WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA), ranking member of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, made the following remarks, as prepared for delivery, during the Subcommittee's consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021:
"I appreciate the Chairman yielding. In my estimation, this is a great mark that seeks to accelerate investments and critical capabilities necessary to deter conflict and win the peace.
"First of all, we are accelerating the undersea strike capacity and providing for our strategic deterrence. The largest move in the NDAA this year is the inclusion of an entire Virginia-class attack submarine. With the Navy proving that the industrial base has the capacity to execute this submarine and CNO Gilday indicating that this is his #1 Unfunded Requirement, it is imperative that this Congress move to alleviate the sharp reduction in overall attack submarines. Additionally, we are marking a pivotal event with the authorization of the first Columbia-class submarine which represents the cornerstone of our nation’s strategic deterrence. With the construction of 12 Columbia-class submarines in a timeline constrained effort and a proposed investment of almost $110 billion, we must get this right.
"As to other efforts, I think this mark is just as much about the Army, as much as it is about the rest of the Department. I have speculated publicly in the past that it is all well and good to have the world’s best Army but if we can’t get them to where they are needed, what use are they? We have spent years encouraging a reluctant Department of the Navy to provide for a credible logistics and sealift capability and are finally on the cusp of delivering. In this mark, we move to recapitalize the surge sealift forces with the authorization of four sealift vessels. Additionally, we buttress the 60-ship Maritime Security Program with additional latitude and resources to overcome COVID-19 pandemic related concerns. Finally, we affirm to the Air Force that it is imperative that we have adequate intertheater lift for our Army soldiers by establishing a minimum floor of C-130 aircraft. I am proud of this mark’s support of sealift and airlift forces, but I remain of the opinion that the U.S. Army should take a more proactive role in ensuring its own access to future conflict.
"Finally, as good stewards of our taxpayer resources, I support the reduction of the KC-46A tanker build rate. We have moved to the minimum sustaining rate for KC-46A production to minimize rework associated with deficiencies in the boom, the remote visioning system, FOD and leaking tanks. I look forward to offering an amendment later today to further constrain the production of this aircraft. Additionally, I support the mark’s move to limit development of the large unmanned surface vessel concurrent with the development the autonomy and operational concepts proposed for this unmanned vessel.
"In conclusion, I want to thank Chairman Courtney for his leadership on this subcommittee. He continues to set the standard in delivering a mark that supports innumerable advances for the military services.
"My friends, this is the definition of a bipartisan mark. I am pleased to associate myself with Chairman Courtney’s efforts and will do my upmost in making sure that this mark becomes law.
"With that, I yield the balance of my time."