Below is the full transcript of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense (HAC-D) Hearing on Fiscal 2022 Budget Request for the Navy and Marine Corps.
House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense Holds Hearing on Fiscal 2022 Budget Request for the Navy and Marine Corps
MCCOLLUM: This hearing will come to order. This hearing is fully virtual and we must address a few housekeeping matters. For today's meeting, the chair or the staff designated by the chair may mute participants' microphones when they are not under recognition for the purpose of eliminating background noise. And as a side note, our committee's been absolutely fabulous on that, so thank you all for your due diligence on your microphones. Members are responsible for muting and unmuting themselves. If you notice you have not unmuted yourself, I will ask you if you'd like the staff to unmute you. Please nod, give me the thumbs up, or something like that, and then we will unmute your microphone. I remind all members and witnesses that we have a five--a five minute clock that--that still applies for questions. If there is technical issues, we will move to the next member until the issue is resolved and you will retain the balance of your time. A one minute remaining clock will turn yellow. A 30 seconds remaining clock, I will gently tap my gavel mouse to the--to the computer to remind members that their time is almost expired. When your time has expired, the clock will turn red and I will begin to recognize the next member. In terms of speaking order, we will follow the order set in House rules beginning with the chair and the ranking member. Then members present at the time the hearing is called to order will be recognized by the order of their seniority, and finally members not present at the time the hearing is called to order. House rules require me to remind you that we have set up an email address to which members can send anything that they wish to submit in writing at any of our hearings or markups. The email address has been provided in advance to your staff.
So, I'll start with my opening statement. This afternoon the committee will receive testimony on the posture of the United States Navy and Marine Corps. Our three witnesses are the Honorable Thomas Harker, acting Secretary of the Navy; Admiral Michael Gilday, Chief of Naval Operations; and General David Berger, Commandant of the Marine Corps. All three witnesses have a long and distinguished career serving our country. Secretary Harker, this is your first time testifying before the committee, and we welcome you and we thank you for your service. Admiral and General, you've both testified before this committee before last year. We welcome you back and we thank you for being here. Now, while today's hearing will cover a multiple of topics, I just want to quickly highlight a few. Earlier this year, the committee held a hearing on climate change and its effects on national security. There can be no doubt that our climate is changing, and the Department of Defense must be prepared or suffer the consequences. No military service is going to feel the effects of climate change as uniquely as the Navy and the Marine Corps, with missions that rely on being able to navigate our waters and also find safe harbors. Additionally, we must ensure that we understand and prepare how a changing climate will affect Arctic region and its security. Turning to shipbuilding for a minute, over the past several years, the Department of Defense has maintained a requirement for a 355 ship Navy. However, past budgets have not fully supported this requirement, and then the committee has been to left to find additional resources. I would like to better understand the thought process of the department regarding this year's shipbuilding plan. And additionally, we understand that the Marine Corps is embarking upon a modernization effort, Force Design for 2030. This will require investments in research, development, as well as divestment of legacy platforms that may no longer have a role in this new method of operation.
The committee looks forward to receiving more details on Force Design 2030 and the FY '22 budget request. Now, it must not be lost on our discussion on issues of procurement or Force Design that people should be the departments number one priority. And the committee is interested in hearing about the programs that pro--prioritize the welfare of our sailors, Marines, their families, including ensuring prompt medical care, childcare, and family programs that are available worldwide. We also need to hear how the Navy and Marine Corps are combating sexual assault and extremism in your ranks. The number of incidents, are they increasing or declining? And are you doing everything to ensure that they're moving in the right direction? And are you properly resourced to handle this task? We understand that this is a challenging time for the Navy and the Marine Corps, and we went to work in coordination with you to ensure you're receiving the required resources to maintain readiness, support personnel, and modernize for the future. At the same time, we must conduct a thorough oversight of every dollar requested to ensure that taxpayers' funds are being spent wisely. We will continue to ask the difficult questions to ensure that the right programs are being fully funded. And finally, we are holding this hearing before the release of the full budget. We understand that this might limit your ability to answer certain questions. Given the tight timeframe we will have to write the bill in, I ask you to be prepared to respond to members and the committee on any specific budget questions that you are asked here today immediately after the full budget request is submitted. With that, I want to thank you again for appearing before the committee to discuss these important answers. I will also ask you to summarize your statement in a moment, but first I
would like to recognize our ranking member, Mr. Calvert, for his opening comments. Mr. Calvert?
CALVERT: Thank you, Chair McCollum. Acting Secretary Harker, Admiral Gilday, General Berger, we are pleased to have you here with us today. As our nation's sailors and Marines continue to serve on the leading edge of our operations in the era of great power competition, it's critical that we hear from you about all the challenges facing the United States Navy and the Marine Corps. I wish we were able to have this hearing with your budget request for fiscal year 2022, but I'm sure we can have a productive conversation nevertheless. In prior fiscal years, the--this Congress, in coordination with our services, have made great strides in moving to support the right balance of modernization and readiness, yet I continue to be concerned about the impact that the overall budget pressures in these coming years may have on our current and future forces. I believe this is most evident in our Navy and Marine Corps. Faced with increased capabilities from China, Russia, and other adversaries, the three of you here today have started the hard work of preparing our services for the conflicts of tomorrow. This includes investing in integrated unmanned systems and other advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, rightsizing our force, and developing next-generation combat capability. You also committed to ensuring that critical acquisition programs, like the Columbia Class Submarine, frigate, and the Joint Strike Fighter all stay on schedule and deliver capabilities to the fleet that are needed now. In addition to these resources--challenges, the Navy and Marine Corps are also responding to many issues facing the force. These include, of course, impacts from COVID-19, the physical and mental effects of 20 years at war, readiness and training, shortfalls that ultimately resulted in the deaths of Corporal Villanueva and Private First Class Baltierra in July of 2020. As we discussed yesterday, we should never lose a sailor, a soldier, airman, Marine, or guardian in training. Congress must ensure that the U.S. military can meet its training needs in the safest and most effective way possible, even if the budget falls short of doing so. All of these issues are critical for us to understand and properly plan as we prepare our sailors and Marines to defend the nation. Thank you again for your service, and I look forward to your testimony. I yield back, Madam Chair.
MCCOLLUM: Thank you, Mr. Calvert. And now it's my honor to recognize the ranking member of the full Appropriations Subcommittee, Ms. Granger, for her opening comments. Ms. Granger?
GRANGER: Madam Chair, Admiral Gilday, I want to say first it's--it's good to see you again after your visit to Fort Worth. I enjoyed it very much and appreciate your coming. Today it's important that our sailors and Marines continue to play a central role in protecting American military power. As countries like China continue to build up their naval fleets and threaten our allies, it's critical that we provide sufficient funding for our Navy and our Marine Corps. This includes increasing the number of battleships in our fleet, rapidly developing new technologies and expanding our forward posture, particularly in the Pacific. Furthermore, there is no question that the COVID-19 has had an impact on our military.
I'm interested to hear how you've responded to those challenges. I look forward to your testimony on these and other important issues facing the Navy and the Marine Corps. And I thank you for your time and I yield back.
MCCOLLUM: Thank you, Ms. Granger. Gentlemen, we do have your full written statements and they will be placed in the record, and members have copies available to them. They were made available earlier. So, I would like to have as much time as possible for members to ask questions, so I would encourage each and every one of you to summarize your statements. Be complete but also succinct when you're responding to questions. And so, with that, Mr. Secretary, I would like to (OFF-MIC) over to you for your opening remarks.
HARKER: Thank you. We're on here? Yeah. Thank you, Chairman McCollum, Ranking Member Calvert, distinguished members of the committee. Thank you for your--
HARKER: --Bipartisan efforts--
--Sir? You're breaking up, and we do want to hear your--your statement. Can you check your microphone, make sure it's not covered or anything like that, and try again from the beginning?
HARKER: Chair McCullough, Ranking Member Calvert, distinguished members of the committee, thank you for your bipartisan efforts on behalf of the sailors, Marines, and civilians and the Department of the Navy. It's an honor to be here with Admiral Gilday and General Berger. I support and appreciate their efforts to build a more integrated (INAUDIBLE) in Force Design 2030. We are unified in our determination to deliver the most capable, lethal, and ready force possible within the top line you provide. We will stay ahead of the pacing threat of China and other global challenges with hard choices to divest in less capable platforms and systems to invest in a superior future force. The top priority for each of us is to invest in our sailors, Marines, and civilians to ensure they are prepared and equipped to execute their missions and return home safely to their families. We're fighting the scourge of sexual harassment and sexual assault through efforts like the Watch List, a tool that uses Navy and Marine Corps data to alert commanders to conditions in their units that might lead to these toxic behaviors. We have also prioritized the mental health of our force, speaking out at a senior level about the importance of counseling and the availability of mental health professionals, chaplains, family counselors, and other support personnel. We are investing in this area this year, and you will soon see a reprogramming of funds to add funding that--to provide additional mental health practitioners for our sailors and Marines in operational units. In order to ensure every dollar is maximized to equip and prepare our war fighters, we are building on our financial statement audit successes to improve our business systems, account for
every asset, and leverage data as a strategic asset. Through the Performance to Plan Initiative, we're making data driven decisions through rigorous self-assessment backed by accountability and the demand to improve effectiveness and efficiency. We are committed to building stronger partnerships with our vital industrial (INAUDIBLE) and suppliers. I have visited all four of our public Navy shipyards, and I am fully committed to the shipyard infrastructure optimization program and other vital physical and IT infrastructure investments. These will increase the capability and resiliency at these hundred plus year old installations by increasing the size and capability of our dry docks while also providing our 40,000 plus person workforce with the modern tools they need to maintain our (INAUDIBLE) and more lethal assets. Around the world and around the flag, the sailors, Marines, and civilians of our integrated naval force are keeping the lines and executing the mission. On behalf of each of them and their families, thank you for your time, effort, and appropriations. I look forward to your questions here.
MCCOLLUM: Thank you so much. Admiral Gilday, please begin.
GILDAY: Chair McCollum, Ranking Member Calvert, distinguished members of the committee, thank you for your enduring support for our Navy and Marine Corps team and the opportunity to discuss both our posture and future priorities this morning with Secretary Harker and Commandant Berger.
Today, more than 40,000 sailors and Marines are at sea on more than 100 ships. Most of them are forwarded deployed. They're deterring conflict and safeguarding opportunity, and I think they're keeping America and our allies safe. In the last year, our sailors and Marines operated above, on, and under the seas from the Arctic to the Cape of Good Hope, in the Caribbean, to the South China Sea, to the Atlantic, the Indian, and the Pacific Oceans, and our routine presence include major economic arteries like the Suez and the Panama Canals, the Straits of Hormuz, Malaga, and Gibraltar. Our cyber teams stood watch and are standing constant watch over our networks. Your ballistic missile submarines are maintaining their steady silent patrol. Expeditionary medical teams and hospital ships deployed to COVID hotspots across our country, and we continue to assist with vaccinations today. We demonstrated our first successful standard missile intercept of an ICBM. We disabled a target aircraft from shipboard laser--using shipboard laser technology. And we just finished this week our largest exercise to date using a full range of unmanned ships and aircraft. Your sailors, your Navy civilians, and our families made all of this possible, along with patriots in our shipyards and our aircraft maintenance facilities and our mobilized Navy reservists, and our partners in industry, companies large and small who kept the production lines moving in sustainment of a Navy with a very high op tempo possible, all of this in a global pandemic. Those people really are the foundation of our strength, and I can--and I cannot be more proud to serve alongside them. And their strength is needed now more than ever. Competition on, under, and about the seas is intensifying. China and Russia are rapidly mobilizing their militaries, attempting to undermine our alliances and degrading the free and the open international order we've worked so hard to sustain. Our joint force relies on the Navy and the Marine Corps to control the seas in conflict and project power ashore. Those missions are timeless.
And while our fleet can deliver on those missions today, we will be increasingly challenged to do so in the future. We have studied the threat. We have refined our operational concepts, and we analyzed what the joint force needs from your Navy and your Marine Corps. The results of this--the results of analysis over analysis in the past five years has been consistent and crystal-clear. America needs a larger and more capable Navy. We need greater numbers of submarines, smaller and more numerous surface combatants, and more lethal offensive capabilities, a host of unmanned platforms under, on, and above the seas, and a modern strategic deterrent. We also need and are working hard on a more robust, resilient network infrastructure. But importantly, naval power is not a function of sheer numbers alone, nor is it simply a result of the lethal systems on our ships. It also comes in the concepts that shape how we fight and the need to maintain, train, and equip our forces to win in combat. And finally, fundamentally and most importantly, it come down--it comes down to our sailors and to our Navy civilians, and we are committed to developing sailors who can outthink and out fight any adversary. Let there be no doubt the world's oceans are crucial for America's security and our prosperity. With your continued support, we will field--your Navy is committed, your sailors are committed and determined to field a lethal and--lethal Navy today and deliver the naval power America needs tomorrow. Again, we are grateful for your support to our Navy and Marine Corps team, and I look forward to answering your questions. Thank you.
MCCOLLUM: Thank you. And now we will hear from the commandant of the Marine Corps, Mr. Berger.
BERGER: Chair McCollum, Ranking Member Calvert, distinguished members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify on the posture of your Marine Corps, our priorities, and the resource requirements necessary to fund it all. As Secretary Harker and Admiral Gilday noted, we greatly appreciate both your efforts to provide the timely funding as well as your enduring commitment to our Marines, sailors, and our families. Your bipartisan support is critical to creating and sustaining our strategic advantage now and into the future, particularly as competing national priorities increase pressure on defense funds. I recognize the difficult decisions this Congress faces, especially in the broader budget context of resources required to address things like COVID-19 and aging infrastructure, climate change, systemic social inequity, and the competitiveness of our domestic economy. I also recognize the tough choices this committee must make as it evaluates the budget priorities of the services, our combatant commands, and the agencies across the department. In a recent hearing, Chair McCollum asked what kind of defense budget do we want to see. And I don't mean Fiscal Year 2022, but as we shape our national priorities five and 10 years out. How can we take a harder look at or even cut strategically unnecessary or outdated programs that just aren't working? These questions get at the heart of the difficult decisions before Congress and leaders in this department. We must look over the horizon a decade ahead when shaping our national defense priorities. At the same time, we must move beyond programs designed in an earlier era that are strategically unnecessary, outdated, and--and just aren't working. In his recent testimony, your INDOPACOM Commander, Admiral Davidson, stated that the greatest danger for the United States in this competition is the erosion of conventional deterrents. Combat credible conventional deterrent posture is necessary to prevent conflict, protect U.S. interests, and to assure our allies and partners. I could not agree more. This is what has been driving our forces on to enduring efforts over the past 20 years. Recognizing the challenges of the current budget environment, we've pursued a cost neutral approach, self-funding all Force Design 2030 credit programs by divesting of legacy capabilities. With this committee's support, we've attempted to make difficult decisions by cutting outdated programs, reinvesting those resources into the cutting-edge capabilities that will create an advantage and deter our competitors (INAUDIBLE). Additionally, with the counsel of the ranking member, we've looked for savings in other non-programmatic areas, to include our personnel accounts. For example, we're in the process now of reducing our headquarters staff by 15 percent. These reductions will help fund investments for necessary personnel talent leaders and family programs. To be clear, Force Design 2030 is about modernizing capabilities, not just our equipment sets, also our personnel systems, our training and sailing programs as well. After all of our internal self-funding over the past two years, I believe we've maximized the dollar--every dollar you've provided. However, further modernization with internal resources will incur what I believe to be unacceptable risk. We'll need the help of this committee to generate the resources for cutting edge capabilities to enable forces needed to compete with China and Russia. I welcome the opportunity to work with this committee, and look forward to your questions, both in this hearing and in the weeks that follow.
Well, thank you, gentlemen. I'm going to ask a question that I know you'll get back to me on. First off--out here, I want to know how climate change is impacting your installations, and then I went to see how the president's budget is addressing those and what kind of priority is put in that. So, that's--that's the first--I'm a former social studies teacher. That's your first piece of homework after--after you get the--the budget in. And kind of going off of that, I'd like to talk about the Navy Arctic Strategy. On January 21st, the Navy released its new Arctic strategy entitled "A Blue Arctic." The document provided some strategic guidance on how the department will apply naval power in the Arctic and talked about how to integrate with allies and other partners. The Blue Arctic provides an idea that the Arctic is gradually turning from white to blue, in other words, from ice to water, right, that reduced ice coverage is making the Arctic more available and more navigable. So, we know that there are things that we have to be looking at doing to keep those waters navigable as well as protect our--our shoreline, right, Alaska, and work with our other democracies in the area. So, Secretary, my question is--my first question for you is how do you envision the Navy and the Marine Corps's present in the Arctic? And then General Berger, is a cold water--weather modernization, has that been included in your Force Design in 2030? And Admiral, what challenges and resources do you foresee needing within the increasing opening of the Arctic waterways? Thank you.
HARKER: Thank you, ma'am. As we discussed yesterday, we have a strong relationship with allies and partners in the Arctic. Several of the countries up in the Scandinavian region are our strong allies and partners and provide a lot of capability.
We've also had a strong presence in the Arctic, both under the sea, up in the air, and then partnered with the Coast Guard on the seas. I know the Coast Guard is also in the process of recapitalizing their polar icebreakers. We're busy underneath the sea in submarines, and we also have aviation assets in our (INAUDIBLE) the Arctic that work closely with our allies and partners. General Berger?
BERGER: The Arctic strategy the CNO and I and the SECNAV worked on is--is built--built on the same foundational principles as the National Defense Strategy, which was we need to--we need a strategy for the North that deters--first of all, provides deterrence because that's the underpinnings of our overall National Defense Strategy, but puts us in a position where we can respond if there is a crisis. So, for us, your question is does that in--is that included in Force Design 2030, the modernization aspect. Yes, ma'am, it is for--from a couple different angles, and--and, you know, I'll just touch on them quickly. One, training; we need to make sure that we fund the training that we have to do in that region and, as you point out, critically with partners and allies. In our case, historically allies like Norway, where we have prepositioned supplies for decades now that--that allow us to train up there and also enable us to defend the region. The second part, of course, is the equipment itself, which has to be modernized. So, on both fronts, ma'am, it is a part of Force Design 2030. Lastly, CNO?
Ma'am, I will get your question in a second. I'd like to--to tell you what we've invested in or--with the money you've given us so far over the last--over the last couple years. We've stood up Second Fleet in Norfolk and we've stood up a submarine command in Norfolk as well. And so, those are expeditionary headquarters that we have deployed not only to exercise with the Marines out of North Carolina, but we also deployed into places like Iceland when they're in a command-and-control mode with NATO during major operations and exercises. We have just come off of a four-month AI antisubmarine warfare operation with our key partners in the North, so the Norwegians, the Dutch, and the Brits in particular. We are on the cusp of two more exercises, one in the High North in the Norwegian Sea with an amphibious ready group, so the United States Marine Corps, along with a carrier strike group, if we can get it up there, out of the Middle East, and with our allies and partners, including the--the British aircraft carrier, the Queen Elizabeth, with Marine Corps F-35s deployed on it. So, in the past 18 months, we've done about 20 different exercises and operations in the High North and the Arctic. And--and nearly all of those have been with allies and partners, along with--along with the Marine Corps. In terms of challenges in the future, I would tell you I think it comes down to not technology per se, but numbers of ships. And so, it's more--that is becoming a more and more competitive space for the reasons that you outlined, going from white to blue. And so, right now, as I mentioned in my opening statement, about a third of your Navy is at sea right now. We've got 296 ships. We are well short of the--the legal requirement for 355. We know through our analysis that, based on our current top line, we can sustain a Navy of about 300 to 305 ships. So, as I said in my opening statement, I see in the future is going to be more difficult for us to maintain that kind of forward presence that we know we need in places like the
West Pacific, in the Middle East, in the Mediterranean, and now in the High North in order to compete and be in a position to--to deter both China and Russia.
MCCOLLUM: Thank you. Mr. Calvert, please?
CALVERT: Thank you. You got it? Can you hear me okay? Great. Thank you. Admiral, this is for you. Obviously, we have some budget challenges. As we were discussing yesterday, the Chinese are significantly ahead of us in the number of ships, and the--their capability is pretty good since they stole most of our technology. And that's--that's a significant problem. But speaking of technology, I want to speak to something that's a concern to me. On April 12th, I read an article about a new Navy software factory called The Forge, and about how the Navy wants to reshape how ships get upgraded. The article states the sea service envisions a new way of doing business where it can field software fixes and entirely new software-based capabilities as soon as they're developed by a small business. I must say I'm concerned. The Navy has been pursuing this capability under a Navy SBIR initiative that became a program of record in 2012 called ATRT, an Automated Test and Retest. Two years ago, the Office of Naval Research expanded ATRT to an initiative called Cloud to Edge, or CTE. The Navy has validated ATRT and CTE concepts and technology with over 100 successful demonstrations and has shown significant productivity improvements for both time and cost, nearing 90 percent over current methods.
One such high-profile demonstration was successful Aegis ATRT Virtual Twin in April 2019. Despite the many demonstrations that dramatically improve updated legacy process, the Navy is not aggressively letting this effort scale. In fact, it intends to stand up its own enterprise to replicate what is already being done. My concern is, rather than follow SBIR law, which states that an agency shall use a SBIR awardee to the greatest extent practicable when pursuing their technology, all too often the Navy brings the capability in-house and gives it to an incumbent prime. This is why we don't see rapid business growth or innovation companies in defense markets. They just don't trust you. As you can imagine, the behavior has a depressing effect on the number of entrepreneurs who want to do business with the DOD, and it shows--and it shows and slows down our ability to maintain a competitive edge against our near peer adversaries. I believe that the department's resistance to permitting SBIR awardees to scale their technologies neglects the vital importance of entrepreneurial innovation and risks our national security. The only two people I can think of--the only two people that I can think of that have been able to disrupt and force change are two billionaires, Elon Musk and Peter Thiel. It must not take a billion dollars and a team of lawyers to bring viable disruption to the department. When a SBIR company develops something as innovative as Aegis Virtual Twin and then the Navy brings it in-house, we're sending a signal to all entrepreneurs that their products and technology will not be protected. I expect the Navy to assist entrepreneurs in applying their technologies to Navy challenges, not to take those opportunities away. We're facing a race for digital superiority, and we're not going to get there by discouraging entrepreneurs or limiting their opportunities. To say I'm frustrated is an understatement. I believe the Navy as conflicts of interest with the labs and the Warfare Center. I don't see how they can oversee entrepreneurial initiatives if they're allowed to then bring them in-house. ATRT is just one example of how the Navy treats revolutionary technology that would transform how the Navy operates to make it more efficient, more capable, and more deplorable--deployable. My question is to you. How are you going to ensure that the Navy removes those conflicts of interest, creates a culture that invites disruption and productivity, engages and--and advocates for the entrepreneurs? Sorry for such a long question, but it's something that's been bothering me for years. Thank you. Admiral, please?
GILDAY: Sir, the short answer is we are leveraging industry best standards now. So, you mentioned Naval Forge, and we have Naval X, which puts us in to touch primarily with small businesses across the country so that we can leverage and put their technology to use, to scale it as quickly as possible. And there's a number of success stories with respect to that. I think, sir, some of the criticism from industry is warranted. I think some of it is outdated. And I also think that the direction we're--that we're moving in to apply industry best standards makes it more competitive and forces us and forces industry--forces the cream--forces us to--to take a closer look at the cream that should rise to the top instead of--instead of just anybody that comes to the plate with a--with a new technology. There's plenty of different mousetraps out there. We're trying to set--we're trying to set the environment so that we can pick from among the very best in a competitive environment and put it to use and scale it. With respect to where we're moving with software, right now it takes us sometimes over a month to get a software update completely out to the fleet, to test it against all of our systems, make sure it's not going to break anything, and then push it out to the fleet. Right now, we are applying industry best standards to do that in hours instead of days.
And so, sir, I'm fully committed. I accept the--I accept the criticism. I think we're turning the corner on it. I've talked to members of industry. In fact, the past two months, most of the travel I've done have been with industry, both small business and large, to get a better sense of their criticism, where the--where the opportunities lie for us to really leverage the latest technology, particularly from small companies. I do think we're headed in the right direction. I am not satisfied yet to that we completely have it right. And I'd--I'd like to spend more time with you, sir, to--to lay out where we are and where--where we're going to go.
CALVERT: Well, I appreciate that. In closing, Madam Chair, I just want to say I--I--I hope the admiral and the commandant--I'm sure you've both read the book, Kill Chain, and the--the problems that we're having in the so-called valley of death on these entrepreneurs. When they--you know, and--and the problem is--right now, I talk to these guys all the time, they're all in California it seems, but a lot of them everywhere around the country. But they--they don't want to do business with you because they start out and they get promised certain things, and then the rug's pulled out from underneath them. So, let's talk about that. We've got to change that or these folks aren't going to do business with you, simple as that. Thank you, Madam Chair. I'll yield back.
MCCOLLUM: Mr. Calvert, I thought that was a very important question and something that you and I should figure out how to follow up on after--after the budget's--after the budget's done and out. I hear from Minnesota businesses about other branches of the service and how it's not very transparent. So, thank you for your question.
We have been joined by the full committee Appropriations Chair Ms. DeLauro. Ms. DeLauro, I turn the floor over to you.
DELAURO: Thank you so much, Madam Chair, and the ranking member. Appreciate the opportunity to be with you. I'm going to be very parochial in my question, so--which has to do with the Third Congressional District of Connecticut. And General Berger, great to see you here today. I'm so sorry I missed you when you came to Sikorsky. Let me ask you a couple of questions, as they have to do with the CH-53K. It provides the Marine Corps with a 21st-century capability, increased lift, range, survivability, maintainability. So--and--and my constituents build this aircraft and proud to support the Marines. And a--a question--really two questions. I know that on programs like this there are always unit cost concerns. This one is no exception. Please tell me and us, have the unit costs for the CH-53K been coming down year-over-year? And do I understand correctly that the two aircraft this committee added last year produced an even greater unit cost re--re--reduction. Please, General Berger?
BERGER: Can you--okay. My trip up to Sikorsky, ma'am, was timely. It was really informative for me. I'd never been there before to look at that production line. As you point out, the workers there, the folks there are really dedicated to giving us the capability that--that we need, and they're great patriots.
Then I went down to North Carolina to where we would actually fly on the aircraft, because it's--it's really difficult to assess, you know, a program or capability unless you're--unless you get in the back of it and see what it's--where it's at. And both of those two together were very helpful for--for me. There's two aspects which you highlighted that I'm focused on, or I think we need to focus on. One is the procurement cost, the unit cost certainly, absolutely key. The second one is the sustainment cost, both of which I spoke with the Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin executives while we were in Connecticut. The cost, ma'am, has gone down from the initial lots of procuring. It is in a better spot now than it was a couple years ago. But I--I emphasized to them that they have to do everything possible to drive the cost out of the programs that will follow. But the second part is just as important, because this is--this is an aircraft that we're going to fly for 25, 30, 35 years. So, the--the long-term cost of the flight per--the cost per flight hour, the reliability of the components, we talked through all of that when we were in Connecticut. So, I asked them to really focus on not just driving the initial purchase price, but also the sustainment cost all the way through the supply chain and back to the vendors. Every component has to last the number of hours that they advertise, or else the ratings goes down, as you well know, ma'am.
DELAURO: Um-hmm. Thank you very much. And it's also my understanding that, given the--the capabilities and--and--and how fly by wire eases the actual burden of flying an aircraft, that--that it really lets them--brings focus on what the mission is. So, I thank you. I thank you for the visit. And I
understand the need to bring the costs down, and--as I'm sure that--that Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin understand that as well. To--to Admiral Gilday and to Secretary Harker, I--I just want to say, Secretary Harker, it was great to see you again. We had the opportunity to meet in Connecticut and tour--tour the plant. And so, my question for the two of you is your thoughts on the heavy lift capability needs of the Navy, because I understand that it's--you're getting ready to retire the--your fleet of MH-53s, which perform this airborne mine countermeasure mission. So, let me just get your sense of--of, you know, what your capability needs are and--anyway, let me ask you to go forward with that first, okay?
HARKER: Yes, ma'am. Thank you for the opportunity to comment. It was great meeting you up in Connecticut, going to the--it was great meeting you up in Connecticut and going to the Sikorsky plant, being able to take the tour of the plant and listen to all the things that are being done to pull the cost out of the 53 helo. We definitely have a need for heavy lift capability. I think the CNO, as a war fighter, is probably the best suited to answer that question.
GILDAY: Yes, ma'am. Thanks for the question. So, a couple of points on--on--on the 53 which, as you know, is an old platform. And we are moving to smaller ships, particularly as we--as we operate in high density areas like the Strait of Hormuz and the Arabian Gulf or in the South China Sea. And so, the systems that we are employing--actually, I--in a recent visit to California, I watched them being tested. They are re--they're robotic, remotely operated vehicles that operate under the
sea. And so, instead of towing an immense contraption from a helicopter, we are now controlling small robotic vehicles that do a much better job at finding mines and neutralizing them actually using AI. And I--I'd love to be able to show you the demonstration where we use artificial intelligence among robotic--robotic vehicles under the water to basically search, find mines, and--and neutralize them. It's a--it's very, very neat. The--the second thing we're doing is we're putting a new mine countermeasures capability on our littoral combat ships. And what that allows us to do is deploy a system off the back of that ship that's highly reliable and, at the same time, deploy a smaller robotic system from a--from a smaller helicopter that allows us, with longer range, to move out and to search areas more effectively. So, what we're doing, ma'am, is we're essentially divesting of a legacy platform to a much more capable high-tech reliable platform.
DELAURO: Um-hmm. That--that--you know, thank you. And if--if it--you know, I know this is just a very, very brief description, but I--it'd be interesting to me and I think hopefully to the committee if you could tell us, you know, the Navy plans--how you plan to proceed once the MH-53s are retired. You know, what--what happens, you know, there? And if you could, you know, give us that information, it would be helpful. And--and again, I'm wondering if the--you know, the--the--the 53-K is something that you all are thinking about as well.
GILDAY: Yes, ma'am. We'll come back to you with more detail, but the--the short answer is this is--is a transition point here. So, we're not--
GILDAY: --Going to have adaptive capability. The new capabilities are really coming online. Within the next 18 months, we'll be fielding them on our ships. We're still testing right now, but we'll be feeling them--fielding them in--later on this year and into--into 2022. And so, until the systems are certified, we don't bring the older systems--we don't retire the older systems.
DELAURO: I thank you. I thank you all. And I thank you for the--the work that you do. And I want to just yield back and thank the chair and the ranking member for the opportunity to--to participate this morning. Thank you.
MCCOLLUM: Great questions. I learned a lot. So, to the full ranking member of the Appropriations Committee, Ms. Granger.
GRANGER: Thank you. Two weeks ago, we heard from U.S. Southern Command about the positive impact that increased Navy deployments are having on the region. Recently, two littoral combat ships deployed to SOUTHCOM to put significant pressure on transnational criminal organizations and conduct exercises with regional partners. As Admiral Faller put it, these deployments made a difference.
Many of us on this subcommittee continue be concerned about the challenges in the SOUTHCOM area of responsibility, especially as we continue to watch the crisis on our southern border unfold. Do you share these concerns, and can the Navy better resource South--SOUTHCOM by keeping the LCS ships in service? And I would address that to whoever can answer that question.
HARKER: Thank you, ma'am. I think the--in my 20 years experience in the Coast Guard, I spent a lot of time operating in that SOUTHCOM AOR with covering the transnational drug threat. I've spent a lot of time interdicting drugs at sea in several multi-ton drug seekers. And so, I definitely appreciate the importance of that mission, and I believe that the LCS as currently configured is a good asset to be used for that mission. The CNO probably has more recent war fighting experience in this area.
GILDAY: Ma'am, the littoral combat ships do an excellent job down there in the SOUTHCOM AOR as well as in the Western Pacific. There's two issues with that ship that we're--that we're trying to get after. The first is reliability on the odd numbered hulls. And so, as most of you probably know, there is a problem inside a--a foreign built combining gear that has been a big problem with these, affecting the reliability of those ships. A few months ago, we had to tow one back into Florida because it broke down at sea. And so, we have halted our acceptance of any of those ships from the shipbuilder, number one. Number two, we're forcing the vendor who designed and delivered those combining gears to go back to the drawing board to redesign and do testing, which they're doing the testing right now,
and then come back to back-fit--to back-fit our ships. So, we've got to get the reliability piece resolved, particularly if we're going to put those--get those ships in the Caribbean for long sustained times. The other--the other piece of it is lethality. And so, we're putting missile systems on 31 of our 35 littoral combat ships as well as both an antisubmarine warfare capability on about 15 of them, and a--a mine capability on about a similar number of ships. And those last two capabilities have come online in the next 18--about 18 months. So, ma'am, in--in a nutshell, we're very bullish on LCS and where we're headed.
GRANGER: Good. I'm glad to hear that. Let me just follow up on that because the Navy proposed many ships before the end of their projected lives to--to be mothballed or--so, this committee pushed back on that proposal. We're now hearing that the Navy will propose additional decommissions this year in spite of the concerns we raised. So, why we want to get rid of these ships well before the end of their useful lives and jeopardize our ability to counter China when it has so many more ships?
HARKER: Thank you, ma'am. That's a good question. You know, we're still in the process of having those discussions about the '22 budget and what will be in it and what won't be in it, so I can't go into detail on that. But it's definitely something that we're in the process of discussing with OSD and OMB, and they'll probably be able to give you more information about it.
GRANGER: Thank you.
MCCOLLUM: Thank you, Ms. Granger. Mr. Secretary, we're having a hard time with your microphone. I don't know if it's obstructed or something like that. We've--we've tried to let the people on your end know technically. We--we've been able to understand, but it's--it's--it's a little bit of a strain and a little difficult. Next up I have Mr. Ryan and then Mr. Rogers. Mr. Ryan? Mr. Ryan has disappeared, so I'm going to go to Mr. Cuellar and then Mr. Rogers. Thank you.
CUELLAR: Thank you so much. I--I also want to follow up on what the ranking member, Ms. Rank--Granger, mentioned a few minutes ago, because I am also concerned what's happening in our own backyard. I'm talking about not only Central America but South America. And if you look at the presence of what especially the Chinese have down in South America, it is a little concerning. So, it's not only the international criminal organizations, but it's also the presence of the Chinese, the Russians, and of course the--the Iranians to an extent also in--in--in a couple of countries down there. I know that we are waiting--I think it's on July 31st. We are waiting for a report on a inventory of what the Department of Defense--our Department of Defense, USAID (PH), and the Department of State should be doing down in those countries, what I called our own backyard. Could you give us what your vision is or your thoughts are as to what we can do to counter the Russian but especially the Chinese presence in our own backyard? Because I don't want to see the 1980s again where the U.S. wakes up and says, oh, my God, look what's happening in Nicaragua, and then we wake up at--you know, in the middle of the night.
So, I like to be prepared. Can you all give us your vision and your thoughts on our own backyard, just to follow up on what Ms. Granger asked?
HARKER: Thank you, sir. That's a good question. I know that as we discuss the great power competition with China and Russia, Admiral Faller down at SOUTHCOM has been very focused on the impact of those nations in our backyard down in Central America and South America. It's something that we are definitely watching and paying attention to and that he has focused a lot of his resources on. As Ms. Granger mentioned, we do have several large ships that are deploying down there, both for counter narcotic missions, and then we also do training and other missions with many of the countries that are in that region. And we work closely with them, their embassies and their different attaches. I think the--the war fighting aspects of that, the CNO might have additional comments.
GILDAY: Sure. If I could give you a couple of examples of where--where, sir, I think that we could make impact or have made impact, so part of this, working with Admiral Faller as an example, is what's the right tool to bring to bear in that area of responsibility that's going to make a difference in the competitive space. About a year and a half ago, he asked us to deploy a hospital ship down there. We did, and that hospital ship saw almost 60,000 patients, more than 2,000 surgeries, changed the lives of people, children that--that never had eyeglasses before, as an example, dental work, orthopedic work. Across the board, our medical teams did phenomenal work down there, and I--I would argue made friends for life.
And so, at the same time, the Chinese hospital ship, the Peace Ark, also deployed. But while the Peace Ark was providing support to Venezuelan elites, the U.S. Navy and the Marine Corps were providing help to Venezuelan refugees in countries like Colombia. So, that's an area where, you know, we're not bringing a jet down there with--with bombs. We're not shooting guns, but we're bringing the right kinds of capabilities that we have to bear to--to--to really make stronger partners and allies in the region. Another good example would be deploying combat engineers, setting up field hospitals, doing those types of things which might be more impactful in that region and gain us--you know, gain us more--more of a better long-term investment than, let's say, perhaps a carrier strike group. I--I hope I answered your question sufficiently, sir.
CUELLAR: Yeah. And--and I agree. I mean, it doesn't have to be that type of hard power. I think what you're talking about will develop a lot of goodwill among those countries. I mean, just--just showing up to a place brings a lot of goodwill, I mean, they--they went to associate with--with America. So, I look forward to working with y'all. And hopefully after this report that will come out July 31st, we can follow up on this. But I appreciate what--what you all do down there and across the world. I know that y'all are stretched out pretty thin. I know what's happened in the Indo-Pacific. I understand all that. But I'm one of those believers that I just don't want to wake up in the middle of the night and realize that we got folks in the backyard. But I appreciate it. Thank you so much. I yield back the balance of my time, Chairwoman.
Thank you very much, Mr. Cuellar. Next up is Mr. Rogers and then after that Mr. Kilmer. Mr. Rogers?
ROGERS: (OFF-MIC) Admiral Gilday, about our cybersecurity capabilities. China, Russia increasingly aggressive in the cyber domain, and with so much of today's technology at risk to cyber attacks, I'm concerned at the vulnerabilities we have across the spectrum in defense. Could you please tell us about your approach to cyber attacks?
GILDAY: Yes, sir. Firstly, in--in support of U.S. Cyber Command, the U.S. Navy currently has 40 cyber teams. We are increasing that number I think by four or five. I'd have to go back and check the exact number. But we're--we're providing additional cyber forces to General Nakasone up at--up at USCYBERCOM. In terms of the U.S. Navy approach, and the secretary hit at this in his opening remarks in terms of his priorities for investment, we are moving to the cloud off of leg--legacy infrastructure which, as you know, is vulnerable. And so, we are trying to transfer our data and our applications to an environment that's much more homogeneous, better protected with the latest technology that industry can bring to bear, and essentially using industry best practices instead of relying on a system of legacy networks that have just been cobbled together over time. The Navy and the Marine Corps had the largest single transfer of an application to the cloud over the past year, and that was a financial tool that we use with 70,000 users. And so, that's a big approach for us, including using integrated cyber tools that allow us to defend our data--our--our data better.
ROGERS: As I'm sure you're aware, one of the key elements of advancing our cyber capabilities is through partnership with the private sector. How are you working with industry leaders to not only ensure we have the best technology available, but also have the type of talent necessary to be dominant in the cyber domain?
GILDAY: Sir, I'd make two points with respect to that. As I mentioned earlier when answering the question for Ranking Member Calvert, we--we are applying industry best standards. And so, those tools and applications that are the latest and greatest and most effective with respect to defending our networks is what we're investing in. But we're not just doing it alone. We're doing it in conjunction with the other services because it makes sense to--it makes sense to go after those contracts as kind of an omnibus instead of singularly, you know, a number of different contracts going after different--going after a number of different technologies. I think the--the second thing I'd offer you with respect to talent is that we are casting a wider net, and I'll give you an example. So, typically we would go after those with four-year degrees to fill specific jobs--cyber jobs that we have. Four-year degrees are not really perhaps the number one requirement or something that, let's say, coders, hackers are typically interested in acquiring. And so, we spend a lot of time now engaging community colleges, as an example, to tap into that talent to attract them in a very competitive space.
BERGER: If I could just add--
ROGERS: --Thank you. Madam Chair, I guess my time is expired.
MCCOLLUM: Sir, you have about a minute left. And I think the commandant might--wanted to add something, if you'd like to hear from him.
BERGER: --Sir, we're--
BERGER: If I could just pick up where the CNO left off, we are looking also--
--to your point about the--the people themselves, at more creative ways to keep the talent within the Navy and Marine Corps that we have. In other words, the old days of you grew up in uniform and served for 20 years and retired or whatever are not going to allow us to keep the--the people that are trained that want to serve. So, we have to find creative ways where Lieutenant Byrd or Staff Sergeant Harper can serve in uniform, then go serve in industry, then come back into the service again, back and forth so that we can--we can enable them to have a career in both tracks. But that--that's a creative approach to the way we made it that we haven't needed to take in the past. But I--we're--we're convinced we're going to need to be that sort of creative going forward.
ROGERS: Well, thank you very much. And thanks, gentlemen, for all your service. I yield.
MCCOLLUM: Thank you. That was interesting, to see how they're trying to keep career paths going. I have Mr. Kilmer and then Mr. Womack.
KILMER: Thank you, Madam Chair. And Mr. Secretary, I want to just start by saying thank you for coming out and visiting Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in my neck of the woods earlier this week. It was a--a pleasure to chat with you and to show you around the shipyard that is such an important part of ensuring our sailors already to protect our country. As you're likely aware, Admiral Lescher, the--the VCNO, and Vice Admiral Galinis, the commander of NAVSEA, also visited the shipyard within the last week. And I very much
appreciated the opportunity to meet with all of you and talk about the role our public shipyards, including Puget, play in our nation's security and our mission readiness. PSNS is our nation's largest public shipyard and repair--repairs and retrofits our carriers and our submarines, and plays a critical role in our nation's defense posture in the Pacific. I know you mentioned it in your opening remarks, but I'd like you to just expand on the role our four public shipyards play and the importance of ensuring that they are modernized and optimized in accordance with the shipyard innovation and optimization plan that was laid out in 2018. And if you can speak to what risks to fleet readiness and to force posture, do you foresee if we do not make these shipyard investments now?
HARKER: Thank you, sir. Our shipyard infrastructure optimization plan provides a much-needed investment in our one-hundred-plus-year-old public shipyards. It will bring modern technology into the hands of our forty thousand-plus American shipyard workers. It will increase the size and capability of our aging drydocks, enabling them to serve the larger and more capable advanced weapons systems we are creating with our industry partner. This is a generational investment that will increase the resiliency of our shipyards, creating a more productive environment--footprint that meets our national security needs for decades into the future. It is vital to our success.
KILMER: I found it very compelling as we looked at the--you know, obviously, the--the shipyard--in our neck of the woods is a 130-year-old shipyard, so there is a fair amount of modernization that
needs to happen, including, you know, things like making sure that we have drydocks that can maintain the new generation of carriers. I just value any insights you have on how this committee can--help ensure that this vital work gets done.
HARKER: Thank you, sir. I believe that the shipyard infrastructure optimization plan right now, it's a 20-year plan that's upwards of $20 billion. It's something that we could look at accelerating if additional funds were available. So I know there's been talk by different folks on the Hill about putting that into the infrastructure bill. It's something that we would appreciate the opportunity to accelerate that program because it is very critical for our success moving forward.
GILDAY: Sir, can I?
GILDAY: If I could for the committee, just broadly, I know we--we've mentioned shipbuilding, but just three strategic investment areas for the Navy right now, they're pressurizing our budget. One is the Colombia class--the Colombia class ballistic missile submarine. So that will account for 25 to 33 percent of our shipbuilding budget. That is a must deliver on time capability, given that the--
given now the 40-year-old Ohio class submarines that we currently have at sea performing that no-fail mission. So that's once--one pressure. A second pressure is a strategic sea-- And so, you know, Congress has been gracious in allowing us to look at--do some market analysis instead of buying new--ships for $300 million or $500 million to buy used ships that have 20 years of life left on them and to buy them at a tenth of the cost, say $20 million-$25 million. And so we're moving out purposing vessels like that to close a capability gap. That's only widening with China and Russia. The last place is the shipyards. So the four public shipyards, 21 drydocks. We have not, and as the secretary said, this is--this is a once-in-a-century opportunity to upgrade these facilities. And we have to. We're putting new submarines in the water, Virginia Class Block 3s and Block 4s. They're larger submarines. We need to be able to get them into drydocks so we can work on them. And as you probably know, those four major ships--those four public shipyards are the only ones that really do--they do the lion's share of the work on all of our nuclear-powered ships, our aircraft carriers, our ballistic missile submarines, our guided-missile submarines, our SSGNs, as well as our attack submarines. And so, our infrastructure on those--on those four shipyards is over 60-years-old. So we're--we're recapitalizing those buildings as well as the drydocks. Based on the support of the Congress, we have nine ongoing MILCOM projects across those four shipyards right now. Thank you.
MCCOLLUM: Thank you.
KILMER: Thank you, Madam Chair. And I yield back.
MCCOLLUM: Oh, you were there. We thought we had lost you for a minute. I'm glad you got to hear everything.
KILMER: Yeah, I'm--I'm competing on wi-fi with my kids who are in school above my head, so. (LAUGHTER) Thanks, Madam Chair.
MALCOLM: Getting your kids educated is a very important thing. Mr. Womack, and then Mr. Crist.
WOMACK: Thank you, Madam Chair. And thanks to the gentleman for your service. Before I begin with my questions, Madam Chair, I just want to note that this is our first (INAUDIBLE) posture hearing since the skinny budget was--was put out.
And--and just for the record, I want to note my strong opposition to the topline number for defense. It--it doesn't even make up for inflation, which to me means it's a cut. It isn't the increase we need to compete to deter and to win against our patient threat. So I consider it to be dangerous. And I hope we can come together and inject some common sense into the situation and increase it more appropriately, in the words of Ronald Reagan, so that we can continue to have peace through strength. So that said, General Berger, good to see you, albeit virtually. I want to focus on the Force Design 2030, specifically on your belief that the Marine Corps needs to have advanced, capable, ground-based anti-ship missiles. Now, I've had the opportunity to speak with you and your staff about it, and I understand why you feel so strongly that you need this capability to compete with our pacing threat, China. You've been adamant about getting this capability into the fleet by 2023. So help me understand the capability and the need--why--why this particular time frame is so important to you and the Corp?
BERGER: Yes, sir. Thanks. I'll start where the CNO left off a couple of questions about the need in central, rural or--force to control the seas, to make sure commerce is open and flowing and how critical that is to our economy. And you need a naval force to do that. Our role in contributing to that, sir, is to make sure that where the--where control has to happen from a--from--from a tactical to operational perspective, that we can contribute. We can do that by moving the capability around that that holds it, and adversaries may be at risk both crew ships and from shore. Timely, the question, because this morning I saw an article. It kind of surprised me, but an article this morning about this--this has a picture of it. I blew up a picture of it, so you could see it. A
picture of--it looks like a vehicle with a missile on the back of it. And it turns out absolutely that's true. This is our joint light tactical vehicle with a missile system on the back and a live-fire shoot. And the reason I mention that sir, is this is the speed at which we have to develop a capability like that. This joint light tactical vehicle is our new vehicle. We are probably 20 percent into the fielding of it. The--the missile on the back is already on naval ships right now. So this is the brilliance of a couple of young officers and Oshkosh and a few other people putting together capabilities long before they're even--long before they're even all the way through. This joint light tactical vehicle is unmanned. But--but the people in Oshkosh thought, and--and these couple of majors thought we could do this, so they took a cab off the back, and they put a missile on the back in a fire control system. Now we can move this around the vessels, put it onshore and holding an adversary's be at risk in order to ensure that the--the lines of--on--on the sea are kept open. This is the speed at which we have to move. So, our job, I think, is to support the fleet commander. The fleet's job is to support the Joint Force commander. And this is one way to do that.
WOMACK: Fascinating technology that exists and the ingenuity of--of the people that--that we have developing, so I'm with you on it. Madam Chair, I know when we got about 45 seconds left, so I tell you what I'm going to do. I'm going to yield back on this particular round. I want to come back to precision munitions on the next round. And I'll have a question for Admiral Gilday. But at this moment, with a half-minute to go, I yield back my time.
MCCOLLUM: Well, thank you very much. Ms. Kirkpatrick and then Mr. Diaz-Balart. It appears that Ms. Kirkpatrick's camera went off as well as Ms. Kaptur's, so I am happy to recognize Mr. Diaz-Balart.
DIAZ-BALART: Thank you very much, Madam Chairwoman. First, I want to associate myself with the statement on the topline number that Mr. Womack made. I--I think we're--we're frankly not dealing with reality with that topline number. Number two is the--the--our honorable chairwoman has been, I think, a strong leader on climate change issues. And--and she's recognized that. I--I want to if you could--I know you're not going to have the answer now if you could get me how much the military is going to be change--is going to be--is currently spending on climate change issues, on environmental issues? Because I know there's different silos of this, so kind of like a total of how much we are spending in the military on environmental climate change issues currently. And also what is the forecast as to how much we may be spending for the next--you're foreseeing to be spending, you're recommending to be spent on those issues again in the next--in the next year? Gentlemen, you've heard a lot about Southern Command. I think there's a lot of concern about how we kind of sometimes neglects what's going on in our own hemisphere. And as you all know, every dollar spent there actually saves directly, saves American lives. And so I just hope you take to heart the concern of this subcommittee on making sure that--that SOUTHCOM has
what it needs as far as assets. And that's really great ships to do the job that they need to do. I'm not going to get into specifics and details because I think a lot of that has already been said. Let me ask you a little bit about tactical aviation. And so, what is the Navy's tactical aviation shortfall this year? And what--what effect does that--could--could they have on the safety and the--the readiness of both our aircraft and our pilots?
HARKER: Well, sir, let me start with the climate. One thing we're doing is we're mapping the resources that were in the FY '21 budget that weren't specifically tagged towards climate to figure out how that would translate into the '22 budget. So we're going into the financial system and looking at all of our different investments and identifying which ones would be, you know, in 2018 with it being spent and how they would be tackling the climate similar to what you would see in the FY '22 request. So we would be able to compare apples to apples. The second--SOUTHCOM Forces. It's definitely something that we believe in. I personally lived in South Florida for nine years. I spent a lot of time working in that area during my active duty Coast Guard time interdicting drugs, working to, you know, stem all of the challenges that come in, and that's--and we--that it's a requirement that we support. On the tac air side, I'll defer to the warfighting expertise of the--
GILDAY: Sir, just go quick on climate change. So actually, take a look at the projects that we get related to climate change, particularly those would come as no surprise for the Navy with our bases along the coast and--and the problem with sea-level rise. Forty-nine projects over the past three years since 2018.
That those--that includes projects that are ongoing right now. So think everything from tier work and installations along the waterfront to investments in solar energy and other green energy capabilities. And, of course, we're working on a '22 budget proposal right now. With respect to tax--tactical aviation, so the Navy right now, along with the Marine Corps, is making a transition to a mixture of fourth and fifth-generation aircraft. So, in other words, for the Navy, we'll have a mix of about 50 percent--F-18 Super Hornets and then 50 percent F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. We are deploying our first F-35 squadron to see right now by 2025. I don't see a--based on--based on the current budget line, and we're still going--we're still working our way through it. But our goal is to have six aviation wings out of 10 that have--that have the F-35 capability by 25. And so, that is our--right now, that is our plan. We hope to remain glide slope. We'll see what happens as we--as we work through the--the budget numbers here in the coming weeks.
DIAZ-BALART: Good. I appreciate that, gentlemen. Yeah, on the climate change, again, because it's hard to kind of track it down, so exactly what you just said is what--if you could get us those numbers once you have them, it would be--it would be helpful. And my time is up. Madam Chairwoman, thank you very much. And I yield back.
MCCOLLUM: Thank you. I couldn't agree more on the climate. Let's see how the climate change is going to affect this budget.
Ms. Kirkpatrick, then Mr. Cole. And then, Ms. Kaptur. And that will end this first round. Ms. Kirkpatrick?
KIRKPATRICK: Thank you, Madam Chair. Thank you very much. Admiral, you discussed in your testimony the Navy's need for long-range, high-speed weapons that can survive and adversary's defense system. The district I represent is home to cutting-edge research and development in the area of hypersonics and optics. And these capabilities are of particular interest to me. So I have two questions regarding that. How is the United States Navy prioritizing investment in hypersonics research to include the manufacturing of high-temperature materials and optical components? And what efforts is the Navy taking to secure the supply chain associated with this research and development?
GILDAY: Ma'am, so with respect to our research and development budget, hypersonics is our--is our top priority. And so we are working very closely with the Marine Corps, with the Army, and with the Air Force to reach a capability that we can deliver to the fleet in 2025. And we intend to do that on the latest and greatest destroyers that we have, the Zumwalt class destroyers. So those are our stealthy destroyers. Our intentions are to first put the weapon on those destroyers and then on our Virginia class Block 5 submarines. And we--right now, our projections of that capability would be on our submarines by 2028.
As you're probably aware, we have successful fielding of a weapon or testing of a weapon this past year with--with the Army. And this was a weapon that was fired thousands of miles, but very, very--obviously very high-speed, but also very high precision. We're very excited about the past that we're on right now with Hypersonics. We're very confident in the delivery timeline that I just outlined--with respect to that, being reliable. I'm not sure, ma'am, if our--if our vendor base includes--includes companies in your specific district. I wouldn't be surprised if it doesn't. That work is ongoing with the services across a wide swath of small businesses and large prime vendors across the country.
KIRKPATRICK: Thank you, thank you. General Berger, in your testimony, you address your vision of the future of the Marine Corps and identify the ground-based anti-ship missile as one of the highest ground modernization priorities for the coming year. I understand you can't comment specifically on the Fiscal Year 2022 request, but could you give us some insight into how procurement funding in Fiscal Year 2022 would support initial deliveries for this system and help build inventory?
BERGER: Last year, we--we learned a lot with the coordination, the coaching of folks on this committee and their staff about how do you explain when we're--when we're doing the research and development and fielding in a more rapid manner and using other transaction authorities and mid-tier acquisition and targets, how do we--how do we make sure that we communicate clearly what path we're on and that the civilian oversight within the Department of the Navy is on top overlooking what we're doing?
Fiscal Year '22 is critical. We need this capability in the field. The fleet commanders need this capability to follow so that they can control and deny the regions that they need to. I--we learned a lot last year in the--any process of building the budget and explaining it. This year is critical. We need the funding in order to get this capability in the field in 2023.
KIRKPATRICK: Thank you, thank you. I have one more question. How is the Marine Corps leveraging current acquisition programs like the naval strike missile to maximize limited dollars?
BERGER: Two things, ma'am. First is the--the benefit of having a naval striker, so is that it's a common munition so that we can move ordnance between the--the missile itself. It could be between a ship and a sure, and it's the same missile, so. As needed, the commander can move the--their origins where it's needed most. The second one is it speeds up our ability to field it. It's a proven missile like that--the picture that I held up. This is not a new missile system. We know how it performs. So we're riding on the backs of something that's already developed, putting it on a platform that we're very confident in, giving the commander that capability.
MCCOLLUM: Thank you, thank you.
Do I have--time for another question?
MCCOLLUM: No, your time has expired.
MCCOLLUM: Mr. Cole, and then Ms. Kaptur.
COLE: Thank you very much, Madam Chairman. And gentlemen, thank you for being here with us today. You know, my district has Fort Sill Army Post and Tinker Air Force Base, so people think, well, he cares about the Army and the Air Force. And I do. But we have 1800 sailors at Tinker that fly the Navy six wing. And, of course, we're privileged to host Marine artillery at Fort Sill, where they train. So what you gentlemen do is extraordinarily important to people in my district. I want to begin by associate myself with the remarks of Mr. Womack and Mr. Mario Diaz-Balart, two good friends of mine, on the overall topline budget. And--and I say this with no criticism of anybody involved. I think in the end, though, if we're going to get to a deal and I know everybody in this--this committee wants to avoid a CR, we'll end up bringing up the defense number and probably bringing down the domestic number a little bit.
That's just the nature of a deal. So I think what you--I mean, and I respect the secretary and CNO, and General Commandant certainly need to support the administration budget. That's--that's your obligation. On the other hand, I think what you put in your unmet needs request is going to be extraordinarily important to what this committee looks at, if it does arrive at a deal and does give more money. So I'm curious, and I've asked this same question in--in private discussions with the other service chiefs. If you got more money than you asked for, what would you spend it on?
HARKER: Sir, this is one where I think the law requires the service chiefs to provide that record to Congress--on this--
COLE: I'm sorry, Mr. Harker, I'm having a hard time hearing you. Could you repeat that?
HARKER: Sorry, sir. The--I believe the law for the--is that it is from the service chiefs direct to the Congress, so I'll--have to see it on the commandant clearance--
COLE: Thank you very much.
BERGER: Okay, I'll start, and then the CNO can pick up for the Navy.
For us, it is the parts of Force Design 2030, sir, that we need to move faster on or move at speed, driven by--driven by our pacing threat. So it is things like--anti-ship missile. The ISR platforms that will give the naval force a picture forward. It's the--it's the elements of Force Design 2030 that we need to move quickly on in order to get it our capability to move the force forward. But it's also more than hardware. Of course, it's beyond equipment. It's the people part, and it's the green part, both of which are largely, you know, 30, 40-years-old, sort of industrial models for how we recruit and train and keep our people, all of which has to be modernized because it doesn't do any good to have an idea of where you want the force ten years from now if you can't man it and you can't train it. So we have to bring those into the current day and future as well.
GILDAY: The last time we were in a situation like this, we were trying to recapitalize the strategic deterrent and grow the conventional force. It was 1981 in 1985. During that time, DOD budgets rose at an annual rate of about seven and a half percent. Right now, our buying power has been flat since 2010. We know that based on our current--based on our 2021 topline, that we can't afford a Navy of about 300 to 305 ships. That's not just the hulls. It's the people. It's the filling of the magazines, with munitions, right? It's the training of the people. It's all of those things that give you a whole fleet that can fight. So if we go back--as I said in my opening statement, sir if we go back to 2015, the cascading assessments hadn't been--been done, whether inside the Pentagon, by industry, by think tanks, have called for larger, more capable Navy north of 355, right? 355 is the law. So the short answer for me is more ships. But they've got to be manned. They've got to be filled with weapons. So it's a wholeness piece that goes along with it.
COLE: Thank you. That's very helpful. One quick question. I don't have a lot of time, Admiral, to you. In my discussions with the Army, they talked about their discussions with the Navy. And one of the things that the Navy wanted was the development capability to take out ships. We probably haven't done much like that from the Army since we--the old coastal defense days. So a big new mission, a very important mission. I'm curious if you could give us some insight into what you're looking for in terms of that additional capability to work with you?
GILDAY: Yes, sir. So General Berger's Force Design speaks directly to that, right? It's an expeditionary--expeditionary basis. And you can move around very quickly with the capability that he showed you on the screen. So this--this is from the land, the ability to not only control the seas but deny it to an adversary, right, in a way that you can move around. Marines are used to moving fast anyway, and so. The--the Army not so but--but if they're interested, they could--they could lend--they could shoulder in. But it's really the Marine Corps concept that I would point to that has such value in the way that we've been practicing to not only operate but to fight potential adversaries, I think has tremendous value.
COLE: Terrific. Very helpful. Thank you, gentlemen.
I yield back, Madam chair.
MCCOLLUM: Thank you, Mr. Cole. Ms. Kaptur?
KAPTUR: Thank you, Madam Chair. And Mr. Secretary, Admiral and General thank you for your patriotic service to our country. I come from Ohio. I'm up on the Fourth Coast. And I have no major production companies related to the Navy across our coast from Cleveland to Toledo. And however, we have very high recruitment in our region, certainly for Marine Corps. And I do represent the 3rd Battalion 25th Marines that lost about a decade and a half ago, 14 of their members. I just point that out as you begin to shift units and so forth. Please don't forget the Fourth Sea Coast, and please don't forget this region that is very patriotic. And many--hundreds and hundreds of individuals are under your command from our region. I--the Kaptur name is in the Marine Corps Annals going all the way back to World War I, so you have a friend here. I wanted to ask a couple of questions. Number one, we were shown a map the other day of the Americas and the Chinese and Russian nuclear installations. Your experts in that. I would be interested in your view of the expanding presence of installed equipment in several countries that
come from Russia and China? And also servicing contracts that go along with that. It's a concern of mine. And I just want to hear what you think about it. Number two, the Marine Corps has led in terms of energy innovation within the entire Department of Defense, and it's my understanding that right now, DOD currently segregates energy into two categories. One is installation energy, which accounts for about 30 percent of the total. And operational energy, which accounts for about 70 percent. I'm very interested in what more the Marine Corps is doing to lead the Department of Defense to help America advance in the energy sector more quickly. And I'm particularly interested in hydrogen systems. Any research that you might have going on there. I'm interested in them all and based energy independence, solar, geothermal, thermal heat exchange, all of it. But I'm interested in hydrogen and what you might be able to bring to--to the table to propel us to use that technology more quickly. If we were to have all-electric vehicles in our country right now, the grid cannot take it. The grid is about 50 percent under capacity for what we have to do. So we have to have a variety of vehicles. And I'm interested in your research on hydrogen. If you cannot answer me today, a letter would suffice. And again, I just thank you for your service and would welcome any comments.
GILDAY: There in your first comment about Russian and Chinese--kind of invading the--the market with respect to the Americans, and their (INAUDIBLE) technology, I'd tell you that more broadly, one area of competition for the United States where we really have to focus on is foreign military sales and other areas, high tech areas.
But I'll give you an example. The--the S 400 Russian missile system that was purchased by--by a NATO ally, Turkey. We should never be in a position where we lose a sale like that, let's say of a Patriot missile system to a NATO ally against--against a competitor like the Russians said. The same thing with--with India. That's also looking at missile systems from--from China. And so that's competitive space that we ought to be after in a big kind of way with respect to industry, not just foreign military sales, but obviously, other high technology areas, ma'am. Just my opinion.
KAPTUR: Well, Admiral and Mr. Secretary, I would very much appreciate your looking around the Department and seeing what they can provide us with more refined--a more refined set of materials on what the Russians and Chinese are investing in in the Americas including servicing contracts and what that means for us long-term. They are also investing, obviously, all over the world with their Belt and Road initiative. But I'm interested on the energy front--how much is that? What--what it was actually astounding to me to see the maps. So I am just interested in further clarification there. What about--what about hydrogen systems? What about research? What about DARPA? How do we help our country advance more quickly in the energy sector?
MCCOLLUM: Excellent questions and you've got eight seconds, six seconds left. But I think, Ms. Kaptur, your suggestion--putting it in writing and getting it back to the committee is a wise one because I think those are things we would all be very interested in. So I thank you for--for your questions.
We're going to go to another round of questions but we're going to keep it to three minutes because we have several people still on and I'll go at the end. So we're going to do Mr. Cuellar and Mr. Calvert.
CUELLAR: Thank you, Madam Chair. Real quickly, talking about the military equipment that we sell--I think we all know that you know, the situation with the Russians and the Chinese they have a very streamlined process. I know the equipment is not as good as ours, I understand all that. But can you all submit to the committee a way that we can streamline our process so we can sell equipment faster to--to our partners that you know, they want to buy our equipment but if it's going to take too long they are going to go somewhere else even if it might be cheaper or not as good equipment? Just your quick thoughts but I would rather have it in writing and submit it to the committee.
HARKER: Thank you, sir we've been trying to increase--I know we've been working to try to increase our speed of relevance in regards to foreign military sales. When I was down at OSD before becoming acting secretary there were a lot of efforts taken last fall to increase the sale of some (INAUDIBLE) weapons to India working with some of their weapon systems there. And it is a whole of government effort to get back to it. It is something we are definitely focused on--during this process.
I think, I don't want to speak to the CNL but you are absolutely--there is a competition right now for the market. We have to move faster. We know what they need because we work with those partners all the time. And they are frustrated if they can't get it fast enough or we hold the intellectual rights. They want the intellectual property to build their own parts, etcetera. We--we're going to have to--we're going to have to look how we market the systems that are very interoperable with ours in a different way because there's definitely competition for--for the market right now.
GILDAY: The only--I couldn't agree more with both the Secretary and the Commandant's remarks. The last thing I would add is one of the things that--that the U.S. brings to the market I think very attractive is a--is a--a kind of a--a holistic approach with respect to support. So it's not just providing the hardware. It's providing the training. It's providing the part support from the time you actually purchase all--all through the lifecycle of the system. And the Russians and the Chinese don't do that. They don't--if they do it they don't do it as effectively as we do.
CUELLAR: I--and again, I understand all that. I have less than 30 seconds--I understand all that. I agree with you. But can you put something in writing and give us some ideas on how we can streamline the process to all of you all? But with that, thank you so much for your service. God bless and I yield back. Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you, Mr. Cuellar. Mr. Calvert and then Mr. Kilmer.
CALVERT: Thank you, Madam Chair. I--I just want to carry on with what Mr. Womack, Mr. Cole, and--and I think everyone on our side is at the allocation that the administration has come up with for our defense budget is not adequate. And I know our senate colleagues on my side feel exactly the same. The I believe that the number that General Mattis came up with in order to meet the general defense strategy of this country should be at least a 3 percent plus number net of inflation or other initiatives as it may be put into the budget. At that that would be about a $739 billion number in order for us to meet that requirement. I and I bring that up because as we listen to this testimony and we've--we want to stay on track with the Columbia based submarine, the hypersonics, the number of ships we have as we know this Chinese already have 60 more ships than the United States and they are very capable ships. As we looked at that chart the other day of our assets within the South China Sea--we are significantly behind. And that's not the--to mention the other requirements that we have outside of the Navy and the Marine Corps, the B21 bomber and KC46, the nuc--the nuclear triad which has to be rebuilt not to mention our nuclear weapons system which is--needs to be redone. So I bring that up as a statement because I don't know if I will be able to have time in the next round. But I do want to ask the Secretary, how are you going to meet the National Defense Strategy with the budget allocation that you have been given?
Sir, we're going to build the most capable and most ready Navy, Marine Corps that we can within the top line that we have been given. Right now, that top line is being able to provide around 300 ships in the Commandant's Force Design 2030. We're able to execute that at the pace--
CALVERT: So you--so you're making a statement here today that at that point we're not going to be able to get to the 355 ships based upon this number?
HARKER: We have not been able to get to 355 ships over the last several years. And trajectory to get there would require additional capital.
CALVERT: Admiral would you agree that--that you're not going to be able to get to the which--which the Navy is I understand I thought that was the minimum number necessary, 355 ships based upon the budget allocation we presently have.
GILDAY: Yes, sir. I go back to the shipbuilding plan that the Department of Defense submitted under the Secretary in--in January of--of this year. And so, that--that plan put us on a path to 355 ships by 2031 to 2033. But it was predicated on the assumption that we would have 4.1 percent growth. So at least 2.1 percent for inflation and another 2 percent for real growth. If you don't have that growth above the 21 topline that we've had then you can't responsibly grow the fleet in a--in a
way that I spoke to earlier, make sure you got you know, make sure you're taking care of people, making sure you're taking care of all the other things that give you a fleet that's whole.
CALVERT: Right. Thank you, Madam Chair. I yield back.
MCCOLLUM: Mr. Kilmer is going to try to get back on. So right now, I'd like to go to Mr. Rogers.
ROGERS: Thank you, Madam Chair. Gentleman, when I chaired the full committee, I remember the Navy staring down the barrel of an apparent shortfall in its strike fire inventory. Luckily, the Congress intervened to protect the F/A 18 line and continued support for the service life program both of which were necessary to support the tactical aviation needs. I got to tell you, it feels a little like deja vu all over again despite the short fall in the inventory, carriers embarking on double pump deployments to combat a magnitude of threats from Iran, China, Russia. The Navy has once again signaled its intent to stop buying new F/A 18s scrapping previous plans to buy three squadrons worth of new aircraft. Admiral Gilday, can you tell us about the Navy's strike fighter inventory? Is there a--a risk associated with the decision to stop buying new super hornets?
GILDAY: Sir, based on the top line that we have right now as the Secretary just mentioned a moment ago what we're trying to do is we're trying to balance modernization with current readiness right?
And so we are trying to upgrade our capabilities to deploy joint strike fighter the F35. At the same time, we're taking--and I was just out at the production line last week out in St. Louis on the F18s looking at the upgrades that we're giving our existing fighters to give them another 4 to 5,000 hours of service life. So they are coming in right now at the very end of their service life at 6,000 hours and we're taking an aircraft, we're breathing new life into it, making that investment to maintain a whole fleet of--with respect to out airwings. And again, that 450 next-gen (PH) along with longer range weapons that we're buying as well we're making it a much more effective, making those much more effective airwings on our carriers. I think you're on the right path; I think the real issue is maintaining the proper funding in order--in order to keep that--that aircraft mix healthy.
ROGERS: Given that we don't know what the White House budget in detail is yet--what the--what taking the F18 back into play would that be possible under the current budget that you are going to get?
GILDAY: Sir, I can't answer that until we see what that real topline is in those tough trades that are--that we're likely going to have to make. Not only--you know, not only within the Navy, I think, but across the Department of Defense and then when our--when our proposal finally comes up at the Hill. I don't mean to be evasive, sir. I just think those are tough decisions to make here in the next few weeks.
ROGERS: I understand.
MCCOLLUM: Thank you. We're waiting for that budget, Mr. Rogers. Mr. Kilmer.
KILMER: Thank you, Madam Chair and I will be your indulgence if my internet starts acting up again. And I'm not sure if I should address this to Secretary Harker, Admiral Gilday. I--I'd like to ask you briefly about the military health system reform. As you know, the DOD spent (INAUDIBLE) medical treatment facilities. In my district, the realignment has affected Naval Hospital Bremerton by reducing about 100 billets from their manning document over the past year. So when hospital personnel retire, separate, retire or move to another location their billets aren't being backfilled. And I've heard from concerns from the folks I represent including active duty service members and veterans and their families that the realignment has impacted their access to quality care. And so, I'm concerned about that. concerned about the availability and quality of civilian providers to compensate for the draw down at the Navy--the Navy hospital. So what's the status of the MHS reform and what steps do you recommend are taken before realignment is fully implemented to ensure that service members and their families have access to quality providers?
HARKER: Thank you, sir. That's a very important question for all of us taking care of our service members is one of the most important things that we're entrusted to do service secretary and service leaders. People are our greatest--greatest asset and very familiar with the challenges that come with the personnel reductions, medical service members. It is a very tough balancing act for us.
Also, with the defense health agency as they look at staffing for various clincs as they (INAUDIBLE) Overall, the force structure and the composition of our military is one of the areas that speaks (INAUDIBLE) by our topline. We look at how can we increase the investment in share building and readiness. This is one of the things that we already received feedback from folks is the (INAUDIBLE) it was last week--but this is a challenge getting appointments and taking care of their readiness on that as well.
GILDAY: I think we learned a lot during COVID. You know, there's a lot of the insights into whether there are likely friction points with respect to military healthcare reform. I think it probably deserves a deeper look, sir, to be honest. As an example, the Navy and Marine Corps deployed a number of our personnel forward at COVID hotspots and also, we're--we're still doing vaccinations. And so that put a strain on our military hospitals as you would expect, right? What we did to balance that deployment personnel is we actually reduced--reduced the services at those military healthcare facilities, not in urgent care but--but elective processes during the height of the--during the height of the pandemic over the past year. That's probably not satisfactory over the long run on how we manage it. So I think that any transition is going to have you know, is going to be brutal in some areas. I just don't think that we have full insights yet on--on how to resolve all of those issues. We can see the leading edge of it though some problems with--that presented during the--during the pandemic. I know my answer is not completely satisfactory but just be honest, it is something that we do owe ourselves and our families to take a closer look at.
Thank you, Mr. Kilmer.
KILMER: Thank you, Madam Chair. I yield back.
MCCOLLUM: We are going to have a hearing just focused on healthcare and so we need--we need to be making sure that you work with the staff so we have the right people after we have the president's budget to address that. Thank you so much. Mr. Womack, you're next but Mr. Diaz-Balart appears to have logged off. So if I don't see his--his--his log back on we'll go from Mr. Womack to Mr. Cole. Thank you.
WOMACK: Thank--thank you, Madam Chair. Admiral Gilday, as I promised, I'm going to come back to long range precision munitions and it's strictly a Tomahawk questions. I know you can't discuss FY '22 budget request quantities but could you discuss the Navy's plans from block 5 Tomahawk and the maritime strike Tomahawk as we head into the future? And then I got a follow up question.
GILDAY: Yes, sir. I will just tell you we are very bullish in that capability. So you know, as you're well aware in the 90s the Navy backed off of its kind of offensive capabilities in a big kind of way. With the Chinese now breathing down our neck we have put a lot of money into that program. You know, if depending upon what that--what the top line it looks like it is still a priority for us in terms of making investments in offensive weapons with range and speed. Maritime strike
Tomahawk fills a critical gap for us. I will just say that sir and it's a--it's a--it remains a priority for us for all the reasons, sir.
WOMACK: I'm glad to hear that. Can you just briefly articulate the need for us to have a stockpile of these expected use weapons like the Tomahawk in the event of a conflict you got o have them when you need them?
GILDAY: So I think--you see what's going on with Iran in the past year and a half is a really good example, right? We need to--we need to be able to provide national command authorities with the flexibility to flex our muscles or perhaps even--even with the strikes if required in every AOR. And so you've got to have those weapons stockpiled all over the globe in order to give you flexibility. Particularly, as outlined in the National Press Strategy, these threats are not just located in the Pacific in the--in the Central Command, in the Middle East. They cross they're transregional and they're multidomain. So you got to treat them like that you can't just seduce yourself into thinking that if you put all your eggs into one basket you are going to be ok. Because as I think Ranking Member Calvert talked about earlier, the Chinese are moving all over the place. You got to keep up with them.
WOMACK: Yeah, my last question is just a general one and may be more of a statement. As we talk about this budget top line number one of my concerns is that the message that we may be--so we got to
hold on to our force. It's prat of our genius as a country. It's--it's doesn't have a--doesn't have a peer in terms of the talent pool that we pick from. The message we send when we start cutting budgets like this--hollowing out our military, our ability to execute our National Defense Strategy, what message does that send to the--to the pipeline of people that we are going to need in the future real quickly?
BERGER: I'm happy to start. First of all, sir, we are not permitted--we are not going to have a hollow force. We're going to have the size force that is well trained, well equipped that if the top line doesn't support, we will have a smaller force, but we will not have a hollow force. To your point, we have obligations around the globe. We will, the smaller topline or a flat topline equals increased risk for our nation. But we are not going to have a hollow force that has equipment without people or people that are not trained. We are committed not to have that.
WOMACK: I know my time has expired and Admiral Gilday, I would love to hear your response. But Madam Chair, this is just one of those really intangible areas that I think are in the crosshairs if we can't adequately a National Defense Strategy in our budget process and I sure hope as Mr. Cole said, that domestic number can come down and that defense number can come higher and I appreciate the time I have gone over. But remember, I gave you 30 seconds back a few minutes ago, so. Thank you so much for the time.
MCCOLLUM: Yes, you did and I'm going to save my remark on--on the President's budget for when I do my question. Mr. Cole.
COLE: Thank you very much, Madam Chair. I want to pick up where my friend from Arkansas left off and I'm going to give you the time to respond to Admiral, to that question that he put to you in terms of hollowing out the force with the current budget.
GILDAY: So the priority is going to be people, ideas, and technology, and things in that--in that order. So our advantage over the Chinese and the Russians are people. The investments that we're making in things like the Naval Community College, right? It develops critical thinkers among our enlisted force. You can't match any--any military in the world in terms of the talent that we bring in but leaders that we're--leaders that we're trying to develop that can outthink and out fight any adversary. And--and I'll just tell you, sir, I'm just doubling down on the Commandant said it remain--it has to be--it has to be our top priority. We can buy the best stuff out--out there but we need to--we need to man--we need to man them with the best force that we have too. Including, in areas like cyberspace, right? And that's what we're trying to do.
COLE: You know, I agree 100 percent with what you are saying but in another life I used to be a British historian. I can tell you the British in 1940, thinking about the Japanese said the superiority would be British seamanship. They were outnumbered and outgunned and they paid the price for it. So mass ships, numbers matter and that's another thing I do--I do believe our people are the best in the world. I don't have any doubt about it but I don't want to put you in a fight where that's what we're counting on and
you're outnumbered and outgunned. That's just not fair to the men and women we ask to do the job. I really think that's what this debate on this budget is going to be about. I have some specific questions I'm going to submit for the record if I may on Marine base protection and on the E2D advanced Hawkeye. But I have one last question with the time I have, Mr. Secretary for you--you've got an extraordinarily difficult job in managing really complex supply chains for multiple weapons systems. And we've really seen this last year everything from COVID-19 to ships getting caught in the Suez Canal, you name it--we've seen how supply chains can be disrupted. So I'm curious what you're doing in terms of managing that risk? Do you need additional capabilities and platforms to do that? Cause I worry about we have a lot of just in time stuff that needs to come online as quickly as we can bring it. And I know we are asking you to do a very tough job so want to make sure you got the tools you need.
HARKER: Yes, sir and that's a great question. We have a lot of (INAUDIBLE) our supply chain. Our financial statement audit identifies challenging some challenging areas other things that are looked at where we have to improve our investment in some of the businesses is to track our supplies. Also, some areas support ships to carry the supplies for the EEP. We want to (INAUDIBLE) that's a common job we can't get the supplies where they need to be.
COLE: Thank you very much. Thank you, Madam Chair. Yield back.
Thank you. I have a couple of questions here and then I--I'll close her up. I want to talk about submarine maintenance for a few minutes here. So Secretary Harker, Admiral Gilday, I understand recommendations are being provided to you from the CBO to address the significance delays in submarine maintenance activities. Could you share with the committee what you feel might be best to you know get under way to get these repairs done? And I'm going to talk about one repair in particular--the Committee has been closely monitoring the repair of the USS Boise, which was originally scheduled to enter our shipyard at 2013 but still eight years later is waiting. So what's--just on that ship alone, could you tell us what the SMA cost is to repair the submarine and when you think those maintenance efforts will be underway? Are we going to wait another eight years?
HARKER: We're definitely not going to wait another eight years we have got programs (INAUDIBLE)
GILDAY: So Boise right now, we're doing what we call a fast start on maintenance before she goes into the shipyard. We're waiting to get a ship out of maintenance before we get Boise in. Ship maintenance is fully funded ma'am. And that maintenance will begin '21 once we get that second ship out. With respect to more broadly, as you mentioned delays with respect to the submarine maintenance, that is primarily done in a public--public shipyards and then we are doing some maintenance availabilities with some private vendors.
With respect to the public yards--the key thing we are trying to get after is we are trying to--we are trying to eliminate delay days, right? We are trying to--we are trying to ensure that we can perform all the maintenance in accordance with specifications in the timeframe allotted. So in the past 18 months we have gone from 7,000 delay days down to 1200. So we've knocked it down about 80 percent. We're not satisfied yet in terms of where we are, but we think we're headed in the right direction. That's inside the lifelines of the Navy that gets most of that. With respect to private vendors I would tell you that they are not delivering on time. And so, it's been disappointing for us. I have been down to Hampton Roads to meet with--to meet with the vendor down there that does the work for us. Same thing up in Groton, Connecticut it's an area that you know, industry just has to step up as well as the Navy stepping up to deliver these ships on time. And so, with Boise, Boise is an example of a ship that--that fell behind we just didn't have the--it just fell behind because moving ships through the maintenance phase as the right speeds that they are supposed--
HARKER: --I'd like to add a comment to that. one of the things I mentioned in my opening comments was our business assistants. Some of the business assistant we rely on at our shipyards are antiquated. Things that use Cobalt which is a program that was antiquated when I was in college 30 plus years ago. We've got to invest in updating those systems. We don't have electronic time and attendance systems in the public shipyards. We have got a lot of problems that need to be fixed and we can be more scientific.
Well, we'll be looking at the CBR report, looking at the budget and talking to you more about implementations to get that back on track. And climate change also plays a little bit of a factor on that with you being able to move ships down from some of the shipyards when we will have some of these superstorms going through. I'm going to ask you to you know, once again we're looking forward to the information on the Marine Corps 2030 roll out on that. And also, in the president's speech last night he talked about buy American. So we would be looking to see in--in your budget how the Navy begins to invest in development for the next generation whether it's submarines or our other large combat ships and amphibious ships--what we do to make sure that we keep our industrial base and our domestic slide base healthy as we move forward. The last comment I would make before I adjourn--and I didn't interrupt. I let things keep--keep going as my--as my colleagues on the other side of the aisle were talking about the budget--I want to be clear though--President Biden's proposed budget is an increase for DOD of $11 billion and that is substantially more than the $2.5 billion proposed increase in the defense spending from FY 2020 to 2021 that was President Bi--President Trump had in his last appropriations cycle. Gentleman, I want to thank you so much for your--your testimony. For your courtesy of reaching out to the offices ahead of time. We look forward to seeing the budget. You already have some homework assignments to get back to the committee and to the members on some of the questions that you were not able to answer through no fault of your own because the budget was not in front of us. Thank you for your service. I hope you and your families and all those who serve alongside of you and--and under you stay healthy during this time of COVID and all your missions are
completed safely. With that, I will conclude today's hearing and this subcommittee stands adjourned.
List of Panel Members and Witnesses
PANEL MEMBERS: REP. BETTY MCCOLLUM (D-MINN.), CHAIRPERSON REP. TIM RYAN (D-OHIO) REP. C.A. DUTCH RUPPERSBERGER (D-MD.) REP. MARCY KAPTUR (D-OHIO) REP. HENRY CUELLAR (D-TEXAS) REP. DEREK KILMER (D-WASH.) REP. PETE AGUILAR (D-CALIF.) REP. CHERI BUSTOS (D-ILL.) REP. CHARLIE CRIST (D-FLA.) REP. ANN KIRKPATRICK (D-ARIZ.) REP. ROSA DELAURO (D-CONN.), EX-OFFICIO REP. KEN CALVERT (R-CALIF.), RANKING MEMBER REP. HAROLD ROGERS (R-KY.) REP. TOM COLE (R-OKLA.)
REP. STEVE WOMACK (R-ARK.) REP. ROBERT B. ADERHOLT (R-ALA.) REP. JOHN CARTER (R-TEXAS) REP. MARIO DIAZ-BALART (R-FLA.) REP. KAY GRANGER (R-TEXAS),
MARINE CORPS COMMANDANT GEN. DAVID H. BERGER
NAVY NAVAL OPERATIONS CHIEF ADM. MICHAEL GILDAY
NAVY ACTING SECRETARY THOMAS W. HARKER
29 April 2021
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