WASHINGTON - Today, Rep. Michael Turner (R-OH), Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces, made the following remarks, as prepared for delivery, on the Subcommittee's markup. To view the mark and to watch the markup live click here.
"The Subcommittee meets today to markup H.R. 2810, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018.
I want to thank the Ranking Member and all of the members of the subcommittee for their attendance and participation in the overall process this year. I’d like to express my sincere appreciation to Ms. Tsongas, as well as to her staff, for their support and cooperation in putting this mark together. Subcommittee Members have been actively engaged on the important issues facing the subcommittee in a bipartisan manner. This mark addresses the priorities of the Members on both sides.
Throughout this year’s NDAA process the committee has repeatedly heard that the total force is strained as the Services continue to do more with less. We heard testimony from the service chiefs about lacking the capability and capacity they need to address current and future threats and the increased risk incurred meeting mission requirements. During subcommittee hearings we heard how air and land forces continue to face significant challenges in rebuilding full spectrum readiness from years of deferred modernization funding.
Significant cuts were made in modernization, despite the fact that overall threats have worsened and we are losing our comparative advantage against strategic competitors.
For example, the Army is on a path to fully modernize all of their armored brigade teams by 2035--which is a problem. And the Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force has stated that the Air Force has become the smallest, oldest-equipped, and least ready force across the full-spectrum of operations since the service’s inception.
In turn, the military services have submitted over $30.0 billion in unfunded requirements for fiscal year 2018 alone. We are concerned that resources are insufficient to meet the current strategy, much less address emerging threats and requirements.
So it is within this context that we built this Mark. Together with the full committee mark, this mark will begin to rebuild our military.
This mark will:
- Authorize multiyear procurement authorities for V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft to generate better cost savings for the taxpayer and provides needed capability to the Navy and Marine Corps.
- Provide the authority for ordering bulk quantities of common F-35 Joint Strike Fighter manufacturing materials to reduce costs to the taxpayer, and requires DOD to provide certifications regarding design stability and cost savings estimates.
- Require the Army to provide a plan for executing and accelerating its ground combat vehicle modernization strategy to ensure our ground forces are properly equipped for high-end conventional combat.
- Works to strengthen and improve ISR investment strategies in order to more efficiently and effectively meet combatant commander ISR requirements.
- Advances the development and procurement of lighter, stronger and more advanced personal protective equipment systems for all warfighters, while also ensuring women entering combat roles are fully and correctly equipped.
- Continues to supports an accelerated and streamlined development acquisition strategy to recapitalize high demand, low-density E-8C Joint STARS platforms, and
- Directs the Secretary of the Army to provide a long term investment strategy that sufficiently funds improvements and needed modernization for Army Ammunition Plants to help improve safety and capacity.
The subcommittee’s recommendations to the Chairman’s mark will include full funding of most major programs in our jurisdiction.
Last week we heard testimony from Secretary Mattis and General Dunford to the committee fully supporting the military services’ unfunded requirements, again, over $30 billion in unfunded requirements for fiscal year 2018.
We reviewed these unfunded requirements to responsibly determine what is executable, and have recommended that the Chairman include additional funding to address shortfalls in Air Dominance, ground combat overmatch, munitions, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities and capacity, to include:
- UH-60M Black Hawks, AH-64E Apache, and CH-47 helicopters
- F-35 Joint Strike Fighters and F-18 Super Hornets
- Critical munitions to address shortfalls in the war reserve
- Aircraft and vehicle survivability equipment for helicopters and ground vehicles
- Short range air defense capabilities
- Marine Corps helicopters to include V-22s and AH-1 Vipers
- Unmanned aircraft systems and upgrades
- Ground combat vehicles and support equipment to accelerate modernization of the Army’s Armored Brigade Combat Teams, and
- National Guard and Reserve Component Equipment
As I’ve stated many times before throughout this legislative cycle, a budget of $603 billion dollars does not put the military on a path to recover from the current readiness crisis that they are confronted with. I continue to support a topline budget request for fiscal year 2018 that is as close as possible to the $640 billion topline figure identified by Chairman Thornberry in his Views and Estimates letter to the House Budget Committee.
In summary, this is a good Mark that provides necessary oversight, and together with the full committee mark will address critically needed modernization requirements for the military services.
I encourage your support."