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October 10, 2013

Nominee Lumpkin Will Face Key Counterterrorism Challenges

Washington, D.C. – Today the Senate Armed Services Committee held a confirmation hearing for Michael Lumpkin, President Obama’s nominee to be assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low intensity conflict (ASD SOLIC). The hearing was an opportunity for senators to examine key aspects of the Obama Administration’s approach to counterterrorism operations, including whether there is a need for a new Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), and how the United States will transition from over a decade of war.

“While some of these key issues did not come up today, we look forward to working with the new ASD SOLIC, should he be confirmed, on these crucial questions,” said Human Right First’s Michael Quigley, who attended the hearing.

Human Rights First was encouraged to hear that Lumpkin, himself a former Navy SEAL and currently the acting ASD SOLIC, confirm that al-Qaeda has been diminished and possesses less capacity and capability to conduct attacks against the U.S. homeland, though still possessing the capability and aspiration to attack American interests overseas. Lumpkin stated that the United States can’t kill its way to victory, and called for greater emphasis on non-kinetic approaches such as the partnership capacity building, not nation building on the scale of what was attempted in Afghanistan. Instead, he highlighted the need for a tailored approach specific to the region or country in question, focusing on reducing security gaps while pushing for security reforms in other nations to “reduce areas where there are security vacuums for groups like al Qaeda and al Shabaab to flourish.”  This builds on central tenets of special operations and specific mission priorities for the United States Special Operations Command where, if confirmed, he will provide civilian oversight.

“President Obama called for the 12-year-old AUMF to be ‘revised and ultimately repealed,’ and we agree that the United States needs to transition to an alternative counterterrorism strategy that includes a whole of government approach,” Quigley concluded. “This issue may come up on the floor of the Senate as it considers the National Defense Authorization Act, and will be an ongoing issue debated within Congress and the administration. We hope that Lumpkin, if confirmed, will make this goal of transitioning to a post-war counterterrorism framework one of his top priorities.”

For more information or to speak with Quigley, please contact Brenda Bowser Soder at bowsersoderb@humanrightsfirst.org or 202-370-3323.