WASHINGTON - Today, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness, made the following remarks, as prepared for delivery, on the Subcommittee's joint hearing titled “Aviation Readiness: What's the Flight Plan?” For testimony and to watch the hearing click here.
"A year ago, this subcommittee heard testimony from each of your services about the readiness levels of military aviation. Infrastructure challenges, underfunded spare parts, and depot backlogs were a consistent theme. Aviation readiness challenges do not stop at infrastructure – retention and training of critical skills from trained and experienced pilots to aviation maintenance personnel continues to plague readiness recovery. All of these challenges are competing with no lessening of operational demand in the fight against terrorism and with increasingly aging and over-used aircraft.
Today, I look forward to hearing about each Services aviation readiness, readiness recovery plans, readiness impacts to safety, and where we continue to take risks; calculated in terms of both risk to the force and risk to the mission.
I fully believe that the first responsibility of the national government is to provide for the national security of its citizens – and that is especially true of our sailors, soldiers, airmen and marines; therefore, it is our responsibility as members of this subcommittee to continue to better understand the readiness situation and underlying problems across aviation, and then for us to map a course which best assists in correcting any deficiencies and shortfalls.
I would like to welcome all of our members and the distinguished panel of senior aviators present today.
This morning we have with us:
• Lieutenant General Chris Nowland, United States Air Force,
Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Headquarters, United States Air Force
• Vice Admiral Mike Shoemaker
United States Navy,
Commander, Naval Air Forces
• Lieutenant General Steven Rudder,
United States Marine Corps,
Deputy Commandant for Aviation
• Major General William Gayler,
United States Army,
U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker"