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Hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee - The Fiscal Year 2005 Defense Budget

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Federal News Service

HEADLINE: HEARING OF THE SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE

SUBJECT: THE FISCAL YEAR 2005 DEFENSE REQUEST

CHAIRED BY: SENATOR JOHN WARNER (R-VA)

LOCATION: 325 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING, WASHINGTON, D.C.

WITNESSES: ADMIRAL VERNON CLARK, CHIEF OF NAVAL OPERATIONS; GENERAL MICHAEL HAGEE, U.S. MARINE CORPS COMMANDANT; GENERAL JOHN JUMPER, AIR FORCE CHIEF OF STAFF; GENERAL PETER SCHOOMAKER, ARMY CHIEF OF STAFF

BODY:
SEN. MARK PRYOR (D-AR): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Admiral Clark, I was interested in a comment you made about moving the Navy to more technically advanced ships.

SEN. WARNER: Excuse me, Senator. Your voice is being lost. You've got the light on your mike, and bring it up. Thank you.

SEN. PRYOR: Thank you, I got it-that we're moving toward much more technically advanced ships. And I'm curious about that. In a sense, are you saying that we are going to have fewer and fewer tasks that, say, an E-1 can perform on those ships and more and more tasks on those ships that E-6s will perform? How will that work?

ADM. CLARK: You've got it exactly. The technology that we are inserting in our new platforms is going to require a more experienced-call it a richer experienced force.

SEN. PRYOR: Right.

ADM. CLARK: Technology is the edge. By the way, I said in my opening testimony, our asymmetric advantage is technology and the genius of our people. And I want all of it I can get. And the reality is that-let's take DDX. DDX starts construction in '05. DDX will have-will be an all-electric ship. It will have the ability to project fire. As I said, it will revolutionize naval fires -- 100 miles. Today we can do it around 10.

This will change the way we fight with the Marine Corps. It will change the way we support Army units on the ground. But this ship is only going to have-a typical ship today that size would maybe have 500 or 600 on it. This one is going to have between 100 and 150 people on it.

No, I don't anticipate that there are going to be many E-1s there. It's going to require a very experienced group of people to operate this ship. And this is why I need all of the incentive tools that I need to shape the kind of force and it's why I'm one chief that's talking about a force that's much more capable but with fewer people in it.

SEN. PRYOR: Right. And I assume, for budgetary reasons, fewer people with a higher pay scale for those fewer people is right. But does that wash out in the end in terms of --

ADM. CLARK: Well, it absolutely is shaped differently. And this budget-for four years I've been coming up here talking about making my force richer in experience. And this budget again-when I got here, the top six-that's E-4 through 9, was 69.9 percent of my force. In '04, it goes to 73.3. And in this budget, it goes to 74 percent of my force.

You cannot change this overnight, and we have been progressively growing the experience in the force that provides more opportunity for our people but also seeks to let them-sends them the message, "We need you. We need your skill set." And this is what the Navy is going to be like in the future.

SEN. PRYOR: Let me ask this in light of that. And I track completely with what you're saying. But I recently received a letter from a constituent from my state of Arkansas, and I believe he's stationed in Japan. And under the high-year tenure system, it sounds like he's about to be forced to retire. He's an E-6. And I don't know all his background; I don't know a lot about him, but I do have his letter right here.

But, you know, I just wonder if we should re-evaluate our high- year tenure system in light of what you just said, that there may be some people that maybe don't go up the promotion chain but are awfully good at what they do, and we should keep those people for a longer period of time. Does that make sense?

ADM. CLARK: That absolutely makes sense. And so, you know, one of the things that, as the chief, I get to do is that I get to put policies in place. And so, in order to shape the manpower force, I have put policies in place that puts a limit on an individual that has served for a number of years and hasn't been promoted in order to then make room for a hard charger that has the potential to serve much longer in the future. I put rules in on how long they can serve without being promoted.

Having said that, every individual is an individual. And I've got waiver clauses on every one of those people. So that option is always open, and we assess each case as required to meet the needs of the future and the naval service.

SEN. PRYOR: Yeah, because, based on what you said a few moments ago, it seems like you do want, you know, preferably more tenured people, more experienced people. You may have fewer of them per ship. So I understand that. So I just didn't know. I didn't want to point out an inconsistency, but I just didn't know how that worked.

General Schoomaker, let me ask you a question about this huge rotation that you're undergoing right now in Iraq. I think you're moving out 125,000, moving in 110,000, if I understand the numbers correctly. Could you just give us a status report on that rotation?

GEN. SCHOOMAKER: Sir, the rotation is on schedule and moving very well in every aspect of it, from the transportation plan to the turnover in the theaters.

SEN. PRYOR: So we're right on the timetable.

GEN. SCHOOMAKER: We are doing very well, yes, sir.

SEN. PRYOR: Are there any hidden or maybe unexpected costs that you had not anticipated? Are the costs of the rotation tracking on schedule?

GEN. SCHOOMAKER: I'm aware of nothing that's different in that regard.

SEN. PRYOR: Let me also ask this, General Schoomaker. Since I've been on this committee, which has been just over a year now, we've heard a lot about transformation. What is the most significant development or developments in transformation in this budget that we're talking about today? What should we see in the Army over this year, this fiscal year, that we as a committee can look to and track and follow the transformation process?

GEN. SCHOOMAKER: Sir, it would take the rest of the hearing for me to lay it all out. And we're going to come over and provide exquisite detail to every member and every staff member that would like to see what we're doing.

In short, modularizing the force, increasing the number of modules, putting enablers in that causes these modules to be much more powerful than they are today, changing the doctrine that looks much more like the doctrine of the future, not the doctrine of the past, using this momentum that we have as a result of the war and the focus and the level of funding we have to reset for tomorrow, not reset for yesterday on the deal.

This whole issue of getting the temporary bumps so I can start it early, you will see three new brigades this year, at least three new brigades next year, and three new brigades the following year. So, we will increase the active force by 30 percent with a minimal cost to our program. If you take a look at the National Guard, he's moving toward 34 brigades that look exactly like the kind of brigades that we have in it. If we go all the way to the end of what we can do, we can end up potentially with 82 brigades in the United States Army that means that the dwell time issues, the kinds of pressures that are on the Guard, the Reserve, and the active force are reduced. Stabilization of this force, so that people stay longer in place, kids go to the same schools, spouses work, people can invest in homes and develop equity like other people do, all of these kinds of things are all part of this transformation. It is not just equipment, it's got to do with the full dimension of the doctrine.

SEN. WARNER: Thank you very much, Senator.

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