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Committee Hearing - Military Readiness Programs in the Defense Authorization Request for Fiscal Year 2005

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Federal News Service

HEADLINE: HEARING OF THE READINESS AND MANAGEMENT SUPPORT SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE

SUBJECT: MILITARY READINESS PROGRAMS IN THE DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION REQUEST FOR FISCAL YEAR 2005

CHAIRED BY: SENATOR JOHN ENSIGN (R-NV)

LOCATION: 232A RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING, WASHINGTON, D.C.

WITNESSES:

GENERAL GEORGE W. CASEY, JR., USA, VICE CHIEF OF STAFF, UNITED STATES ARMY;

ADMIRAL MICHAEL G. MULLEN, USN, VICE CHIEF OF NAVAL OPERATIONS, UNITED STATES NAVY;

GENERAL T. MICHAEL MOSELEY, USAF, VICE CHIEF OF STAFF, UNITED STATES AIR FORCE;

LIEUTENANT GENERAL JAN C. HULY, USMC, DEPUTY COMMANDANT OF THE MARINE CORPS, PLANS, POLICIES, AND OPERATIONS

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

I want to thank you all and join my colleagues telling you how much we appreciate your service.

General Casey, let me ask you a couple of questions about this budget. First, with regard to FY '04, Secretary Brownlee testified last week that he had a commitment from the OSD that they will provide additional funds to the Army to get them through the remainder of the fiscal year. Are you aware of the commitment?

GEN. CASEY: I saw the tape of the hearing so-but we have the same commitment from the people we work with.

SEN. PRYOR: Okay. And how much money do you expect the Army will need and what is your understanding of where that money will come from?

GEN. CASEY: Senator, we're going through our mid-year review cycle, starting next month. So I will have a much better feel for how much we will require here to get through '04. So I can get back to you when we've done that and give you a better idea of what it is.

SEN. PRYOR: I wish you would. Do you have a preliminary number or just a ballpark?

GEN. CASEY: I don't right now. No, sir.

SEN. PRYOR: Second, for the next Fiscal Year '05, by my calculations, the Army's current budget request is for $26 billion in operations and maintenance and if the spending continues next year at the rate you've been going in recent years, I think the Army will run out of O&M dollars within six months, in about March. And, in your judgment-first, am I correct in that assumption? Second, in your judgment, how long can the Army wait for a supplemental before you either have to start to increase the price tag on the supplemental or you have to cut into other programs in a harmful way?

GEN. CASEY: Senator, I am talking about $32.5 billion in O&M for '05. But the gist of your question is we think we can cash flow the first two quarters of '05 in O&M and probably run out of money around the end of March. That's what we're projecting.

SEN. PRYOR: I assume it's way too early for this but do you have any sense of what your supplemental request might be? I mean, it sounds like if I understand what all of you are saying, it's that you're coming in with this budget but you all anticipate the probability that you'll have a supplemental request. Am I correct in that?

GEN. CASEY: We know we will have a supplemental request.

SEN. PRYOR: And I guess what I'm trying to get a handle on is just a general sense of how large do you think those supplemental requests will be, you know, for your various services. Do you have any sense of that? Is it just too early to know?

GEN. CASEY: Sir, other than going back and looking at last year or going back and adding up the monthly burn rates, those are the best projections that we have right now.

SEN. PRYOR: I assume there are some variables right now. You just don't know. But it is fair to say that you all anticipate needing a supplemental.

Is everybody in agreement with that?

WITNESSES: Yes, sir.

SEN. PRYOR: Again, General Casey, not to keep you in the hot seat but Arkansas, of course, has the National Guard and the 39th Infantry Brigade, about to head in that direction. In fact, I have been to Fort Poke and Fort Hood to see them do their training and I cannot tell you how many family members have contacted our office one way or another about personal body armor. And so I'm glad to hear you say that they all will have it as they cross into theater.

But I must tell you that Secretary Brownlee back in November of last year testified before the committee that they would receive it by December 31. That didn't happen. And then I went down to Fort Hood, Texas, to see the Guard troops down there and they were assured at that time that they would receive it at Fort Hood and that didn't happen. But are you telling me and telling the subcommittee today that you are confident, 100 percent sure, that they will all receive their body armor by the time they actually go into Iraq?

GEN. CASEY: Senator, you can tell those families that I am 100 percent sure that they will all receive their body armor before they go into Iraq.

SEN. PRYOR: Great. That's good news. We've been assuring them because the Army has been giving us the assurance. But that's good to know.

GEN. CASEY: Sir, I've seen e-mail traffic where the commander of the brigade sent a note to someone on his forward party to say, is it really there? And the note came back saying, Yeah, it is.

SEN. PRYOR: Well, great. That's good news. And I believe it is but again, I just wanted to ask that for my constituents' sake. Another thing is, if I can sort of jump track here just a little bit, you know, we all have the BRAC coming up, this round of BRAC coming up and there's something we're aware of in Arkansas and that's white phosphorus production. And I assume all of you all in some capacity use white phosphorus.

It's my understanding that there's only one place that produces it for us and that's the Pine Bluff Arsenal in my state. And it's my understanding that the private sector does not want to produce white phosphorus because they don't do enough volume and also there are liability issues. As you all know, it's very dangerous material. My question is, if we do close the Pine Bluff Arsenal, do you have any sense of where we might get white phosphorus for military uses?

General Casey, I'll just ask you first. Have you given that any thought or have you-has that hit your radar screen yet?

GEN. CASEY: No, sir. It has not and I would not even want to speculate. I'll look at it and see if there's any alternatives.

SEN. PRYOR: Would any of you all have any comment on that? That's just something that we're certainly aware of in Arkansas because, you know, they do produce it and it's very dangerous stuff. Senator Inhofe mentioned just a few moments ago about some of the environmental concerns and encroachment concerns around the facilities and I can assure you, around that arsenal, there's no concern even though they produce very dangerous material in the Pine Bluff Arsenal.

If I also, General Casey-I really probably-I don't want to --

GEN. CASEY: Can I introduce my colleague?

SEN. PRYOR I don't want to pick on you, I'm sorry. But it just so happens that my first two questions are for you. But as I understand the FY '05 budget, you've asked for 108 PAC-3 missions. One hundred and eight PAC-3s. The contractor, as I understand it, is facilitized for 144 missiles a year, and I believe in years passed we've authorized 144 more per year. If we could find the money in, you know, this fiscal year, if we could find the money, would you be willing to accept 144 in terms of is there a need for that many, or is the pervious authorization just too high? Do you know?

GEN. CASEY: Senator, the 108 we've asked for will allow us to backfill what we've used and give us some hits for the future. So we think that's what we need.

SEN. PRYOR: Okay, 108.

GEN. CASEY: One hundred and eight, yes.

SEN. PRYOR: And is 144 too many? Is that-I mean, is that excess?

GEN. CASEY: It's more than we need right now, yes, sir.

SEN. PRYOR: Okay. And it's more than you'll anticipate that you need, I assume from your answer.

Mr. Chairman, I have one last question for General Casey, and that is-if that's okay. Is it? And that is there's the line-of- sight anti-tank weapon, called LOSAT, and as I understand, LOSAT is something that, you know, has a lot of promise and has proven effective and, you know, it just appears to be a weapon system that is very good and will be very helpful to our light divisions especially. But I also notice that you're fielding only one LOSAT battalion in this budget.

And my question is why? And part of my question is I know there is an untested, unproven technology and system called the CKEM, C-K-E- M, system that is still sort of in the process of being developed. And I was curious if you're going to kind of do a technology leap, so to speak, and maybe, you know, try to go for this newer technology if it proves doable, or if there's another reason why you've only funded one LOSAT battalion.

GEN. CASEY: That system, one battalion that we're fielding is designed to go to the 82nd Airborne Division to improve their anti- tank capability. To be candid with you, Senator, as we go to this concept of modularity that I discussed in my opening statement, one of a kind units like that are not necessarily what we're looking for. Add to that the Javelin Weapon System, now it has come online, and really gives the infantry soldier a great anti-tank capability. We're actively looking at the LOSAT and asking ourselves the questions about whether that is a system that we still need.

SEN. PRYOR: And is one of the problems with LOSAT is it not flexible enough? Is that right? It's only-it's got a limited usefulness for military purposes, and maybe the Javelin and other systems have more flexibility.

GEN. CASEY: There are other systems that are available, and again, we're trying to get away from funding one of a kind like units, and so that all of our units are more deployable and more package- able.

SEN. PRYOR: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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