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, ahead of a hearing titled, “The Department of Defense Organic Industrial Base: Challenges, Solutions and Readiness Impacts.”
"Thank you, Chairman Garamendi. I would like to thank each of our witnesses for their testimony today. The depots within our military services are essential to maintaining the complex ships, aircraft, and land systems that form the building blocks of the Joint Force.
"It is not enough for our depots to meet today’s requirements. We must also posture them to remain relevant for future demand. This raises a major concern about the state of our aging infrastructure. In an April 2019 report, the Government Accountability Office found that although most depot facilities are rated “poor” on the DOD rating scale, the “military services do not consistently track when facilities and equipment conditions lead to maintenance delays.” GAO also found that the trend for facility condition is downward.
"As the cost and complexities of major defense systems continue to evolve, we have to build capacity to support those systems. At the same time, we will continue to rely on many legacy platforms to serve well past their intended life cycles. The B-52 Stratofortress, for example, first flew in 1954 and is now estimated to fly into the 2040s. The M1 Abrams, although significantly upgraded, was designed in the 1970s and first fielded in the 1980s.
"The Navy has an ambitious 20-year, $21 billion Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Plan and has started the process to map existing facilities to aid in design. In a recent hearing with Secretary Guertz and Vice Admiral Moore we discussed the need for the Navy to resource this plan. We also discussed NAVSEA’s efforts, in partnership with the Fleet Commanders, to level load the private shipyards and send a predicable demand signal to industry.
"The Army has invested more than $1 billion over the past 10 years to upgrade its depot facilities and estimates it will cost another $8.3 billion in military construction and modernization funds to fully recapitalize. These long-term plans require senior leader commitment and sustained resources to reach fruition. The Air Force, Marine Corps, and NAVAIR also have long term plans in various stages of maturity. I look forward to learning more detail about the investments required to support their efforts.
"For the Army, I look forward do a detailed discussion about the size and breakdown of the depot requirement. The Committee needs better clarity if we are going to support our warfighters. The Army has nearly double the carryover work that is funded but not finished compared to the next highest Service. I have some concerns, but would broadly like to understand if it is an outgrowth of budget uncertainties, related to process issues, or caused by supply chain issues.
"With regards to the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps, I look forward to hearing about your efforts to stand-up some organic maintenance capability to support the Joint Strike Fighter. We heard testimony last week from Secretary Lord and Lieutenant General Fick about F-35 sustainment, which will cost more than $1 trillion over its life cycle. They informed the Committee that you are implementing some work sets to support the program. I look forward to hearing about these efforts and whether you have sufficient access to intellectual property to support the work.
"The trained artisans in our workforce are the key to success or failure of the depot enterprise. The Services have struggled to fill these positions, whether the root cause was funding uncertainty or the burdensome hiring process. My understanding is that we have made significant progress, but I look forward to hearing from our witnesses about what more can be done.
"Finally, I am concerned that when we extend the life of major defense systems, we often pay premiums for old technology that is less capable, dependent on a shallow bench of suppliers, relies on obsolete manufacturing processes, and is not reasonably fuel efficient. Many depots are actively involved in reverse engineering old components to address these challenges, and we would appreciate our witnesses sharing their insights.
"These are tough problems, but my view is that they can all be addressed if we have the discipline to plan, resource, and implement the solutions.
"Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I yield back."