Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09), Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, released the following statement at today’s hearing on the Navy’s Fiscal Year 2012 Budget Request:

“Today we meet to hear testimony from the leadership of the Navy and Marine Corps on the Department of the Navy’s portion of the FY12 budget and how it will affect the future of the Navy and Marine Corps force.”

“At first look, it appears that the Department of the Navy budget submission falls in line with the challenges that our Navy and Marine Corps forces are facing today. During this hearing and over the course of the following months, we will examine this budget further to ensure that the Navy and Marine Corps have the necessary resources needed to face the threats of today as well as in the future.”

“I am encouraged to see what looks like positive efforts by the Department of the Navy to spend money more effectively. However there remain areas concern, such as the future of the Marine Corps F-35B and the decision to reduce the number of Carrier Air Wings from 10 to 9 to support an 11 carrier force. I am curious to hear the Navy leadership’s thoughts on the process for how those decisions were made.”

“As the other services begin to draw down their deployment cycles over the next several years, the Navy will continue to operate at the same deployment cycle or at a potentially increased rate due to continued unrest in the Middles East, piracy and the 1.7 carrier requirement in the CENTCOM AOR. I would be interested to hear how the Navy plans to ensure their Navy families are not adversely affected by current or increased deployment rates, especially as budget resources continue to decline.”

“I understand that the current continuing resolution and the potential for a yearlong continuing resolution could seriously affect the Department of the Navy’s ability to function. I am hopeful that we will be able to pass an FY11 defense appropriations bill, but would be interested in hearing in greater detail from our witnesses today how a continuing resolution affects the Navy’s ability to operate.

“While the Navy provides assets and personnel to the current conflicts, the United Sates also depends on the Navy to provide worldwide force projection, rapid crisis response and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. As the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan draw down, the burden will increasingly shift to the Navy and Marine Corps to confront growing threats such as the military buildup of the Chinese, ballistic missile defense, and the disruption of maritime commerce by piracy. It is critical that during this time of constrained budgets, the Department of the Navy carefully analyzes how they plan to resource themselves in order to effectively meet their broad range of responsibilities.”

“I thank the Gentleman for their service and I look forward to hearing their testimony.”