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MAZIE K. HIRONO:
[begins while in progress] that is distinguished both by their depth of knowledge and experience. I thank each of you for your service to our country and for taking the time to speak with us today. I want to begin by acknowledging the Apache helicopter training accident that occurred late last week and resulted in the tragic loss of three soldiers in Alaska.
It was just a month ago that another nine soldiers were killed when two Black Hawk helicopters collided in Kentucky on a training mission. These tragedies have led to the Army chief of staff ordering an aviation safety stand down to review the risk approvment process -- approval process, training standardization, and flight planning process.
It is imperative that we thoroughly investigate the root causes of these and other training accidents. and not just from a mechanical malfunction standpoint. The department must ensure that it is evaluating every training and readiness implementation of these -- implications of these accidents so that we can prevent them going forward.
The demands and operational pace for our servicemembers remains high. In your prepared statements, each of you laid out the challenges and obstacles you face. They include difficulties with retention and the desire to appropriately fill out force structure. Outside factors like low unemployment, and just a fraction of the US population being able to serve, and the reality that an even smaller number of Americans are willing to serve.
Beyond retention, the department still struggles to maintain and sustain its equipment on schedule to support mission -- mission readiness. In the rush to modernize and procure more ships, it is equally critical that the Navy finishes its maintenance availabilities on the ships and submarines that we already have on the time -- on time and without cost overruns.
And that is, I know, an issue for us. We have an extremely capable fleet today, but a state of readiness needs to be improved in a variety of ways. Equally important to readiness is the access to and quality of our training ranges across all domains. This issue is top of mind in Hawaii and I'm interested in hearing from the Army in particular about how you will ensure land lease remains -- renewals that are coming up and some major places such as Pohakuloa on the Big Island in just a few years are handled with dignity and respect for the people of Hawai'i while balancing the requirements to train in the Pacific.
In addition to the president's budget requests, this committee has aggressively funded almost every unfunded priority listed over the last few years. And I know that this year we have quite a lot of unfunded priorities. So measured in both the operation and maintenance accounts and the military construction program, the demand and pace of munitions support and equipment sent to Ukraine has diminished the amount of ammunition on hand for training and contingencies.
Yet given all the resources you have, I want to hear more about the timeliness and conditions for improvements in readiness recovery. Each of your statements touch upon how important our people are, and I certainly agree. That's why I am concerned about the department's unaccompanied barracks problems on top of the well documented concerns about privatizing -- privatized housing on base.
The quality of servicemembers housing has a direct connection to unit readiness and their desire to keep serving. And if we are not serving them well where they live, they will leave. It's not just a matter of building new barracks, though that is imperative. We need to ensure that they have access to healthy food at all hours and we need to ensure that habitability standards meet the simple standard of would we want our family to live in these conditions.
Ms. Maurer and the GAO have highlighted many of these readiness challenges and the GAO's comprehensive work. I thank her and her team -- I thank you and your team for the great work that you've done and caution your success means that you'll likely see more work in the future. I want to also highlight the impact that Senator Tuberville's continued hold on all general and flag officer promotions has on readiness.
Being blunt, this political stunt not only impacts general officers, but the chain of promotions behind them. Senator Tuberville's actions are compromising officers' ability to move to key billets required for growth and promotion and is wreaking havoc on military families. His hold s completely disrupt children moving schools, families securing housing in a challenging housing market, and spouses moving jobs.
I have spoken openly about all this issues -- issue from a policy perspective, but it is equally important to discuss the impact that this has on our readiness and the lives of our servicemembers and their families. These holds are in my view reckless and I hope my colleague will join me in calling on Senator Tuberville to lift his hold immediately.
This is not the way to force the DOD to change a policy with which he does not agree. Senator Sullivan.
Thank you, Madam Chair, for holding this important hearing on the readiness of our military. I look forward to working with you constructively and respectfully on these and other important issues impacting US military readiness. I appreciate you mentioning the recent loss of life in Alaska. General, our hearts go out to the families in my state, but it's a reminder of the risks that all of our military takes on a daily basis, even when not deployed.
In terms of readiness, I think across a number of critical realms the US military is already in a readiness crisis. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs and secretary of Defense have come before the full committee in the past two years telling us that we are in one of the most dangerous periods at any time since World War II. And yet, three years in a row, the Biden administration puts forward Defense Department cuts that are inflation adjusted cuts to the defense budget.
This committee will almost certainly reject the latest Biden budget and significantly increase support for our military's readiness, modernization, and troops above the president's top line as we have done in the past two years. Today, I will focus a good part of my opening statement on the Department of the Navy and the challenges it is facing.
I want to begin with Marine Corps Air Force Design 2030, a bold and important initiative that I have complimented Commandant of the Marine Corps on. I led the charge in the Congress on the 31 amphibious ship requirement last year and on pushing back against the Navy and Office of the Secretary of Defense when they were tempted to pocket the billions of dollars of Marine Corps divestments in order to apply these funds to non-Marine Corps programs.
I've also spent dozens of hours studying and asking questions about Marine Corps Force design of current and former Marine Corps leaders. But more from the Congress needs to be done on an initiative of this consequence and magnitude. Tough probing questions are required from this committee. No plan is perfect, especially military plans.
And no general is infallible. Force design needs rigorous oversight, not out of disrespect for the Marine Corps, but out of an abiding respect for this exceptional and unique American institution and the critical role it has played and will continue to play in our nation's defense. My questions about force design fall into three broad categories.
First, the divest to invest strategy shed in a rapid amount of time a very significant amount of proven Marine Corps combat capability. Some examples in the past few years include close to 10,000 active duty Marines and 6,000 reservists, or a reduction of 21 percent of active duty infantry Marines and 16 percent of reserve infantry -- infantry Marines, 67 percent of cannon artillery, 33 percent of AAV's, 100 percent of tanks, 100 percent of bridging, along with breach and clearing and proofing equipment. 100 percent of law enforcement. The numbers on divestments in terms of Marine Corps aviation are confusing. Some have stated over 200 aircraft, others of saying there are no divestments.
As part of force design, the Marine Corps has brought on or will be bringing on three additional UAV squadrons, an additional C-130 squadron, new loitering and anti-tank munitions, and three new air defense battalions. These significant combat divestments and the focus on enhancing lethality around maritime choke points, particularly against the PLA Navy, have raised questions about whether the Marine Corps is designing a niche light infantry missile heavy force focused on one AOR at the expense of the Marine Corps traditional role as a lethal, robust, combined arms force, ready to rapidly respond to any global crisis anywhere in the world.
One hallmark of the Marine Corps Air Ground Task Force, the MAGTF, is its ability to kick in the door anywhere in the world and sustain itself for weeks in heavy combat before follow on forces arrive. This force design 2030 degrading the Marine Corps ability to be the nation's 911 force. Much of force design doctrine focuses on littoral and amphibious operations.
But what if the next fight is not in the laterals? What if we are back in the desert? What if it is an urban terrain? What if the Marines need to cross a river? These are important questions. Second, Force Design 2030 clearly shows the Marine Corps' commitment to support naval operations. Indeed, that is one of the main reasons for this initiative.
But the Navy is not reciprocating. Last year, I wrote an op ed warning that Force Design 2030 would fail without the Navy's support. In my view, that is happening now. The FY '23 NDAA created a legal requirement, which I authored, for the Navy to maintain 31 amphibious ships, identical to the legal requirement to maintain 11 carriers.
In a stunning display of disdain for Congress, the Navy is now ignoring the law completely as this chart shows. The 30 year shipbuilding plan submitted to this body does not once hit 31 amphib that's required by the law. The secretary of the Navy committed to appearing before this committee to explain how the Navy is going to comply with the law.
He needs to do that soon. The real world impact of the Navy's lack of investment in the amphib fleet is already occurring. The past few days, several articles have been published detailing how the 31st MEU based out of Japan has few Navy assets to deploy on. The insufficient numbers of ships is compounded by their poor maintenance.
In March of this year, the commandant said that amphib ship readiness is 32 percent, and has been well below 50 percent for over a decade. If amphibs can't leave port, ARG/MEUs can't deploy. If ARG/MEUs can't deploy, the US cannot provide a timely response to crises around the world. Third and finally, what if the capabilities of the Marine Corps that is designing and developing as part of force design don't work as intended?
The Center for Strategic and International Studies recently undertook a comprehensive wargame centered on a conflict in the Taiwan Strait. Exactly the kind of conflict Marine Corps force design was designed for. And they were unimpressed with the Marine littoral regiments. LMRs -- MLRs CSIS raised questions about the MLRs ability to sustain itself, how quickly it would expend all its anti-ship missiles, and how it would get to the fight, be it on Taiwan or elsewhere?
Does the Marine Corps have the sealift and airlift to execute its stand in forces concept using MLRs? The Navy isn't helping. It will only acquire six landing ship mediums, LSMs, over the next five years despite the Marine Corps saying it will need 35 LSMs to provide intra theater lift. And in terms of airlift, it appears the Marine Corps is divesting more assets than it is acquiring as part of force design.
Given these challenges, CSIS asks whether other services are better equipped to conduct sea denial operations against the PLA Navy. CSIS concluded that could be the case stating quote, a squadron of bombers armed with long range cruise missiles has greater volume of fire than an entire MLR, but without the challenges of transportations -- transportation and logistics.
Finally, let me touch on the other services. Recruiting. Recruiting, Recruiting. The challenges are threatening our all-volunteer force. I would like to hear from the witnesses today how the Space Force and the Marine Corps continue to meet their recruiting goals, but how the Army and Air Force are significantly missing those goals?
We want to all work together to make sure that we can fulfill our constitutional obligation to raise -- to -- to raise armies, provide for the national security that is so important to this committee. The last thing I want to say is to our GAO witness, Ms. Mauer, we thank you for your work and your team have done on behalf of this committee.
Please do not pull any punches today. I don't anticipate you will. [off-mic]
MAZIE K. HIRONO:
Thank you, Senator Sullivan. I do share your concerns about the fact that our amphib ship readiness is well below the standards that we want. Today's hearing is focused on the current readiness of the joint forces and I'll just go through the people on the panel today. Starting from my left where you have General Randy George, vice chief of staff of the Army; Admiral Lisa Franchetti, vice chief of Naval Operations; General Eric Smith, assistant command -- commandant of the Marine Corps; General David Allen -- Allvin -- I'm sorry, vice chief of staff of the Air Force; General David Thompson, vice chief of Space Operations; and, Ms. Diana Maurer, director of Defense Capabilities and Management at the GAO. We'll start with you General George.
Chairman Hirono, Ranking Member Sullivan, distinguished members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to discuss readiness posture of our Army. And first, I want to thank you for your condolences on the Apache incident that we had last week and we are taking care of the families and we appreciate the thoughts and prayers, and we'll continue to support our 11th Airborne Division teammates.
Our Army is focused on warfighting and training for battle in which all domains are contested. And all the while we're supporting combatant commands with ready formations around the world. We've got approximately 137,000 soldiers right now deployed in 140 countries. We are strengthening our partnership with defense industry and we are rapidly modernizing our organic industrial base to increase productivity and ensure that we have the stocks to fight when called upon.
We are deterring the pacing challenge China by exercising and campaigning across the Indo-Pacific theater and holding the line in the European theater alongside of our NATO partners. All the while adapting in real time to lessons learned from the war in Ukraine, testing the lethality of our equipment, and rapidly incorporating new tactics into our doctrine and training.
But readiness for today is not enough. Our army is also transforming. We don't have an option. Warfare is changing and we must change because of it to ensure that we stay ahead of our potential adversaries. So among many things, we are modernizing long range precision fires, air and missile defense, ground combat capabilities, and developing counter UAS capabilities and doctrine, to name a few.
Finally, we are building the team. This includes providing commanders with the resources they need to support soldiers' mental and physical well-being, to maintain healthy command climates, and to build cohesive teams. And it means investing in the quality of life of our soldiers and families, ensuring that they have safe housing and barracks, adequate childcare, and spouse employment opportunities.
I'll end with recruitment, a critical readiness priority for us right now. We are challenged by the fact that a small number of young Americans, 23 percent, are qualified to serve, fewer still are interested in serving, and we are working hard to change both of those. Our Army remains a great place to be. I think our high retention rates speak to that.
So while military service to some Americans seems like a life setback, in reality, it's a life accelerator. That has certainly been my experience since I enlisted as a private straight out of high school. It's a great team with an important mission and an ample opportunity to learn, grow, and make an impact.
And we've got to get that story out. And we appreciate Congress' assistance in amplifying our call to service. Thank you and I look forward to your questions.
Thank you, General George. Admiral Franchetti.
Chair Hirono, Ranking Member Sullivan, and distinguished members of the subcommittee, good afternoon and thank you for the opportunity to discuss Navy readiness with you today. The United States is a maritime nation. Our security and prosperity depend on the seas. For the past 247 years, your Navy has stood the watch.
We are America's away team, operating forward to deter war, protect our economic interest, uphold international law, and respond to crises and natural disasters. Over the past year, we've safely executed 22,000 steaming days and nearly 1 million flight hours, providing our nation's leaders with decision space and options, always ready to fight and win if called to do so. As I speak, our sailors and Marine Corps teammates are deployed on more than 100 ships and submarines all around the world ready to meet the security needs of our nation.
The Navy is inherently flexible in the maritime domain. With operations spanning the globe, we have supported the allied response to Russia's illegal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine while conducting freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea. Our ships are assisting in the evacuation of Americans from Sudan, while we are conducting operations in the Pacific to deter potential adversaries and reassure our allies.
Just last week, the Makin Island ARG/MEU completed our largest ever annual Balikatan Exercise with our ally the Philippines with over 12,000 sailors and Marines participating. Our FY '24 budget request is consistent with CNO's priorities of readiness and sailors, then capability, then capacity with the Columbia SSBN program as our number one procurement priority.
We continue to prioritize readiness to sustain our forces through better maintenance performance, more training, improve parts availability, and increased weapons inventories. Navy readiness begins with our people: the sailors, civilians and families who are the foundation of our warfighting advantage. We are committed to improving their quality of service by investing in initiatives such as quality housing and childcare, access to mental health, and environment free of sexual harassment and sexual assault.
In this 50th anniversary, the all-volunteer force, we continue to focus on recruiting, retention, and reducing gaps in our billets at sea. Navy readiness is also centered on the readiness of our platforms. Using data analytics, improving our planning processes, and procuring long lead time materials, we've decreased maintenance delays in public and private shipyards, but there's more work to do. Our budget request fully funds public and private ship maintenance, aviation depot maintenance, increases this parts and spares and continues to grow our highly skilled public shipyard workforce.
Finally, Navy readiness is also driven by our shore infrastructure. We continue to fully fund the recapitalization of our four public shipyards through PSYOP program and our budget request supports increased sustainment of our shore infrastructure while prioritizing restoration modernization for water, electrical and safety systems.
Sustain readiness investments in today's Navy are a down payment on America's future security. I thank the Committee for your leadership and partnership in keeping the world's greatest maritime force ready to fight at sea and I look forward to your questions.
Thank You. General Smith.
Chair Hirono, Ranking Member Sullivan, and distinguished members of this subcommittee, I'm pleased to appear before you today to discuss Marine Corps readiness and the fiscal year '24 budget. Your Marine Corps remains the nation's expeditionary force in readiness. We are ready to deploy, to deter adversaries, and when that deterrence fails ready to strike and enable others to strike.
We also provide the crisis response forces that American citizens abroad and our allies have come to expect from their Marines. We provide these expeditionary combined arms forces utilizing the minimum 31 amphibious warships that the Congress has directed. Those ships provide the organic mobility required to bring all of our assets to bear at the critical time and place for our combatant commanders.
The most important asset that we bring to bear remains the individual Marine. Our modernization efforts, known as force design, ensure that we are manned trained and equipped to deter a pure adversary and to campaign into a position of advantage should deterrence, fail and lethal force be needed. Our modernization efforts are required to fight and win on future battlefields, make no mistake.
Our aviation readiness has increased more than 10 percent in the past few years, thanks to the work of this subcommittee to provide us with the operations and maintenance funding we need and due to our aviation modernization and reorganization efforts. When a Marine Expeditionary Unit deploys on a big deck L-Class and M-FIB warship today, they provide the combatant commander with 66 percent more fifth generation aircraft than before we made our force design changes.
Our efforts to modernize our training and education are bearing fruit as we produce an even more lethal Marine. From our basic rifleman training to our service level training exercises, we are becoming more lethal. Our new training integrates our joint and organic fires, improved communications, updated ISR to sense, make sense, track and destroy targets at ranges and complexities never before seen by our Marine Corps.
Our individual Marine remains the most lethal weapon on the battlefield. Our efforts to improve the quality of life for those warriors and to retain them once we train them are vitally important. Your continued support matters to them and their families and I thank you for it. I look forward to your questions and thank you for letting me appear before you today.
Thank you, General. General Allvin?
Chair Hirono, Ranking Member Sullivan, and distinguished subcommittee members, on behalf of our Air Force secretary and chief of staff, thank you for the opportunity to discuss the critically important topic of readiness. We greatly appreciate this body's continued partnership and support in delivering the resources necessary for the Air Force to respond to today's threats while preparing for tomorrow.
Events of the past year remind us that global actors have the capability and the intent to challenge peace and stability. In the case of our pacing challenge, People's Republic of China, the speed at which they are developing advanced capability and capacity should serve as a warning for us to act with a greater sense of urgency.
We must maintain the necessary advantage to deter them from violent pursuit of objectives at odds with our national interests. Your Air Force is laser focused on this task. Our readiness starts with our airmen, both uniformed and civilian, who consistently prove to be our greatest strength and competitive advantage.
Since the beginning of the all volunteer force 50 years ago, we have been fortunate enough to attract the best of America's youth in sufficient numbers, but recent realities have put this under pressure. As a result, we will likely not meet our recruiting goals this year. We are aggressively exploring multiple options while streamlining processes to attract a broader pool of talented Americans to our formation.
We know a focused and resilient airman is a ready airman and we must continue to demonstrate that we value our servicemembers and their families. We continually explore opportunities to expand or initiate programs that support better quality of life and we greatly appreciate this committee support in those efforts.
The air crew deficit persists due to several factors, but this shortage has not extended to the operational units or pilot training bases. We're continuing on the path to transform our approach to pilot training to increase production while leveraging numerous monetary and non-monetary programs to retain the experience of our trained aviators.
We look forward to working with the committee on these programs as well as our pursuit of targeted reform, current legislation to enable the hiring of contract simulator instructors to maximize training and optimize manpower. While the proposed budget increases weapon systems sustainment by $1.1 billion, the still only resources 87 percent of the estimated requirement due to sustainment challenges of our ever aging fleet, inflation, supply chain issues, and labor costs.
We're pursuing improvements in reliability and maintainability supporting initiatives that advance data driven decisions. This drives efficiency in what we do today and enables responsiveness in dynamic wartime environments. Significant challenges and tough decisions still lie ahead. We must be thoughtful and adequately funding our readiness accounts while pursuing the right investments to develop the advanced capabilities to meet future threats.
This year, we feel we have struck the right balance. And in closing, I would offer that this Congress can perhaps make the most positive impact on our readiness through a timely budget appropriation. Thank you very much and I look forward to your questions.
Thank you General. General Thompson.
Chair Hirono, Ranking Member Sullivan, and distinguished members of the subcommittee, on behalf of the secretary of the Air Force and chief of Space Operations, thank you for the opportunity to testify today regarding the readiness of the Space Force. The capabilities and benefits provided from space are essential to our way of life and crucial to effective military operations in every other domain.
The overriding consideration in assessing Space Force readiness remains the dramatic shift to the space domain from a comparatively benign military environment to one that is undeniably contested. This shift was a compelling reason for the creation of the Space Force three and a half years ago. Since then with the tremendous support of Congress, the Space Force has moved out aggressively to address the challenges the nation faces in space.
We have begun to pivot to more resilient and defendable architectures to ensure soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines have the space capabilities they need across the spectrum of conflict. We're designing and developing constellations that address the migration of missions to space including moving target indication, domain awareness on land at sea and in the air, command and control, and the movement of data to enable the way the Joint Force expects to fight in the future.
Finally, the Space Force has begun the shift to a new training and readiness approach. The Space Force Generation Model SPA4GEN reached its initial capability on October 1st and once complete, will deliver space forces that are truly ready against the pacing challenge. The president's fiscal year 2024 budget request reaffirms the Space Force's commitment to that threat informed shift.
It extends the pivot to more resilient architectures based on proliferated constellations, intelligence driven space domain awareness, aggressive cybersecurity, measured investment in space superiority and combat critical -- credible forces anchored in a full spectrum test and training enterprise. While much remains to be done in all of these areas, the main challenges to Space Force generation today are twofold.
The first challenge to creating a combat ready Space Force is an advanced full spectrum test and training infrastructure, with high fidelity threats, realistic mission simulators, a professional aggressor force and a suitable range. This system of systems will allow us to validate tactics, test system limitations and train operators in live and synthetic environments against the thinking adversary.
Without this infrastructure, guardians will not have defendable systems proven tactics or the confidence and competence they need to -- to win conflict in space. The second and primary challenge to Space Force readiness lies in the availability of budgetary resources in a timely manner to execute all we're planning to do. Congress has been a tremendous partner in defining and building the Space force the nation needs in each years of its existence, the Space Force has seen a 12 to 15 percent increase in its budget year over year.
The Space Force is prioritizing -- prioritizing its readiness in all facets to effectively deter adversaries and if necessary, prevail in conflict. The most important thing Congress can do to help in that regard is pass an on time budget. Thanks for your support and steadfast partnership. I look forward to your question.
Thank you General. Ms. Mueller -- Maurer.
Good afternoon, Chair Hirono, Ranking Member Sullivan and other members and staff. I'm pleased to be here today to discuss key findings and recommendations from our work on military readiness, and what we have found is rather troubling. Broadly speaking, mission capability can units execute their missions has declined since 2017. While the Army and Marine Corps improved in the ground domain, we found declines in the sea, air and space domains.
When it comes to resource readiness, personnel, equipment, training and supplies, we found that the sea domain declined but units in the ground air and space domains generally reported improvements. Now of course, improvement does not necessarily mean readiness is where the services want it to be or where they need it to be. There is still quite a lot of ground to make up. For example, only two of 49 aviation systems met their annual mission capable goals.
The vast majority missed by over 10 percent. The F35 program in particular suffers from a variety of sustainment woes. Fleet wide mission capable rates have declined every year since 2020 and the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps face substantial gaps between what it costs to fly the aircraft and what they can afford.
We found the Navy had nearly $1.8 billion in deferred ship maintenance, mainly in its cruisers and amphibious ships. And over a 10 year period, maintenance delays went up and cannibalization -- cannibalization is also increased while steaming hours went down. The Navy also faces a significant crewing shortfall which can harm mission maintenance and safety.
The Army needs to improve helicopter safety and address shortfalls and rail support, and sealift training that affect readiness and the ability to move to the fight. The Space Force faces a unique set of readiness challenges and DOD can better incorporate the evolving space control mission into its strategic readiness approach.
To help with these and other challenges, we made over 130 recommendations and the 37 reports listed in my statement for the record. DOD agreed with nearly all of them, I started taking action on many but over 100 remain open. These open recommendations are opportunities to improve readiness. Yet even with all these challenges you just heard the US military is the best in the world.
Our work helps keep it that way. GAO will continue to provide independent hard hitting and constructive reports to help the services and help the Congress carry out its important oversight responsibilities. Madam Chair, thank you for the opportunity to testify and I look forward to your questions.
Thank you very much, Ms. Maurer, especially for pointing out all of the areas where improvements can be made, and I thank you also for acknowledging that in spite of these major shortfalls, I would say that we still remain the best military in the world, and for that, I commend all of you who are here today.
Let me start the questioning being very specific. General George, I am aware that the Army conducted a survey of unaccompanied barracks residents last summer and that the Army has those results. I have two questions. When can you provide this committee with those survey results and what are the preliminary results of the survey?
And are you already beginning to address the suggestions made in the survey?
So Chair Hirono, yes, we did conduct a survey, we went to five different installations to look at barracks and the idea of it was actually to conduct a survey on what they would want as we're building barracks. We're going to be spending $1 billion a year and it's got to kitchenettes, size, common areas, and those kinds of things.
So that's what the survey was for, so that we could get design feedback as we start to build, you know, barracks into the future. So we'll certainly -- I know we normally provide data on housing and we'll look in June, I think is when we could provide -- I don't see any reason why we couldn't provide those survey results.
So barracks with kitchenettes, etc. That sounds really nice, but what are some of the issues that were evidenced by the survey such as things like mold and things like having more than the number of people that the barracks are designed in the barracks? I mean, there's some pretty basic kinds of concerns that were expressed, I'm sure, by this survey.
But something like getting rid of mold, that's pretty basic. I would think that you would want to address those issues first, am I correct?
Yes -- yes, Senator, we -- and to that we have inspected all 68,000 buildings in the Army for mold, we found about 2,500 of them that had mold we've already undertaken remediation. It was about $3.5 million worth of remediation. So that was immediately invested in. And then innovation from our young troops that came up with 3D printing that we're trying to make sure that we have something out there to notice that that's happening.
But we're absolutely focused on that.
So all of you have testified that that the people are the important thing and that is why I would be very interested to get this report from you, General George, and work with you on how we can achieve the recommendations that came out of the survey. I am concerned about the impact my colleague's hold on military nominations as on the readiness of our forces when we -- This is for all of you.
When we cannot confirm officers to the positions they have worked hard for and are best suited to it is our military families that pay the first price, planned moves, school changes, spouse, employment opportunities, all are now frozen indefinitely. And going forward, what are the readiness impacts of freezing, general and flag officer promotions on the rest of the force and our senior officer's families?
We'll just go right down the line starting with you General George.
Yes, Senator -- I think you -- you pretty much covered it in your statement. I mean, I think the real challenge right now and quality of life is obviously impacts readiness. But really the impact is -- is families that are moving, jobs, spouse jobs, getting orders to move kids into school, it's more aligned with that.
And there's a cascading effect just given the number of people.
Similarly, this would impact our families on the flag officer side of the house, a few are critical this year. First of all, the director of naval reactors responsible for 60 reactors. We also have three fleet commanders including the one in the Western Pacific and the one in the Middle East. And then all of our -- especially focused on readiness are type commanders, so surface, subsurface and air, they all rotate this year and they are the ones that do the manned train equip mission.
So again, this will have the biggest impact on readiness, there delays.
Chair Hirono, I'll just give one example, one of our expeditionary forces about 45,000 Marines has a three star and a one star that three star will retire this summer. Long service suffered a family tragedy as well, so he will retire. That will leave that expeditionary force with a one star. So instead of focusing on the Marine expeditionary units, which is that one star's normal job, he will do that and focus on the rest of the MEF. So that's a significant amount of supervision and experience that is no longer focused where it should be on our most precious asset, the Marines and those Marine expeditionary units.
That's just a small anecdote, but that is not a one off. That's a one of many.
My time is running out, but I did want to give the other two generals a moment, General Smith and then General Allvin.
It's just very similar to what the -- what the other leaders here have mentioned. We have five either commanders or senior officers in the Indo-Pacific that are scheduled to move their positions and two, four stars who are ready to retire for similar reasons that they mentioned.
Madam Chair, the topics being covered well, just one specific example, we need to put general officer leaders out into the combatant commands to ensure they are effectively integrating space and dealing with the issues of the contested environment. That's one example of where we need that leadership.
Thank you very much. Senator Sullivan.
Thank you, Madam Chair. General Smith, I want to give you an opportunity to follow up on two of the issues that I raised in my opening statement. The first is -- at least for me and maybe you and I have talked about it, maybe I'm just too dense to understand it, but the confusion on the impacts on the aviation sector of force design.
The Marine Corps staff provided my office numbers that said, the Marine Corps would be putting into storage or inventory management as many as 60 MV22s, 30 Cobras, 24 Hueys, 48 CH53s, and 54 F35 Bravos. On April 18th, I walked through these numbers with the commandant in a closed session asked him if they were accurate.
He said they weren't, despite the fact that my office got them from the Marine Corps. So what -- What are the accurate numbers? And my next question, you can just take them at the same time, CSIS did a very big comprehensive, important series of war plans. I hope the Marine Corps is reading it. I hope the Marine Corps is looking at it. I hope the Marine Corps is digesting it. I hope the Marine Corps is talking to CSIS about it because they weren't impressed with the Marine -- Marine Corps littoral regiments.
They didn't think they worked very well. Marine force design is designed exactly for that scenario and you have a big war game that says it's not really working. So can you address both of those questions for me, they're really important and I think we need detailed answers.
I can, Senator thank you. I'll do the aviation first. The numbers that you cited are correct. I will guarantee you, we provided inaccurate to our commandant, the numbers you cite in what we call pipeline and attrition are correct. The biggest issue I would say, sure is we haven't divested of airplanes, they do go in storage and we'll use.
And so then we're not using those, we're not going to use 54 F35 Bravos.
If I can give you a quick example, Senator the MV-22 that you referenced 360 was the number we were to buy. We've bought them all. We have them. We own every one of them. Those aircraft have to last until 2055. That's when our -- our budget plans for them to go out of service, the original attrition model that they were purchased upon is not accurate.
The attrition model is higher, hard landings, those kind of things. If we didn't go from 12 to 10 planes per squadron and change the number of squadrons from 18 to 16, we would have run out of those airplanes years before 2055. So just as an infantry officer -- an infantry officer, sir, I always have something in reserve, but we didn't get rid of them.
But when they are needed, we will use those airplanes, it's the same for all type models and series.
So, if we could get for the record kind of details and -- and this was a Q [ph] for in the commandant's recent testimony as well, how about on the CSIS war study?
So I appreciate that question. I'm very familiar with the CSIS study. One of the key things that it -- it noted was that the MLS were still more effective than the previous formation. So wargames, as you know, sir, are designed to, to find holes, gaps weaknesses, and then you -- you exploit those and you fix them.
We've got a total of 12 additional wargames, 10 at the completely classified level that also looked at the MLR using the correct ranges of our systems, the actual employment methods and they bear a different result. I would note that one of the pieces that CSIS noted, and we value that -- that study Senator we do was that there would be a political challenge, but that's proven not to be, I would say fully correct.
The Japanese and the US governments just agreed in the two plus two to keep 12 MLR in Japan and we're using the third MLR in the Philippines now. So it's a valuable study. But when it found that we lost 300 airplanes on the ground, most Air Force lost carriers and cruisers, we don't -- pardon me, destroyers, we don't stop procuring.
We find ways to fix those challenges that that wargame presents. So the MLR is better than what we had not as good as it will be when we finally get all of our pieces implemented.
Let me talk about those pieces. Admiral, as you can tell and if you watched any of the full hearing, the secretary of Navy kind of took it on the chin with good reason because, A, you got his 30 year shipbuilding plan to this committee the night before. Got your climate action plan done 18 months ago, but your 30 year shipbuilding plan, you got to this committee the night before the big hearing.
And in that shipbuilding plan, 30 years, you don't hit 31 amphibs once and that is just as the guy who wrote that provision, and by the way is unanimous in this committee, I find it stunning that the Navy can come up here and just say, you know what Congress take a hike. So when are you going to come back here?
The secretary said he'd do it soon, to show us where you're going to follow the law. And what I don't want to hear is, well, we're going to do a study, Senator, we're going to look at more options. Cape told us we're going to do like -- we did the studies, your job is to follow the law secretary needs to get back up here.
That hearing for him was a disaster I've been on this committee for eight years and I haven't seen anything like that. So I hope you have a better answer than he had in the last committee hearing. What's the answer on getting to 31 amphibs, which the Marine Corps desperately needs, by the way, that's a minimum.
You can't just come to the Congress and say, ah, we think that was a suggestion. It wasn't a suggestion, it's just like -- it's actually the same language that we gave you on 11 carriers. So what's the answer on that Admiral?
Ranking Member Sullivan, As you know, and as a secretary, the cap and the commandant testified, the commandant in the -- can fully agree and understand that 31 amphibs is the law. We are doing the study coordinating that with OSD this summer. But again, that will determine just the way ahead.
Sorry to interrupt, we did the study. Again, I don't understand why you keep telling us -- we did the study. You're done. You don't have the option of doing -- you just have to follow the law. I don't know why this is so hard on the Navy. We did the study, we did the costs if you -- if you don't have the budget for it requests a bigger budget, we'll give it to you.
But we don't want another study. We want you to follow the law. I've gone over my time. But can you just answer that again without saying you're going to do another study? I want to know when you and the secretary are going to come back here with a plan that doesn't blow off the Congress and the law for 30 years, which is what your current plan, your plan does not hit 31 amphibs once in 30 years.
That is completely unacceptable.
We will finish the study and we believe that this is a PB '25 discussion. We put an amphibian contract this year. We're going to deliver another one next year. We currently have 32 and we look forward to that discussion as part of the PB '25 discussion.
Well, I just -- I want to associate myself with -- with the punch line from Senator Sullivan. I do think that this is a matter for the president's budget and I know that the service chiefs and you as witnesses don't get to lobby against the president's budget. You know the president sends us a budget and you're not going to come and testify counter to it. I think this is at the level of the president's budget.
And the commandant was pretty clear in the hearing that 31 was not only the law, but 31 was the requirement in terms of the military mission. And when I asked him point blank, does either the president's budget or the shipbuilding plan get us there. He was one word answer, no. So I think the punch line is we are expecting an answer.
We understand -- I understand that you're not going to come in here and lobby against the president's budget. That's -- that's not what you do. But I think we do need to find what's up, especially since this is the second year where we've had this conversation with the set of mixed messages. And Franchetti, I want to just share with you, I have been visiting some of our surface ship -- private surface ship yards in the Hampton Roads area.
And I've heard a very particular challenge that I think could be easy to fix, could be, that -- that might help us with getting ships in and out of repair in a timely way because I think there's been some suggestions that often time ships under repair don't come out timely? The -- the Navy has a stated policy on these repairs and we're not talking about like the mid-career refuels of carriers, we're surface ship non-nuclear repairs.
The Navy has a policy of trying to enter into the contracts on these repairs 120 days before the work is supposed to start, but it's more common that the Navy enters into a contract 30 to 60 days before. OK, we -- we need to have it in dock and 45 days and we need to have it in dock in 60 days. That makes it really hard for the shipyards to staff up. They're bidding on work.
They get a bit of work. They're really excited about it, but the labor market is really tight right now and so if they're getting the contract and being told and you've got to start to work in 60 days, it's hard to staff up to really go at it from day one. Whereas if you can get the contract 120 days out, which isn't that long, that's four months, the -- at least the NASCO General Dynamics and the BAE Shipyard, these are the two that I've been at in the last month, say if you can hit that 120 day mark, they can staff up and be ready on day one and then really comply with time guidelines.
At least one of the shipyard was saying even though it's dramatically shorter than that, they still think they have a pretty good track record of turning the ships out according to the Navy timetable. But -- but that doesn't seem like an unreasonable request to me that we try to enter into contracts and then give the -- the -- the shipyard 120 days from the date of that contract being signed to fully staff up. And I think if you can do that, you'll -- you'll get ships out the back end and a lot more reliable and regular way.
And I just wanted to kind of report that from the field as something that I'd like you to pay attention to. General George, I want to congratulate you on your nomination to chief of staff of the Army. Just say that really quickly and ask you this question, what's the Army doing to ensure a constant supply of energetics in order to meet current and future munitions requirements and maintain a responsive organic industrial base?
Particularly as we're talking about the -- the support that we're providing in Ukraine that can have the effect of diluting some of our efforts in that way.
Yes, Senator, obviously the organic industrial base is -- is critically important. We spent a lot of, I would say right after a recruitment for us, something that we're talking about all the time. We've invested a billion and a half in the Army budget on that for our -- for our OIB. And then thanks to the supplemental, there'll be another 1.6 billion.
And for example, down at Radford is one example of some, you know, investments that we're putting down there. So -- and as I think you can see, I think or you may have heard we had -- there was another, I think we did -- there was a $5 billion deal just done here for -- for Gimmers, and so it's also the defense industrial base that we're working on. I think what's helping us is the multi year procurements.
Another thing that I think that we've talked about and we need to look at is what do we do to, to your point is stockpiling what are ways that we can get, because we've had some of these supply chain issues that we would actually have this stuff that we know we're going to need and we're really supporting the joint force.
So we're looking at all of those things, Senator.
I appreciate, thank -- thanks. Madam Chair, I yield back.
Thank you, Madam Chair. General George, Fort Sill is becoming a hub for innovation for counter UAS space and in the process of standing up to counter UAS university, one has also stood up the Fire's Innovation Science and Technology accelerator in support of Fort Sill for the Army's priority mission. Great achievements and advancements have been made in the counter UAS technology such as lasers and high power microwaves.
What is the development and fielding plan for these systems?
OK, Senator, yes. Fort Sill is critically important to us, not just for integrated air and missile defense in addition to the counter UAS and long range fires. So that is the center for us for, for counter UAS and I mentioned in my opening statement about getting lessons from what we've learned in Ukraine and what we're really attempting to do and that's happening there.
And then we're doing other testing that's out in -- in both White Sands and Fort Huachuca to rapidly innovate with those products. We're getting ready to stand up a counter UAS university that's going to -- that's going to start word initial operating capability. The whole joint force will train there and that will be full operational capability here in October -- by October.
October -- the answer to my other question, do we have the right level of investment for counter UAS?
I think we do. This year there was an additional $100 billion that was put towards that. And so -- and that's something for the Army is the executive agent really for the -- for the joint counter UAS, and it's really supporting research and development across all the services that we're focused on. We're kind of just helping to facilitate that.
And we're all -- it's a real joint effort throughout.
Thank you. General Allvin, pilot training is a major priority for this committee and Vance Air Force Base, which is in Enid, Oklahoma, is one of the best in the business training more pilots per year than any other training base in the country. Unfortunately, both the pilot training center and their dorms need major work to reach their full potential.
That work was not listed as a priority for the Air Force, but rather included on the Air Education Training Command's Unfunded Priorities list. With the nation experienced a shortage of up to 2000 pilots, why was this not work -- why was this work not a higher priority?
Well, Senator, you're absolutely right in Vance really leading the way. As a matter of fact, our UPT 2.5 initiative really was started advance and they will be the -- the lead unit for that. With respect to the dormitories overall, there is a dormitory master plan in which actually in the OSD scoring system of the facilities conditions index, 99 percent of our dorms to include those at -- at Enid are above the adequate standard.
We'd like them to be better than adequate, but they do exceed that standard. So we are prioritizing those dorms that are -- that are closest to 80 percent or below. But we will continue to look at the -- the unit dormitories as well as the pilot -- the pilot training center obviously is going to need to transform as we transform the way we do pilot training as well.
We will continue to have you.
Have you visited Vance?
I have. I was.
Have you seen the training facility?
I have not recently seen a training facility.
I was -- I was just there and it's literally in temporary facilities, temporary that's become permanent. And as you said, Vance, is leading the way there needs to be. There needs to be more done there. And on top of that, Vance is leading the way and we also received a two percent cut on reimbursements for housing when I don't think there's any place in the country that's got a reduction in housing.
I mean, housing is a competition and -- and Enid, it's even a bigger competition. I believe that is something we need to get addressed. If we want to recruit the best and keep the best, and unfortunately, we're competing with commercial to at this point, but we should recruit the best we can train the best.
We also got to make sure we give them adequate housing. We can't -- we obviously are never going to be able to compete with -- with -- with the majors and -- and pay. But we also know that most of these pilots are going to be married and their spouses need to be in need of -- need to like where they're staying and they also need to know it's not costing them to be there.
And with the 2 percent cut, I felt like that was kind of a slap across the face. And so I'd appreciate if you'd pay attention to that, but with that I yield back. Thank you.
Well, thank you Generals and Admiral for being here and for your service to the country. I have a whole list of questions, but I'd actually like to throw all of those out and go directly to Ms. Maurer's statement, because I -- I was disappointed to hear your comment that there's been a decline in mission readiness, especially in the RNC, and that's despite additional funding over the period since 2017. And I wonder if each of you could tell me if you agree with GAO's assessment or if you have a different view?
Yes, Senator. So specific to the GAO report that that she mentioned or opening statement one was for us mobilization and railcars. Yes, I agree with that. That is something that we're investing in 10 million mainly for the big for tanks and Bradley and heavy equipment. And then the other aspect of it was was safety.
And I agree with that as well.
I think from the ship and submarine in the sea domain, we are improving our readiness now I think since 2019, and as we've been able to implement a lot of our perform to plan and data analytics and really focus on the maintenance and getting ships out of the shipyard on time, submarines out on time, we've been able to decrease our days of maintenance delay which will improve our ability to train.
So again, we have a lot more work to do and we're grateful for the work that the GAO provides on the aviation -- again, back in 2018 when we were challenged to move up from 241 ready Super Hornets, we invested a lot of time and energy in this analytic process to get after the root causes and the drivers of lack of readiness.
We've been able to achieve 80 percent readiness -- between 80 and 85 percent readiness for the Super Hornets and now we are scaling that to the remainder of our type model series. So again, we have had some challenges, but I think we're moving in the right direction.
Well, let me just zero in on that a little bit because one of the findings has to do with the shipyards and submarines. And it says from fiscal year 2014 to 2020, Navy submarines spent 9563 more days in depot maintenance than expected. Now as somebody who represents the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, I really appreciate the shipyard optimization plan and what that's doing for the shipyard.
And they've had a very good record of getting ships out on time and under budget. But how do -- how do you approach that kind of delay as we're thinking about how we make sure our submarines are operational when they need to be?
That was a very significant delay and we are really focused and this has really been the focus of me as the vice chief as I've gone around to visit the different shipyards to understand the challenges and also met with private industry to see where we can focus on that. I think the three things that we found that have been impacting that, one is workforce development and the project management fundamentals, production throughput.
The second one is long, lead time material and that has really been a challenge especially for Virginia class submarines. And then the third one is growth work, unplanned work that we're finding. And so again, we now have developed a 15 year plan, a strategy to get after all of those things. We've also put in requested in this budget $3.1 billion in Virginia class parts to help us get potable pools and get rid of challenges with obsolescence.
So in the submarine world, I think we are again moving in the right direction.
Thank you. General Smith.
Senator, the aviation portion of that report is correct. We are not where we need to be and have committed to be. In the last four or five years, we've increased marine aviation readiness by just over 10 percent. So we're moving in the right direction, but we're Marines, so we're not going to be satisfied until we achieve the objective.
We're doing that through a combination of ensuring that personnel, ranges, fuel parts, aircraft are all available at the right time because if any one of those elements of readiness is not there, you're not going to train and be ready. So that's a focus for us. It is the compilation of manpower, training ranges and assets at the exact right time.
Senator, unfortunately for the Air Force those are correct as well and what -- it's not good news, but it's better news. So we're up to in FY '23, this is F3 or FY '21, we had eight aircraft that did meet the MC, that's not nearly where we need to be, but eight better than two. And ours is a combination of a bit of a spiral we're trying to come out from, which is as we have 53 percent of our aviation assets are right now exceeding their expected life cycle -- average 20, 29 year old platform.
So they break 25 percent more, they take 15 percent longer to fix and because of that, their longer times in depot, which means we can have a fixed depot pipeline so we can put fewer through depots. So therefore, it has that spiraling effect and because they're finding new and interesting ways to break, it takes some of our best maintainers to be able to keep those.
So as we're trying to transition to these more modernized platforms, that's where some of our maintenance shortfalls come. So, not an excuse, it's a condition we need to work through. I think another one of the real good recommendations that they made that we're trying to action on right now is leaving these sustainment reviews for each of the systems that get after the individual pieces of the maintenance and supply issues.
We have completed several of those sustainment reviews right now. We're trying to develop useful mitigation plans, not just mitigation plans we can submit as a report and make a complete, but things we can action on through things like condition based maintenance plus and stockpiling of supplies. And those sort of things.
So we are on a journey and but again the answer to question is these are accurate numbers.
Madam Chair, can I ask General Thompson to also respond?
Senator, we agree with the GAO's assessment as well. Such an incredibly dynamic period addressing a newly contested domain, we don't really have the readiness metrics, yet -- yet we don't have the systems, we don't have the training infrastructure. But I absolutely believe we have the plan that we're executing to. We -- we had $390 million in this year's budget focused on that plan.
And our request has another 340 million above that, so agree with the assessment, but I believe we have the plan to get after the readiness needs of this Space Force.
Well thank you, and General Thompson, I think your admonition that on time budgeting and being able to count on a budget from Congress is really important to all of the work that you all need to do. So I hope that we can comply with your request. Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you, Madam Chair. I'm going to start with General Allvin and Ms. Maurer on the pilot retention issue. In the Air Force -- and if I have time I want to address this to the Admiral and General Smith as well. So, I think we share this concern about pilot retention challenges in the Air Force and what this means for the future joint fight.
I think the Air Force currently has a 10 year requirement after a pilot gets winged, but I want to get into some specifics on this. So what's the data say about when pilots are separate rating from service after their commitment? Is it -- does it tend to be right after the 10 year commitment, or the folks tend to stay in for a little bit longer and then get out before they let's say complete 20 -- 20 years of service?
And and then what's like the root cause, Like what -- what are they citing as reasons why they're they're leaving after a 10 year commitment to the Air Force.
Senator thank you for that. So, the biggest decision point is after that 10 year commitment. So, it's not like it's a cliff after that, but that initial 10 year commitment is where the first decision point is. I'll talk in a second about the rationale why -- and as we understand when they approach that 10 year commitment from their pilot training time, as you know there's that you're going to get trained and maybe sometime you have to wait to get to pilot training.
So you may be 11 or 12 years in what we had been doing in the past, would we have been approaching them at that 11 or 12 year point, and at that point, as you know from your service, you're making decisions two or three years before then. So what we have done now is offered these incentives to them three years before the commitment is done.
Now, obviously we're asking for a longer commitment, but at that time it's helping them cement their future, see where their families are, see -- and have that predictability.
By incentives, you mean the pilot bonus pay?
The aviation incentive bonus. But it also -- we're also offering non monetary incentives and this goes to your point of why are they getting out, why are they leaving? And we had an air crew engagement survey that happens every year, the one we just had in March had three primary reasons. One of them was location stability.
Second one was compensation, and the third one is resource initiatives to get after the additional duties because pilots like to fly. So the location stability, we're doing things now like trying to reduce the number of overseas deployments. Those with the reduction in Afghanistan and Iraq are sort of helping that naturally as a byproduct.
We're looking at some of these second assignment in place opportunities. One of the advantages of technology is it allows us to be more interactive with the individuals in the assignment process. Before it needs the Air Force, we shape your career. Now we have talent marketplace where they can go out and at least provide some more input, have a little more agency in their future assignments.
So we're helping them with that. And then on the resource initiatives, we're looking at other opportunities to shed some of those additional duties. And on the compensation, it's the aviation bonus. So those are the three ways that we're addressing, but we're really interested to see, we just started this to see what the feedback is on the engaging them earlier because we're finding they're making those decisions not the year of but couple years.
Admiral as as the Navy done anything here with trying to provide some stability in one location for pilots. I know in my 25 years in the Navy that was something that you would hear the Air Force would do, but wasn't typically something the Marines or the Navy did and I'm pretty sure the Marines probably did not as well or they -- or is either service doing that now?
Yeah, I think you know just like the Air Force, we're working hard to retain people and look for some of those non monetary incentives. Of course, the monetary ones are important, being able to award the bonuses and the incentive pays at the right time to help them with their decision is one thing. Some of the other things that we're looking at, really are, as you mentioned, family stability, very important.
Some of the reasons cited for departing are high operational tempo, long deployment lengths and again not enough flying time because they do really like to fly. The other one is looking at potential alternative career paths and designating a professional flight instructor and because some people would like to do that as opposed to moving on through some of the other career choices.
Senator along the same lines we are through our process called talent management. We're just trying to treat each individual Marine as an individual. Some pilots want to fly a lot more. There are some who want a three year out because they've been flying for eight years straight. So we are offering not just two pilots, but all Marines, if we'll ask them, what would it take to keep you?
If they say I want to stay here at Miramar for another three years, then we can get to, yes. If it's -- I want to stay here at Miramar forever. That's probably a no. But if if you we can extend you, if we can give you a three years out of the cockpit, you do a forward air controller tour, that helps. So there's three Marines at this table and we all do it because we love being in the Marine Corps that will only get you so far because we do have to compensate them, can't compete with the airlines, but we have to give them a career path that matches what they need and what the Corps needs.
But we are doing stabilization in, in their -- their geographic location of choice anywhere we can, because we have to retain those pilots because they are a huge element of our lethality.
Some of our allies also will allow -- and I think this is what you alluded to as a maybe an instructor pilot, but allow somebody to be sort of a squadron pilot. They don't advance so much in their career. They stay in a squadron and that helps in some retention. I don't think we've gone that far yet. Is that accurate?
Right. All right. Thank you.
Thank you. I'm going to follow up on on Senator Kelly's questioning about retaining aviation flight crew. General George, the Army made headlines this week when Human Resources Command alerted hundreds of active duty aviation officers that their service commitments are about three years longer than previously thought due to an HR error.
And I actually am quoting the language. And General Allvin, last year Congress gave the Air Force the ability to offer retention bonuses to pilots up to three years away from contract expiration in addition to a base preference for future assignment location, and to date, the Air Force has not published its aviation retention bonus or base preference plan for eligible aviators for the current fiscal year.
And we're five, I mean we're well into the second quarter, are the gentlemen -- are these issues the result of slow staffing processes on behalf of your service? Are your human resource staff properly trained and equipped to administer these types of programs? What's going on? You have -- you have this in the Air Force, this resource and yet you're not using it and how is it that, we are telling people by the way you owe us three more years and you initially -- we initially told you because of an HR error?
What's going on?
Senator, yes, there was -- there was an error that you read that actually they should have known that they had had the branch add so -- or the additional service obligation it wasn't on there. We are treating that go into every individual for some. It's -- it's not -- it's kind of gets back to the individual preference -- hey, I was planning on staying anyway.
There are some that it is -- there's a challenge for -- and our human resources command, CG General Drew, also an aviator, is reaching out to every one of those directly.
But you're not answering my question, you're putting it back on the individual service member. What I asked you is what is going on with your HR training and your personnel that they are making these kinds of mistakes.
Well, I agree with you, we need to make sure that we don't have mistakes like that. But, like I said, we did have -- we have had a mistake, we did identify it and we're -- and we're just trying to deal with it, right.
What are you going to do to fix the problem with you HR so it doesn't happen again?
And we're -- we're addressing that as well as far as how -- what gets into how the service obligation. The other thing is we're bringing on and we've had -- I do think our integrated personnel and pay system getting data. We had a bunch of old systems that were kind of have been closed together and we're working through that.
And I think that that will help us, but obviously for all of us have been in here anything you know -- that something happens to your own pay or anything else that has a big impact. We realize that and we are focused on it.
General Allvin, it's -- it's six months into the fiscal year and you still haven't published your retention bonus and your base preference plan.
This is -- this is something you never like to hear it hearing, but I will tell you first heard I will get back -- I was not aware that that was not being done as I just -- I just extolled it as a virtue of what we were doing. So, Senator very soon as I will find out what it is, thank you and I will personally make sure that you have that because that is certainly not -- it certainly things are credibility if we don't follow through on the things we're saying we're doing.
Thank you. I want to backtrack and talk about aviation safety. I do want to offer my condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of those soldiers killed in last week's Apache crash in Alaska as an aviator and a member of this committee. I'm following it closely and I've asked the Army to come back, once you've done all your investigations to, to brief me. This is the second second class that has rocked the Army aviation community in the last two months and aviation units are currently on a stand down much needed.
The Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force all hosted safety stand down days in recent years after their own strings of mishaps. Study after study points to common causal factors, inexperience in the training schoolhouses and in the operational cockpit, increasing workload on the flight line and in maintenance hangars and a lack of timely access to spare aircraft parts.
General George, Admiral Franchetti, General Smith, General Allvin, how is your service working to address these factors to prevent future tragedies and what can we do to help you?
Senator, as you know from -- from being an aviator is something you have to constantly address before this. The previous four years had been the safest aviation for us in history, but you obviously have to keep focused on it right now. So, we're doing exactly what you said with the safety stand down day.
We're looking at at everything out there, how we're -- what our, you know the crew mix, maintenance, TTPs, you know, and all the things that the tactics that people are using and we're studying. That was part of the address by the chief of staff in the -- in the stand down and we'll obviously get the investigation -- as you know, we get the safety center that's out there looking at both of those right now and we'll certainly follow up with you.
Beyond just aviation accidents, we have had other accidents and we've learned many things from. I would say two things that we've done to really try to get after them first. We elevated our safety center to a two star safety command. The safety center dealt primarily with individual units and information wasn't shared across the broader community.
And the safety command, now he assesses all of the oversight entities and they do regional assessments as well as community assessments, and provide that information. So we're already learning a lot from them. I think the other one is really going after the root causes through, our get real get better cultural renovation that we're focused on right now is really identifying them.
So if the root cause for many of these things is fatigue, we're really emphasizing using our human factors engineers to understand what is happening and then how do we better train our people to know what to look for, create better watch bills, and move forward from there.
Senator the last part of your question, steady predictable operations and maintenance dollars for parts and flight hours is the best thing that can be done for flight pilot proficiency. We do twice annual safety stand downs preemptively, we call them BITS, back in the saddle training, but also in that preemptive lane.
We just had a V-22 have an in-flight emergency a few weeks ago at -- at -- at Cherry Point the group commander said -- and the pilots landed it very safely. So rather than wait for something, they simulated that same emergency. They stood the entire group down colonel level command for two days and they made every single pilot go back through that scenario until they got that exactly right, because we don't want to wait for an incident.
We always want to be proactive and for us I am the safety officer of the Marine Corps, the safety division works for me. There's no one between me and the colonel who runs it. It's -- it is me, so I am responsible to you.
Similarly for the Air Force, the last two years, so far in FY '23, the same as last year, 1.2 per 100,000 flying hours. We'd like to get that obviously to zero. We have had a couple of very safe years, but to your point, we -- and to General George's point, we've got to be -- even though you might have the safest on record, it only takes one or two and suddenly it becomes the worst on record.
We found over the -- our analysis shows over the last two years, our incidents have been a product of material, as you mentioned, risk management and noncompliance with guidance. So we really have been attacking the material to -- to John Smith's point, we want to make sure we have the right parts and availability.
But the risk management and noncompliance, these are things we're finding those venn diagrams and our safety center commander, she is brilliant in getting back and finding root causes, reeducating, and I think it's those human elements that we need to continue to focus on with all the environmental that my colleagues here talked about, crew resource management, understanding the risk.
We're also starting to better integrate our human performance wing to understand those things in fatigue that we can now hold ourselves better accountable for with the advent of technology. But those elements are the things that we're really focusing on now.
You've been very generous Madam Chairman.
Thanks Madam Chair. I want to focus on a different aspect of readiness and personnel, which is recruitment, and in particular the -- some of the numbers that I know are troubling you as they have troubled us, the levels of recruitment and the failure to make many of their recruiting goals which I think is troubling not only for the present but also what it indicates for the future.
And I note particularly, General George, the numbers on the army that are provided here today, only 23 percent of Americans aged 17 to 24 are qualified to serve without a waiver, which I think is a pretty damning indictment of education, health, however you want to characterize it. And as you say, the problem is not just finding qualified recruits, propensity to serve among young men and women is also the lowest in recent history at nine percent, only 21 percent of youth from Generation Z believes that Army culture is consistent with their values and beliefs and 56 percent report that their impressions of the army mostly negative, in parentheses, are driven by non army media.
I don't know how we keep our military as the greatest in the world, and it is now, as a parent of two sons who have served one in the Marine Corps, the other is a Navy SEAL, I don't know what we can do to change the culture, the propensity to serve the readiness and physical and mental and emotional and educational qualification.
But I'd like to know from the services perhaps beginning with you General George. Are we strategizing this fundamental longer range problem? I know that the Army wants to meet its immediate recruiting goals. That's certainly on your mind, but what about the larger problems? Is there -- is there a strategy in the services for -- for recruiting, we've been talking mostly about retention so far I think.
Yes, Senator -- so I mean obviously we talk about this all the time and two aspects that you kind of talked about, I mean what are some -- what are the some of the adjustments that we can make, but we're obviously we're having a big challenge and we don't -- we want to see this also as an opportunity to, to change how we go about doing things.
We've done some where it's like the Future Soldier Prep course that we're doing to get people in to actually raise them. So, they go down and they are able then to meet the physical standards, they're able to pass the ASVAB test and that's working, I mean greater than 95 percent that have gone, they're going through that.
We're looking at how we select recruiters and do we have recruiters in the right places. We're looking at JROTC programs. We're looking at marketing and then we're just looking longer term at how we have approach this know we're at the 50 year mark of the all volunteer force. What do we need to change? And as I mentioned, I enlisted right out of high school and we have a lot of people in our service that have done that.
It is a great way to -- to advance and we just got to, you know, we're pouring our heart into getting the message out and I think everybody has got that and crossed all the services and so, we have a big part to play in that.
I would just -- I would just add that we too are doing a lot of the things that the Army is doing in regards to having a future sailor prep course first for physical fitness, we just started that and then this fall will be doing one on the academic side. I think we are looking hard at our campaign forged by the sea and working hard for it to make it to where all of the young people will be able to get a better understanding of what the Navy is all about and really what they can learn, and what they can have as a career in the Navy, whether it's through social media, whether it's through career fairs.
Making sure that we take the time to educate people who may not live near the Navy, so they understand what it is we're kind of taking the approach of every sailor is a recruiter and giving them opportunities to go back home, talk about it and be part of our fleet weeks and engage not only the youth but the influencers in their lives coaches, school teachers, principals and then of course their parents.
Senator, as you know you don't join the Marine Corps, you become a marine and that is what we will stay with. We value our recruiters heavily when our recruiters finish a successful three year recruiting tour, they select their duty station or they're sent to one of our service schools. My own son is a recruiter right now.
I was a recruiter -- most of our senior leaders were either on the recruiting side or the drill field side, fleet Marine Forces, Pacific three, all recruiters. The key for us is that professional recruiting force and incentivizing them to do great work. For us, those recruiters, it -- it is a big reward in that the bulk of our meritorious promotions go to the recruiting force because we believe it is so important.
And the final thing that I think is a secret sauce for us, the commanding general of Marine Corps, Recruit Depot, San Diego and then Recruit Depot Parris Island, dual hat as the commanding generals of the eastern and western recruiting region. So they have to both find and train the individuals, so you better find good ones and you better train them right, because the same general is responsible for both and we just value the recruiting force and we stay on it. We made mission last year, we'll make it this year, sir.
I know we're over, but I will -- I'm over time, but I -- thank you, chair, because I think this is very important. By the time it gets down to this end of the table, there may be fewer things just because we have lunches together. We -- we understand this is not just a service problem. We have many meetings together where we look across the table.
So I'm stealing things from what Eric's doing and this idea of for us as the Air Force last year we barely made and this year it looks like we will not. So this is a wake up call. We are looking at everything, why do we have this particular restriction in place? Why -- and sometimes it was because we could before and because we were able to make that.
That's -- that's part of it. But, Senator I want to talk about your larger point, which is all these things are making it harder on the outside and we're trying to figure out that as as a group of senior leaders. And I think one of them is this, that there is a cacophony of narratives out there that we are competing with.
Again, not an excuse, it's just fact. It's now -- there are so many different media that the youth of America can get insights from and get their impressions of, and so we need to be both amplified and unified in the way that we describe the value of service. And that this is not something that puts your life on hold, it's something that accelerate your life.
So there is a -- there is a combined thing that we need to do to have this awareness because there's a lack of familiarity with the military service. And so that's -- those are some of the things we've been talking about. As we look across the services, do that in addition to what we're each doing, individual service voice.
And Senator just briefly, if I can, since our challenge is a lot different than everyone else, our numbers are relatively small. We can't be in every hometown in a recruiting station and we don't need to be. So we're looking a lot at new approaches to recruiting targeting regions targeting specialties. And when we look at that and the use of social media and some of the things there are perhaps things that we can learn and trailblaze for the rest of the force that may help them in future recruiting opportunities as well.
Thank you all.
Thank you. We'll start the second round of questioning. I'm glad that you all get together and learn from each other and share best practices as applicable, and as long as we're on the subject of how important recruiting and retention issues are, my impression is that the Air Force and the Space Force have fewer recruiting and retention challenges.
Is that right? Although, Admiral Allvin you said that you are currently facing some recruitment issues, but am I -- do I have the accurate impression that the two of you face fewer of these kinds of challenges than the other services, and if so why?
Sure, I'll try and then you can, but I think the Space Force is different because they do have a lot of folks wanting to come in and kind of a -- but ours thing I guess ours is, is a disturbing trend because we have made it all the time this year we're actually seeing the things that the -- at the Army and the Department of Navy -- the Navy has dealt with for a while.
So that's why I want to learn those lessons earlier. So -- but overall we'll be closer to meeting our numbers than perhaps some of the other issues.
So what do you think is causing this trend, all of the other kinds of -- of opportunities that a young person could have then besides joining the Air Force?
I think part of it is that we -- because we are always making our numbers before we might have maybe under populated our recruiting force, something I'm learning from my fellow -- my Marine here that says the value of the recruiting force the individual face to face. That's how they're making their numbers.
The idea that we had had some standards were not really standards, they were restrictions that we had that were tighter than the DOD standard. So now we're finding if we loosen those and we -- we stay within the DOD standards, we are allowing more to be able to come through our door. So we're -- like I said Chair, we're looking at everything we had done before that was maybe unnecessarily restricted.
And then we believe we're also -- there's -- the chickens are coming home to roost with respect to the propensity to serve, and we're going to have to counter that as well in the Air Force.
Yes, and one of the trends being that there are so few people who even qualify and even fewer still who are willing. This is for the Army and Navy in particular, how important are the junior ROTC programs to your recruitment efforts?
I'll be real, real quick, Chair Hirono, we have about 1,700 JROTC And what we see is whether or not people are actually in JROTC or not. If they have that exposure, I think that's where it's helping us the most. You know, we're at like 44 percent of the folks who have a JROTC in their high school are more likely to serve.
So, that's where I think it helps us and we're looking at how we can expand some of those, we're in the process of doing that now.
What about Navy?
Yeah, JROTC is very helpful for us as is the Sea Cadet program. So again, the more opportunities we have to expose people to what the Navy does and what it can do for them, I think is a really great opportunity.
And how much of an inducement are the educational opportunities that you all provide to people who join in terms of particularly, I suppose, some recruiting and retention, you don't want to respond, General Allvin?
Yes, Chairman, I will mention one thing that we had reinstitute this year that's been very successful and it's actually our enlisted college loan repayment program. So these are individuals who are out of high school maybe thought right, then they weren't that that maybe military service wasn't for them have had a couple of years of college and had built up some debt and now are relooking that.
So some of our incentives are just that way because -- not only are we offering the ability to repay their college education, but they can continue their education through our community college to the Air Force and other educational opportunities. So we're seeing some of that cohort coming in. Maybe a boost as well.
So we do believe that's an attractive feature.
So knowing how expensive college is -- so do the other services also provide college repayment programs.
We have similar programs, Senator.
By the way do -- do you help with the cost of graduate education, ie. becoming lawyers, you need your Jag. Do you -- do you pay for someone to go to law school?
Sure, I can tell you we do -- we have a program called Funded Law Education Program. Those individuals that we select from a very competitive board go to law school. We pay -- we also have PHD programs for select individuals who fill things at the Marine Corps.
How long have you had that Because I have a JAG person on my staff who didn't get her law school paid for?
We have two, we have a couple of programs we have a funded which is pretty small because it is expensive, but we also have excess leave law program. We have several.
I think that that -- it seems to me that the educational opportunities that you provide could be a big incentive for people to consider joining. I just want to get to one thing. In recent years, storm damage has had major impact on DOD infrastructure in places such as Tyndall Air Force Base, Camp Lejeune and the Army's Military, Ocean Terminal Survey Point.
What plans do your services have to improve the resilience of your facilities in the face of extreme weather? And what kind of readiness impacts have you observed when our facilities are not resilient? And I would like the GAO Ms. Maurer to chime in also. So let's do this really quickly.
Chair, yes, we are looking at that. Some of that is when anything that we're going to construct new is make sure it's at the right standards. The other things that we're looking at is actually for power having ways that we can store power so that we have resiliency. And then the other aspect I would say would be cyber and strengthening yourself there.
Similarly we look at that, we are especially concerned about any sea level rise as we're building our new piers, making sure that they are above the 100 year flood plain as well as our drydock down in a Norfolk Naval shipyard building a flood wall there again to make sure that it's protected from any seawall -- sea level rise.
Senator those bases are our power projection platforms, so they're vital to us. Camp Lejeune for example, rebuilding after that significant hurricane, it is about rebuilding the building such that they are ready to withstand a hurricane. We have bases such as Marine Corps, Recruit depot, Parris Island, who export power.
We have our own microgrid and we're off -- actually off the grid at Albany, our logistics base and we pass power back out into the communities by being off base. That's a combat multiplier lethality for us it is -- it is less about green than it is about being able to -- to project power from those platforms when we're cut off from outside power.
Chair Hirono, same program the other services do I would say in addition, we also have our instituting energy resilience exercises where we make sure we start with what happens when the base goes dark to make sure we have a primary alternate contingency emergency. So we can operate in those energy degraded, but to the extent of building codes and in hurricane zones and flood plains, we do the very same thing with our.
Maybe Space Force doesn't have quite those kinds of issues.
We -- no, Madam Chair, we have exactly the same issues. The one additional factor is since primarily our missions are employed in place. We operate every day in our satellite command and control centers. We also create redundancy and backup such that when you have a weather problems in one area, you can transfer the mission to other areas and continue in that regard.
So we do all the things the other services have in terms of power and building codes, but then we also build in redundant control centers to be able to continue to operate.
Yeah, it's great to hear all the actions being taken by the services to address the issue of climate change vulnerability. It affects all of the services. Some of our work has identified some of the mammoth environmental -- future environmental liability facing the department. I think one of my colleagues testified recently on that and said that that price tag is about $91 billion and that's on top of $137 billion in deferred maintenance across the DOD facility enterprise.
So this is a -- this is an infrastructure issue in part that sort of mirrors some of the broader infrastructure challenges facing the country as a whole.
Thank you. Senator Sullivan.
Thank you, Madam Chair. I'm going to continue my line of questioning, Admiral, with the Navy's support for the Marine Corps. The Navy's forward deployed naval force in Sasebo, Japan was cut from five amphibious to four. The Navy wants to cut it again to three, my understanding is with a 32 percent readiness rate, that really means one amphibious ship will be ready for deployment out of Sasebo in the INDOPACOM theater.
Again, to me this is a real problem. Is that the current plan for the Navy out of Sasebo? And then General Smith, I'd like to follow up with a question to you. How effective is the 31st MEU with one ship? It's really not even a MEU or an ARG at that point is it, but why don't we begin with you Admiral? Is that -- is that the plan?
We currently have five amphibious ships there and we are currently reviewing our strategic laydown plan and once that is finally approved, we will be happy to come back and brief you on that.
So is that going to three ships, you believe
The five ships.
Five to three is that's what I'm hearing, is that -- is that what you're contemplating?
So I'm the -- the strategic -- strategic laydown review is still ongoing. It has not been briefed up to the secretary yet, so I'd be premature for me to say what the.
OK, general, assume that the Navy goes to from 5 to 3 amphibs, 32 percent readiness rate means essentially one amphib. How effective is the 31st MEU -- a lot of articles in the last 48 hours on how ineffective the 31st MEU is because it has no ships, so one ship for the 31st MEU, is that even a MEU? What is that?
Do you mind if -- I need to enable General Thompson who has a hard stop to enable you to go and testify at another committee. Thank you very much for being here.
Madam Chair, Ranking Member Sullivan, thank you so much. We'll certainly take other questions for the record.
Senator, anything less than three ships is not an amphibious ready group or a MEU, it is an amphibious task force when you -- when you do not have a full three ships depending on which ship you don't have, if you didn't have the big deck, for example, you lose 10 F-35s, you lose four seats, 53, etc. So you have to have three, but it's not just for deployment.
You have to have those ships to train the first time that you're sailing away into harm's way because crises happen when you don't expect them and you don't want them to happen. That is not the time for a young first Lieutenant, V22 pilot to do their first deck landing QUAL, or for a young lance corporal driving an amphibious vehicle into a wet well in three foot seas to do it, so you need them for training, safety, but you have to have them for combat readiness.
So three ships all stop.
So I'm assuming the Marine Corps recommendation of Navy would be, as they're doing their strategic laydown don't go from five to three amphibs at the forward Naval Force and Sasebo Center.
Senator, what we would say is provide three ships for the yard, we wouldn't say how to do it, but provide three ships for the yard.
To train and to deploy.
To train and to deploy, and I'm mindful I got the former 31st MEU commander, sitting right behind me, he's the mean looking one. He just finished that deployment. He and I talk about this all the time.
Let me go on to the point I raised in the -- in my opening statement. The Marine Corps requirement is for 35 landing ship medium naval vessels for forced design and the Marine littoral regiments. Right now it looks like the Navy budget through 2528 will be for six. So again, combination of admiral Franchetti and General Smith, why is the Navy not even in the ballpark on what the Marine littoral regiments need?
This goes again to my broader point, a lot of Marine generals are saying force design is meant to support the Navy. I hear that, OK. Naval forces, OK. We're going to shoot Chinese warships out of the ocean, OK. But the Navy isn't coming back on and we're going to make force design successful. To my very obvious reading, there's not much support at all.
So, is the Navy plan on trying to get to 35 LSMa at all? And General Smith, is a marine littoral regiment, a viable fighting force without LSMa, because right now you're not going to get many. You're not going to get it. You're not going to get hardly any at all. I'll start with you Admiral. You plan on going above 5 or 6?
So the Navy is continuing to work with the Marine Corps to identify the requirements and we will continue to work to support them throughout our shipbuilding plan. As far as the readiness goes, we are fully committed to supporting the Marine Corps as training requirements. We have met all of our deployment requirements.
In the particular case of 31st MEU We were able to surge a different ship, the Ashland to support them after an emergent repair to the Rushmoor. So again, we are fully committed to supporting the Marine Corps as training requirements.
And on the -- I'm not talking about just the training. Force design again lays out the need for 35 LSMa. Is that even remotely in the Navy's 30 year shipbuilding plan?
Again, we continue to work with the Marine Corps to define the requirement and put that into our budget as it goes forward.
General is a LMR viable fighting force without any means of delivering it? -- Senator it has to have -- be viable with 5 or 6 LSMs?
Well, our studies show that that maximized one MLR, requires nine landing ship mediums. So nine for one MLR to absolutely maximize it. The organic mobility for the Marine Lateral Regiment also comes from our C-130s. As you noted, sir, we added a second squadron to the Pacific. So we need all of our organic mobility, L-Class, LCMs, etc, all the way down.
And the one thing I would would want to note, sir, is that the force design issue was for the joint force. It certainly supports the naval force, but it supports the joint force, and for Admiral Franchetti's point, what we want is -- is we just neither of us want a gap in time. So when one ship is trading for another one, any -- any day you lose at sea is a day lost.
That's what no one wants.
Let me ask one final question to you, General Smith. I want you to respond to some of the criticism. I mentioned it in my opening statement that the mag-TAFF ability to kick in the door anywhere in the world and sustain itself for weeks in heavy combat, to enable the Marine Corps to continue to be the nation's 911 force is being, somehow degraded or de-emphasized by force design.
I know you don't agree with that. It's a criticism that's out there from some very respectable Marines. What's your argument against that, and doesn't that argument have some weight when we're looking again, no offense Admiral, at a Navy that's not supporting you guys? At a Navy that won't get the amphibs that you need that a Navy that won't get you the LSMs that you need.
I mean, the Marine Corps does become less effective as the number of amphibs decreases. That is a fact. What's your response to those kind of questions that I'm raising that others have raised, including the amphib component?
Yeah, thanks Senator. The Marine Corps is ready. So sir, we -- we have and have retained.
The critics are saying, well, you just -- and I listed some of it, you've just divested an enormous amount of combat power. I said I used a line like that, commandant didn't agree, it was enormous. I think it's pretty enormous, but maybe not enormous. Let's just say significant. I don't think anyone would disagree with the numbers I read are significant.
So -- so let me focus the part on expeditionary force and readiness and kicking in the door as you said, because I agree both the -- and sustainability -- and sustainability. The 82nd and 114th Congress both gave a sense of the Congress that we should be most ready when a position of the Congress -- pardon me, most ready when the nation is least ready.
And we -- we firmly believe that. So we have seven new headquarters. We have the infantry battalions. We have the fixed wing squadrons, the combat engineer platoons, reconnaissance platoons, HIMARS batteries, artillery batteries. We have those to deploy heel to toe Marine expeditionary. But we do not have is the amphibs ships.
So when you're talking global crisis response kicking in the door, you have to get there. So those amphibs are absolutely vital because we have the forces that are ready to go to the pier, but they have to have the amphibious shipping to deploy. That is what makes us ready those combinations, but the Marines are in fact ready to go, sir.
Madam Chair, can I ask one more question, I didn't want General George to be so lonely over there in the corner.
So as long as he can respond in less than a minute.
So, General two initiatives, one that's taking place in Alaska that I think is going well is the stand up of the 11th Airborne Division and your work on Multi-domain task force said, in some ways -- I don't know who's mimicking who, but in some ways does look like Marine Corps, Air Force design and littoral regiments your Multi-domain task force.
How are both of those initiatives going? I talked to General McConville. I know you're looking at a third Multi-domain task force for deployment. We think Alaska is a very strategically, important place that you might want to look at those there. Can you just give the committee an update on those two initiatives that are important for our nation's defense?
Senator I'll start with 11th Airborne and I know you -- we just had a very big Arctic exercise. So I mean really what we're focused on is reestablishing ourselves as Arctic experts up there. And I think General Leffler and that whole team up there is doing great things. They just did a joint forced entry up there had 8000 people.
We've given them the new Arctic equipment and they've got the Cat V's, so very good training up there and then working some of that with our partners.
And is that still the number one requested unit in the US Army.
It's up there, as far as you know, places that people want to go, they definitely -- we saw a definite uptick on that up there. So, the other -- the other thing is on the Multi-domain task force -- and we've stood up -- I stood up the first one several years ago as the first Corps commander, very capable units, that are exercising right now across the Pacific.
We have the other one that's out in, in Europe supporting UCOM and is very active out there. We have one temporarily stationed right now down in -- in Hawaii and there's two more that we are actually, you know are part of our army structure that's coming up that we are standing up with those capabilities.
We haven't made any final decisions. Those are forthcoming on where those assets and those capabilities would go.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I thank each of you for your time today and we will continue to dialog with you. And I also want to thank you Ms. Maurer. This hearing is adjourned.
List of Panel Members and Witnesses
SEN. MAZIE K. HIRONO (D-HAWAII), CHAIRMAN
SEN. JEANNE SHAHEEN (D-N.H.)
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CONN.)
SEN. TIM KAINE (D-VA.)
SEN. TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D-ILL.)
SEN. MARK KELLY (D-ARIZ.)
SEN. JACK REED (D-R.I.), EX-OFFICIO
SEN. DAN SULLIVAN (R-ALASKA), RANKING MEMBER
SEN. DEB FISCHER (R-NEB.)
SEN. KEVIN CRAMER (R-N.D.)
SEN. TOMMY TUBERVILLE (R-ALA.)
SEN. MARKWAYNE MULLIN (R-OKLA.)
SEN. ROGER WICKER (R-MISS.), EX-OFFICIO
AIR FORCE VICE CHIEF OF SPACE OPERATIONS DAVID D. THOMPSON
GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE DIRECTOR OF DEFENSE CAPABILITIES AND MANAGEMENT DIANA C. MAURER
ARMY VICE CHIEF OF STAFF RANDY A. GEORGE
NAVY ASSISTANT COMMANDANT OF THE MARINE CORPS ERIC M. SMITH
NAVY VICE CHIEF OF NAVAL OPERATIONS LISA M. FRANCHETTI
AIR FORCE VICE CHIEF OF STAFF DAVID M. ALLVIN
Admiral Lisa Franchetti
02 May 2023
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