Senator Reed, a Democrat, is the first Rhode Islander to lead the Senate Armed Services Committee. The last two Rhode Islanders to chair full Senate committees were Republican John H. Chafee, who led the Environment and Public Works Committee from 1995 to 1999, and Democrat Claiborne Pell, who led the Foreign Relations Committee from 1987 to 1995.  A West Point graduate, Reed has been on the Armed Services Committee for 24 years and ranking Democrat for six years. He said he had a “good working relationship” with the former chairman, Republican Senator James Inhofe. Reed, 71, is the 23rd oldest senator but ranks 10th in seniority and also serves on the powerful appropriations Committee.