Washington February 25, 2016 - Today, Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, made the following opening statement on the hearing, "Department of the Navy Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Request for Seapower and Projection Forces:"
"I want to welcome all of our members and the distinguished panel of Navy and Marine Corps leaders for today's hearing.
We have testifying before us on the fiscal year 2017 budget request:
- The Honorable Sean Stackley, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition;
- Vice Admiral Joe Mulloy, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Integration of Capabilities and Resources; and
- Lieutenant General Robert Walsh, Deputy Commandant for Combat Development and Integration.
As members of this subcommittee and our witnesses are well aware, shipbuilding takes time and patience. It requires a steady hand and constant pressure to reap the benefits. There are some who believe that shipbuilding is a spigot that can be turned on and off as needed. My friends, they are dead wrong.
Yesterday we heard from Admiral Harris that the Navy is only able to meet 62% of his demand for submarines in the Pacificâ€”and the situation is expected to grow worse. That is a consequence of decisions that were made in the 1990s, when we turned off the spigot on attack submarines and other defense investments under the assumption that we could turn it back on when and if we ever needed to.
Twenty years later, Admiral Harris and the men and women under his command are suffering the consequences of those decisions. Twenty years from now, their sons and daughters will be dealing with the consequences of the decisions we make today, and the investments that we do or do not make in the Navy and Marine Corps of the future.
Looking at the budget for the Navy and Marine Corps, I am concerned that we are being forced make choices between capacity and capability when we
clearly need more of both.
While I am generally pleased with the outyears and how the overall ship construction account grows to accommodate Ohio Replacement, I continue to be concerned about the administrationâ€™s request to place half our cruisers into a long term layup status, the Navyâ€™s plans for unmanned carrier aircraft, and renewed efforts to inactivate one of our carrier air wings.
Earlier this week, I was reminded to measure administrationâ€™s initiatives against a simple benchmark: whether a new idea or proposal increases the lethality, readiness, and effectiveness of our military.
When I weigh the administrationâ€™s plans for cruisers, CBARS, and the carrier air wing in this balance I find them wanting.
The Department of the Navy and the witnesses before us today are faced with daunting fiscal challenges and constraints.
I believe they are managing this situation as best they can.
But we must do more than manage the gradual decline our fleet.
We need to bend the curve lines and get our Navy and Marine Corps onto a new and better trajectory.
We need to grow our surface fleet, not put it into mothballs. We need to address the strike fighter shortfall and start building the carrier air wings we need for the future. We need more and better munitions. And we need to start building more submarines so that two decades from now, Admiral Harrisâ€™ successors donâ€™t have a submarine fleet that is half the size of Chinaâ€™s.
It will take many years to do all this, but the decisions we make today will set the trajectory we proceed along, and I remain fully committed to making sure our nation maintains its maritime superiority and command of the seas."