Contact: Josh Holly (HASC), 202-226-3988 Lisa Wright (Bartlett), 202-225-2721
Washington, D.C. – House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Expeditionary Forces Ranking Republican Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) released the following opening statement for the Subcommittee’s mark-up of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008:
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I support this Seapower and Expeditionary Forces Subcommittee mark of the Fiscal Year 2008 National Defense Authorization Act. It is a pleasure to continue our collaborative efforts and I congratulate you and your staff for both your professionalism and your support for the sailors, aviators, and marines who selflessly serve our nation every day.
“I think my colleagues will find that the mark reflects a fair and balanced treatment of the issues within our jurisdiction. There were a number of difficult funding choices that needed to be made, in part to support the Marine Corps’ number one force protection requirement against IEDs, and in part to strengthen the Navy’s shipbuilding program.
“Where we were forced to make funding cuts, these were made primarily on the basis of under-performance of an acquisition program. For example, the largest portion of the cuts came from the Littoral Combat Ship and the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle. Even though I strongly support both programs, they have recently experienced substantial difficulties. The cut to LCS is in response to the Navy’s own request to restructure the Fiscal Year 2008 budget request from three ships to two.
“Similarly, the EFV program has experienced reliability problems during operational test and evaluation and has also experienced a Nunn-McCurdy cost threshold breach. As a result, the program will not be entering production in Fiscal Year 2008, but rather must be re-certified and extended. We anticipate that the Marine Corps will be prepared to present a revised acquisition strategy for EFV in June, at which time, Mr. Chairman, I would ask that we re-evaluate the appropriateness of this cut as we prepare to go to conference with the Senate.
“As I said, these were tough choices, but they enabled the subcommittee to strengthen the shipbuilding program, as well as support the full committee funding of the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle, or MRAP. I concur with your remarks about the importance of fully funding the request for MRAPs, especially since the requirements for these vehicles have grown since the time the President’s budget was submitted.
“As well, by strengthening the shipbuilding program, not only do we take an additional step to delivering the Chief of Naval Operation’s 313-ship Navy, but we also address the Navy’s number one and number two unfunded priorities.
“Mr. Chairman, as we discussed earlier this week, I would ask that as we move forward, we continue to refine funding for T-AKE. I understand that while the mark in Title III fully funds the procurement cost for an additional T-AKE in Fiscal Year 2008, the actual cost of an additional T-AKE in 2008, may be $122 million - $145 million greater than the amount provided in the mark. This is due to additional post delivery and outfitting costs, which are separate from procurement costs, and also due to material cost escalations, not reflected in the baseline budget request for the Fiscal Year 2008 ship. I would simply ask that we ensure, if we’re adding money to the budget for an extra ship, that we’re giving the Navy the total amount they would need to add a new T-AKE to the fleet.
“Beyond funding matters, I am particularly pleased to see so much of the work we started a few years ago being carried forward in this mark. For example, the provision requiring that future major combatant vessels, such as cruisers, have integrated nuclear propulsion is simply the right thing to do. Just this week, another study commissioned by the Department of Defense (DoD) found that the risks associated with the cost and supply of oil will make the US military's ability to rapidly deploy on demand ‘unsustainable in the long term.’ It went on to say that it is ‘imperative’ that DoD ‘apply new energy technologies that address alternative supply sources and efficient consumption across all aspects of military operations.’ I believe this subcommittee is showing strong leadership in this regard.
“In addition, the Chairman is continuing to push for modernization in shipyards through process or infrastructure improvements, workforce training, or ship life cycle cost savings. In our travels together, we have seen how similar efforts at foreign yards have created world-class commercial shipbuilding environments. There is no reason why we can’t apply some of these lessons learned at our military shipyards to reap benefits across multiple classes of ships.
“I will conclude by applauding the remaining provisions in the subcommittee mark that increase the Navy’s shipbuilding procurement flexibilities, encourage continued competition between the two LCS designs and the application of LCS lessons learned to other programs, promote maximum utilization of vessel design life, and authorize appropriations and authorities for the Maritime Administration. I thank the Chairman again for his partnership and for his commitment to support some of the emerging ideas we discussed this week as we move forward.”