WASHINGTON, DC - 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 hearing titled “Marine Corps Readiness Posture.” For testimony and to watch the hearing click here.
"Good afternoon. The subcommittee will come to order. I welcome each of you for this hearing of the House Armed Services Committee, Readiness Subcommittee, on 'The State of Marine Corps Readiness.'
Today the subcommittee will hear from Marine Corps senior leaders regarding the Marine Corps' fiscal year 2019 budget request and current state of Marine Corps readiness - specifically we want to explore the shortfalls, gaps, and critical challenges facing the Marine Corps' readiness recovery plan and recognize the progress achieved thus far, and we want to gain a keen understanding of how the FY19 budget request enables critical war fighting capabilities and life-cycle sustainment. Ultimately, how does this budget request support the Marine Corps mission and those men and women who wear the uniform and are in harm's way.
Overall, the FY2019 base and Overseas Contingency Operations budget request for Operation and Maintenance includes $8.2 billion for Marine Corps active and reserve components, however; this is approximately $214 million below the amount authorized in the FY2018 NDAA. While we recognize these amounts do not include Marine aviation, which is included in the Navy's budget request, Marine aviation is also roughly flat-lined for FY 2019. This is somewhat troubling considering the fact that we hear "Readiness" is the Commandant's priority and know the Marine Corps is struggling to improve aviation readiness, train towards full-spectrum capabilities, and increase capacity necessary to defeat the threats identified in the National Defense Strategy.
Thirteen months ago, General Glenn Walters, Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, testified as follows: 'Current readiness shortfalls require additional operation and maintenance resources, and we have exhausted our internal options. Additional resources would facilitate exercises and training and correct repair parts shortfalls, while specifically addressing aviation specific operations and maintenance funding.' If there is still work to be done, we want to assist with your continued readiness recovery in areas such as; amphibious operations, the aviation element, and the ground combat element in order to ensure you remain the Nation's expeditionary force in readiness. What are the impacts of your services' budget decisions on training, modernization, operations, and maintenance? It is our responsibility as members of this subcommittee to understand the readiness situation and how the budget request assists the Marine Corps in correcting deficiencies and restoring the capabilities this nation needs.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts and talking about concrete ways in which this committee can help.
President Ronald Reagan frequently used the phrase, 'Peace Through Strength.' I agree with President Reagan and believe we must maintain a high state of readiness across our armed services in order to achieve that goal.
Recognizing that your service routinely has 30,000 plus Marines deployed in 60 or more countries it is imperative that Marines remain ready to deter and defeat the full spectrum of non-state and state threats as described in the recently released National Defense Strategy.
Needless to say, we have a lot of ground to cover and I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today on varying aspects of Marine Corps readiness.
I am pleased to recognize our witnesses today. I thank them for taking the time to be with us. We have:
Lieutenant General Brian Beaudreault
Deputy Commandant for Plans, Policies, and Operations
US Marine Corps
Lieutenant General Rex C. McMillian
Commander, Marine Forces Reserve; and Commander, Marine Forces North
Lieutenant General Michael G. Dana
Deputy Commandant, Installations and Logistics
U.S. Marine Corps
Before we begin, I remind our witnesses that your full written statements will be submitted for the record, and we ask that you summarize your comments in 5 minutes or less."