to the Asia-Pacific region.
The nominees included: U.S. Air Force Gen. Mark A. Welsh III for Air Force Chief of Staff; Marine Corps Lt. Gen. John F. Kelly to be U.S. Southern Commander; and Army National Guard Lt. Gen. Frank J. Grass to be National Guard Bureau chief.
Gen. Welsh, a 1976 graduate of the Air Force Academy, assumed command of U.S. Air Forces in Europe in December 2010. He was selected to replace Gen. Norton Schwartz, who retires in August.
Lt. Gen. Kelly is currently a senior military advisor to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and has served deployments in Iraq. If confirmed, he will run U.S. Southern Command in Doral, Fla., where many defense projects are based, from humanitarian relief operations to the detention center at Guantánamo.
Lt. Gen. Grass is serving as the Deputy Commander of U.S. Northern Command and Vice Commander of U.S. Element, North American Aerospace Defense Command at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado.