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Good morning. Subcommittee will-- I [inaudible] turned it off, so turn it on. OK, excuse me. I'll start over again. Defense Subcommittee will come to order. Today, the subcommittee will receive testimony from the Honorable Carlos del Toro, Secretary of the Navy; Admiral Michael Gilday, Chief of Naval Operations; General David Berger, Commandant of the Marine Corps.
Welcome. The United States Navy Marine Corps team is the cornerstone of our nation's defense, represents the embodiment of our commitment to global freedom. With a presence in every corner of the world, this team stands ready to defend our national interests and interests of our allies at a moment's notice.
Their mission to maintain freedom of navigation on the world seas and -- and project American power when necessary, cannot be overshadowed by their unmatched -- unmatched ability to respond to natural disaster or humanitarian crisis. By embracing new technologies and tactics, the Navy and Marine Corps team are better equipped to respond to a wider range of threats and operate effectively in contested environments.
This transformation will also improve their ability to work alongside our allies and partners. By fully implementing Force Design 2030, the Marine Corps is positioned to deter and react to Chinese aggression and fulfill the congressional mandate to seize and defense of advanced naval bases and conduct land operations for naval campaigns.
Operating within the Chinese A2AD Weapons Engagement Zone, is not a decision taken lightly and as -- is and is the only option. They are the embodiment of American strength and resilience. As a nation, we must continue to invest in our Navy and Marine Corps to ensure that they have the resources, training, and equipment they need to carry out their mission and keep our country safe.
The Navy and Marine Corps combined budget request for Fiscal Year 2024 is 255.8 billion, roughly 11 billion over the Fiscal Year '23 enacted level. At first glance, this request seems to represent a sizable investment toward our future and it is, however, given the rapid pace of inflation and challenges faced by our industrial base, this budget does not do enough to keep pace with our adversaries.
The Navy continues to retire ships faster than it builds them, putting us dangerously behind our adversaries and ship count. I'm troubled by the Navy's request to decommission 11 ships and build nine. While the Marine Corps accelerates its force redesign, the budget fails to include any significant investment in amphibious ship construction.
I know you have to make tradeoffs, but you need to explain to us -- to this committee the -- and to the American public, how this makes sense. The Navy has seen inflationary impacts to the pricing of many aspects of readiness. Flying hours are six percent more expensive than Fiscal Year '23. Rising port fees and competition for shipyard labor is driving an increase in the cost of ship maintenance and new construction.
Sustaining and modernizing existing infrastructure is costing five percent more than general inflation. This budget also fails to tackle the aging strike fighter inventory in both the skies and in the seas. The Navy and Marine Corps must plan for looming shortfalls. Once again, the administration is betting on Congress to bail it out.
I am encouraged to see the budget meets the department's long term goal of possessing or long range strike capability, a reality. For the first time, the Navy budget proposes to procure eight conventional prompt strike hypersonic weapons. I look forward to hearing about how that effort is going. The budget also proposes a multiyear procurement for a variety of munitions.
We must provide the demand signal that the industry needs to scale to the capacity of today's threat demand. However, this cannot be done without providing real savings and producing real results. I look forward to hearing more about this proposal today. I'm also encouraged by the successes we have seen when we partner with the private sector.
If we're to succeed in a rapidly changing threat environment, the Navy must continue to experiment with commercial technology to address our evolving operational needs. We need to continue to invest in these partnerships. I look forward to hearing from all of you about a range of issues that continue to face the Navy and the Marine Corps today.
These including recruiting and retention, improving quality of life for our service members and their families, establishing stable and predictable plans for our shipbuilding programs, improving our defense industrial base, and supporting rapid innovation. Finally, I'd like to hear General Berger's thoughts on how this budget advances his strategy to shape the Marine Corps and position it for success.
Before we hear from our witnesses, I'd like to recognize my friend, the distinguished ranking member Ms. McCollum for any opening comments.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Secretary, Admiral, General, thank you for testifying with us today. Admiral Gilday, General Berger, I understand this may be your last appearance before the subcommittee in your current roles. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you both on behalf of myself and the families of Minnesota's Fourth District for your decades of service to our nation.
The Department of Navy's budget request reflects the enormity of the mission that you have to protect America. The $256 billion includes a military construction is the largest request we have yet seen. The Navy and the Marine Corps work together to solve and address some of our most pressing challenges. You are at the forefront of all we do in China, as it continues to spread its influence around the world and play a predominant role in dealing with threats you address from both Russia, Iran, and North Korea.
You must also train and equip and ensure the readiness of hundreds of thousands of active duty reserve personnel and civilians. At the hearing today, we will cover a wide range of topics, but I want to highlight just a few that are important to me. First, is the wellbeing and mental health of our sailors and Marines.
I raised this issue last year and I'm interested to learn about the progress you've made in suicide prevention, child care, and other family programs. I also want to raise the ongoing transformation of the military health system, and you'll hear more from one of my colleagues who experienced this firsthand with constituents.
In our hearing however, last week, Secretary Austin and Chairman Milley articulated some of their concerns on how the defense health system is proceeding with these changes and the impacts, the negative impacts, that they're having on our military families. Members continue to be alarmed about the reductions in medical care and the loss of medical capacity that's taking place nationally.
We know that this is not the Navy's problem alone. It is actually a problem that our nation is trying to address in health care, providing the best health care to all Americans. But this committee would really like to get your thoughts on what is happening and how we're going to turn this around. My second priority is climate change, and I am pleased to see the increased request for resources.
I believe that the department still has a long way to go to meet the resiliency targets necessary to secure our installations. I'm particularly concerned about how climate change is impacting not only our bases, but the geopolitics of the Arctic. I'm also glad to see that the Marine Corps is making important advances in energy efficiency.
I congratulate the Marine Corps logistic base, Albany and Georgia. It was the first department to DC -- to receive a zero electricity status. That's a big deal. Congratulations. As the largest consumer of energy, the Department of Defense still has a long way to go, and I hope other bases will follow your lead.
I am also interested to hear an update on ship and submarine maintenance issues. Our public and private shipyard backlog remains high, too high, and the -- the shipbuilding industry industrial base continues to face production delays and capacity challenges. And finally, being the stewards of taxpayers dollars doesn't mean that we shouldn't just be judicious about how we allocate our funding, but we also must be able to track it and ensure that it is spent in a manner consistent with the law.
So, I want to hear how the Navy and the Marine Corps can achieve a clean audit option. I want to thank you for your focus on this as you work to overcome some of your audit challenges, But we want to get it to an A grade. So again, thank you to our witnesses for appearing here today. I appreciate your testimony and I look forward to you answering the questions.
And Mr. Chair, thank you for the courtesy. I yield back.
Thank you, Ms. McCollum. I appreciate it. Gentlemen, your full written testimony will be placed on the record. Please give a brief summary of your statements. Secretary Del Toro, the floor is yours.
CARLOS DEL TORO:
Chairman Calvert, Ranking Member McCollum, distinguished members of the committee, good morning. It's an honor to appear before you today alongside General Berger and Admiral Gilday to discuss the posture of the Department of the Navy. Today, our nation faces challenges in every region domain that we operate in, from the seabed to the stars.
And we recognize that the People's Republic of China is -- is our pacing threat, executing a strategy that's aimed at upending international order. To preserve our way of life, the National Defense Strategy calls upon the joint force to deter aggression while being prepared to prevail in conflict. A strong Navy and Marine Corps are the foundation upon which the success of the joint force rests.
And I thank you Mr. Chairman for recognizing the Department of the Navy as the cornerstone of our national security. The president's 2024 budget sends a strong signal to the American people of the value that President Biden, Secretary Austin, and myself place in maintaining a robust Navy and Marine Corps team to confront the threats that we face.
This year's budget request supports our three enduring priorities: strengthening our maritime dominance across all domains, building a culture of warfighting excellence, and enhancing our strategic partnerships around the globe. With your support over the past year, we have made major strides to modernize our fleet and our force.
2022 saw the first deployment of the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford, providing the Navy with lessons learned that will benefit future Ford class carriers. With the support of our partners in Congress, we are proud to field capable aircraft carriers as part of our fleet with a lower service life cost than their Nimitz class predecessors.
Construction of high end surface combatant continues. The first Constellation Class Frigate, the Constellation, and the first of our Arleigh Burke Class Flight Three destroyers, the -- the Jack Lucas, which we are scheduled to commission this fall. We continue progress in our first Columbia class ballistic missile submarine, the US District of Columbia, while pre-construction activities on the second Columbia class ballistic missile submarine, the USS Wisconsin, have also begun.
These are significant accomplishments. On the innovation front, Task Force 59 and Bahrain continues to test a wide range of uncrewed surface vessels. We look forward to bringing the capabilities that these platforms provide us to additional regions that we operate and around the world. Investments in unmanned technologies are significant and will continue well into the future.
When we consider the composition of our fleet, we seek to strike a balance between readiness, modernization, and capacity with an immediate emphasis on readiness to avoid ever again having a hollow force. This year, our divestment request includes three amphibious ships and at least two cruisers in poor material condition that offer limited warfighting capability.
Our decisions to divest or extend the ship's life are based on a hull by hull examination based on the realities of the day. For example, we recently announced the modernization of the destroyer USS Arleigh Burke DDG 51, the first in its class, to keep it sailing through 2031, five years beyond its estimated service life.
We hope to be able to continue that trend with other ships whenever possible. We owe it to the American people to be responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars as you have suggested, Mr. Chairman. Investing in platforms with limited capability conflicts with that responsibility. The Navy and Marine Corps are more than just platforms and systems, however.
Our sailors and Marines are our greatest strength as you have suggested. This year's budget request contains multiple investments to support them and their families with the services, the benefits, the housing, the education, the quality of life that they indeed deserve. In addition to our commitments to our people, we are reinforcing our relationships with our allies and partners, including our Ukrainian partners as they defend their sovereignty in response to Russia's illegal and unprovoked invasion.
In the Indo-Pacific, we are playing a leading role in the AUKUS security partnership. For example, just this month, President Biden announced the optimal pathway for Australia's acquisition of conventionally armed, nuclear power, fast attack submarines. Our Navy will be critical to this initiative success as we support this very important ally in the Pacific.
We continue to hone our skills with allies and partners in the Arctic through exercises such as I6 Series and Joint Viking 2023, ensuring we are prepared to operate in this challenging and unforgiving environment. In addition to our partnerships abroad, we are committed to strengthening our relationships here at home.
We value your support and recommit our leadership toward defueling and remediating the Red Hill bulk fuel storage facility. We are committed to doing what it takes to address the concerns of servicemembers, their families, people of Hawaii, and all other communities across the United States. As I've said before, we build trust one day at a time, one action at a time.
Lastly, I am grateful to the trust that you have placed in me to lead this department. I look forward to discussing how best to support our sailors, Marines, and their families in defense of our nation with you all. Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Secretary. And now recognize Admiral Gilday for his remarks.
MICHAEL M. GILDAY:
Chairman Calvert, Ranking Member McCollum, distinguished members of the committee, good morning and thank you for the opportunity to appear this morning alongside Secretary Del Toro and General Berger. For more than three quarters of a century, the United States Navy has been an anchor of world stability, deterring war, upholding international law and ensuring access to the seas.
Today, our Navy's role has never been more expansive or more consequential. This past year, the Navy Marine Corps team executed more than 22,000 steaming hours and nearly a million flying hours. We participated in roughly 100 exercises with our allies and partners across the globe. At this moment, we have nearly 100 ships at sea, reassuring America's allies and partners that we stand with them alongside them, and reminding the world that we seek to preserve peace, and to be ready for any fight.
We are America's Away Team; constantly present, in contact with allies, with partners and potential adversaries every single day. Operating forward US. Naval forces defend the rules based international order. The United States Navy flies, we operate, and we sail wherever international law allows, so that others can too.
The United States has always been a maritime nation. To preserve our security and our prosperity, America needs a combat, credible naval force to protect our interests in peace and to prevail in combat, not just today, but for the long run. Our Fiscal Year 2024 budget request remains consistent with the Navy's enduring priorities.
As the secretary stated, we are prioritizing readiness first with an emphasis on our sailors who empower everything that we do, ensuring that we are always combat ready. Next, we are modernizing our current fleet, 70 percent of which we will have a decade from now. And third, we are continuing to build our capacity, ensuring that we have relevant lethal platforms to achieve warfighting advantage with a hybrid fleet of manned and unmanned platforms on, above, and under the sea.
Our budget request reflects the Navy's commitment to deliver, deploy, and maintain our fleet. It fully funds a Columbia class submarine, ensuring the on-time delivery of the most survivable leg of our nation's strategic deterrent triad. It keeps our fleet ready to fight tonight, dedicating the resources necessary to train and to educate resilient sailors that can out-think, out-decide, and out-fight any adversary.
It funds the private and public sector ship maintenance to 100 percent, increasing capacity and retaining highly skilled labor to get our ships back to sea faster and with full magazines and spare parts and storerooms to be prepared for any contingency. It invests in modernizing our force, procuring weapons with range and speed, along with integrated systems to improve fleet survivability, in a resilient cybersecure, network infrastructure.
And it invests in capable capacity, building towards a larger distributed hybrid fleet, fielding a ready fleet today, while modernizing for the future. Our competitors are investing heavily in warfighting capabilities of their own. And the oceans we are operating in are growing more lethal and more contested every day.
Failing to modernize to meet these threats would erode military -- America's maritime superiority at a time when command of the seas will determine the balance of power for the rest of this century. This means we can no longer afford to maintain ships designed for a bygone era, especially at the expense of readiness and modernization, or at the expense of buying new ships that must be relevant for today's fight.
America cannot to feel -- cannot afford to field a hollow force. We have been there before and we have seen the tragic results. It is a mistake that we must never repeat. Ships, submarines, and aircraft are no doubt expensive instruments of national power, as are the costs of maintaining them. But history shows that without a powerful navy, the price tag would be much higher.
Thank you again for inviting me today, and I look forward to answering your questions.
Thank you for your testimony. I now recognize General Berger for his remarks.
DAVID H. BERGER:
Chairman Calvert, Ranking Member McCollum, and distinguished members of the committee, three years ago, I appeared before you and described how change, rapid change, was required to meet our statutory missions in the Marine Corps, and the mandates of the National Defense Strategy. And with the bipartisan help of the members of this committee and my civilian leadership in the Pentagon, I'm here to tell you this morning that forced design is not a future aim point.
It is a reality today. And I'll give you a couple examples. In INDOPACOM, Task Force 76.3, they're creating advanced information webs to support maritime awareness that Admiral Aquilino needs. And they took what they learned in experimentation and they applied it in exercises, turn and kill webs into reality, right in the Philippines and in Japan.
Right in the PRC's backyard. And in EUCOM Earlier last year, Task Force 61.2, they found ways to create greater air and maritime awareness for the Sixth Fleet. And that was focused primarily on the Russian air and naval forces. And in CENTCOM, General Kurilla has Marine Corps MQ9's flying for him to provide the persistent ISR that he needs in his key maritime terrain in the Middle East.
Next month, our new Marine Littoral Regiment, Third MLR out of Hawaii, will demonstrate some of its newest capabilities, lethal and sensing, in the Philippines during exercise Balikatan right alongside allies and partners, and that's how it ought to be. Two months ago, Japan agreed to host the next Marine Littoral Regiment which will be 12th MLR forward in the first island chain, right where persistent Marine Corps matters most.
In short, your Marines are forward. They're where it matters today, just as they always have been. Three years ago, I described how the Marine Corps would not just modernize quickly, but we would self-fund the changes that we needed to make. We would get leaner, lighter, more naval. Three years later, your Marines have done just that.
And results are in the field now, not in the future. We're not waiting for 2030, or 2027, or 2025. Your Marines are ready to handle any crisis, anywhere, today. Our major divestments, which we needed to do, are done. We're at our fighting weight. Now, we have to sustain those modernization efforts while focusing on the quality of life issues, most important to Marines and sailors and their families.
Because people, as the CNO and secretary and you all have mentioned, they're the real source of our competitive advantage as a nation. And as a corps. And I ask for your help to invest in their quality of life now. We have to focus on where they live, on where they work, and where they eat. I think Marines and families expect that from us. They've earned it. They deserve it. Now, we have to deliver.
Restoring and modernizing our infrastructures directly tied to retention, supporting our families, generating readiness. And on behalf of all Marines, I ask for your support now as we bring our facilities, which you all have seen, up to par with the quality of the Marines and sailors operating from those warfighting platforms.
And I also ask for your support to your amphibious fleet. The CNO and I agree on three, key principles when it comes to amphibious ships. First, the -- the minimum number of traditional L-Class amphibious ships the nation needs is 31. That is the warfighting requirement. Second, block bys do two things. They save the taxpayers money, and they give the industry the headlights that the CNO articulates in previous testimony.
And third, divesting without replacing is a dangerous approach, creates unacceptable risk. Amphibious ships are critical to crisis response, as the chairman articulated already. As he mentioned. That's how we evacuated our US citizens out of Lebanon. That's how the US made our initial entry into Afghanistan after 9/11 from the sea.
And when we send lifesaving support to other nations for hurricanes, and typhoons, and earthquakes after they happen, and including here in the US, in places like Louisiana, amphibious ships with embarked Marines are the only practical option. Today, we need them to do all that, plus directly contribute to campaigning and integrated deterrence.
Here's the bottom line. I think the first time that we can't respond to an ally in time of need when they ask for it is the last time they're going to depend on us for help. When my final year is coming on, I'll just finish by saying simply thank you. Thank you to the members of this committee. Thank you for your oversight, for your guidance.
Thank you for your support. And with that, I welcome your questions. Thank you again, sir.
Thank you, Commandant. I want to make sure each member has a chance to ask questions. Each member will have five minutes for their questions and answers. When the timer turns yellow, you'll have one minute remaining. First, I'll recognize myself. Mr. Secretary, I'm concerned about the schedule for both submarine programs.
The Columbia class submarine is the Navy's number one acquisition priority, yet a GA report found the Navy does not have a good visibility into the program schedule. Uh, Mr. Secretary, what is your confidence for the one on time delivery of the lead Columbia submarine, given GO -- GAO's assessment? And how are you working with the prime contractor to drive down the program risk and ensure delivery of the lead ship is not delayed?
And I might bring up too, on the Virginia class. Construction is supposed to occur at a cadence of two per year and obviously we're not there. The current rate production is closer to 1.2. So obviously, we'd like to get your understanding of a shipbuilders plan to make up on that schedule, for we can get these ships done on time.
Mr. Chairman, thank you for raising those concerns, and let me assure you that first and foremost, Columbia is our Number One acquisition priority in the Navy. And in fact, I think we do have clear visibility into the schedule challenges that Columbia faces. She's currently about 10 percent behind schedule, is what she is. Given the challenges that we're faced with COVID and supply chain, not being able to get the advanced procurements that are necessary to be able to fulfill those requirements, leads to her being 10 percent behind.
Having said that, we want to try to obviously close that gap in every possible way, and we're thankful for the contributions the Congress has actually made. Last year in '23, there was over over $2 billion basically in investments to the submarine industrial base. Those investments are being put to good use through the developments of pilots all across the country, starting with the one in Connecticut that's called RTS basically is the model to try to improve the workforce development issues that are at play there.
The shortage of workers in the submarine community and across the nation is obviously a national challenge that we all have to address collectively. I do believe that increasing legal immigration in this country will help blue collar workforce, including those workers that we need actually in the submarine force as well.
But we are working very closely with industry to try to close these gaps the best we can. On the Virginia side of the House, you are right, they are significantly behind. They should be at two ships, two boats per year. They're currently around 1.4. So, they have made some progress in moving in that direction.
I'm concerned particularly about the construction of the -- of the -- the sterns and the bows in Virginia, and getting those up to electric boat up in Connecticut and integrating them all. So, we do have a far better job to do, and we are holding industry accountable in every which way that we possibly can, and working with them at the same time to try to close these gaps.
One just quick follow on because I got a brief this morning on the Boise. And what it takes what, four years or so to build a -- a Virginia class submarine. And I understand by the time the Boise is through the maintenance program in San Diego, it'll be 10 years.
Yes, sir. And well first, let me thank you for the support of actually half a billion dollars to actually get Boise back on track. I think Boise has fell victim, quite frankly, to other higher priority maintenance items that took place with other boats, getting them into the maintenance process. And we need to get Boise back on track with the funds that Congress has provided, as I hope we can now do that here in the near future.
I know that Hartford is coming out. [Inaudible], would you like to comment briefly on Hartford and Boise?
Sir, one thing I'd say about doing submarine maintenance in the private yards, it's absolutely critical to maintaining our capacity for the -- for the future. And so, the investments we're making now with ships like Hartford and Boise, the return on investment there is yards that are going to be proficient, highly proficient at that work in the future.
We stopped doing submarine maintenance in private yards for well over a decade. We're starting from scratch again. I could say the same thing about new production programs. When you have the most complex machines in the world and you stop and then you try to restart, it takes time to get proficient. That's why you're seeing the delays -- the delays with the submarines in the private yards.
I'm optimistic that we're going to get back on track.
Thank you, Admiral. Ms. McCollum?
Mr. Secretary, you were in receipt of a letter with questions from our committee. The Secretary of Defense responded. Everybody worked on it together. It detailed what it would mean if the department was to return to the fiscal year 2022 funding levels. It indicated that the department as a whole would be cut nearly by $74 billion.
So pacifically, we know it would impact the shipyards, a discussion you just had with -- with -- with the chair forcing the Navy to eliminate at least two capital ships, most likely a Virginia class submarine and a destroyer. Could you speak to that for a moment? But then, more importantly, would you tell me what -- if what these funding level cuts would look like for what you're working on for our sailors and marines for their families, for housing, for childcare, some of the health care work?
But a workforce has been something that we've been very focused on at the shipyards, working with the Navy on that, so as we have people retire from the building trades and those expertise jobs that we're getting a new pool of workers who find out the excellent pay they are and how they can also give great service to our nation.
Thank you, Madam Vice Chair for that question. First, let me say that China will not be setting its budget back by two years and so they would have a significant greater advantage over the significant work that we're currently doing with 55 ships under construction, 72 ships under contract, for example. The results would be unquestionably catastrophic in my opinion.
It would actually prevent us from being able to move forward with the progress that we have actually been able to develop over the course of the last two years on ship maintenance and submarine maintenance and a lot of different areas across the board. We've also made massive investments in the quality of life of our sailors and our marines.
Those investments are finally paying off. We are now seeing retention rates 10 percent greater than they were last year. And the Marine Corps, seven percent greater than they were last year in the Navy. That would also be catastrophic to the quality of life and the morale of our sailors and marines. I don't think there's any other way to describe it, but catastrophic.
Thank you. I want to ask a question on the Arctic and I expect more -- more of it will be detailed responding back to this. So we know that the temperatures are rising three times faster in the Arctic than anywhere in the world. That's based on science. We've also at this committee followed the activities by the Russians and the Chinese in the Arctic with China setting -- setting high level figures to the region three times -- 33 times in the last two decades.
They participate in all the major Arctic institutions. They continue to expand their icebreaker fleet to two medium icebreakers. And now they're developing heavy icebreakers. They call themselves a near Arctic nation. This is to our national security and our economic security that we are ready to stand toe to toe ship to ship with Russia and China in -- in the region of the Arctic.
Russia alone has 40 icebreakers including two nuclear power ones, so out of the $5.1 billion DOD has requested for climate change activities, how much of that is for the Navy, specifically in the Arctic and for what activities? So, I'd like to know if you can update me on what the Navy is doing to counter Russia and China's activities in the region.
And why we aren't talking about in any budgets that I've seen since I've been here, Navy icebreakers to operate efficiently in the Arctic. And I'm going to also be submitting a question to our immersion mariners about what is the condition of their ships for operating in -- in these new waters that we're going to find ourselves in. Mr. Secretary?
And then anything you do to follow up on that would be appreciated.
Yes, ma'am. I will. Oh, you'd like me to answer now. I'm sorry, I wasn't sure. No, absolutely.
The question is, I've been asking about icebreakers, and I konw I have colleagues in the Senate from Alaska have been doing it. And you know, I keep hearing the Coast Guard one or two. You know, there's other NATO nations that are concerned about this that are -- that are cold weather nations like -- like we are, what are -- what -- do you have any plans?
And if you want to give me more detailed plans, I just want to hear about training and buying equipment. I want to know what we're going to do to -- to have our flag floating in the water.
Yes, ma'am. Well, we have significantly increased the amount of operations that we've conducted in the Arctic just this past two years in fact. And so maybe I could ask the -- the CNO to discuss those specific operations to show both in the Navy and Marine Corps, how we've increased those operations.
Sir, if I could? Ma'am, on icebreakers, there is no requirement for the Navy to have icebreakers. We never have -- have had that requirement, so that -- that requirement is with the United States Coast Guard and hence they'd be receiving funding for those.
I realize that. You have a position. You have -- the president puts forward a budget. Our committee has expressed a lot of interest in this. We can talk to -- you know, we can talk to the authorizers. I -- I -- I know -- that to me, Admiral, with all due respect, not to you personally, but on behalf of the Department of Defense, that's not a good answer that they don't have a requirement because you make requests for lots of things, so.
Yes, ma'am. And -- and -- and I would like to say, ma'am, that we do try our best to tie our funding to specific requirements. With respect to the Arctic, we're doing seven exercises this year alone along with the Marine Corps, our allies and partners. We have 20 $36 million across the fit up that the secretary has directed us to invest in scientific research with partners like Canada, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark.
And so, we are doing work. And that work is principally run out of the National Ice Center in Suitland, Maryland. But we are doing scientific work because we know that over the next couple of decades, the trade routes between Asia and Europe are going to fundamentally change. And so, we are operating at an increased rate in that area.
And we are learning along with our allies and partners how we can improve.
Thank the -- thanks for the question. I think we got to look into leasing some icebreakers from Finland. I understand they make more icebreakers than anybody, so maybe we can look at that one of these days.
And you know I have the prop with me all the time.
Oh, you do. You got the brochure from Finland. Mr. Womack?
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And to our witnesses today, thank you. Mr. Secretary, Admiral, General, thank you for your service. And I think I can speak on behalf of the chairman and my friends, Mr. Cole and Mr. Garcia down here, a big thank you to your team that -- that are forward deployed and your team behind you there that do a magnificent job.
We just took a trip over into the INDOPACOM region and to be able to spend time with a number of our military personnel, Seventh Fleet. And I thought Admiral, I think it's Eslich, if I recall correctly, gave us a really good brief. And then over the III MEF, General Fredrickson, just a remarkable visit for the first time for me. So, I'll admit I was a bit in awe of the -- of what we've got going on over there in that region of the world.
First question, General Berger, I noticed your top unfunded priority is funding the LPD procurement. And -- and I agree that the LPD is a great platform. I think we need more. And -- and certainly I personally I'd like to see the vertical launch system on future LPDs. But can you share with us some of your comments that -- that came in an article earlier about the procurement of -- of the ship and why it's so important?
I can, sir. Thanks for the question. Thanks also for visiting Okinawa on Seventh Fleet and III MEF. As I mentioned in the -- in my opening comments, the statutory and the operational requirement both are 31. And the CNO and I have full agreement there. It's a law in other words, but it's also the warfighting requirement, which is driving the law.
That's a -- that's a floor. It's not a cap. It's a floor. And that 31 is broken down into 10 LHA LHDs, which are the bigger decks like a small aircraft carrier with a well deck. And 21 medium and smaller sized amphibious ships, so a total of 31. The current budget proposes to early decommission three of the LSDs and no plan to procure LPDs. So as the requirements person for the Marine Corps in terms of -- or for the nation for what amphibious ship requirements must be, with that divestment, it would drive our inventory down to 27 ships in a couple of years.
And then, we would get an LHA that's under construction, but then it would go down to 24. We can't do our job at 24 or 27. 31 is the bare minimum, so that's why it's on the list, sir.
Admiral Gilday, your budget request includes for multiyear procurement authority request to the Air Force for preferred munitions. Great idea. It's refreshing to see the Navy get serious about preferred munitions stockpiles. Too many times over the last few years Congress has been forced to step in and -- and -- and bolster Navy ammunition by -- as perfect example, I think is a tomahawk.
But I'm concerned that the request for a simple reason and that's our history with multiyear procurement. So, I'm supportive of multiyear procurement concept, but how can we be sure the Navy will request funding to fulfill these contracts in future years?
Yes, sir. The secretary's directed that we make it a priority. That we get -- we know we get the most bang for the buck when we bundle buys like this. That's why we went after weapons with range and speed, ARGM, [ph] LRZM, [ph] SM6 and naval Strike missile with the United States Marine Corps. And so, we're committed to these high priority munitions to continue to fund them through the fit up and beyond.
This is part of what we learned from the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. That we are going to need deeper magazines. But to do that, we also need to give industry a clear signal so that they invest in their workers and in their infrastructure to keep those production lines going.
Yeah, last question on this round is, and I'll direct it to the secretary. You know, this committee wants to do a bill. We've got a bad history of -- of not being able to get our work done on time, so. And I'm going to ask this of all of our services. You know, what -- what is the practical effect if this Congress cannot get out of its own way and get a bill on time?
And indeed, if we end up having to resort to a continuing resolution for any part of the next fiscal year. Secretary?
Well, thank you, Congressman. And perhaps to touch slightly on your first two questions and close on the third, quite frankly. You know, this year we're investing in the Pacific Deterrence Initiative alone in the Navy, $3.2 billion. And thank you for your visit out -- out West. Our missiles procurement is $2 billion over the '23 request.
I assure you that China doesn't have to deal with a continuing resolution. And if we have to be held to a 12 month continuing resolution or even a six month continuing resolution, it will have a significant impact, negative impact on all the things that we're actually trying to accomplish to build deterrence to prevent China from doing what it wants to do with regards to Taiwan and -- and around the globe.
Thank the gentleman. Mr. Kilmer?
Thank you, Chairman. Thanks for being with us. I'm hoping to cover two topics if -- if we can squeeze it in. First, Secretary Del Toro and Admiral Gilday, over the past several years, we've discussed the importance of the shipyard infrastructure optimization program, the Navy's 20-year $21 billion investment in modernizing our public shipyards.
I want to thank you both for your support for the public yards and for the PSYOP. As you know, we had a bit of a setback at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and IMF with the seismic concerns forcing us to suspend submarine docking as a -- as a concern -- as a consequence of seismic risk. To the Navy's credit, you've already gotten to work on seismic mitigation.
Moving Oand M dollars, a fair chunk. We've heard that PSYOP projects could be impacted if O and M funding isn't backfilled by Congress. So, I just want to start by asking how can Congress provide the resources to ensure that the PSYOP remains on track and that these seismic mitigation needs are met?
Well, first and foremost, thank you for your support of the entire PSYOP project, over $10 billion over 10 years. Just last week, I signed a $2.8 billion contract for the dry dock in Hawaii, for example. The dry dock in Portsmouth is moving along on schedule, on track. And I'm not sure that, you know, I'd actually call the situation that we had in Puget Sound necessarily a setback.
Because you know, when we talk about infrastructure investment, you know, we've neglected infrastructure for a long, long time. And the dry docks and the shipyards are perfect example of that. Over 100 years, dry dock, 65 year, you know, where we haven't been paying attention to the shipyards themselves. So, the fact that we were actually proactive in this case to identify a problem and actually fix the problem before it actually turned into a catastrophic failure actually is a positive thing.
So, I don't always view that as a setback. And the fact is that we were able to avoid the worst of submarine maintenance because it was at a time when we didn't have submarines in the docks themselves, so we could quickly fix them. I also want to thank you for your leadership and the support that we got from the community.
I think in all my years of experience working in the Navy active duty and now as secretary, I've never seen so many stakeholders come together so quickly to get approval on a plan, fund that plan, and now execute that plan where hopefully this month and next month and the month after we'll be -- actually be able to do the immediate repairs on those three dry docks.
We will need an additional -- at least probably $300 million to cover the costs of all of the repairs. We've already invested about $100 million in the immediate repairs. So, we would certainly appreciate those funds being put back into the budget.
Great. The other thing I want to cover is something I've spoken with you about before and raised with the secretary of defense in our hearing last week. We've really seen a very negative impact due to the downsizing at Naval Hospital Bremerton. Last year, I mentioned and you committed to reevaluating some of the billet reductions.
You know, this is about making sure that our sailors are getting the care that they need, that the families are getting the care that they need. The situation is really deteriorated. And it's impacting readiness. It's impacting families. Since the closure of the ER and the labor and delivery department, which delivered a quarter of all the babies in the -- in our community, the local health care network just has not been able to step up to deal with the -- the patient load.
We did a roundtable with sailors and their families. And the stories were just heartbreaking. The inability to access prenatal care, someone who literally sat in a waiting room for eight hours and miscarried in the -- in the waiting room being unable to get just routine checkups to be able to go out on patrol.
This is a readiness issue. And I understand this is not solely a Navy issue. That this is a DHA issue as well. But I'm concerned that without pressure on DHA to reassign additional personnel to the naval hospital, healthcare for our service members is going to continue to deteriorate. And so, I think this is going to impact mission readiness.
I think this is definitely impacting the community. And I just want to get your sense of, you know, have you discussed the impacts of these personnel shortages on our sailors readiness with DHA? And do you plan on urging them to reassign personnel to the Naval hospital to respond to what has been a real degradation of care?
So Congressman, let me first say that I completely -- I agree with you 100 percent. I myself have visited the Puget Sound area, the Bremerton area. And I agree with the challenges and the shortfalls that exist there. I personally -- I want to assure you that I personally have discussed this with the office of the Secretary of Defense, with the deputy, with the Secretary of Defense himself.
They are both highly attuned to what's happening. And they've actually asked for a reassessment of the situation in the Puget Sound area to take a look at the conditions with the hospital and such. So, I know that previous assessments had been done several years back. It's time to do another assessment basically to try to determine what the exact needs are and the requirements based on the number of people that are there today and the number of people that may come there in the future as well, too.
And that's obviously compounded as well too by some of the challenges that are faced out in the community with regards to housing and -- and other matters as well.
Absolutely. Thank you, Mr. Secretary. And thank you, Chairman. I yield back.
Thank you. Mr. Cole?
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. And first of all, I just want to thank all three of you for your service, which has just been exemplary. You know, over your collective lifetimes, it's pretty remarkable. And Mr. Secretary, your personal story frankly just reaffirms what's best in our country so just think all three of you.
And I mean that quite sincerely. I also want to go on the record and thank you for pointing out that if we, you know, cut the Defense budget back to 2022 levels that would be disastrous. Now I also want to point out that would be about where the president wanted us to be. You know, this committee and Congress on a bipartisan basis two years ago increased the Defense budget by $30 billion and increased it by $45 billion last fiscal year.
And so, to argue now about cuts is basically to argue against the president's budget . And that's an important point. Because I think right now, you're also asking for too little. And I don't mean that critically of any of you, but I would like to see your budget go higher given how dangerous the situation in the world is right now.
And I'm going to ask you to comment on this, not -- not to be critical of the budget. Look, you work for the president of the United States. You should be up here arguing for his budget. No problem with that. But you know, we either have the capability we need, or we don't. Right now, I think a lot of these things that I think this committee is concerned about in terms of retiring legacy system, something I totally agree with.
I mean, we need to do that. We should have been doing it earlier, so you're right about that. But we're not replacing those things nearly fast enough. I've made this point in terms of the AWACS things in the Air Force where we're retiring from E -- old E3 platforms, moving to E-7, that's a really good thing.
You know, I represent the area -- you know, people always think of us as Air Force and Army with Tinker and Fort Sill in the district. But the reality is we have 2,000 sailors at Tinker Air Force flying the -- the E-6 unit doing an unbelievably great job. And we have Marine artillery training down at Fort Sill so were very proud to host all for services.
But I would just ask you, Does the budget really have what you need, or should Congress do what it's done the last two years? And that is honestly not only give you your budget, but go beyond what you're asking for. And I'll start with you, Mr. Secretary.
Well, thank you, Congressman. Thank you for your support of our national security and the support of the budget for both the Navy and the Marine Corps. I would also like to add that our president actually deeply cares about our nation's national security. And I often say that national security equals economic security and economic security equals national security.
And I think it's fair to say that over the past three years with our nation faced with significant COVID, which COVID itself was a national security threat to our country, there were many other factors that I think the president and the administration had to assess and deal with and invest in to get the nation through the COVID crisis.
And so now we're at the place where quite frankly the president has invested in a budget two years in a row that is higher than the enacted numbers the previous year. I think that's quite a reflection of his commitment to the national security of our country and our allies and partners as well too. Having said that, there are always other significant challenges that develop.
And we're faced with significant challenges with regards to China with regards to the crisis in Ukraine and Russia. And that also requires resources that the nation needs. And therefore, I think that this budget is a good reflection of what is needed moving forward. Just for the Department of the Navy alone, it's $11 billion.
And I also significant -- I understand the impact that inflation has on budgets as well too. And the fact that the president and -- and the Congress has invested just last year in '23 $9 billion to address those inflationary issues, I'm very respectful and very thankful for on behalf of the department.
Well, I'm not going to ask either of your service chief to dispute you, so that would be a very --
Thank you, Congressman. [Laughter]
That'd be a very unfair question. I won't do that, but I will make the point. And again, I want to do this in a bipartisan way. Look, we thought the previous administration underinvested as well and we went beyond what they asked for. And a lot of that is we think as a committee, we underinvested during the Obama years and budget control acts and what have you.
So, it takes a long time to catch up to the basically flat funding that we had for eight years. And we've given you a very tough problem. But again, just for the record, I want to make the point. I think we need to go beyond what's in this budget. I don't have a lot of time. We'll probably have another round.
But just to Admiral, to give you a heads up, I want to just ask you about new platforms to replace the E-6 where we're headed in terms of that. And are you satisfied with the pace that we're on with the new platforms? I think it's 130-J, the KC 130-J, that they're talking about for your needs out at Tinker.
But with that, I'll yield back. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thank the gentleman. Mr. Ruppersberger?
C.A. DUTCH RUPPERSBERGER:
Yeah, that's perfect timing.
First thing, I want to thank you all for your leadership. I have a lot of respect for our military, Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. But I think we're dedicated. And thank goodness we have the military, which is a big reason why we are the best country in the world and the freest country in the world.
Now, and I also want to acknowledge Mr. Womack, I think you're chair of the -- the -- at West Point and the Army Board and I'm chair of the Naval Academy Board. But I'm not going to ask questions about the Naval Academy. I'm going to get into -- to the Marines.
Or the football game?
Well. Yeah, but 10 years in a row you got to -- you've got -- you have to help the Army a little bit. I'm co-chair of the Army Caucus too, so I got to watch out. [Laughter] But anyhow getting off of that. And Mr. Secretary, you know, your -- you're doing a good job. A lot of our conversation has been about the, you know, Naval Academy, their issue of infrastructure.
And if we have another round, you know, I might get into that. Mr. Berger, their -- this is an issue, and I can't believe I've been here as long as I have, but the -- there's been an issue about your management and you've made some changes in the Marines. And you know, I know a lot of your -- your former leaders in your position.
And I've told them. And there is -- there's some issues. And this is what I want to discuss with you. Because you know, you're no longer -- not you, the -- the former people that have concerns about certain things and decisions that you've made. You're in charge now. And you're going through the process.
And you know, from what I see in our oversight, you've done a good job and you know, you're moving ahead. Nobody likes change. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. But I think it's more important to air out. When you have people that you respect, and -- and then you have someone who's made some changes and modernization, I just want to make sure that we kind of -- kind of get that straight so to speak, so that we can move on because it's not easy to be the top person as you know.
And when you're not there anymore, you don't have the same obligations. So, what I want to do, first thing, do you see the Marine Corps mission as the kick down the door force changing or evolving? If so, how? And if, why not?
I think the statutory role of the Marine Corps to be the nation's crisis response force doesn't change at all. How we do that absolutely. As other people have described as the character of warfare changes, we have to evolve. We have to adapt, too. And we are. I think as you highlighted during their service and their 30 years when they wore the uniform, a lot changed during their careers.
Lot's changed in the 30 years since they've retired. We have to stay in front of the threat. I mean, my job is to make sure it's not a fair fight. I think that's what you expect me and the CNO and the rest of us to do. We're not looking for a fair fight, so if we don't change, then we're going to put Marines and sailors in a disadvantageous position.
You don't want that. What I've learned from others myself is one of the hardest parts about changes I think is not actually embracing the new ideas. That's not the hardest part. It's letting go of the old. And other people have said that before. But they have to understand that I'm making decisions, we are making decisions based on fact not based on gut.
And we are iterating. We are testing those assumptions, modifying our decisions along the way. But in the end, I'm doing the same thing that they did, making sure that the Marine Corps is ready for the future and today both.
If I could just add, Congressman for one minute. You know, I served in the Navy for 22 years. And I was in business for 17 years. And I'd like to think that I'm very objective in my approach to strategy. And I've traveled the Marine Corps and the Navy, and I've talked to a hell of a lot of young Marines both in senior enlisted, young enlisted, junior officers.
Every time I bring up the subject of force design 2030, and I ask the question, I ask them if there's things that are wrong with them. And of course, there's always things that can be improved. However, they fully are embracing of force design 2030. I have yet to meet one junior officer, actually who's approached me and challenged me about it not being the right strategy for our Marine Corps and our nation moving forward, giving the threats that we face in the Indo-Pacific as opposed to the challenges that we faced in the Middle East, for example, over the last 20 years.
So, you know, in my conversations with the force, everywhere I've gone, they've embraced force design 2030. And in all my discussions with the generals, the active-duty generals who understand the challenges that our nation faces today, they also have embraced it as well too, so I think it's time to move on, on this subject quite frankly and embrace force design 2030, which quite frankly was embraced by two administrations, a Republican administration, a Democratic administration and two Congresses as well, too, with leadership in both parties as well.
Yeah, but one thing I have to say, when you sit in our chair, we're oversight. You know, we're funding. And when we have a situation like this and I've worked with people who are in your position, the -- the general and when -- when there's anxiety there, I think it's better to work it out. I told them. I'm going to go with the facts.
I'm going to go and -- and see where we are. If I disagree, I'll raise the questions, or we'll have a meeting and we'll talk about it.
And so that's where I think we need. But I hate to see either side instead of complaining about it and it's going out publicly. You're former Marines. You're -- you're tough people. I mean, you're the 9/11 group.
Well, that -- that's something they're going to have to deal with. You know, we have a job to do here in the military. And whether it's in civilian or it's in uniform, we have to look at our strategy based on the threats that we face today in China, in Europe and all around the world. And force design 2030 is the expeditionary strategy that we need, that our nation needs to move forward on this.
But I think you also have to communicate with them and try to work these issues out.
We actually have. My -- let me assure you that my door has been open to every retired general who wants to have a discussion with me on this topic. And I haven't gotten many invitations to -- you know, they haven't come in and spoken to me about it, but I've talked about them on the sidelines basically and we've had an honest debate and discussion about this.
Well, it's just an issue. I normally wouldn't put it in this meeting, but it's been out there for a long while and back and forth. You're in charge now. And that's what's important and that's what I've told them. And there are changes. And when you're in the top position, like all three of you are you know what your agenda is going to be. But you should -- in my opinion both sides need to calm it down because you've got the ultimate authority right now.
A couple more questions, but -- oh, I'm out of time. OK. I yield back.
We'll come back for another round, but just one quick comment. I think we've learned a lot in this Ukrainian war that's obviously out there. We found that some people made the prediction that tanks may not -- I don't want my friends from Ohio to get upset at me, but we probably need to look at the survivability of tanks just as we looked at battleships at the end of world war -- at the beginning of World War 2. Are tanks survivable?
We have to make an argument. Look at aircraft carriers. We make a 50-year investment. Are aircraft carriers survivable? So we have to make those tough -- ask those tough questions. And change is hard. And -- and General, I've been supportive of what you've been doing. I think we've learned that long range fire is extremely important.
I'm sure the Ukrainians would love to have that right now and I wish they could get it. And so, let's just make that point. Mr. Garcia?
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, gentlemen, for your service. It's actually quite humbling for me to be here as a lowly lieutenant commander at some point in my career. It's an honor. You guys are aware, I'm sure of the capability and capacity gaps that we have relative to China. Admiral and Mr. Secretary, I know you're also aware of the significant strike fighter gaps that we have within our Navy.
I won't talk about the strike fighter gaps relative to the Marine Corps. That's a separate conversation. But even with programs that have actually yielded fruit like SLM, we are -- we are still behind the power curve relative to the strike fighter staffing to the point where when I read certain studies and documents, I've read a lot of them, none of them are actually good.
The most probable scenarios actually yield effectively two air wings short over the -- next 10 years. I know Admiral, you testified I think in front of this committee last year that we were trying to close that gap by 2025. Now it's looking more like 2031. And in this chart, in fact, in the -- in the -- in the pre brief that we've got, we've got FY '22 actuals for 12 Super Hornets.
And FY '23 enacted for eight Super Hornets that this committee added to your -- to the president's Budget request, but those weren't actually actuals. And they weren't actually enacted. They weren't actually put on contract and in production right now. And Mr. Secretary, I know that -- that we had a meeting on this back on February 24th, almost five weeks ago.
And you committed to having a meeting with the prime contractor in this case and having discussions and being open minded. I was wanting to know A, what is the -- the status of -- how did that meeting go? Did you actually meet with Boeing in this case? What concessions were made. And I -- I know the background.
For those not aware, there's questions about tech data packages and IP. And we can go into that offline like we did. I appreciate your time. But I want to just get the status of that meeting and what the current state is.
Well, thank you, Congressman. Thank you for your commitment to ensuring that we have the -- the fighter aircrafts that we actually need. And I believe in the F-18 ENF. How could I not? I've actually seen Top Gun and Top Gun Maverick do, right? But with -- without question, the Department of the Navy is committed to purchasing and putting on contract those 20 additional F-18 ENFs. In fact, we've extended a -- an RP to the Boeing Corporation.
They have told us that they will come back to us with a proposal sometime in the June time frame. In the meantime, what we're trying to actually do is ensure that Boeing does deliver to us the data rights that are essential for us to be able to in the future, maintain and repair those -- those aircraft. And what I'm most concerned about, Congressman and Mr. Chairman, is that if we actually do get into a conflict with China, we're not going to be able to send those aircraft back to the continental United States to get repaired at a manufacturing plant.
We're going to have to repair those things ourselves, which means the government we need on behalf of the American people and our service members, the data rights, the full data right package that we paid for and deserve to have in order to be able to repair and sustain those aircraft in combat. And that's our major concern.
I think we can get there. In the time that I've met with you, I promised you that we would have greater engagement with Boeing. We have. Our engineers are actually meeting with air engineers to get the full definition of what the data package actually calls for.
And I've also instructed our two general counsels to meet as well, too, so they could have parallel discussions on this topic. And I myself have put in a phone call to the vice president of Defense --
I appreciate that if I can just use the last minute. I've been on the war fighter side. I've been on the contractor side delivering billion dollar programs to the US Navy. I've read these contracts specifically. And I would submit that I agree with you. The Navy has a requirement to maintain and repair and the tech data package to support that not to manufacture it. And there is a clear bifurcating line there.
You are clawing right now at IP that is not within the government's domain. And Boeing has been very supportive in the SLM projects and making sure that the FRCs the -- the O level depot maintenance is actually functional. And I would submit that the IP that you're clawing for right now for the manufacturing knowhow, which is not only Boeing, but also their entire supply chain, is not nearly as valuable in closing the strike fighter gap as the 20 jets.
We have a mandate and we -- it's not formal, but we should to be ready for something in 2025. And right now closing the gap in 2023 will be interesting. But your gap by that point will be significantly higher because our carriers will be thwacked, our earnings will be missing and our warfighters will be dead.
I think this conversation between the lawyers and the contracting officers is screwing the customer. The customer is -- is the warfighter. The customer is the taxpayer. And I implore you sir with -- with all the powers and leverage at your disposal to compartmentalize this IP conversation, get these jets on contracts so they can get delivered.
They're already going to be late. I don't know that we're going to get 20 for the amount of money that we allocated at this point. And that's -- that's another collateral damage, but.
And I commit to continue working with you on this, Congressman.
Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, gentlemen for -- for being here. I wanted to follow up Mr. Secretary on a topic that the ranking member discussed. And I know my colleague, Mr. Kilmer discussed this in another setting previously with respect to childcare and our service members. The Navy seems to be experiencing a severe lack of childcare workers within its child development centers and has contributed to long wait lists for service members seeking childcare.
This is a problem across DOD that was exacerbated by the pandemic. However, this shortage is still affecting the quality of life of many sailors and their families throughout the country. What efforts is the Navy taken to incentivize more childcare workers to apply at the Navy's child development centers?
And what incentives do you think should be utilized to retain these workers?
Thank you, Congressman. And taking care of our people and taking care of their families and especially our children. I myself my wife and I had four children when I was active duty. We moved around 17 times in 23 years. And there were numerous times where we had to depend upon child daycare centers as well too.
This has been a major priority for me. Last year in '23, we actually included two childcare -- child daycare centers, one in Point Loma and one in Norfolk, Virginia. And I'm proud to say that in this President's Budget, we commit to three more child daycare centers. One in Little Creek, one in Hampton Roads and one in Guam.
In addition to that, we also have to look at other measures outside of the Department of the Navy managed childcare centers, Right? We have to look at actually increasing opportunities to go into private childcare centers. And we have some pilots moving in that direction as well, too, once those private childcare centers are certified properly.
And we also have to -- and we have actually increased the allotment amount that's afforded families who choose to pick a childcare center of their choosing as well too. I believe those numbers move from 1200 at one point to about $1,500 a month, a significant increase as well too. So, this is a major priority for our department.
Can you tell me -- you mentioned some of the discussions about pilot projects. Are those things that we could see and FY '25 or Admiral or General?
Yes, but I'll allow the CNO to --
So the secretary's directed us to take a look at a number of pilot projects, so I'll mention -- I'll mention two. One of them is to go to university. So the University of Utah is one and the NC State's another. We're actually surging students to help us who are in graduate programs to help us during peak summer months.
We've actually driven down our -- our waitlist by 2,500 over the past year. And so, we've gone from 8000 on the waitlist down to 5500. We have a pilot program in Coronado, California, where we found a school building that was excess capacity that wasn't being used. We're now leasing that and using it as a -- as a childcare facility.
The secretary has directed us to increase wages for health -- for childcare providers from the national average of $16.70 an hour to between $17 and $21.5 an hour, depending upon -- upon -- depending upon the location. He mentioned, the -- the raised salaries. I mean, he mentioned the -- the reduction in costs, 50 percent for the first child, 20 percent for additional children.
Those are also pilots that that the secretary has directed us to execute. They're -- so they're in play and they were proposed to continue in '24.
OK. And a little unfair, but when it comes to, you know, FY '25, do you -- do you consider -- do you see -- do you envision us, you know, continuing down this line or turning these pilots seeing if we can scale them up in the future?
Congressman, I have no doubt in my mind that the investments that the secretary of Defense, the service secretaries have committed to have made in quality of life measures is partially the reason why we see the higher retention rates in both the Marine Corps and the Navy. We absolutely must commit to this continued investment over the course of the future.
If I could just add one quick addition, I think in addition to pay, your question is about the workforce. The second issue is tied to how fast we can hire them. And here I think Congress has helped in areas like the transferability for spouses who move from one state to another to another. And they don't have to wait 90 or 120 days or six months to get approved and vetted.
Those are things that will help bring them on board. Because if -- if -- they want to work, but if they got to wait for months to get hired, they got to get -- they're going to go somewhere else. Probably out in town. So, the speeding up of vetting but still making sure there are quality workers and especially when you all address spouses, that's huge.
Thank you, General. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.
Thank you. I thank the gentleman. I'd just make a point that I congratulate to increase the wage on the -- the childcare workers from $16 to $17 per hour, but you know, ones making $11 an hour based on a 40 hour week. And they're working more than 40 hours a week, so we need to address that issue also. Mr. Stewart?
Thank you, Chairman. And gentlemen, what an honor to be with you. Like Mr. Garcia, I'm a little -- a little taken aback in the sense that I was a major in the Air Force. And I've mentioned this before. When I was elected and a general officer called me, sir. It just -- I cringed at that. It was like that's so uncomfortable.
We appreciate your service. And the committee will forgive me, I've mentioned this before. I come from an Air Force family. Yesterday we had the Army before us. And while we were -- while I was waiting to question him, I started adding up in my family. We have 12 members. My father, my brothers and now our sons and daughters who have served.
One of them was an Army guy. And Admiral, one of them is Navy. In fact, he's a graduate of the nuclear school of linear instructors. And we're very proud of that.
We're still hiring, sir. [Laughter]
OK. Yeah, well, he's obviously the smartest person in the family being able to do that. I'd like to talk about a couple of things, if I could. I went with Mr. Case to -- to the Pacific a couple of weeks ago. One of the things that I was vaguely aware of, but not really and we were able to dive in quite deeper with him.
And this won't surprise you if you know him and Jack make and his background there in Honolulu. As we talk about Randy and us in INDOPACOM, you can talk about equipment, you can talk about manning as we will. You can talk about, you know, advanced weapons systems etcetera, etcetera. It turns out we also have to have fuel.
And Red Hill is -- is a bit of a problem there now as I understand. A 250-million-gallon storage facility. That's a lot of gas. And it's -- I understand it's been drained if not completely drained at least partially drained. Tell me if you would, what -- what the status of that is? How do we replace that type of storage facility?
What -- what's our plan there. And -- and by the way, as a sidebar. You talk about Force F 2030, I almost wish I was F 2025 because it kind of conveys I think sometimes, hey, we got seven years. You know, it's not got plenty of time when -- when we probably don't. Of course, I'm not suggesting realistically that we change that force design 2025, but it -- it does, I'm afraid, lend to maybe a sense that there's -- there's more time than we have.
But anyway, back to the issue fuel. I don't know Secretary or Admiral, can -- can you help us talk and understand Red Hill and how we replace that capability?
Thank you, Congressman, for caring about that very strategic question actually. Before the secretary of Defense actually made the decision to close Red Hill and redistribute the fuel, we took a very close look at how it can be executed. And I don't want to get into the details of the actual plans of strategically distributing the fuel across the Pacific because that would be -- is classified.
But it was done in a great amount of depth over a long period of time. Even before Red Hill -- we decided to close Red Hill, so those -- those plans had actually been in motion for quite some time in order to effectively do that. And I am extremely confident that we have not only the ability to redistribute it, but that the new plan makes far more sense than actually accumulating all of that fuel in one location that itself could then present a bigger threat to the island of Oahu today, given the fact that we have far more advanced missiles than we did say during World War II. So, this is the right decision to -- to make.
And we've given -- and the department have given tremendous thought to this. Anything you'd like to add?
Sir, I think you -- I think you hit all the points with, you know, all your eggs in one basket -- basket right now, the fact that we're going to come at any adversary and a distributed manner and thus the -- the ability to sustain -- sustain us logistically has to also be distributed.
Well, I certainly agree with that. You know, back when I was flying to be one, I would love to be the guy who flew over a 250-million-gallon storage facility and dropped the bomb that lit that on fire, right? That would be a crowd pleaser as they say. So, I understand why the sole -- you know, single target.
But -- and you may not be able to address it here, but on a scale of one to 10, where are we in the process of moving that fuel and having that fuel available then?
So we are actually affecting repairs that are necessary to actually defuel Red Hill. That will be completed over the course of next year -- this year, actually by the end of this year. And then we'll actually begin the defueling process, which will take us to about June of next year. And then we'll actually begin the process of actually closing down Red Hill.
So we've got a lot of work ahead of us?
There's still work ahead of us. Yes, sir.
And again we probably can't get into it but I mean right now is it fair to say that we don't have access to that fuel like we did before we -- before we begin to drain it for repairs.
So I don't want to get too much in detail as to how operations in regards to fueling our ships work in Pearl Harbor. But there have actually been no operational constraints on our ability to operate in Pearl Harbor or in the Pacific due to the situation in Red Hill.
OK, and I have two seconds, so I'm just going to say recruiting, a deep concern and hope we can elaborate on that later. Thank you.
Yes, sir. Thank you, Congressman. And by the way, lieutenant commanders and majors are actually the ones that run the Marine Corps and the Navy. I just wanted to make that clear.
Well, we thought so in the Air Force as well, but. [Laughter]
I thought it was the chief petty officers that ran the Navy.
OK. One issue, we need more tankers also, so that would be helpful. So, as far as more ships. We're going to have a quick second round real quickly, so I'm going to start it out. I'm going to try to keep it to say three minutes and we can get finished on time. Accelerating innovation. We need to make, you know, smarter moves and faster moves regarding technology.
Get to this low-rate initial production faster. It -- it concerns me, I know it concerns the committee that -- that we don't do that. The secretary, how is the Navy improving the transition of successful commercial technology from experimentation into actually operating it and getting it in the field as soon as possible?
So Congressman, this has obviously been an issue of interest for quite some time. And yes, I do believe that we're lagging behind probably where we should be with regards to being able to cross that valley of death and actually get the technology that the warfighters deserve in their hands far quicker. Obviously, dependent upon the weapon system itself, there are systems that probably should pursue the normal acquisition process because they're large major capital investments.
But there's many others actually that should be expedited. And in the time that I've been secretary of the Navy, for example, I have a strong desire to move that along. We've actually stood up just this past year two innovation centers, one in the Marine Corps in New York and one at the Naval Postgraduate School.
For this very purpose to actually focus all their energies on trying to transform how the Marine Corps and the Navy acquire these technologies that are needed for our warfighters. And I'll ask the Commandant to just briefly touch on the Marine Innovation Unit at Troy. And then we could talk about the one in Monterey.
The Marine unit in Troy is almost 100 percent reservist on purpose because this -- their -- their regular day job is in the fields where we need to draw that technology you're talking about. So they become our connecting file to the small companies, the businesses that are doing the innovation. But because they're Marines and they're plugged into the Marine Corps they're going to know what our requirements are.
I think we have to take better advantage of the legislation you already gave us in terms of accelerated procurement. We have to do a better job of that. We have to stop refining requirements for forever, settle on something quickly, get it out to the field, fast, put it in the hands of Marines. They will figure out the last 30, 40 percent faster than we will in Washington DC.
Very well. Admiral?
Sir, the current acquisition process that exists in the Pentagon does not lend itself to the rapid fielding of innovative technologies inside the fit up as you just suggested. That doesn't mean that we need to blow up the existing system, I would argue, but we need a parallel path that moves fast, across the valley of death that it takes about three years to get something from proven prototype to low rate production.
The way that we do that is by leveraging the Office of the Strategic Capital that you helped stand up at OSD, as well as the -- the legislation that you sponsored that helps small businesses that keeps them alive and vibrant during that period when you're trying to move from experimentation or proven prototype to low-rate production.
The way that we've been able to take advantage of existing legislation is through Task Force 59. And -- and the stuff that we're doing with unmanned in the Middle East, we'll be scaling that effort to other AORs. But I would -- I would tell you that the -- the fact that we can take that technology, whether it's the platforms or the AI that really brings it alive and to have investment capitalists take a look at what we're doing with a high degree of confidence that the money that they're putting behind some of these small companies is actually going to pay off.
I think that this example of unmanned is going to be a path -- a path maker for us to field things more quickly. And to -- and to give industry a set of headlights of, hey, look, you can put faith in us that the gamble you're making has a higher --
Turn on investment.
Turn on investment, right.
The only disagreement I would make with you Admiral is I think we need to blow up the existing procurement system. It takes too long. It's -- you know, we have a -- I was -- I was here in the beginning of the F-35 program. It took us -- by the time we thought of it to the time we started producing it 25 years.
Sir, I don't disagree with that, but we just as the Commandant just kind of alluded to, we can't wait for that to be fixed before we move. And that's why the legislation you've given us has allowed us to move around it.
Right, because had to work around the existing procurement system. Ms. McCollum?
Thank you, Mr. Chair. To my -- my dear friend and colleague from Oklahoma. I did support the president's Budget when it came forward. It was smaller, but the president also had a lot of cost savings in it. The Congress refused to do by retiring a lot of legacy equipment, so if we're not going to retire it, then we start raising it, so. It is something that we have to grapple with together.
And I -- I know we share the same spirit in solving problems. Red Hill. This committee put $1 billion into Red Hill over the next three years. And if we were ever to build a large storage facility as -- as we're looking at doing in other places and as you said, some of this is classified, so we're not going to get it to where it is. We would have never placed it on top of an aquifer, which is where -- Red Hills on top of the drinking supply for -- for -- for Honolulu, so. That was then.
This is now. And I'm going to be out -- out there next week looking at -- at the way we're moving forward. And I appreciate the Navy's due diligence in making sure that what we drain there, we drain safely by doing the needed repair work to do that. And I know the citizens of Hawaii and the citizens of the United States, the residents of Honolulu and Hawaii appreciate your due diligence, not -- not to cause any more harm.
Mr. Secretary, one of the top challenges that -- that you said is, you know, building and maintaining strategic partnerships. One of the places I hope to go in the coming months is going to be the Philippines, so is there anything you would like to highlight regarding this regional partnership with the Philippines?
And any updates you can provide regarding the expansion of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation agreement?
Madam Vice Chair, I'm extremely grateful to the Philippines for the strength of the relationship that they've built, particularly over the last several months with the new administration working closely together with us in every possible way to strengthen our national security and our mutual interests in the Indo-Pacific.
From the day I became Secretary of the Navy, in fact, my first visit by an ambassador was from the ambassador of the Philippines. Because I recognize that the strength of this relationship is critical to our national security efforts in the Pacific. And we've seen many different results from that occurring to the point today where we're now committing to actually conducting at sea exercises together.
You may have also learned here that very recently there's a commitment on behalf of -- of the national security, our national security team to actually create a relationship between Japan, the Philippines and the United States as well, too, for our mutual interests. And so, I'm very excited about what the future holds in terms of the relationship between our two nations.
And as you know, they've also recently -- the Filipino administration recently agreed to four additional sites -- basing sites throughout the country as well too. So, I think there's a lot of good that's going to continue to come from this very important relationship with this very important ally.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you. Mr. Womack?
I want to pick up a little bit on that theme for the -- for the two service chiefs. Great football programs are in spring training right now. They're -- they're getting ready. They're in the weight room. They're doing the things before the lights come on in the season. And of course, our job is to make sure that -- that -- that the -- that the schedule doesn't unfold.
That we have a proper deterrence to avoid conflict. but should we get into the real varsity competition, it is my strong belief that preparation is important. And our operability is important with our allies and partners. And that campaigning and exercises big joint force exercises are essential. Are we affording our exercise programs like RIMPAC and others, are we -- are we doing enough?
Are we committing the proper resources to ensure that these campaign exercises are beneficial? And so, I'll lead with first of all with General Berger, your thoughts, sir?
I think Admiral Aquilino has accelerated what his predecessor did by not just counting the number of things that they're doing in the Pacific as you point out, but stacking them on top of each other. Sequencing them, bringing the right countries into the exercises so that they're meaningful, not just doing what we've always done.
I think over time, the services and the combatant commanders, him -- him especially. Using the exercises to send a message. They provide training and readiness for us. No question. They also send a powerful message They always have, but I think it's more meaningful now in the environment that we're in. I'm comfortable, yes that were headed in the right direction.
I think if Admiral Aquilino was sitting here, he'd want more money for more exercises. We would want more funding to send more troops to train in those exercises. Lastly, I'll just add, they provide us a great real-life laboratory to test stuff out or to demonstrate stuff. And we're doing that thoughtfully, both us and the CNO in major exercises like you point out RIMPAC. But they're a great opportunity when the world is watching to demonstrate something to show something.
Yeah, very well stayed by the Commandant. I'll add a couple of things. First, we can never train enough, and so the exercises that we're doing, one of the great things that we've seen evolve over time is the fact that we're setting the bar higher and higher for our allies and partners. And they want it high.
They want to be able to operate and integrate and be interoperable at a much higher level than they have in the past because -- because of the buildup they see from the Chinese. The other thing that I would mention is that when we talk about great powers, people often talk about spheres of influence. But in the Pacific, as the Commandant talked about stacking exercises, we actually have spheres of integration.
Nobody sits the bench. Everybody plays. From -- from small countries and Micronesia to Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Korea, the Philippines and so on. And so, there's a place where everybody to come in likeminded nations to observe and to reinforce international law. And the fact that the Maritime Commons and the skies above them are open to everybody, so this -- we're heading in the right direction, sir.
Thank you. Mr. Kilmer?
Thanks, Chairman. I'm going to try to hit two more topics with you. One's a tough one. I know the Navy's continuing to struggle with mental health and suicide issues. Unfortunately, we saw three suicides during the year and a half long shipyard period that the USS Teddy Roosevelt had. The George Washington also suffered an alarming series of suicides.
We've heard pretty consistent concerns in our neck of the woods just regarding how hard these shipyard periods can be for our sailors -- sailors. And I just want to make sure we're doing all we can. Maybe quickly, can you give me some sense of how the Navy's working to improve quality of life issues and mental health issues?
And what do you need from us? If there are things that Congress can do to -- to step up and make sure that we're taking care of those who are taking care of our country.
Well, thank you, Congressman. There is no more important mission and quality of life for our sailors and the very life itself. And we have taken a very close look not just anecdotally but actually taking a look at the data on how many suicides occur and why they are occurring, where they are occurring. And trying to get good information so that we can make good decisions based on that.
Without question. And there are many reasons why someone commits suicide, obviously. It could be work driven stress, the stress factors associated with that. It could be financial in nature. It could be relationship driven. And so, it takes a holistic approach to try to address all these issues at one time.
But one of the things we have discovered obviously is that life is stressful in shipyards. And we as a department probably haven't done enough over the course of decades to try to improve the quality of life in shipyard. I myself actually spent an entire year building a ship in a shipyard. I know how tough it can be. So, this year, with regard to the George Washington in particular, you know, we've invested $258 million that we're investing to improve the quality of life in shipyards.
And that includes basically moving the crew off the ships earlier than normal to -- to address that issue. Building and modernizing our birthing barges, some of which are 50 years old and in deep need of repair. So, there's a lot of investment birthing margins. We're looking at building parking garages, for example, at [inaudible] in Norfolk, Virginia, so that sailors don't have to walk extreme distances to get to their cars in the parking lots that are far away from the ship itself.
We're looking at multi-use facilities to support recreation, for example. And were looking at other places as well too. The quality of life for their barracks, for example, which needs much improvement as well too, so. It's -- it's a holistic approach that we're taking for this and it needs to continue. It can't just be a one off in any way possible so that we can get to a better place and protect the lives of our service Marines and their families.
Thank you. And if there are things that we can do from this subcommittee, I think we're eager to do it.
Could I -- could I add something, sir? Oblige me just a bit of time. The most common mental health diagnosis that we see from sailors is adjustment disorder. And so, one of the things that we're focused on is how do we separate life stress from mental illness, right? And not all of that requires a doctor.
And so, as an example, investment in chaplains. We have one now on every single destroyer. And our -- our big deck amphibious ships on aircraft carriers, we have resilience teams, so we have psychiatrists, psychologists. We have psychiatric nurse practitioners. We have licensed clinical social workers. It we -- we send our corpsman through school, the chairman -- the secretary has pushed us to maximize the throughput for our corpsman to be trained as behavioral health technicians.
They do that triaging at the -- at the tactical edge to help determine whether or not somebody is just having a bad day and they're sad or whether they're sick and to get them the right kind of care. So not -- not always, is it the right solution set to say we need to get this sailor to a hospital. What we're -- what we're doing in many cases is we're overloading our hospitals with cases that again are diagnosed as -- as adjustment disorders.
That's not at all to minimize somebody's condition, but we're trying to make smart choices here. And as you all know, the connectedness at the lowest levels that -- you know, we learn a lot from the other services, the Marine Corps, the Army, how they're doing it. And so, I would say, sir, in terms of -- in terms of helping us, I think funding for a lot of those embedded mental health enablers that may not necessarily be doctors per se to continue that funding is helpful.
Thank you, for your time Mr. Chairman.
Thank you. I think the gentlemen.
Mr. Chairman, I yield back. Thank you.
Thank you very much. I have two questions. I'll pose them both quick. Ones, very parochial. Admirals, I said I'd like to just get your viewpoint on the transition from the E-6 platforms to C-130Js, how we're doing, what's the timeline is? Are you satisfied with the pace of change in terms of the E-6 wing at Tinker?
The second one is actually for any of you that care to answer it. As my friend, Mr. Womack mentioned, under the chairman, a lot of us were out in Western Pacific and I've been there a lot of times been to Japan, particularly a lot of times over the years. And usually the conversations always about trade.
You know, it's like beef imports and tariffs and regulation. Every conversation we had partly because of who we were, but they wanted to talk to us about security. And to be in Japan and hear about them doubling their commitment of GDP defense in a five-year period from one to two percent when you're the third largest economy in the world that matters.
That's a pretty big deal to go to Taiwan and see them. OK, conscription used to be four months. It's a year now. And we want to buy everything you're willing to sell us. And can you possibly get it here tomorrow. And then to go to South Korea and see them sending their president to Japan. You know, given the historic tensions between those two countries to talk about how they can cooperate better.
I mean, at one sense it was really, you know, refreshing to see that degree of commitment. And frankly, you know, you want to be a popular American, just go to the Western Pacific. Boy, they want you there. But it was also concerning in terms of how quickly, you know, how -- how concerned they are about the Chinese menace.
So, I just want you all to reflect and give us a, how -- how quickly are allies getting to where they need us? How good a job are we doing helping them to get to where they need to be and expanding our capability? Because you know, again, you always rely on yourself first and foremost. And I have a lot of respect for what the Navy and the Marines in particular do in the Western Pacific.
But it's sure nice to have friends. And I think that's something China doesn't have a lot of, and we do have a lot of. And so how we prepare and use them and bring them in, I think is really important, so. I yield back. Well, first the E- things and then just whatever you want to tell us about our relationships if you can first these things and then just whatever you want to tell us about our relationships.
Congressman, let me just say very quickly that I think you're absolutely correct in the sense that you know, a nation's economic security depends on its national security. And all these countries in the Western Pacific, they want to have the United States as an ally. And we want to further that relationship both economically and from a national security perspective.
And even the relationship with China has to be very carefully managed obvious for all the right reasons, but it's obvious that -- and the Department of the Navy is at the pointy end of that spear, both the Marine Corps and the Navy, so let me allow, perhaps, the general to comment and then go with CNO?
I think the window you describe for us to step in there is now, without a doubt. They need a partner. They're looking for a partner. They want the US. They favor the US. We have to -- we have to move into that window. We have -- we have to be the best friend that they have now. I think Japan, Philippines, Australia, South Korea, even the influence we're having in Thailand, Vietnam, all in a good trend and direction.
Can't back off of that. It's not on autopilot. We also have to meet them where they are. I mean, I have lived in Japan and deployed there for 40 years. I think the countries in Asia, sometimes we go in with a one size fits all this is how you do business and try to force them to do it. And that doesn't work.
We have to -- we have to listen, understand where they are, meet them there. But the -- and then get to the point where -- where you all describe where we're completely interoperable. This is that window now.
I'd just add, take a look at our former military sales cases. Take a look at the South Koreans and the Japanese with EGIS Systems. The Japanese just -- just fired SM-6, our most advanced missiles off of our own missile range at really challenging targets. P8s. Look at the potential Tomahawks the potential submarine deal with Australia.
There's a lot of good stuff happening out there with a high level of trust. We're leveraging their companies with respect to quantum computing and AI. There's a lot of goodness back and forth on -- on EA6Bs. So, the Secretary just signed the contract this week for three test aircraft. These are C-130Js. The Marine Corps is flying them now.
These are mature, proven capability. We have two in the fit up in '27, another three in the paste it in '27 another six and '28. I think we're moving at the right pacer in order to get those aircraft online. And we just have an RFP out to industry right now for the VLF comms capability that we're going to integrate in. So, we're -- we're committed to it. And hopefully, we can maintain that funding, the funding levels to bring it through.
Thank you. Mr. Ruppersberger?
I want to move to the Naval Academy. And we've concert -- you and I have had conversations about the Naval Academy. First thing I want to say, I think all of our institutions are some of the best in the world. And when you -- when you see someone going in the first year and when they graduate, they're different there.
It's one of the reasons we are still the most powerful country in the world. And that leadership is -- is there. But every area has issues. And in my role, I've tried to focus on as chair of the board there, infrastructure. The infrastructure is falling apart. And whenever you're about to fix it, it's cut or it doesn't pass muster.
We have been able to from an infrastructure point of view, we have the new cyber building which was built to deal with the issue of the flooding and the water. And that -- that is very unique. And Jack make and I think it's going to help us. And the fact that it's right down the street from NSA, it -- it's -- it really gives us an edge, I think.
This last year, we were able to get about $32 million, I believe, for flooding. And I think what we're going to do with that program is that it will help us for at least the next 50 to 60 years if -- if we can -- we can keep it in. But it's still -- it's not sexy. It's not exciting. It's not going to war with China, Russia, you know all the things that we do, which we have to do, we're preparing for that in the freedom and liberty is that we have.
But we have to really take the infrastructure at the Naval Academy seriously. Bancroft Hall is falling apart. I mean, you have gymnasiums there where water is coming through. And we just have to do it. It's something that's important from an infrastructure point of view. And the good news that our board has -- has agreed with me that we're going to keep trying to do that.
You know, we're dealing with this committee with all sorts of issues out there, but when it comes to our institutions, we don't want to slip there at all. And we're not slipping. And I think our institutions are some of the best in the world. Now, I will say that for the last many -- I've been in the board for a long time, I've had about maybe 12 bets, Army, Navy, and we won ten.
And then all of a sudden, I get a call from General Milley saying, Hey, we're coming to Baltimore and I want to sit with you. I said, well, I'm not that, so fine General. And Army won. And they won a second time. Shew, it took the heat off of me, thank goodness. But my -- my one question here is, you know, I need your commitment and I really talked to you about it, Mr. Secretary.
We have got to talk about these issues and make sure we fund the infrastructure.
Congressman, you're absolutely right. And I am committed to this venture not just to the Naval Academy, but all our professional military education institutions. I often say that I expect all my generals and admirals to know how to fight. I need them to learn how to think strategically as they have in the past and will continue to do so in the future.
And we'll continue to do so in the future. And that investment is made at the Naval Academy at the Naval Postgraduate School, at the Naval War College at the Marine War College and at the Navy Community College as well, too, for our enlisted force. And you're right, the infrastructure at all of those institutions needs a lot of help.
And so, I'm committed to making the necessary investments as well too because it's an investment in our warriors and our future warriors that are leading our Navy and Marine Corps, both as officers and as enlisted as well too through the naval community college as well.
And then, we've got a unique institution, but we have all this water around us and it's flooding.
Yes, sir. And thanks for your leadership in fixing the sea wall. And I know there's a lot more to come. And I have already invested some -- moving some funds around in '22 with your permission and '23. And we have more investments coming '24 for SR FSRM and MILCOM as well too. It's going to take a long time, but you've got to start the process and it's going to begin now.
We're going to close. And Jimmy Panetta would want me to mention Monterey, so I'll bring that up.
The gentlelady is --
Thank you, Mr. Chair. This has been a great hearing. I look forward to answers to submit a questions that will be given to you. And to -- to you, General, and to the admiral, wherever your career takes you in the future, I hope it is filled with great happiness and good health for you and your family. Thank you for your service.
Thank you, Madam Vice Chair. If I could just add one thing, ma'am, which is critically important I think to our national security here. Ensuring that -- and I know this is a House Appropriations Committee meeting, but ensuring that we have our senior general officers and flag officers in place is absolutely critical to our fight with regards to deterring threats from China and Russia.
It's about leadership of the force and looking at these issues that we face as we've discussed today, live war on NATO's border, aggressive China, Iranian backed attacks on US forces and our belligerent North Korea. We have five three stars today, Mister Chairman that are due to rotate imminently, including our top Navy commander in the Middle East, for example.
Over the coming months we have 70 three-star and four-star rotations CYBERCOM, SPACECOM, NORTHCOM, the service chiefs themselves for the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Easily, hundreds of military families are going to be impacted. Delaying school transitions for kids and spouses and employment and much more.
I would ask for the Senate's support and your encouragement here in the House as well, too, to support ensuring that these nominations of the department's top military officers are not delayed any further.
Well, if I had any influence over the Senate, I would do a lot of things, but.
Yes, sir. [Laughter]
I -- I think as you know, peripheral issues sometimes get involved and some of the things have -- it's unfortunate. Before we conclude, I want to thank our witnesses for your testimony today. Obviously, the subcommittee members are welcome to submit questions for the record. And I would ask the witnesses to respond to those questions in a reasonable time.
And again, I want to thank both of the -- of you guys for your service. The secretary for his service. We've -- I think we've all known each other for especially the two -- the General and the Admiral, we've known each other for a lot of years. And I appreciate your service. Talk to you soon. We're adjourned.
List of Panel Members and Witnesses
REP. KEN CALVERT (R-CALIF.), CHAIRMAN
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. DAVID JOYCE (R-OHIO)
REP. CHRIS STEWART (R-UTAH)
REP. MIKE GARCIA (R-CALIF.)
REP. KAY GRANGER (R-TEXAS), EX-OFFICIO
REP. BETTY MCCOLLUM (D-MINN.), RANKING MEMBER
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. ED CASE (D-HAWAII)
REP. ROSA DELAURO (D-CONN.), EX-OFFICIO
NAVAL OPERATIONS CHIEF MICHAEL M. GILDAY
NAVY SECRETARY CARLOS DEL TORO
MARINE CORPS COMMANDANT DAVID H. BERGER
29 March 2023
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