WASHINGTON — The Obama administration's picks as the next leaders of European Command and Northern Command appear poised to cruise through a nomination vote in the Senate after a friendly hearing Thursday.
Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, nominated to lead EUCOM, and Gen. Lori Robinson, the choice to lead NORTHCOM, faced only light questioning from the Senate Armed Services Committee, with several senators telling them they would be voting in support of their nominations.
Scaparrotti, who most recently served as head of US Forces Korea, would replace retiring Gen. Philip Breedlove in Europe. Robinson, the commander of Pacific Air Forces, would replace Adm. Bill Gortney in the role. She would also become the first woman to head up a combatant command.
Questions from the Committee were light throughout the two hour hearing, with several Senators taking time to praise Robinson for her recent appearance on Time Magazine's 100 Leaders list — a blurb written by Rep. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois.
Senators Thom Tillis, R-NC, and Tom Cotton, R-Ark., both pledged to support the pair of nominations, and the committee's top Democrat, Jack Reed of Rhode Island, jokingly talked about how Robinson's husband's ties to Rhode Island helped her greatly.
Chairman John McCain was slightly more subtle, but closed the hearing with an indication that a swift confirmation is likely.
There were a few points of interest that were brought up, however. For example, both generals indicated support for Goldwater-Nichols reform, a major topic both inside the Pentagon and on the Hill.
While noting that "Goldwater-Nichols has produced the officer I am today, and the magnificent military we have today," Scaparrotti acknowledged that the modern strategic environment requires a look at how the joint force operates.
"We need the ability to have agility in our decision making and a deployment of assets. Very few of these challenges today are limited to one COCOM," he said. "They are multiregional, multifunctional, multidomain, and they challenge our structure as it is today."
Robinson added that she agreed with Scaparrotti "100 percent" that it is time to take a look at the structure of the Pentagon.
"It is a great time to look at it. The act is 30 years old, and the strategic landscape has changed," she said. "The most important part of all of this is the agility and the ability to work with each other."
Aaron Mehta was deputy editor and senior Pentagon correspondent for Defense News, covering policy, strategy and acquisition at the highest levels of the Defense Department and its international partners.