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JOHN CARTER: Ms. Wasserman Schultz has -- is delayed or tied up, so she'll give her speech or her opening statement after she gets here. We'll go ahead and she understands that. Good afternoon. I appreciate you all of you being here. Today's hearings on the Navy and the Marine Corps is fiscal year 2024 budget requests for military construction and family housing.
It is a great pleasure to be here today with the Honorable Meredith Berger, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy Installations and Environmental -- Environment, Vice Admiral Ricky Williamson, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, Fleet Readiness and Logistics and Lieutenant General Edward Banta, Deputy Commandant for Installations Logistics for the United States Marine Corps.
Military construction and family housing makes up only about 2 percent of the defense budget, yet it has a tremendous impact on our sailors and our Marines and their families who feel the infrastructure investment daily. Infrastructure is a form of deterrence, by that, we mean we must increase our investment in infrastructure to strengthen our ability to deter aggression elsewhere where it occurs.
And with this mind, I look forward to discussing with you -- with the challenges and opportunities for the Navy and the Marine Corps. Investing in facilities and infrastructure is critical to supporting our sailors and marines. Their readiness is of utmost importance and we owe it to them to invest in their ability to fight and support their families.
I will recognize Ms. Wasserman Schultz when we get here. So thank you, for the time -- time being will start here and try to limit your your review to five minutes, please -- please. Ms. Berger.
MEREDITH BERGER: Thank you Chairman Carter and look forward to seeing Ranking Wasserman -- Ranking Member Wasserman Schultz when she gets here distinguished members of the subcommittee, it's an honor to be before you today. First, I'd like to thank you for your support of the Fallon Range Training Complex modernization in the 2023 NDAA. Together, we guarantee the readiness of the fleet, making sure that they can train like they fight, while protecting culture, the environment and the economy.
I'll return to Fallon this weekend to celebrate Earth Day with our tribal partners as we approach our first milestone under the NDAA memorializing access agreements to shared lands. I also thank you for your support and careful attention to our response at Red Hill in Hawaii. Once the Joint Task Force certifies that they have removed all fuel from the facility, the Navy is prepared to execute the permanent closure of Red Hill.
In the meantime, we're continuing our long term monitoring program to validate drinking water continues to be safe and I'll return next week to Hawaii to ensure that with every action we take, we are working together and focused on the health and safety of the people, the environment and the communities in Oahu.
In my portfolio, my work falls across three cross-cutting areas; critical infrastructure, communities and climate action. Critical infrastructure is the means to our ends. Worldwide, Navy and Marine Corps installations are power projection platforms from which naval forces train, deploy and maintain Ford Presidents.
And I love your point on deterrence as well, Mr. Chairman. There are also where our people recover resupply and rest. They're home to many service members and their families. Historically, the department has accepted significant level of risk in the resourcing of naval installations. This year's budget represents a first step in fundamentally changing that approach.
We're developing a 30 year infrastructure plan that will design and deliver the requirements and resources to support the mission set of our naval facilities; warfighting, readiness and quality of life. The Department of the Navy's budget request also includes $6 billion for military construction projects that enable new platforms and weapon systems, modernize utilities, recapitalize obsolete infrastructure and enhance the quality of life for our sailors and Marines.
We're also requesting nearly $6 billion to maintain existing infrastructure and more than $300 million to demolish obsolete facilities. This budget includes our commitment to the Shipyard infrastructure optimization program and prioritizes investments in the Indo-Pacific region and the commitments that we've made there.
The Department of Defense will continue to highlight the importance of a stable workforce in Guam through long term relief from the H-2B visa requirement through at least 2029. Next communities, where people come together, your districts are installations and the environment, economy and people that connect us. As we continue to make investments in critical infrastructure, we ensure that we have the policy and practice to match keeping oversight of our privatized housing programs and advocacy for our service members families at the forefront.
This budget continues our proactive environmental stewardship of installations and ranges while implementing the Department of Defense's comprehensive approach to address PFAS and other emerging chemicals of concern. The Department of Navy protects our communities and critical infrastructure through a third sea climate action.
No matter what you call it, extreme weather temperatures, a rising sea and depleting water sources threaten our installations and the infrastructure that support our critical missions. This budget request makes the Navy and Marine Corps installations, our power projection platforms, more survivable by hardening power grids, fuel distribution systems and water lines, and giving our forward deployed forces, the operational advantage by being untethered from long and consistent logistics tails.
I'd like to thank this committee for your steadfast commitment to our sailors, Marines, civilians and their families. I look forward to working with you to ensure that the Navy and Marine Corps remain the world's greatest maritime fighting force. Thank you.
RICKY WILLIAMSON: Chairman Carter and distinguished members of the subcommittee, it is an honor to appear before you today on behalf of our sailors and their families. Thank you for your continued support to the Navy, its military construction program and our 70 installations worldwide, which enables us to strengthen readiness, support delivery of new platforms and ensure quality of service for our sailors.
The chief of naval operations issued a call to action last year for Navy leaders to apply a set of Navy proven leadership problem solving best practices that empower our people to achieve exceptional performance. My realization has fully embraced this call continually self assessing and benchmarking to get real and see ourselves, followed by self correction and staying left of the problems.
To meet the challenges of strategic competition and an evolving threat environment, we must enable global logistics with resilient shore infrastructure and be honest about our current performance. Maintaining our advantage at sea requires transformational change ashore to support and sustain the fleet of the future.
To achieve this, my organization continues to implement the Naval Global Strategy ashore, our strategic direction for the Navy Shore Enterprise and alignment with the National Defense Strategy, the Tri Service Maritime Strategy and the CNAS Navigation -- Navigation Plan. As a surface warfare officer, I can confirm that all readiness starts from the shore.
Navy installations are essential shore platforms from which naval forces train, deploy and maintain forward presence. To get real, over the past two decades, the Navy has taken risk and shore investments to focus on afloat readiness and strengthen future platform and weapon system capabilities. Our investments in FY '23 and proposed budget for FY '24 begins reversing the impact of those risks over the past decade.
Our single most strategic asset is our sailors who deserve world class quality of service, a combination of both quality of life and quality of work. PB '24 improves quality of life for our sailors through investments in kind of unaccompanied housing, PPV and child development centers. In FY '23, we invested $140 million for unaccompanied housing in our FY '24 budget, invest 165 million and we need to do more.
Investments in child care, are directed at decreasing waitlist and being competitive with the private sector. The waitlist is currently at 5500, down from 8000 in FY '22. Our goal is to increase it to 2000 by the end of '24. To address quality of work, PB '24 funds sustainment at 100 percent for nuclear deterrence requirements and 87 percent for remaining DOD modeled requirements.
PB '24 also invest in demolition funds to reduce the Navy's footprint and support better base design. Our Navy Military Construction Program, we thank you for the additional 671 million to our FY '23 budget which funded six additional projects. The Navy's 4.7 billion PB '24 million request, funds planning and design unspecified minor construction in 19 projects including four Pacific Deterrence Initiative efforts in Guam.
The Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization program is critical to preparing the nations for public shipyards to meet further needs of the Navy's nuclear powered submarine and aircraft carrier force in support of the National Defense Strategy. We are making great progress in FY '23 with the awarding of contracts for area development plans for Norfolk and Portsmouth shipyards in additional project planning for FY '24, SIOP budget provides 2.4 billion to continue advancing the program.
With Congress continued support, PSYOP investments will be -- will halt the degradation of our aging shipyard infrastructure, deliver required drydock repairs and upgrades and recapitalize industrial equipment with modern technology substantially increasing productivity and safety. Thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today.
It has been a distinct honor and pleasure to work with you over the past four years to meet shared goals for our Navy and our country. We look forward to future collaboration in the pursuit of warfighting capability and support for our sailors and their families. I look forward to conversation. Thank you.
EDWARD BANTA: Chairman Carter and distinguished members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to discuss the Marine Corps FY '24 military construction budget request. As my counterparts here said first, I'd like to thank you for funding last year's budget request and our unfunded priority list. Your support will accelerate improvements to quality of life, enable Marine Corps force design initiatives and rapidly grow our Indo-PAYCOM posture.
In FY '24, we are requesting $1.3 billion for 16 military construction projects and planning and design funds. This request aims to modernize our installations and it reflects a balanced investment approach to support required warfighting capabilities, improve quality of life for our Marines and their families, and increase the resiliency of our installations.
Viewed through an operational lens, these investments ultimately improve the readiness and the lethality of our force. Eight of our 16 projects will help bolster our presence in the Indo-Pacific region. Seven of them are in Guam, including four projects that will posture combat and logistics capabilities on the island and one project that will enable our marine rotational force in Darwin, Australia.
The remaining eight projects in our request are in the continental United States, yet complement our Pacific investments, recognizing that our ability to campaign forward begins here at home. For example, our budget includes four projects that support aviation and ground combat capabilities to include aviation command and maintenance facilities in North Carolina and a radar support facility in Virginia.
Constructing new communications towers on our ranges in 29 Palms California improves safety and supports our advanced live virtual constructive training while the cybersecurity operations facility in Maryland supports critical operations in the cyber domain. We also appreciate this committee's continued support to improving the quality of life for our Marines and their families.
To that end, we plan to invest 318 million or about 23 percent of our military construction budget against four quality of life projects to include a child development center, a recreation center and a religious ministry services center on Guam. Most of our family housing construction request is also focused on Guam to build 57 additional units there.
Recognizing the importance of housing, our single Marines were requesting one new barracks at Marine Barracks, Washington, and we intend to renovate 13 more across the force. Importantly, we're also prepared to renovate 12 more barracks if additional restoration and modernization funds are available. We'll continue to work with you to deliver the best that we can for our most valuable weapon system, the individual Marine.
We're focused on improving the resiliency of our bases and stations so they can prepare for respond to and recover from all types of hazards and threats. Our investments in strong community partnerships, water treatment infrastructure like the Project on Marine Corps Base Quantico and Electric utility upgrades will improve our resiliency, enable force generation and support warfighting requirements, again with an eye towards increased readiness and lethality.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today and for your continued oversight, input and support. Ranking Member Wasserman Schultz. It's good to see you also ma'am. I look forward to your questions. Thank you.
JOHN CARTER: Thank you, General. I'm now going to recognize Ms. Wasserman Schultz for opening statement.
DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I appreciate it. And Secretary Berger, it's great to see you again and I apologize for us not being able to get together prior to the hearing. Welcome back to all three of you. I look forward to your testimonies and to hearing how the FY '24 budget would improve the condition of Navy and Marine Corps infrastructure and improve our military readiness.
I also am interested in hearing from you how robust funding for housing and quality of life projects could build on the progress of our past years, so we can benefit the sailors and Marines and their families. That's something that we've been incredibly focused on as a subcommittee. As you know and wanting to make sure we can take good care of them and their quality of life.
The progress that the Navy and Marine Corps makes towards improving the quality of life for our sailors, Marines and their families will undoubtedly help recruitment and retention efforts. And that's why continued strong investments in these programs is essential. And while I'm pleased -- why I'm pleased to see an improved budget request from the Navy and Marine Corps this year, the FY '24 budget request for the Navy and Marine Corps military construction is $6 billion and that represents a $1.7 billion increase over 2023 enacted, and even larger 2.2 billion over the '23 request.
So I'm generally pleased with the overall direction of this funding request, but there are certain specific areas that I do wish to cover. For example, the Navy and Marine Corps Family housing construction request is $277 million and that it would equal a $60 million cut from the enacted level. From the Shipyard infrastructure optimization program to the build up in the Pacific.
There are a number of crucial initiatives in this year's budget, which show why continued investment in military construction is crucial to our national security. Unfortunately, as my friends on the other side of the aisle or rather their leadership proposals to dramatically cut government spending continue to circulate in the news, it is imperative that we examine what these cuts would mean for our service members and their families, the condition of our military infrastructure, and ultimately our military readiness.
Cuts back to the FY '22 spending level would slow essential construction projects revitalizing our naval shipyards strategically vital construction through the Pacific Deterrence Initiative and investments to improve the quality of life for our sailors, Marines and their families. In addition, I'd like to hear from our witnesses on the following topics, including the progress that we've made on these issues and how they'll affect Navy and Marine Corps budgets moving forward.
For example, contamination from the Red Hill bulk fuel storage facility continues to be a concern to me. Recent reports say that local Hawaii families not only had their water polluted by fuel but also by antifreeze chemicals. This development has only sharpened the health concerns surrounding the incident.
I hope to hear an update on the planning for both immediate cleanup and long term solutions. The Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization program represents crucial investments in our nation's -- in our Navy's infrastructure to reconfigure, modernize and optimize our four aging naval shipyards into new modern facilities that will serve this nation into the future.
We must ensure this program is taking care of the Navy's shipbuilding needs now and well into the future, which I know you agree with. Turning to privatized housing, the GAO recent report recognized the progress that all of the services have made in increasing oversight of the housing portfolio. We certainly have pushed for that, Mr. Chairman, you and I and various permutations of the subcommittee, but we also listed -- there was also listed a number of further steps that need to be taken.
I hope the Navy and Marine Corps will fully embrace these additional accountability measures and will fully implement the recommendations, including increasing communication with residents regarding their rights and their options. I look forward to hearing from our witnesses on the progress that has been made towards improving access to mental health resources for our sailors and Marines.
And finally, I'd like an update on Navy and Marine Corps efforts to prevent sexual assaults and improve trust in the reporting system. Thank you to all of the witnesses for being here today, and I know you just went through your testimonies and so appreciate you being here. Thank you. I yield back.
JOHN CARTER: Well, thank you Ms. Wasserman Schultz. I'll start and we'll follow the rules we followed that I announced at the beginning of this season. The first question I have is kind of off the cuff. You mentioned the visas. I would just bend over to Guam and other and Basilan and other places over there and the work visas are critical to getting the job done.
The Marines have been slow balled in their -- in the building up of their initial investment. They're still building it, but the labor is not there. They work 18 months and they leave and we need to be able to keep them longer. Have you had -- I know you said when we talked -- you said you were going to have some constant -- conversations with -- with the State Department.
Have you had any luck?
MEREDITH BERGER: And Chairman Carter having just done that trip myself, that is a long plane ride. The -- the general and I were recently out for the opening of Camp Blaze and I know that the office of the Secretary of defense has been the lead on this visa issue. I anticipate that you are hearing this from my myself, my colleagues all across because there are two things that are critically important to ensuring success in Guam and that is consistency of funding and consistency of labor.
And so that's why this H-2B visa relief is -- is so important. You mentioned the 18 months, but at every point that we can't continue to guarantee work to folks, it creates a break in the way that we will work on the same with contracting, funding everything else. And so this will be critically important.
As for your question on the State Department, let me check with my colleagues at OSD as their -- the lead on that, but I'd be happy to follow up with you.
JOHN CARTER: Please do because it's very important they need to come from -- from the Philippines. They've got great, great labor, they've worked on before they want them and the people there on Guam, say when the military gets through with them, they got projects they need to work on to support the military. So we need to get some flexibility in these visas.
So they can keep working as they come over there. I know this is a -- you know, a question that's kind of I'm throwing out there without the brief, but the real world is, I was there and they can't do it without it. -- yes, sir -- you want to say something?
EDWARD BANTA: Thanks, Mr. Chairman. If I may, secretary, I absolutely concur, sir. We're about 15 percent with our construction, 15 percent complete with our construction effort on Guam. So a lot of work yet to be done. This effort will be absolutely critical to achieving that workload over the coming years within cost and schedule performance parameters.
If we don't get it, we're already seeing the potential for cost overruns on the order of 1.1 to $1.5 billion. So that's something that we would certainly like to avoid if we can get this extension on the H-2B visas. Thank you, sir.
JOHN CARTER: Admiral?
RICKY WILLIAMSON: Yes, sir, just what General Banta and Ms. Merritt said, particularly when you look at the things that are going to Guam, it's just not a Marine Corps and Navy, it's also the Army, the Air Force, everybody. And so to ensure that we stay on cost, schedule and scope, I think it's imperative to have that workforce available to be able to drive to, to the end of the plan, sir.
JOHN CARTER: And just they need to be renewable if not extended because it -- you know, you just can't work and then stop and go through a big process to get them back. That just is so onerous to getting a project done even in the United States if they walk off the job, getting them back is tough and so it's very important.
On the shipyards, how much progress has the Navy made with these efforts in the Indo-Pacific region remains our top priority and it is important that our shipyards are modernized and expeditious manner. How is the Navy ensuring workflow efficiency? Does the Navy have a sufficient stockpile of materials to adequately complete projects?
And what are the suggestions on how we can speed up the projects?
RICKY WILLIAMSON: Yes, sir, thank you very much for the question. Over the past year, I think we've made some tremendous progress in our PSYOP initiative, in particular bringing lessons forward from earlier projects into current projects and future projects. You ask very specifically about what are we doing to ensure cost schedule and scope.
By being able to and work very closely with our partners, understanding the environment which we're in as far as inflation and those things applying that information, not just what is being put out by OMB, but actually what the contractors are seeing. For example, our inflation rates are in Hawaii and San Diego are very high and so we have to project that and be able to get that cost schedule and scope.
One of the other things that we have to do is make the money available so that the contractor that is actually doing the workforce buys down the risk. We have to tie our workforce to the work flow to our supply chain and our EDPs are off and running Hawaii's complete -- we're doing that analysis now and that's showing great promise of learning that we can apply to the other shipyards.
We have three sprints with our work flow in particular down in Norfolk that look at monitored state of the art advanced machinery and marrying the work flow to that to see the impacts it has to generate the outcomes that we're looking for. I'd be happy to come over sir and talk to you in great detail on the progress we're making.
DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you. The FY '24 budget request of $6.7 billion for the Navy Marine Corps includes several key increases like increased construction funding for the Navy Reserve. Republican leadership has been discussing cutting funding levels to the fiscal year 2022 levels. If funding were cut to FY '22 levels, the Navy and Marine Corps could be cut to at least $3.6 billion lower than the President's budget request.
So if all three witnesses could share how if funding were reduced to the FY '22 levels that would affect the priorities and the budget request. And also from each of your perspectives, if less money were to go towards the projects in the budget request and in the unfunded priorities list, how would that affect our military readiness and the long term condition of our Navy and Marine Corps facilities?
MEREDITH BERGER: Ranking member Wasserman Schultz, I'll -- I'll -- I'll go first here. As I opened, I talked about the mission set of our naval facilities being warfighting, readiness, and quality of life. So every time that we ask for something in a budget, it is purpose tied to the mission set that we are charged with, each of those missions has mission need dates and different definitions that go along with that.
And so as we look towards these missions and what the needs are, we have different milestones along the way, and if we don't meet those, then we move away from being able to fully meet that mission in each of these definitions and at each of those need dates with each of those requirements. So I'll turn to my colleagues to talk in detail about where they see the impacts in their services, but when we -- when we move back in budget, the people who will feel it most are sailors, Marines and their families.
RICKY WILLIAMSON: Yes, ma'am, thank you for the question. Just doing some quick math, I think it would cut our milk roughly in half directly impact PSYOP, BYOP, CDC, unaccompanied housing and other critical infrastructure investments such as utilities that we're looking to make in '24. I think that that would basically allow us to do four increments to four projects and we would undoubtedly I think incur cost just based on having to push the planned projects out and the way that we see it right now.
And to Ms.. Berger's point, I think that you know, we've made a lot of effort to get after the quality of life for our sailors and their families. We have taken a lot of risk in that. And I think our budget in '23 started showing that '24 shows that I'm looking forward to '25 and out to really get after that.
And I think there would be a direct impact there.
EDWARD BANTA: Ma'am, thank you for the question. So yes, if we were to see reduced budgets back to the FY '22 level, I would expect to see a proportional reduction in military construction and potentially quality of life investments. I think it would be most impactful to our facilities investment strategy that looks at investing in those facilities that matter the most to us from an operational readiness perspective.
And so we tend to focus on those and there is a big piece of quality of life such as barracks and and quality of life investments there. So we would seek to -- to preserve it to the extent that we could, recognizing that the service also has modernization requirements and priorities and it would just be more of a rheostat I think that would probably delay and push out further into the -- the program and certain key investments.
I hope that helps, ma'am.
DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Thank you. It does. And just because you mentioned the -- the housing that the prioritized housing last year, this committee provided a significant increase of over $250 million for the Navy and Marine Corps Family Housing. Reverting to FY '22 levels would mean that Navy and Marine Corps family housing construction would be cut 77 percent from the enacted a level.
I'd like my colleagues to let that sink in for a moment. That absolutely disastrous cut would slow the pace of new construction of housing and would prolong instances of costly or inadequate housing for military families. Those who have served on this committee over the last number of years, recall that we've had at least two hearings where we heard directly from service members and the impact that the atrocious quality of their housing has had on their family life.
And we're starting to move in the right direction. So if we start to slow that down, which would be pretty dramatic under those proposed cuts, then obviously retention and recruitment are going to be impacted.
JOHN CARTER: The Marines have been slow balled in their -- in the building up of their initial investment. They're still building it, but the labor is not there. They work 18 months, and they leave. And we need to be able to keep them longer. Have you had -- I know you said -- when we talked, you said you were going to have some constant -- conversations with -- with the State Department, have you had any luck?
MEREDITH BERGER: And Chairman Carter having just done that trip myself, that is a long plane ride. The -- the general and I were recently out for the opening of Camp Blaze. And I know that the office of the Secretary of Defense has been the lead on this visa issue. I anticipate that you are hearing this from my -- myself, my colleagues all across because there are two things that are critically important to ensuring success in Guam and that is consistency of funding and consistency of labor.
And so, that's why this H-2B visa relief is -- is so important. You mentioned the 18 months, but at every point that we can't continue to guarantee work to folks, it creates a break in the way that we will work the same with contracting funding everything else. And so, this will be critically important. As for your question on the State Department, let me check with my colleagues at OSD as their -- the lead on that, but I'd be happy to follow up with you.
JOHN CARTER: Please do because it's very important. They need to come from -- from the Philippines. They've got great, great labor. They've worked them before. They want them. And the people there on Guam, say when the military gets through with them, they got projects they need to work on to support the military, so we need to get some flexibility in these visas so they can keep working as they come over there.
I know this is a -- you know, this question is kind of -- I'm going to throw it out there without a brief, but the real world is, I was there. And they can't do it without it.
MEREDITH BERGER: Yes, sir. And --
JOHN CARTER: General, do you want to say something?
EDWARD BANTA: Thanks, Mr. Chairman, if I may, secretary. I absolutely concur, sir. We're about 15 percent with our construction, 15 percent complete with our construction effort on Guam, so a lot of work yet to be done. This visa effort will be absolutely critical to achieving that workload over the coming years within cost and schedule performance parameters.
If we don't get it, we're already seeing the potential for cost overruns on the order of $1.1 to $1.5 billion, so that's something that we would certainly like to avoid if we can get this extension on the H-2B visas. Thank you, sir.
RICKY WILLIAMSON: Yes, sir. Just what General Banta and Ms. Meredith said. Particularly, when you look at the things that are going to Guam, it's just not a Marine Corps and Navy, it's also the Army, the Air Force, everybody.
JOHN CARTER: It's everybody.
RICKY WILLIAMSON: And so, to ensure that we stay on cost, schedule and scope, I think it's imperative to have that workforce available to be able to drive to -- to the end of the plan, sir.
JOHN CARTER: And just they need to be renewable if not extended because it -- you know, you just can't work and then stop and go through a big process to get them back. That just is so onerous to getting a project done even in the United States. If they walk off the job, getting them back is tough and so it's very important.
On the shipyards, how much progress has the Navy made with these efforts? And the Indo-Pacific region remains our top priority and it is important that our shipyards are modernized in an expeditious manner. How is the Navy ensuring workflow efficiency? Does the Navy have a sufficient stockpile of materials to adequately complete projects?
RICKY WILLIAMSON: Yes, sir, thank you very much for the question. Over the past year, I think we've made some tremendous progress in our PSYOP initiative. In particular, bringing lessons forward from earlier projects into current projects and future projects. You asked very specifically about what are we doing to ensure cost, schedule and scope.
By being able to -- work very closely with our partners, understanding the environment which we're in as far as inflation and those things, applying that information, not just what is being put out by OMB, but actually what the contractors are seeing. For example, our inflation rates are in Hawaii and San Diego are very high and so we have to project that and be able to get that cost, schedule and scope.
One of the other things that we have to do is make the money available so that the contractor that is actually doing the work for us, buys down the risk. We have to tie our workforce to the workflow to our supply chain. And our IDPs are off and running. Hawaii's complete. We're doing that analysis now and that's showing great promise of learning that we can apply to the other shipyards.
We have three sprints with our workflow in particular down in Norfolk that look at monitored state of the art advanced machinery and marrying the workflow to that to see the impacts it has to generate the outcomes that we're looking for. I'd be happy to come over sir and talk to you in great detail on the progress we're making.
JOHN CARTER: Well, thank you. We might do that.
RICKY WILLIAMSON: Yes, sir.
JOHN CARTER: Ms. Wasserman Schultz?
DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you. The FY '24 budget request of $6.7 billion for the Navy and Marine Corps includes several key increases like increased construction funding for the Navy Reserve. Republican leadership has been discussing cutting funding levels to the fiscal year 2022 levels. If funding were cut to FY '22 levels, the Navy and Marine Corps could be cut to at least $3.6 billion lower than the president's budget request.
So, if all three witnesses could share how if funding were reduced to the FY '22 levels that would affect the priorities and the budget request? And also, from each of your perspectives, if less money were to go towards the projects in the budget request and in the unfunded priorities list, how would that affect our military readiness and the long-term condition of our Navy and Marine Corps facilities?
MEREDITH BERGER: Ranking Member Wasserman Schultz, I'll -- I'll -- I'll go first here. As I opened, I talked about the mission set of our naval facilities being warfighting readiness and quality of life. So, every time that we ask for something in a budget, it is purpose tied to the mission set that we are charged with. Each of those missions has mission need dates and different definitions that go along with that.
And so, as we look towards these missions and what the needs are, we have different milestones along the way. And if we don't meet those, then we move away from being able to fully meet that mission in each of these definitions and at each of those need dates with each of those requirements. So I'll turn to my colleagues to talk in detail about where they see the impacts in their services, but when we -- when we move back in budget, the people who will feel it most are our sailors, marines and their families.
RICKY WILLIAMSON: Yes, ma'am. Thank you for the question. Just doing some quick math, I think it would cut our MILCOM roughly in half. And it would directly impact PSYOP BYOP, CDC, unaccompanied housing and other critical infrastructure investments such as utilities that we're looking to make in '24. I think that that would basically allow us to do four increments to four projects.
And we would undoubtedly, I think, incur costs just based on having to push the planned projects out in the way that PC right now. And to Ms. Berger's point, I think that, you know, we've made a lot of effort to get after the quality of life for our sailors and their families. We have taken a lot of risk in that.
And I think our budget in '23 started showing that, '24 shows that. I'm looking forward to '25 and out to really get after that. And I think there would be a direct impact there, ma'am.
DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Thank you.
EDWARD BANTA: Ma'am, thank you for the question. So yes, if we were to see reduced budgets back to the FY '22 level, I would expect to see a proportional reduction in military construction and potentially quality of life investments. I think it would be most impactful to our facilities investment strategy that looks at investing in those facilities that matter the most to us from an operational readiness perspective, and so we tend to focus on those.
And there is a big piece of quality of life such as barracks and -- and quality of life investments there. So, we would seek to -- to preserve it to the extent that we could recognize and that the service also has modernization requirements and priorities. And it would just be more of a rheostat, I think, that would probably delay and push out further into the -- the program and certain key investments.
DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Thank you. It does. And just because you mentioned the -- the housing -- the prioritized housing. Last year, this committee provided a significant increase of over $250 million for the Navy and Marine Corps Family Housing. Reverting to FY '22 levels would mean that Navy and Marine Corps family housing construction would be cut 77 percent from the enacted level.
I'd like for my colleagues to let that sink in for a moment. That absolutely disastrous cut would slow the pace of new construction of housing. And would prolong instances of costly or inadequate housing for military families. Those who have served on this committee over the last number of years, recall that we've had at least two hearings where we heard directly from servicemembers and the impact that the atrocious quality of their housing has had on their family life.
And we're starting to move in the right direction, so if we start to slow that down, which would be pretty dramatic under those proposed cuts, then obviously retention and recruitment are going to be impacted. I do want to just ask you and Judge Carter covered these, the PSYOP, and I do want to ask you about sexual assault in the military.
Thank you. Thank you. In our recent quality of life hearing, I asked about the troubling trends in sexual assaults in the military. Given the importance, I just want to follow up on -- on the -- on the evidence from the 2021 Workplace and Gender Relations survey of military members regarding servicemembers trust in the reporting system.
So, what progress has the Navy and Marine Corps made on that issue? I want a detailed explanation about what changes have been made, the implementation of the Independent Review Commission's recommendations and what more is being done to improve the trust? Because I mean, if you have a process that you design to ensure that people -- that we can really get a handle on this problem, but your servicemembers don't have trust in it, then it's useless.
EDWARD BANTA: Ma'am, thanks very much for the question. I'll take the initial stab at it here, so. As I think my counterparts will say, sexual assault has no place in the Marine Corps completely counter to our ethos and values and we're working hard to get after it. We are, in fact, implementing the Independent Review Commission recommendations.
We've stood up the Office of Special Trial Counsel. Brigadier General Woodard assumed that position in January of this year. And we're actively hiring out those positions that are critical to his ability to implement that accountability measure. In '23, we've -- we've -- we're spending $46 million to hire 369 additional staff, so that's sexual response -- sexual assault response coordinators, victim advocates and equal opportunity advisors.
We're also investing in education from the recruit depots all the way through professional military education at every rank. We've also standardized the cyber training so that those who are providing the training are giving the consistent message across the entire force at every opportunity. Where we could potentially use help, so even though we have $102 million in FY '24 and just over $500 million across the profile, $560 million across the fit up. Trying to hire to some of these positions is challenging, so we are working with the Department of the Navy and OSD to potentially seek direct hire authority to assist us with those measures.
And in terms of trust, I think it gets back to just communicating with our Marines, letting them know -- and family members, letting them know that we have these people in place, that they have the trust of their -- of their commanders as well as this Office of Special Trial Counsel to -- to hold offenders accountable.
RICKY WILLIAMSON: Yes, ma'am. Thank you very much for the question. As Ted said, sexual assault has absolutely no place in the United States Navy. A lot of the same type of investments, one thing I want to highlight that Ted brought up is hiring the right people and making sure that we get those right people in place. One of the things that we've initialed is working with academia and doing some studies to figure out how to bring those folks on to work.
And also how to be competitive in that market to ensure that we've got the right people at the right place. The other thing that Ted talked about, that's a huge initiative for us is a training at all levels. At our Command leadership school in Great Lakes, in our senior enlisted academy to ensure that that training, it starts there but it doesn't stop there.
It makes sure that it gets all the way through the ranks all the -- all the way down to the deck plate. And then, I would say finally, ma'am, that probably the biggest challenge -- or not the challenge, but one of the things that you see in our quality of life is to ensure that, you know, the facilities are up to standards and that they are properly met.
And that this is a consideration as we look at building back better going forward. That is something that I think that, you know, when we look at generating a quality of life for our sailors, something that absolutely has to be in that metric and has to be measured. And I think that you'll see that as we look at unaccompanied housing and we start looking at some of the other things that we're doing.
DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Thank you. Thank you for your indulgence, Mr. Chairman.
JOHN CARTER: Mr. Valadao?
DAVID G. VALADAO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you all for taking the time to be here today. Ms. Berger, a quick question. Earlier this year, California Energy Commission approved funding for the Navy Electric Vehicle Pilot program and electrification blueprint studies for several Navy and Marine Corps facilities. Given the issues we've had in California over the last few years, especially this past summer, we've had some energy issues there.
We've had times where we're not even supposed to turn our air conditioning on, plugging in vehicles. Now we're seeing the governor come out and start to actually push for more electric cars, semis. And for anyone who's been around one of those large semis, they do pull a lot from the grid. What energy production storage projects are you looking to support these projects?
When we look at this type of system, I mean, we don't want to put ourselves in a position where we're -- we're starting to see a threat to our national security where our vehicles aren't functioning and -- and moving or the ability to even get them plugged in and producing because of -- of some of our great issues.
MEREDITH BERGER: And Congressman Valadao, thank you for the question, the attention. For us, energy resilience is mission assurance and that is the foundation of how we approach this. You mentioned the California Energy Commission and we are an early and steady partner on some of the initiatives that they've done. You mentioned some of the earlier strains on the grid.
Labor Day comes to mind when I think about some of the heat waves that came through California. And I'll share with you an example of partnership on energy with the California Energy Commission where both Navy and Marine Corps were able to step up and give back to the grid to create that relief. So, through partnership at the Marine Corps Air Station, there is a microgrid where we are able to generate and store energy.
And so, when the utility providers were looking to manage against a blackout or to manage a rolling brownout, the Marine corps is actually able to flip the switch, give energy back to the grid to prevent that from happening. So, to your point, first and foremost, we create that assurance. And then, we manage towards what the pool will be. There's more infrastructure work to do, but it is happening in a way that is cognizant of what that looks like.
And I will turn to my colleagues to see if they have anything to add.
EDWARD BANTA: Thanks ma'am. Thanks, Congressman, for your question. So just to build upon what Secretary Berger mentioned. So yes, the microgrids that we are developing are important investments in the resiliency of our installations. And as Ms. Berger said, will allow us to ensure continuity of power during periods of crisis regardless of the of the cause, as well as provide power back to a local grid or decreasing our demand, which allows them to focus on local communities.
We're also working on electric vehicle supply equipment studies at our installations. We've got seven of ten complete that will help identify where the real challenge areas are in terms of that electrical infrastructure. So, as we complete those, we'll start investing in to the infrastructure itself to include charging stations.
We've currently got 118 permanent charging points in place, primarily in California as well as 27 of the portable beam arc solar chargers at 15 separate installations. So, I think we're making some good investments, particularly in California. Miramar, our Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at 29 Palms and then most recently, an investment in a microgrid up at our Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport using the ERSIP [ph] program, so I hope that helps, Congressman.
RICKY WILLIAMSON: Yes, sir, thank you very much for the question. Currently, we have an ERSIP project for Naval Base San Diego, 8.6 million to look at place in a microgrid at Naval Base San Diego. One of the things I'm very proud of, I had the opportunity to be the commanding officer of Naval Base San Diego and understand these challenges firsthand.
We work very closely with SDG&E and the surrounding community of San Diego. Our ships obviously draw a lot of power and can produce a lot of power. One of the things that we regularly did as the instability of the local surroundings, we would actually come onto ships power and reduce the grid to allow -- to prevent brownouts.
But the one thing I want to highlight is these two things actually live in harmony. The microgrid, not only does it allow us to store energy and be able to put it back, but it also makes our base more resilient by allowing us to direct the power to the mission operate -- mission impacted functions on the base to ensure that that continues.
Additionally, we're doing studies. One I think has great promise. You don't necessarily think about it, but if you're in San Diego, you do. The consumption of water. One of the largest starting anchorages that you have is when pumps kick off and on. You're in a water scarce environment, so how do we reduce the amount of those starts and stops of the -- our water pumps and give back to the grid and take the load off of the local structure?
So we're -- we have great hope in that. That'll help us continue to build a resiliency plan, particularly in the Southwest.
DAVID G. VALADAO: And when you say the pumps starting and stopping, I mean the technology has been around for a while. I mean, you got variable speed, you got -- I think it's called soft start. We've put some of those even on our farms, so is that something you guys are just starting to implement or if you develop something different?
RICKY WILLIAMSON: Yes, sir, it's actually twofold. It's to implement that, but also how do we place that into our -- our -- our base controls basically to time when those coming out. A base wakes up at 5:00 in the morning. You see the spike in energy consumption. Can we move that? You know, use this technology to move that start and level that off, so you're not having the large -- a larger starting amperage.
It's the same thing in the evening. If we can drive down to zero in the evening like the Marine Corps is doing, then I think there's some tremendous opportunity there. Absolutely, to leverage the technology, but it's in how you inform that technology and how it's going to be leveraged to drive down the starting amperage.
DAVID G. VALADAO: All right, well, my time's expired, so thank you, sir.
JOHN CARTER: Mr. Bishop?
SANFORD BISHOP: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Let me welcome again our witnesses. Assistant Secretary Berger, Admiral Williamson, General Banta. Let me first start with Secretary Berger. The built environment now benefits from various innovative materials that the commercial industry widely uses. For example, Wal-Mart is building its new headquarters campus out of mass timber and realizing several strengths and sustainability benefits.
Cross laminated timber has been included in the unified facility's criteria since 2016. As a result, five privatized Army hotels consistently saw construction speed up by 37 percent. Construction labor hours reduced by 44 percent. And on site construction traffic reduced by 90 percent while exceeding resilient standards and sustainability goals.
Despite these lessons that were learned seven years ago, the department has not used cross laminated timber in its MILCOM facilities. Can you describe the Navy's efforts to incorporate CLT in its MILCOM projects? And secondly, I understand that the Navy has been late submitting its report required by the pilot program when using sustainable materials in MILCOM projects in FY '22 NDAA Section 2861. Can you provide us with an update on the Navy's implementation of that pilot and whether it will use mass timber in this demonstration?
MEREDITH BERGER: Congressman Bishop, yes, we -- we think it is critically important to make sure that we are incorporating sustainability into our -- our build. On the report, I need to get us status on that. And I would be glad to do so. As far as using the cross laminated timber in our projects, we do have two opportunities to do sustainability pilot syncs to Congress where we are building out on those.
And we have the opportunity to explore using cross laminated timber in one of our future sustainability projects. And I'd be glad to update you as we move through that process. We are -- we are working with the Army on that and to make sure that we are moving forward to give that a good test in terms of how we use these sustainable materials and so please allow me to come back to you on that update.
I'll note more broadly that the point that you made in the question of, we are making sure that we are using materials that are going to make enduring the investments that we put down when we are using these appropriated dollars. Sustainability is not only making sure that our infrastructure and the way that we are building is standing up against increasing impacts such as strengthened storms or extreme temperatures, but also making sure that we are making an investment that is for the future sailor and marine.
And so, we look at sustainability in that broadly. And as the chief sustainability officer for the Department of the Navy -- excuse me, I keep a close eye on that. And let me make sure my colleagues have a chance to comment as well on their efforts.
RICKY WILLIAMSON: Sir, thank you very much for the question. I think that, you know, when I took this job, one of the things we talked about is having a consistent five-year plan. Sustainability of our installations is absolutely vital, but having a consistent resourcing and made available will get us so far. We will look at anything that's to your point that's faster, cheaper and meets all the requirements, not only laminated timber, but also tension fabric for example and 3D printing.
Not only to I get the benefit of meeting the requirements, for example, tension fabric, now Salinas, California seismic standards and also the Dade County Miami hurricane standards. I can put it up in 18 months at a 10th of the cost. It's durable. And it's also exportable, particularly when you look at how we're going to operate into the future.
3D printing, 30 percent savings along just in utility cost. I think all of those things we're willing to look at to maximize our buy on power so that we build our bases back better.
DAN BISHOP: Mr. Banta?
EDWARD BANTA: Congressman, I think I could just add to Admiral Williamson by saying that we are certainly interested in any construction materials or methods that would make us more sustainable and also faster, less expensive and more expeditionary frankly. So, as we look at expanding into the Pacific, particularly as part of a global positioning network, there may be opportunities for using things like tension fabric structures as well as construction scale 3D printing to get after some of our requirements.
Thank you, sir.
SANFORD BISHOP: Thank you. My time has expired. Thank you very much.
JOHN CARTER: Mr. Rutherford?
JOHN RUTHERFORD: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I want to thank all of our witnesses today. Thank you for being here. And -- and thank you particularly Secretary Berger for the -- the brief conversation that we had the other day. That -- it was very valuable at least from -- from my standing. And as -- as we discussed, many methods of shoreline repair projects fall under MILCOM projects, which as this committee knows can often be a long time coming and very competitive.
But speaking with you and I want to look forward -- and I look forward to working with you on this, would you talk to the committee a little bit about your idea on some of these shoreline erosion prevention projects and how we may get them done in a more expedient fashion?
MEREDITH BERGER: Yes, Congressman. I also thought the time was -- was very nice, so thank you for it. And I -- I know that in Florida, for example, out at Blount Island, there is a shoreline project that -- it takes a long time to be able to work through the traditional funding pieces, but one authority that Congress has -- has given us that we're at the front end of but has a lot of potential is the other transactional authority.
And so, as we think about how to apply that authority, it helps us to move with speed. It helps us to move with precision towards the objective of what the project is. And so, as we think about one that is targeted more towards a resilient objective, in the case of the shoreline, there's an opportunity to move quickly to innovate and to think about how to use our dollars better and get the result that we are after faster.
And so, I would love, love to continue to think about how we explore that to -- to make sure that we achieve everybody's objectives, most importantly getting after our problems.
JOHN RUTHERFORD: Yeah, I know the Marine Corps support facility at Blount Island is very excited about this new idea on how to get this done, I hope.
EDWARD BANTA: Congressman, we share are. And I think as you know, we had two specific projects down there on the riverfront that were submitted as minor construction. And unfortunately, when the bids came back, they exceeded the threshold, so now we're looking at having to go back and resubmit it as a MILCOM project which just is a longer, more time intensive process.
So, to -- to the extent that we can leverage other transactional authorities and get to this faster, we are certainly in agreement and concur with that. Thank you, sir.
JOHN RUTHERFORD: Well, thank you very much. I think this is a great way to expedite that and stop. Because that erosion is significant, so. Admiral Williamson, the -- the basic allowance for housing is critical in our privatized military housing. In the BAH range -- rates have changed dramatically, particularly in some areas of the country due to inflation and just rising cost of living.
And then, when you go back and look at NDAA in fiscal year '15, we cut servicemembers to 95 percent of the BAH and they were to pick up the other five. Now -- now they're, you know, living with this increased inflation, cost of living. Can you tell me your take on the BAH levels right now? Are -- are they adequate really for -- for our members?
RICKY WILLIAMSON: Yes, sir, thank you very much for the question. Obviously, you know, providing quality housing for our sailors and their families, you know, as has been mentioned is direct correlation to retention, recruitment and mission readiness. And so, our housing professionals work very closely with the members in local areas to ensure that we understand what the market value is. We participate annually in a BAH analysis that generates the income necessary for a family member in Jacksonville, for example, to be able to do that.
The other thing that we do, this analysis also informs our ability where we have a high demand but low -- low housing opportunity. For example, Fallon and China Lake, California. You know, we work with the partners there and very -- we're growing at both locations. And we have 170 new homes -- 72 new homes going in at Fallon and 16 at China Lake to meet that demand signal.
But to answer your question, sir, we're very aware of the problem. We stay on it. And I do think that we're getting after making sure the sailors and their families have what they need to live in any environment.
JOHN RUTHERFORD: Okay, thank you. And I see my time has expired. Mr. Chairman, I'll yield back, but I'd sure like to follow up on some of this. Thank you.
JOHN CARTER: Thank you. Mr. Zinke?
RYAN ZINKE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And Madam Secretary, thank you for your service. I know it's not easy from experience. So, the secretary of the Navy had some interesting comments the other day. He said his number one priority was climate change. Do you also share those views?
MEREDITH BERGER: I prioritize the threats that we see in terms of weather, temperature, water --
RYAN ZINKE: Do you prioritize climate change as -- as -- as -- as a -- as a primary objective. He said it was his number one priority.
MEREDITH BERGER: Yes, countering that threat is the context.
RYAN ZINKE: I appreciate that. You mentioned sea level rise, how far has the sea level risen in the last hundred years?
MEREDITH BERGER: We have monitors throughout the ocean, and I would be glad to get you that data.
RYAN ZINKE: Well, I can share that data with you. It's a 2017 report from the Department of Interior and multi-agency. I would suggest you read it because it says between a few millimeters and a few centimeters. So, are you using some other planning factor when you're looking at developing infrastructure for climate change?
MEREDITH BERGER: Yes, we use a series of planning factors based on historical data and other conditions. And we have seen historic flooding water rise in other --
RYAN ZINKE: In the last hundred years, do you know how much is the temperature -- or the -- the sea has risen? Because you're using historical data, I'm just -- I'm just asking. Because I asked that same question.
MEREDITH BERGER: I -- I'd have to go and get you the data. I don't have it.
RYAN ZINKE: For information, there's over 200 models in a thousand variables. So on -- on EV, SO are you aware that China produces about 62 percent of the EV materials for batteries, lithium, cobalt, etcetera?
MEREDITH BERGER: Yes, I'm thankful for the CHIPS Act, which has helped us to look at other alternatives for that.
RYAN ZINKE: There is alternatives. At the moment, it's 62 percent and rising. And I'm sure you're also aware there's a critical minerals that China has the complete -- the complete run on germanium and others. So, on -- on the EV, are we using some other EV material other than from China, has we go through and look at our batteries?
MEREDITH BERGER: Yes, there's tremendous industry innovation. And I am --
RYAN ZINKE: What -- what country is producing it?
MEREDITH BERGER: It's --
RYAN ZINKE: You say we're moving forward on EV. I'm just curious if you say we have alternate sources of EV lithium, cobalt, nickel. What sources would those be
MEREDITH BERGER: Sources of alternatives for --
RYAN ZINKE: Critical minerals and materials necessary for EV transfer, the batteries. You're saying you're going forward and putting batteries on. My question is energy independence. I'm wondering about energy independence and sustainability when materials and components come from China.
MEREDITH BERGER: Congressman, I think that you misunderstood what I said. We are -- we are going forward with that research and integrating it into our consideration and making sure that the --
RYAN ZINKE: But you're also implementing it. Are you executing it? Your EV?
MEREDITH BERGER: Yes.
RYAN ZINKE: So, you're executing it. So, you're not good it planning, you're executing. My question to you is where are the materials coming from that you're executed and using the batteries from, and the critical components from the EV? Because I believe they're from China, unless you have some of their data, I don't know.
MEREDITH BERGER: Congressman, I think that your point is that we need to make sure that we have a secure supply chain, which I agree with.
RYAN ZINKE: My point -- my point is, is it's a national security issue. If China controls the preponderance of critical minerals and the elements that are critical in the EV both in -- in the battery and material, then I would suggest before we -- we jump into that, we look at our -- our vulnerability in the supply chain.
Secondly, is biofuels real -- real quickly. General, I'm concerned about our -- our fuel storage in the Pacific, so without Hawaii, what are our options? And are options included in your budget for storage of fuel in INDOCHINA?
RICKY WILLIAMSON: Yes, sir, thank you for the question. The other part of my job is logistics. I think it's important to look at -- when you look at Redhill and the fuel that's there and moving that fuel out. Distributed Maritime Ops and Expeditionary Advanced Base ops, particularly across an AOR that big 6,000 by 4,000 square miles.
I think having that fuel distributed closer to the point of need for sailors, marines, airmen and soldiers --
RYAN ZINKE: Does the budget outline where the fuel is going to be distributed and asked for funding to do that?
RICKY WILLIAMSON: There is resources, sir, but I think we get to a classified set very, very quickly there. I'd be happy to come over and talk to you about that. We work very closely with INDOPAYCOM and their master plan for Theater Posture and PDI. You know, the specific locations of where that's being moved, I'd be happy to come over and --
RYAN ZINKE: Well, there's a short time, but on the second round, I'll -- I'll ask more specifics, but I'm concerned about what we have afloat and what we have on shore and I'll work with you. Because our job -- I view my job as a supporting commander, so my job is to support you and make sure that you have fuel distribution and that we're ready.
RICKY WILLIAMSON: Roger that, sir.
RYAN ZINKE: Mr. Chairman, I yield back.
JOHN CARTER: Thank you, Mr. Zinke. Ms. Lee?
SUSIE LEE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thanks for all of the witnesses being here today. I wanted to talk about a key facility for US national security, the Naval Air station in Fallon. This is a fixture that serves the Navy's premier strike warfare as the premier strike warfare training facility and the only one that allows the entire carrier wing to conduct comprehensive training.
A top priority for my home state of Nevada for our nation is continuing to support Fallon's unparalleled range complex and the Navy training mission, especially given the pressing needs to ensure our readiness in the Pacific. We cannot afford anything short of fully supporting Fallon's training mission. Vice Admiral Williamson, I wanted to ask you, do you -- how you believe a reduction in spending to fiscal year 2022 levels would impact the Navy's readiness and ability to meet mission demands in the Pacific and at critical installations like Fallon?
RICKY WILLIAMSON: Ma'am, thank you very much for the question. I think it would have a dramatic impact on our ability to fill a mission capable fleet. Specifically to Fallon, as you know, we're looking at expanding that because it's the one area where carrier wing's special operations forces can actually do the tactical training necessary to be ready.
That impact, I think, would have a direct -- would result directly in us not being able to expand that range to meet those mission -- those mission requirements. Additionally, I think, you know, the question was asked early, I think it would cut my military budget by approximately half, my military construction, which would impact PYSOP, which is the counterparts that are aviation.
It would also have a direct impact on our sailors and their families. I think we have four CDCs scheduled in the next year along with numerous investments and our economy housing. So, ma'am, I think, that the projects at Fallon, the land acquisitions at Fallon moving forward would be at jeopardy. And we'd have to reprioritize our budget to be able to get after that.
SUSIE LEE: Thank you. You know, following up on the CDC, you know, across the country ensuring access to reliable, affordable childcare for our military members is huge and a top priority. Especially we have Creech Air Force Base in southern Nevada as well as Fallon has. They both emphasized the need. I know this -- these needs exist across the Navy and Marine Corps as well.
And would you Assistant Secretary Berger, could you and Lieutenant General Banta, could you outline the steps that the Navy and Marine Corps is taking to support military families and to expand off post daycare options and flexibilities for child care?
MEREDITH BERGER: Yes, Congresswoman Lee and incredibly important and foundational to taking care of people as you note. So looking at a variety of ways that we can partner, first A good example is out at Point Loma in California, we were able to partner with some unused space to increase that footprint. As Admiral Williamson has noted, we are making efforts to -- to move against the number of children that are actually on the waitlist and make sure that we are filling those needs.
There is an opportunity as child care is -- is a challenge that the whole nation faces. And so we are looking at how we can partner at the state level and the local level to make sure that we are taking advantage of standardizing what that need looks like and helping more care workers to be able to meet that need along with being able to pay them that competitive -- excuse me, competitive wage, and then be able to make a more supportive environment that will help to enable that.
SUSIE LEE: Thank you.
EDWARD BANTA: Congresswoman, thanks very much for the question. So just to reiterate, providing quality affordable child care for our families is absolutely important. I mean, it directly supports readiness. So we operate 58 facilities across the Marine Corps. Most are in pretty good shape. Staffing is a challenge and we continue to struggle to -- to hire sufficient staff to man those facilities.
If we were able to do so, it would dramatically reduce our waitlist. In terms of being able to provide additional opportunities off base in particular, we fund a community child care fee assistance program, started back in FY 22. It helped about 1000 families to gain access to care off base when it wasn't available on base.
And I believe there's a pilot there offering on base as well for community childcare to augment that capability that we offer through our CDCs. So moving forward, we just continue to appreciate the continued support and funding for our child care programs.
SUSIE LEE: Great. Thank you. Thank you very much. I'm over my time, so I'll yield.
JOHN CARTER: Ms. Bice.
STEPHANIE BICE: Thank you Mr. Chairman, and certainly thank you to the witnesses for being with us this afternoon. I am proud to represent the Oklahoma City metro area which houses Tinker Air Force Base. And I know many of you may be surprised to know this, but there is a Navy installation on Tinker Air Force Base in the middle of Oklahoma where there is no water, but it is home to nearly 2000 sailors and makes up the Navy strategic communications Wing 1 also known as TACAMO. As the witnesses know, the unit plays a critical mission in safeguarding our national defense by ensuring the security of communications between the commander and she -- and commander in chief in much of the nation's nuclear arsenal.
My question is this. I see in the Navy's budget request that you have included MILCON spending to build up the infrastructure for the development of the replacement to the E6 TACAMO aircraft. Do you have everything that you need in place at Tinker And how can this committee help in continuing to support that very vital mission?
RICKY WILLIAMSON: Yes, ma'am. Thank you very much for the question and I am very familiar with that base. I was the last commander of Navy region Midwest. To answer your question specifically, right now what we're in the process of doing is our strategic laydown. And so particularly looking at the pacing threat called China.
As we begin to understand the requirements, what we're doing is looking at the specific laydown areas to include Tinker Air Force Base and the Navy component on there to ensure that we have, again, lessons learned out of PSYOP. If I understand the requirement that I have the right resources and planning and development to meet schedule scope and costs, so that we're ahead of mission date.
You mentioned we have an investment in this request. Is it Pax River for training facility -- I'm sorry, a maintenance facility and Pax River as we continue to understand more about the requirements, particularly not only in Tinker but probably on the West Coast of the United States, be more than happy to come back and talk to you about that, but we're taking all aspects of the requirements, not to mention just the platform, but also we talked about CDCs, the health care for the families housing.
All those things have to be accounted for -- for the 2000 individuals in Oklahoma City.
STEPHANIE BICE: Do you have a timeline on when you sort of are anticipating that you'll be looking at moving forward with --
RICKY WILLIAMSON: Yes, ma'am. We've already started moving forward. The analysis is started and so that's why you see the first investment in Pax River. We do that through what we call capability chains, understanding the flow not only of the platform, but also the sailors and the families through those bases to the point of need.
And that -- that analysis is well underway, ma'am, and I'd be happy to come over and talk to you in detail about it.
STEPHANIE BICE: That would be great. I appreciate that. And then I just want to follow up. You know Ms. Lee brought up the CDC challenges that we've seen across the country. I had the opportunity to participate in an exchange with Congresswoman Sarah Jacobs to visit her community and certainly the bases there to find out about some of the challenges.
And it's listed that you know San Diego being one of the biggest, I think concerns with child care. I appreciate your focus on that. I think for Oklahoma City, it may not be as big of a concern, although it still is. But if we're talking about making sure that our families have readiness, availability, then that child care is incredibly important.
And certainly for those especially higher income areas, that may be a challenge. So I'm glad to see that, that is a focus for -- for our service members. And I would just offer up to the other thing that we hear across the board is, and you mentioned this general answer that finding workforce for those child care facilities tends to be a real challenge.
And I think that's something else that we need to be thinking about is how can we incentivize or recruit and retain those individuals that are providing services.
RICKY WILLIAMSON: Yeah. Ma'am, would love I've been dying to say this. FY 24 fully funds our CCD, CC, CDC program. To your point about being innovative, recruiting and attracting. Currently right now, we're paying about $5 above the national wage rate to attract the people. This is -- this is not just a Navy issue. This is a whole nation issue.
You mentioned San Diego, our fleet concentration areas are definitely the locations of need, but the innovation not only with the increase in the pay but also if you're a CDC worker and you have a child, we offer a 50 percent discount for the first child and 20 percent after that. In addition to that we have partnered with universities, for example, Utah Tech and North Carolina State University.
For people that are in school that want to take a summer sabbatical and work in our C -- CDC s during the summertime, which are our high need rates for moves and etc., which we tend to do, that's almost doubled. We expected to double this summer. And so absolutely we have to be innovative. And then the other thing to your point about the fleet concentration areas, the capacity is just not there.
And so that's going to require investments. We have two next year in the Hampton Roads area, which will give us 600 seats. We have an additional two, one in [inaudible] and one in Point Loma that gives us another 372 seats. And we have 11 additional CDCs planned across the fitted for our fleet concentration areas to get after that need.
STEPHANIE BICE: Mr. Chairman, if I just may one final comment, it's been noted a couple of times during this hearing that there is a move to go back to FY 22 numbers. I think that -- that's inaccurate when it comes to the defense spending. The goal of course is to try to -- to hold the defense spending flat. And so I want to make sure that that's noted for the record.
So Mr. Chairman, I yield back.
JOHN CARTER: Thank you. I think we're going to do another round. I'm going to add a little humor here, something the general said. He reminded me of something that happened to me in the courtroom. A lady was being put on probation and she had stabbed her boyfriend 48 times. But he lived, so they were putting her on probation.
But as part of her probation, she was going to have to pay restitution for the hospital bills that her boyfriend acquired which was about $7,000. And so her lawyer was questioning her and he said, ma'am, now you realize you just told the judge you're going to pay restitution of $7,000. She said, yes, sir.
He said you realize that all you have is -- is your -- basically your government money, you get for your children, about $400 a month. He said -- she said, yes, sir. I know that she said Now you understand you're not telling me you're going to pay it. You're telling me you're going to make a stab at it. When he said that, I remembered that because she never got it, but everybody else in the courtroom.
Got it. Okay. I'm going to start back. I got the opportunity to go watch a 3D printer operate and it's either actually quite exciting. I mean, they move very rapidly once they get the form built up. It's Katie bar the door, it's going up and going up good. I watched -- I got to visit the finished product and it was very, very nice.
I'm very interested in these alternative ways of doing things quicker. Is the Navy looking at these advanced manufacturing? Have you made any attempts or the Army built something on one of our bases and they were very pleased with it, and what barriers are there to using these technologies to advance the speed at which we get things done?
MEREDITH BERGER: Mr. Chairman, I don't know if you saw us all leaning for, for the talk button and which is a good sign for the capability. I was -- I was recently out in Texas and got to see one of the companies that is in your home state that is exploring this exact option and it does -- it moves faster. It is more resilient in terms of hurricane and seismic standards and gives us a lot more flexibility for the speed in getting to that capability.
Army set some great examples as you noted and we're at the front end of using that capability, but certainly one that helps and there is a market forming which also helps. And then I know that a lot of them are looking at more of our expeditionary environment so that way we can move forward and move quickly and let me turn over to -- to both of my colleagues who I know who are paying close attention to this as well.
RICKY WILLIAMSON: Yes, sir. Actually, I have actually been to Texas and seen the same thing. I think it's a tremendous opportunity there, particularly tied to the one of the previous questions about operating in the Pacific. The ability that -- the expeditionary capability that brings for us to quickly construct like you said, once we understand the requirements get that program.
It's an amazing capability. Not only that, but the advantages from resilience and insulation for energy consumption, etc. You know we've even challenged them. Is it possible to build out a material that causes no harm to the environment, and they're looking at those. So I think there's tremendous opportunity there.
Not only expeditionary, but also in CONUS. We are following very closely with the technology and look forward to taking advantage of it. And by the way, we've also been working with XWIK [ph], which is the people that set the standards for our UFC. And those are being baked in now. So we're hopefully to get that across the finish line real soon and maybe take advantage of this technology.
EDWARD BANTA: Mr. Chairman, thanks very much for the opportunity to comment. So absolutely in addition to everything that -- that Rick mentioned and Secretary Berger, we see great promise in the prospect of construction scale 3D printing. And I'll mention something that I saw about a year or so ago that's a little bit different from what you were talking about.
And this is the University of Maine Advanced Structure -- Advanced Composite Structures Center that 3D printed a lateral connector. So basically you could put two 22-foot containers on this. You still needed a propulsion unit to move it around, but it was something that could get bolted together. It was made very quickly, relatively low cost.
And if you lost it or if it was a tradable, it wasn't a big deal. So it may not be the exact solution we're looking for. But I think it shows the promise of where we're going and some potential applications beyond just buildings or things like that.
JOHN CARTER: I know that I'm not just -- you both saw it in Texas, but there's a lot of people competing in this area. So it'd be a good competition too. Well. Thank you. Mr. Bishop.
SANFORD BISHOP: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and let me just revisit some areas with regard to what are reportedly proposed cuts from the other side of the aisle. It's my understanding that there are some who plan to spare proposing cuts for actual defense. But let's look at the non-defense discretionary and I'd like for each of you to comment on how that could possibly impact our national security and our military.
If we go back from -- if the 2024 budget that were to be adopted incorporated the cuts taking us back to 2022 with respect to non-discretionary spending only not just military but non-discretionary spending --non-defense discretionary spending cuts to education, for example, affecting the opportunity for our young people to get the -- the STEM training that is so necessary for competing with our adversaries like China health care.
And I understand from my recruiters that we're expending extraordinary sums in having to pay disability to military members who's -- who had poor nutrition growing up. And of course, their bone density wasn't sufficient to withstand the -- the rigors of either the training or once they got in. So it resulted in some medical problems, the nutrition and the health care transportation with, for example, the lack of inspections of miles and miles of railroad.
And of course, a lot of the defense logistics supplies are transported by railroad as well as air traffic problems. And we're experiencing a lot of near-misses now with our air traffic and our food safety. If we don't have -- if we cut the budget and we have food safety issues with a lot of the -- and as well as the inspections of our prescription drugs, all of this is not directly defense, but it's not defense.
How would that impact each of you and the services and how in your opinion would that affect our national security if we were to go back to 2022, which is about a 22 percent reduction across the board?
MEREDITH BERGER: Congressman Bishop, the -- the theme that I heard in the other places that you -- that you listed are -- these are some of our key partners. And so I can't speak to their -- their budgets. But I do know that this is a place that we partner with our communities. And these are some of our outside the fence line places where we do have dependencies and so it would create a consideration in terms of the inputs that come into the Navy and Marine Corps, the Department of the Navy fence lines, if you will.
And so there's a dependency.
SANFORD BISHOP: We don't have adequate food safety, the supplies, the food that you provide to the men and women who are our service members and their families through the commissary and of course the active-duty personnel wherever they are in the world, if that food is not adequately inspected to be safe or if the medication, the prescription drugs that they need the medicines, if that's not, will that impact our national security and our troops and their families.
MEREDITH BERGER: These are essentials, Congressman Bishop, that, that there is a dependency on. So we have food that comes from outside our -- our installations. We -- we recruit from the population that depends on a lot of these pieces. And so there is -- there's certainly an interdependency in terms of the -- the -- the other parts of the entire country's budget and -- and what they are asking for.
SANFORD BISHOP: And for training for the -- the military active-duty folks, are the recruiters really, really crying wolf when they say that the recruits, the kids are too fat to fight or they are -- have bone densities that will not withstand the training and so they have to drop out and or declare some people ineligible because of that.
Will that affect our -- our -- our -- our interest?
EDWARD BANTA: Congressman, so building upon what Secretary Berger mentioned, certainly there are dependencies and interdependencies and I would say that recruiting yes, is a very challenging environment right now. We've been putting more resources towards it. Thus far, we have been able to make our recruiting goals, but I suspect they would become increasingly challenging if we saw cuts to other of our partners upon which we depend for some of those -- those programs.
So, yeah, recruiting is -- is job number one for us and we want to make sure we're successful at it, sir.
RICKY WILLIAMSON: Yes, sir. Just everything that Ted said plus and I think that to Ms. Berger's point about our dependency upon those things on the other side of the fence line to generate a ready force. Obviously it's a combination of a lot of things. Also you mentioned medical food, one of the attractions of I think coming into the military is to understand that that is, you know, those things will be provided.
So any impact to that I think could consequentially have a direct impact on recruiting.
SANFORD BISHOP: I think my time has expired.
JOHN CARTER: Thank you, Mr. Bishop. Mr. Vallejo.
DAVID G. VALADAO: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Ms. Berger, in your testimony last year, you noted the Navy was working on a review of unaccompanied housing facilities and a ten-year plan to address those facilities that are in unsatisfactory condition. Is the review complete and can you tell us what you've seen so far?
MEREDITH BERGER: I will -- I will note that just on -- on top of the review that you asked about that we recognize that in a community housing requires a lot of attention in terms of making sure that we get to that foundational need. The ten-year review is one that we have gone through and I will let Admiral Williamson talk to the details of what came out of that review.
But unaccompanied housing is -- is one that we need to pay very close attention to and take some of the lessons that we have learned from a few years ago when it came to some of our family housing. And that is the -- the advocacy, the attention and staying on top of that piece.
RICKY WILLIAMSON: Yes, sir. Thank you very much for the question. We are -- yes, sir. We are in finishing the way forward in the investments. The investments you see in 23 and 24 are a reflection of our learning so far and that is to invest in to the unaccompanied housing that actually has useful life. What we're developing right now is what the plan is to generate capacity, in particular, our fleet location areas where we have the required MILCON in some locations, which you'll see.
We set up a CFT to do the analysis of those investments and also maybe a combination of PBV housing. I don't know if you've had the opportunity to see Pacific Beacon in San Diego. 1883 beds. It's absolutely beautiful. There's a swimming pool on the ninth floor. It is on Naval Base San, Diego. It is what our sailors deserve.
I think there's an opportunity to expand that as well, but what you see in our budget are a sustainment in our projects to put back into the barracks. The other thing that we're looking at is looking at just condition is that truly the right metric. One of the things that we're looking at is a livability piece to measuring our unaccompanied housing, for example, wired internet in Wi-Fi, should that be also a part of the quality of life for our sailors?
And we're baking that in. And so we have across the -- we have increased our RM up to almost $250 million a year and we're looking at investing in unaccompanied housing construction and construction as well. And I'd be happy to come over and talk to you and give you the details of that plan.
DAVID G. VALADAO: All right. The Navy's fiscal year 24 budget includes 165 million for the Navy and 201 million for the Marine Corps to repair, renovate housing for unaccompanied, sailors and minors' marines. Based off your review of the unaccompanied housing facilities, how much of more investment is needed to address remaining housing maintenance backlog?
MEREDITH BERGER: I'll turn quickly, but I just wanted to echo and emphasize that -- that privatization authority is one that we've really seen such good results on. And so as we think through this, the ability to do more of that will enhance the quality of life, will allow us to get after some of these concerns and put those dollars in places where they count, especially for our sailors and Marines who are living there.
EDWARD BANTA: Congressman, thank you for the question. So we have 672 barracks in the United States Marine Corps. Roughly 84 percent are in good or fair condition. We still have 16 percent that are not and we know that we need to get better and that -- that number fluctuates over time given investment levels and how things degrade.
So we are requesting one new barracks this year, Marine Barracks, Washington. We plan to renovate 13 more and if we had an additional $155 million in restoration modernization -- modernization funds, we could do 12 additional barracks. You mentioned what is the -- the true scope and depth of the problem?
If we were to look at trying to get all barracks back to condition code, basically FCI of 1 or 2, that would be roughly $3 billion. And that's a long-term multifaceted approach, but we recognize we have more work to do and we appreciate the continued support of congress towards that end. Thank you, sir.
RICKY WILLIAMSON: Yes, sir. We've got a lot more work to do that same standard. 60 percent of our barracks currently meet Q1-Q2, 40 percent done. The RM investments that you see laid forward is to get after 11 different unaccompanied barracks in predominantly fleet concentration areas and also an expeditionary locations. We -- our investment plan going forward looks at a combination of three things.
It looks at vesting back into the infrastructure that has useful life, getting that back to standard. That's through your restoration and modernization. It's also MILCON to get rid of -- we've got some very old, which no one's living in, but we've got to get rid of and replace. PBV as Ms. Berger talked about, I think is a tremendous opportunity.
Like I said, in San Diego and Hampton Roads area, we use there very well. And then the last part of it is once we get it back, it's the increased sustainment dollars to make sure that we keep them where they're supposed to be. And those -- but those numbers are reflected in our budget, sir.
DAVID G. VALADAO: All right. Thank you. My time is expired.
SUSIE LEE: Thank you. I wanted to chat a little bit about Fallon and the expansion of the training range, which was a long time coming and took a lot of negotiation with conservationists and our tribal community. And finally, got it done. But the president in his budget request for Fiscal Year 24 includes funding to -- to support two tribal liaison positions for this training range complex.
And Assistant Secretary Berger -- Berger, could you speak to the importance of these liaison positions for furthering the relationships between the Navy and the local tribes, particularly as the Fallon range modernization continues?
MEREDITH BERGER: Yes, Congressman Lee. And I will actually be out this weekend to celebrate Earth Day with some of our tribal partners there, which I'm really looking forward to. But the -- the position that you note is critically important and we saw that in making sure that we got this number one priority, which was the modernization of a critical training range to ensure this capability as we focus on The Indo-Pacific region and what we need there to win.
So these tribal liaisons that that are out there at Fallon that we were able to partner with helped us to make sure that we were communicating clearly well consistently and in a way that acknowledged the critical importance of these partners and neighbors that we have on these lands. I mentioned that we are looking at the access agreements for -- for shared lands.
There is a lot of history there. There's a lot of potential in our future and roles like these help to make sure that we are keeping the promise that we make every time that we are in any community and it is that we are a part of it, that we approach it with understanding and partnership and that we make a Commitment going forward to keep that promise.
And so roles like this are important because of the commitment that it represents to the communities that are critically important to making sure that we can assure our mission.
SUSIE LEE: Absolutely, yeah. We just designated some significant tribal land in my district as a national monument, so honoring the -- the spiritual and cultural importance of these lands and maintaining those relationships is so incredibly important going forward. And I wanted to ask in light of pending budget cuts, could you -- which could well strike funding for these liaison positions?
Could you -- how would this jeopardize the station's relations with the community and its overall mission here in Fallon?
MEREDITH BERGER: When we talk about the commitment that you and I just discussed and the critical importance in understanding, it is -- it is not just Fallon, but it is relationships that we have everywhere. Specifically at Fallon, it means that we break faith with people who have made a tremendous commitment to us and to whom we have made a great commitment in furtherance of that mission assurance and in furtherance of making sure that we are keeping every promise that we have made.
And so it would be breaking faith with people who are enabling our -- our sailors to be able to train like they fight, which is pretty important to us.
SUSIE LEE: Yes, so much more significant goes way beyond Fallon. It goes across the entire service.
MEREDITH BERGER: And yes, because it sets an example for the way that we work productively together.
SUSIE LEE: Great, thank you. I'm -- I'm -- I'll yield.
JOHN CARTER: Mr.
RYAN ZINKE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I think we pretty much established -- we have no viable plan to secure critical minerals and -- and the materials necessary to drive the EV. Not at present. I understand the chips might be in the future, but today between now and ten years, not a whole lot of room. So let's talk about the life cycle on the other end of it. So what's your plan for when batteries have ended their life cycle, where are you going to put them because right now 80 percent of the solar cells are going into landfills across the country?
Do you have a plan?
MEREDITH BERGER: Congressman, I want to make sure that I am -- I'm stating clearly we agree which is that we need to have security in the supply chain. I hear you loud and clear and I think that that is critically.
RYAN ZINKE: And the supply chain goes from the beginning to mining, sourcing, processing, manufacturing to the end to life cycle. And I'm asking does your budget have any -- any line item? Any mention of what are you going to do in the batteries are finished with their life cycle because you've made a commitment to go EV. So I'm asking you on your supply chain before you made a commitment, what are you going to do with the batteries?
MEREDITH BERGER: Well, congressman the entire country has -- has made a commitment. It's the direction --
RYAN ZINKE: So you don't have a plan? I mean it's pretty easy, yes or no. Do you have a plan and is the plan in the budget to recycle or properly dispose of batteries?
MEREDITH BERGER: Congressman, yes. Along with the rest of the country, we are working with industry to --
RYAN ZINKE: Okay. Let's ask about fuel. Admiral, the Navy still is the largest user of fossil fuels.
RYAN ZINKE: And Madam Secretary, what's your guidance on biofuel, biodiesel?
MEREDITH BERGER: We are a fast follower of industry where they are looking at the synthetic aviation fuels --
RYAN ZINKE: I believe you work for Secretary Mabry.
MEREDITH BERGER: Secretary Mabus, congressman.
RYAN ZINKE: And are you reinstating the goals for biofuel biodiesel in the fleet?
MEREDITH BERGER: Congressman, we are a fast follower of industry which is looking at sustainable aviation fuel and will make sure that --
RYAN ZINKE: What's the price differential between a gallon of biodiesel and diesel today?
MEREDITH BERGER: Congressman, I don't have those numbers with me.
RYAN ZINKE: Is that also in not in your budget then on added cost? My understanding it's 8 or 10 times?
MEREDITH BERGER: Congressman, we are watching what industry is doing to make sure that we are making the sustainable aviation fuel considerations for military.
RYAN ZINKE: Is cost a part of your -- of your part of your decision matrix?
MEREDITH BERGER: I'm sorry?
RYAN ZINKE: Is cost a part of your decision matrix and biofuels?
MEREDITH BERGER: We consider cost in every decision that we make.
RYAN ZINKE: Is it a priority or is it -- or is it -- where is it Rack and stack?
MEREDITH BERGER: When we make funding decisions, congressman, we make sure that we are looking at the best use of that dollar. And that means making sure that we are looking at risk, sustainability, and making sure that we are putting every time a sailor marine in the best position possible, which is why we put mission first.
Part of that evaluation is to understand how a sustainable aviation fuel which industry is developing could fit into our mission requirements and military standards which are different.
RYAN ZINKE: Are you spending money now in biofuels acquiring, using transporting biofuels, biodiesel?
MEREDITH BERGER: We are watching what the industry is doing to develop --
RYAN ZINKE: So you're not using it. Are you using it now or you're not using it? Are you using biodiesel today in the fleet?
MEREDITH BERGER: Not that I am aware of.
RYAN ZINKE: And there's no plan to use biodiesel in the fleet. What's your plan? I love plans, but we know that biodiesel is in magnitudes higher. We know that -- that provides an additional operational cost and is because we're rushing to EV, we're rushing to biofuels as I see it. And you're telling me you're not using biofuels right now.
Right now is what you're saying or biodiesel. I'm just -- I'm just curious and if you -- if you are, what's the plan? Because I assume you're going to use it within the next couple of years and that would be a budget line somewhere and you'd have to have the facilities for it.
MEREDITH BERGER: Congressman, let me make sure that there's time for an operational response, but let me first state that we are making sure that we are looking across all of our options because at the end of the day, we want to make sure that we have a competitive advantage. And increasingly it is making sure that we are working against the things that we know that other people are using as advantages.
So we want to be careful that we don't get caught into any sort of confusion on how we make sure that our sailors and marines are equipped. And I'll turn over to the general and the admiral.
EDWARD BANTA: Thanks, secretary. So congressman, I honestly I can't answer your specific question about whether we are using biofuels today. I know that we are very interested in reducing our demand signal on operational energy in order to increase range, endurance, and in effect lethality on the battlefield forward. So any technologies that enable us to do that to reduce the amount of fuel we're using whether through battery technologies and electrification or just things like simply as simple as anti-idle technology on new tactical vehicles are of interest to us. I hope that's a bit.
RYAN ZINKE: I appreciate it. Don't get me wrong. I'm not centric on -- on fossil fuels. I'm just centric on American energy, and it has to be reliable, effective, and abundant. And I'm concerned that we're getting -- going on down a path that we don't have a life cycle. We don't have a supply chain that -- that is free from China or we don't -- we haven't figured out what to do with the batteries when they're done.
And if we're going to move to -- to biofuels, then that needs to be incorporated in the budget because right now, biofuels are magnitudes higher and -- and then the Navy uses a lot of fuels and Marines do. So, Mr. Chairman, I appreciate and I yield back and no doubt, I'll have some questions that will send you and thank you gentlemen and secretary.
JOHN CARTER: [inaudible]
18 April 2023
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