Opening Remarks For Ranking Member Courtney On FY19 NDAA Full Committee Hearing Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee
As prepared for delivery:
"Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am pleased to join you to offer the subcommittee mark for the Seapower and Projection Forces portion of the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act. Once again, the proposal before us reflects thoughtful bipartisan work and cooperation that our subcommittee has year in, and year out, produced and has truly made a difference in seapower policy.
This year’s mark continues a multi-year effort to push the Navy to explore options to build up important capabilities.
To that end, the mark before us recommends three additional battle force ships above the 10 ships in the President’s request. It also continues the National Security Multi-mission Vessel program to ensure that future mariners at our state maritime academies have new, American-made training ships and follows on last year’s work on this subcommittee to recapitalize the Ready Reserve Force.
This mark, as well as the full committee mark that we will consider this evening, also builds on the work our subcommittee has done to ensure the Navy and industry have the resources to expand our undersea force. The need and rationale for a larger force of 66 fast attack submarines was laid out in the Navy’s 2016 Force Structure Assessment, which was based on a thorough analysis of strategic challenges that are emerging in the maritime domain. This year, and for the second year in a row, the committee received blunt and powerful testimony from both Admiral Harris of Pacific Command and General Scaparrotti of European Command that their requirements for submarines are not being met by our current force structure, and warned that the expected decline in the undersea fleet carried unacceptable risk for the country.
Last year, this subcommittee responded to these warnings by including authorization to procure additional submarines in our mark – authority that was eventually carried to the final NDAA and this year’s Omnibus. Navy officials have recently testified before the subcommittee about their intention to use this new authority to provide options for additional submarines in the next contract. Therefore, this year, our mark and the full committee mark will make a down payment on two additional submarines by providing funding for the long lead time materials to take advantage future industrial base capacity FY 2022 and 2023.
This mark also recommends important investments in our Air Force projection forces. It fully funds the B-21 bomber program and Presidential Aircraft Replacement program, and provides funding to address shortfalls in long-range precision weapons. It also recommends additional support for important propulsion upgrades for our legacy C-130H fleet, including the Flying Yankees of Connecticut’s 103rd Air National Guard Wing.
Finally, I want to highlight the hard work of the staff for their tireless effort to put together this mark: Dave Sienicki, Bruce Johnson, Phil MacNaughton, and Megan Handal. None of this is possible without the countless hours they put in and invaluable expertise they provide us.
Thank you again, Mr. Chairman, for a productive and collaborative process that has led to, I believe, an excellent product here today. I urge support for the mark, and I yield back."