“Bottom line, when we have an Administration that turns a deaf ear and a blind eye to the needs of men and women as they’re serving overseas in these agencies, it doesn’t do us a darn bit of good…. 

“…I want to make sure we’re doing the right thing by our taxpayers, and providing high quality training for our men and women, but I also want to ensure that we have an Administration who understands that when there is a time to engage, we need to allow our men and women to make that decision and engage.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) stressed the need for the Obama Administration to prioritize the security of and responsiveness to the American men and women overseas engaged in diplomatic security efforts at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing entitled, “Avoiding Duplication: An Examination of the State Department’s Proposal to Construct a New Diplomatic Security Training Facility.”

The Iowa Senator asked the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security Assistant Secretary Gregory B. Starr if diplomatic security personnel received adequate training at Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers, and highlighted the critical need for the Department of State to ensure the well-being and safety of diplomats.

Senator Ernst explained “what is more important is that we have an Administration that prioritizes the safety of our diplomats and responds to their requests for additional security in times of need.  We can have all of the wonderful enhanced training… but bottom line, if we don’t have an Administration which will allow you to engage or to use that, those techniques and tactics and whiz-gadgets out there, then this does nothing for us.”

Click here or on the image below to watch.

TRANSCRIPT:

SENATOR ERNST: I appreciate all of you today joining us on this panel. And thank you Mr. Starr, you have provided a little bit of insight on why you believe that the facility should be consolidated in Northern Virginia. But honestly, looking at the cost to our taxpayers of course we want high quality training. That’s the ultimate goal, but a billion dollars for the original plan versus 213 – at Glynco – million dollars, there is a huge, huge difference on where convenience may be nice, but we want high quality training regardless. Do you feel that what you’re receiving right now through DHS and the partnerships with Glynco is not providing that high quality training?

. . . . 

SENATOR ERNST: Well, and thank you, I appreciate it. And I will be looking at those numbers. I do think that is important to take a good hard look at that. And just to follow up on that, I really do appreciate the fact that the Administration is taking a look at this and that they want to improve the training capacities for the men and women that we have engaged in these diplomatic security forces, but I do want to reiterate too that what is more important is that we have an Administration that prioritizes the safety of our diplomats and responds to their requests for additional security in times of need.  We can have all of the wonderful enhanced training that we can give you, we can give that to you, we can give you the tips, techniques, practices, we can give you all the gizmos and gadgets – but bottom line, if we don’t have an Administration which will allow you to engage or to use that, those techniques and tactics and whiz-gadgets out there, then this does nothing for us. We want to make sure that these men and women are protected. We’ll look at the numbers and make sure that we are doing the right thing. But bottom line, when we have an Administration that turns a deaf ear and a blind eye to the needs of men and women as they’re serving overseas in these agencies, it doesn’t do us a darn bit of good. So that’s my little jab at the Administration today, is that we have had four Americans killed, I know this came out of the investigations into Benghazi. We can give you all that we give you, but if we have an Administration who refuses to engage, it doesn’t do our men and women a darn bit of good. So, you know, I appreciate that, and we’ll look into this, I want to make sure we’re doing the right thing by our taxpayers, and providing high quality training for our men and women, but I also want to ensure that we have an Administration who understands that when there is a time to engage, we need to allow our men and women to make that decision and engage. I’ll get off my soapbox. Thank you.

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