Hearing of the Senate Armed Services Seapower Subcommittee on Defense Transportation Issues
KENNEDY ON DEFENSE TRANSPORTATION ISSUES
United States Senate Seapower Subcommittee
(As Prepared for Delivery)
The Subcommittee will come to order. I want to extend a welcome to our witnesses and thank each of you for appearing before the Seapower Subcommittee today.
The Subcommittee will hear today from the Honorable Sue Payton, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, and General Norton Schwartz, Commander of the Transportation Command, or TRANSCOM. We welcome both of you and thank you for your service.
First, I always think it's important to note the heroism and professionalism of the coalition armed forces presently engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan. While we may have disagreements among policy officials about the war, let no one mistake that disagreement for a lack of support for the men and women who are serving their country in the Middle East right now. Our thoughts and prayers are with them and their families who are also called by their country to sacrifice in this war effort.
Now, turning to the subject of this hearing, I would note that strategic lift is an important and continuing interest of this Subcommittee. Over many years, and with several different individuals holding the chairmanship of this Subcommittee, we have devoted significant energies to the subject of strategic mobility.
Today's hearing continues the Subcommittee's strong bipartisan interest in the broader strategic lift policy issues facing the nation today. I want to take this opportunity to welcome Senator Martinez to the position of Ranking Member of the Subcommittee. I have had the good fortune to work with a number of Senators in the leadership of this Subcommittee, including Senators Warner, Cohen, Snowe, Sessions, Talent and Thune. I believe that, in each of those cases, we have worked as a non-partisan team to see to the interests of the men and women of the Armed Forces whose programs fall within our jurisdiction. I look forward to continuing this approach with you, Senator Martinez, as we work toward a new DOD authorization act.
I believe that the Defense Department's recent experience would indicate to me that the current strategic lift capability may need to be enhanced, despite what we have seen in the Mobility Capability Study and the Quadrennial Defense Review. In fact, we adopted direction to DOD in the most recent Authorization Act to complete a new study of strategic mobility requirements. I want to thank Senator McCaskill for leading the effort to include this new study language.
We have heard of a number of current issues that the Subcommittee should hear about today. One of those is the stress on our mobility personnel and their equipment. Another surrounds the best method to solve our longer term requirements for strategic airlift. We have the question of continuing the production line for the C-17 aircraft program. We also have the C-5 reliability enhancement and re-engining program, or RERP, efforts and the recent Nunn-McCurdy certification that the RERP upgrades for the C-5 needed to continue to meet national security requirements.
In the interests of time, I will conclude my comments to the leave more time for questions.
Once again, welcome Senator Martinez.