CENTCOM Commander Affirms Importance of U.S. Energy to National Security

WASHINGTON—General Frank McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), yesterday affirmed the importance of domestic energy production to America’s national security and foreign policy objectives, and said policies that curtail U.S. energy production are “not helpful.” The question was posed by Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), who has raised concerns for several months about how orders issued by the Biden administration targeting the domestic oil and gas sector may weaken a key geostrategic advantage of the U.S. as the top producer of energy globally, and empower America’s energy-producing adversaries, like Russia.

“Let me start with a big picture issue,” said Sen. Sullivan. “You're in the Middle East. A lot of energy there. Does it help or hurt the United States of America from a national security and foreign policy perspective that we are now the world's energy superpower, producing more natural gas than Russia and more oil than Saudi Arabia? Does that help our national security posture in the Middle East and other places in the world?”

“I would say, I would think that it helps globally, and it certainly helps in the CENTCOM region,” Gen. McKenzie replied.

“Do you think it makes sense from a [national security] perspective to unilaterally start reducing the production of American energy? It kills jobs, but I'm talking about from the national security perspective to enable Saudi Arabia and Russia to be bigger energy producers than us,” said Sen. Sullivan. “Does that make sense from your perspective—national security—in your personal opinion?”

“I would say that it is not helpful to the United States,” Gen. McKenzie answered.

On February 2, Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks acknowledged the crucial link between domestic energy production and national security in an exchange with Sen. Sullivan during her confirmation hearing. 

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