WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO), ranking member of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness, made the following remarks, as prepared for delivery, during the Subcommittee's hearing on Navy and Marine Corps readiness:
"Thank you, Chairman Garamendi. Today we will hear testimony regarding the readiness of the Navy and the Marine Corps to execute the National Defense Strategy under the President’s fiscal year 2021 budget request. We find ourselves at a critical point where the need to modernize is undeniable, but I am increasingly concerned about how we balance modernization with current readiness needs.
"Just this week we learned that the Navy plans to cancel the planned Service Life Extensions for Flight 1 and Flight 2 Arleigh Burke class destroyers. The impact of this decision is that the Navy will lose 27 DDG-51s between 2026 and 2034. My understanding is that this decision was driven by cost concerns, but it is unclear how the Navy will recover this capability or how the fleet’s readiness will be affected. This is a major deviation from the plan, and it would have been appropriate for the Committee to be briefed before the information was made public.
"The Navy has made some progress in improving the cost and schedule performance for ship and submarine maintenance availabilities—mostly through more realistic scheduling by the fleet commanders, level loading work in the shipyards, improved contracting practices that reduce administrative waste and encourage private industry investment, and leveraging data to reduce the amount of unforecasted work. That said, in each of the last two fiscal years the Navy has requested reprogramming authority in the magnitude of $1 billion to cover shortfalls in its ship depot account. This would lead us to believe that significant improvement is still required.
"Because approximately two-thirds of ship availabilities complete in the second year, the Navy is requesting $1.3 billion to continue a fiscal year 2020 pilot program that authorizes private contract ship maintenance for the Pacific Fleet through the Other Procurement, Navy account, which is three-year money. The Committee will be watching this pilot closely as it should improve performance and has the potential to bring costs down.
"As I stated in the TRANSCOM hearing yesterday, I am deeply concerned about the health of the surge sealift fleet—by the mid-2030s, over half of which will be unusable. With 85% of the Joint Force based in the United States, our military readiness is potentially irrelevant without the capability and capacity to project those forces to a fight. The budget request would only fund the purchase of two used vessels, and I want to hear from our witnesses what the Navy’s investment plan is to address this growing concern.
"General Berger, the Commandant, has embarked the Marine Corps on a transformation effort to ensure it is prepared to fight near peer competitors. His guidance is that 'The Marine Corps will be trained and equipped as a naval expeditionary force-in-readiness and prepared to operate inside actively contested maritime spaces in support of fleet operations.' I fully support this effort, and I look forward to hearing from General Thomas how the Corps will balance this transformation effort with current readiness requirements. As Chairman Garamendi has pointed out, logistics capability would determine our success or failure in future Pacific fight. We also look forward to learning more about how the Navy and Marine Corps will sustain this future force.
"Finally, the Navy and Marine Corps have made significant progress with aircraft readiness under the MC 80 construct that Secretary Mattis put in place. The F/A-18 and EA-18G fleets have met the 80% mission capable objective. While the F-35 has not achieved the goal, it has improved from 54% to 72%. The 5th generation F-35 is a game changing capability that our warfighters need. We owe it to them to ensure that we get the sustainment for the program right. I continue to have significant concerns about intellectual property issues in the program. Wee need to have better clarity on the impact the program will have on Service sustainment budgets.
"I look forward to the testimony of our witnesses. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I yield back."