Remarks as prepared for delivery by
The Honorable John H. Dalton
Secretary of the Navy
1998 Congressional Posture Hearings
Senate Armed Services Committee Opening Statement
The Capitol, Washington, D.C.
05 February 1998
SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE (SASC) OPENING STATEMENT
Mr. Chairman… Senator Levin… Distinguished members of the committee… It is a pleasure for me to address you for the fifth year on the state of the United States Navy and Marine Corps.
We were forward-deployed and engaged more than ever in 1997: from continued support of international operations in the Arabian Gulf and Adriatic Sea, to protecting American citizens during non-combatant evacuations in Albania, Sierra Leone and the Republic of Congo, to humanitarian assistance during disasters such as the recovery operations of a Korean airliner crash in Guam. From A to Z… from Albania to the former Zaire, and everywhere in between… we continue to answer the Nation's call, anytime… anywhere.
America's forward-deployed naval forces are engaged around the world on a daily basis to carry out the National Military Strategy. Our forces are shaping the international environment, responding to the full spectrum of crises, and preparing now for an uncertain future. There is an enduring need for the forward presence of our Navy-Marine Corps Team. That need was validated by Secretary Cohen in his Quadrennial Defense Review, the report of the National Defense Panel and the reality of day-to-day global involvement of our Sailors and Marines.
I want to refer back, briefly, to 1992. Where we have been as a Department since that time illustrates how we are postured now, and for the future. We began, in 1992, a continuous process of transformation with publication of …From the Sea, which reflected the dramatic change in the international security environment.
Our transformation process continues today, exploiting technologies from the Revolutions in Military and Business Affairs to give our forces the power and efficiency to dominate the battlefields of tomorrow. It is a process of innovation and growth which leverages the unmatched power, timeliness and operational independence of aircraft carrier battle groups and amphibious ready groups.
Not only am I immensely proud of where we stand today, but I believe we have a clear, forward-looking vision in place that will guarantee the right naval forces for the future.
Certainly, the future holds great challenges for the Navy and Marine Corps. The unrelenting operational demands on our forces and our people are threatening to diminish our readiness. While we have not seen declines in readiness in our deployed forces, the overall tempo of operations is beginning to weaken our ability to train the forces which will follow them on station. We must ensure adequate resources, training and quality of life initiatives to maintain the readiness of our Sailors, Marines and civilians.
We will need strong, positive leadership and teamwork now, by this Department and by the Congress, to ensure our naval forces will continue to be just as ready in 2010 and 2020. I want to discuss some of the budget and program issues that are important to the future of the Navy and Marine Corps.
First, the budget. We have made a concerted effort over the past year to improve what is already an active, engaged process for the budget, both within the Department of the Navy, and with Congress. I believe, as a result, we have a positive relationship which makes our tough choices more clear, and I thank each of you for making that relationship a healthy reality.
With regard to modernization efforts, our programs will continue to harness the potential of the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA). The Department of the Navy is at the leading edge of this effort, actively embracing strategic concepts such as information warfare, cooperative engagement capability, urban warfare, and network-centric warfare.
We are encouraging the creation of innovative concepts, through the Navy's Fleet Battle Experiments, the Marines' Warfighting Laboratory, the upcoming Navy Warfare Development Command at Newport, as well as through active leadership to stimulate ideas from within the force.
The revolution in military affairs is being aggressively coupled with the Revolution in Business Affairs (RBA) by the Department of the Navy. We are doing so by streamlining processes in procurement and acquisition, support services and logistics, through the use of commercial off-the-shelf technology, and by plans to reorganize and reduce our infrastructure. These programs will guarantee future savings, but they require dedicated funds to allow us to capitalize on these revolutions.
Our major modernization programs are on track, and I thank you for this committee's active support. We have forwarded a plan for accelerated procurement of CVN 77, which will be the first new carrier of the 21st century, a dramatically advanced platform, and will provide the vital bridge to our next generation carrier, CVX.
The F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet promises a great future for carrier-based aviation. The over-publicized wing drop problem has been managed well and we are now in the process of selecting the best fix among several workable options to fully correct it. Our test plan is on track to finalize our solution next month. This will allow us to incorporate our fix into all production aircraft. Super Hornet represents what we demand for our carriers - the best strike asset we can afford.
The Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) is an integral part of our forward-looking plan for naval aviation. I have made visits to both design teams, and I am confident a healthy competition is in place that will guarantee the Navy and Marine Corps the right aircraft for our next generation strike aircraft needs. Our goal is to get the most modern aircraft to the fleet as quickly and affordably as possible. Super Hornet and JSF do exactly that.
The Surface Combatant 21 family, led by its first member, the multipurpose DD 21, with its focus on land attack, will help revolutionize the Navy's shipbuilding and warfighting strategy. This modern surface combatant represents an exciting mainstay for our battle groups of tomorrow, because of the tremendous leap in effectiveness it will bring, at significant manpower and cost savings.
Another exciting program that we continue to develop is the Theater Ballistic Missile Defense (TBMD) capability that is embedded in our Aegis cruisers and destroyers. These powerful ships are a promising first-line of defense for our forward-deployed joint forces.
Our shipbuilding plan, overall, produces technologically superior ships such as DDG 51, LPD 17 and the New Attack Submarine. The average rate of production in the future years defense plan (FYDP) is adequate in the near term to support the projected FY 03 force of about 300 ships. However, beyond the FYDP, this rate of production will not permit us to maintain the required ship and aircraft inventory.
The operational commitments undertaken by the Navy and Marine Corps today require a certain force level to satisfy both personnel optempo concerns and world-wide presence missions. Our rate of new ship and aircraft construction must recapitalize the force in the long term to maintain this balance. We need to ensure that, in the future, adequate modernization funding is provided in order to fulfill tomorrow's tasking.
The Navy and Marine Corps' worldwide commitments today include the extended operations in Bosnia. In order to continue our forward-presence in this critical theater, we will need your support for a supplemental budget request to meet additional costs for the Bosnia operation in 1998.
Let me turn now to what is my favorite topic: the Sailors, Marines and civilian employees of the Department of the Navy. They are the most proud, professional, diverse and intelligent this Nation has ever known. They are the primary reason we remain the world's greatest Navy and Marine Corps.
We ask a great deal of our people, and we continue to ask more. Our forces today must be ready for a vast array of mission tasking, across the full spectrum of combat and non-traditional uses of military force. As a result, our people are warriors in the classic sense, and compassionate and discriminate in the human sense. This requires time, training and a truly multi-faceted and motivated Sailor or Marine.
We are proud of the tailored programs we have developed to transform the best of our society into Sailors or Marines. New leadership development programs at boot camp - "Battle Stations" for the Navy, and the "Crucible" for the Marine Corps - are already forging smarter Sailors and Marines, and giving them the skills and the mindset to capitalize on the Revolution in Military Affairs of which they will be a vital part.
On the recruiting front, we continue in our efforts to attract highly qualified and culturally diverse officer and enlisted candidates. This is a challenging time: for the first two months of FY 98, Navy recruiting accessed only 91% of goal. If that trend continues through FY 98, it may lead to an annual accession goal shortfall of 4,000 personnel. On the Marine Corps side, we are on track with our accession goals.
We are addressing the challenge for Navy recruiting head-on with a number of new initiatives, including direct involvement by our top leadership. I have personally prepared a letter to go to over 20,000 high school principals around the country to solicit their support for quality recruits. I would ask that wherever possible, each of you use your leadership position on this committee to encourage your peers when you are home, to mention the opportunities available in the Navy and Marine Corps.
Retention, also, is a critical area of focus for us. Our people are our greatest resource, and indeed, my highest priority. We will continue to listen carefully to the concerns of our Sailors, Marines and civilians, and we will continue to search for innovative ways to improve health care, retirement, deployment schedules, housing and other areas. We must work together in continuing to attract and retain the highest quality people for our Navy-Marine Corps Team.
Success in the two critical areas on which I have focused - modernization of the force, and taking care of our people - requires significant investment, now. Much of that investment is in place with our aggressive initiatives to improve efficiency in everything we do. But much more will have to come from a reduction in our infrastructure. We simply have too much infrastructure for the size of the force we envision in the next few years. To continue to operate this way is not good business.
The Department of the Navy will continue to make the tough choices that it must in the budget process. I ask each of you to help us do the same, to reduce our overhead, anywhere that we can, primarily through additional base closures in the years ahead.
One additional area I must mention is the Law of the Sea Treaty. I am concerned that the United States is not a party to the Treaty. This absence is incompatible with our Department's active engagement and leadership in maritime affairs and has potentially negative effects for the credibility of our overall national maritime policy. The Treaty, in its improved, current form, is a winning proposition for the U.S., and I ask each of you to consider its ratification at the earliest opportunity.
In closing, let me say that I am tremendously proud to serve as Secretary of our Nation's Navy-Marine Corps Team. We are a forward-thinking, forward-looking organization: we are both America's premier fighting force, and a positive influence for sustaining peace on the world stage.
We currently have a near-continuous presence in four major regions: the Mediterranean Sea, the Arabian Gulf/Indian Ocean, the Western Pacific and the Caribbean. On any given day of the year, day-in and day-out, over half of our Navy-Marine Corps Team is underway, at sea. A major challenge we face for future operations is ensuring that we can continue to meet this operational tempo required of our forces - both in terms of people and equipment.
Let me repeat that our vision of the way ahead is sound, and is in line with the Nation's fundamental interests. But the means to get there are becoming less and less clear. I believe, as I know you do, that we have the appropriate vision, and it is worth fighting for. I will say as I did earlier, we must ensure adequate resources, training and quality of life initiatives to ensure our Sailors and Marines remain forward-deployed and ready, anytime anywhere.
Thank you for your leadership, enthusiasm and support for our Sailors, Marines and civilians who stand the watch. I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today. I look forward to responding to your questions.
SPEECH INFORMATION SHEET
EVENT: CONGRESSIONAL TESTIMONY - 1998
SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE
(SASC) OPENING STATEMENT
LOCATION / DATE: U.S. CAPITOL / 05 FEB 98
TOPIC: STATE OF THE NAVY
TARGET AUDIENCE: SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE
Q&A SESSION: YES
OTHER SPEAKERS: CNO / CMC TO FOLLOW
ROOM SET-UP: HEARING ROOM
EVENT POC: CAPT OLIVERA, OPA
SPEECHWRITER COMMENTS: NONE