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SEN. LEVIN: Good morning everybody.
We want to welcome today Secretary Mabus, Admiral Roughead, General Conway to the committee to testify on the plans and programs of the Department of the Navy in our review of the fiscal year 2010 annual budget and overseas contingency operations request.
This is Secretary Mabus' first testimony before this committee since he was confirmed, so we'll give you a special welcome. Congratulations Secretary.
We're grateful to each of you for your service to this country and for your various services, your very professional services over the years to the men and women of this country and particularly the men and women under you command Admiral and General. We're grateful also to your families for the support that they give you.
Our witnesses this morning are faced with a number of critical issues that confront the Department of the Navy in the budget such as balancing modernization needs against the cost of supporting ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In one notable case the nation is calling on the Marines to surge additional forces to Afghanistan, which wouldn't be necessary if our allies supported operations there more adequately.
The Navy has been contributing directly to the war effort in CENTCOM as well. In addition to the normal deployments of ships and aircraft in support of these operations, the Navy currently has deployed more than 13,000 individual augmentees, or IAs, to support these missions on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan. That is not what many men and women joined the Navy for. They serve, however, without complaint, they're doing their duty brilliantly but these activities do further stress our troops and represent challenges to our service members and their families.
And let us express, on behalf of the committee, our thanks for how well and ably the men and women of the Department of the Navy and their families are responding to these challenges.
Secretary Gates has made a number of announcements on April 6th effecting the Department of the Navy programs including program delays like some of the ships for maritime prepositioning force program, program reduction such as buying nine fewer F/A-18EFs than had been planned, program terminations with substitutes, the DDG1000 destroyer to be replaced by restarting the DDG51 Aegis destroyer production line, and program terminations with no obvious replacement program like the VH 71 Presidential Helicopter replacement program.
We're going to need to hear from our witnesses clear explanations of how these proposed weapons systems changes are the product of the new strategy, the strategy espoused by the secretary of Defense on April 6th and at our hearing with him and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in May.
We need to hear how the Navy's plans for each of the mission areas impacted by these proposed changes.
Many of the challenges facing the Department of the Navy center on acquisition programs. We have great concerns about the cost problems in the ship building arena, the most notable example being the littoral combat ship or LCS program. Since last year the Navy has awarded contracts for the two LCS vessels approved in the '09 budget, with one ship awarded to each of the LCS contractors. Since the LCS program is operating under a legislative cost cap of $460 million it applies to the ship beginning with the fiscal year 2010. We will need to hear from witnesses about whether the Navy is on track to achieve that limit next year.
Changing requirements, poor cost estimates, inexperienced program managers and poor supervision of the contractors' performance are among the causes of the cost overruns. We've been worried that the Navy had not learn those hard lessons despite having claimed to have learned them many times before.
If the Department of the Navy is unable to get control of its acquisition programs and cost growth, the Navy will be unable to afford the fleet of 313 ships that Admiral Roughead says that we need and it is obvious that other capabilities would suffer as well.
And I cannot overstress the importance that the whole Navy department shoulder its responsibility to correct these past problems in acquisition programs. The future strength of the Navy depends on it.
The president recently signed the Weapons Systems Acquisition Reform Act of 2009. And while this legislation will help correct past problems, I also know that we will succeed only through concerted efforts within the executive branch to implement the spirit of that legislation and improve past behavior within the department. We in Congress cannot legislate a culture change.
Another concern surrounds future ship and aircraft force levels. We are facing the prospect that the current Navy program will lead to potentially large gaps in the forces that the CNO has said he needs and the forces that will be available to his successors. For instance, under current plans for tactical aircraft acquisition the Navy is facing a shortfall of as many as 250 tactical fighters needed to outfit our 10 aircraft carrier air wings and three Marine Corps air wings.
With shortfalls that large we could be faced with drastically reducing the number of aircraft available on short notice to the combatant commanders, either because we've deployed under strength air wings or because we did not deploy the carrier at all because of these aircraft shortages.
We look forward to your testimony today on these and other issues that are facing the Department of the Navy. We again thank you for all you're doing to address the challenges that face us. And I call on Senator McCain.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ): Mr. Chairman, I join you in welcoming our witnesses here today to discuss the president's budget request for fiscal year 2010 and for the Department of the Navy. I support the priorities outlined in the Navy's 2010 budget request totaling $156.4 billion in base funding.
Obviously there are a number of issues that we need to discuss with our witnesses and will be the subject of oversight and consideration by this committee in the weeks ahead. The committee looks forward to being briefed on the full range of all the issues and how they will affect future budget decisions.
The 2010 budget submission represents a snapshot of the overall requirements. It also raises a number of questions about the Navy's future force. For the past few years the Navy has justified to Congress the need for 313 ships. I'd be very interested in the witnesses view as to whether this budget would be able to continue that level of force given the funding and the issue of the cost overruns that, unfortunately, have plagued ship building throughout in previous years and is still going on.
I'm very interested in hearing about the so called fighter gap that's putting looming shortfall of fighter planes at 243 aircraft by 2018. And does the Navy have the ability to maintain aircraft carrier -- adequate aircraft carrier air wings to satisfy the needs of 11 aircraft carriers?
I'm very interested in hearing about the progress of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter as we are obviously planning on acquiring and accelerating the production -- larger numbers and accelerating the production of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
I'd also be interested, Admiral Roughead, in your view of the readiness situation that -- we've seen some signs like the engineering problems on the LPD 17 class ships and malfunctions on the Ronald Reagan, et cetera.
The Marine Corps has achieved its end-strength growth of 202,000 more than two years earlier than originally forecasted. It's a remarkable job by the Marine Corps and I'd be interested in General Conway's assessment as to why they're been able to show such significant improvement, both in retention and recruiting. I think it's a remarkable job and particularly when you look at the predictions of so many so-called military experts about the strain, and it is great, on military and their families as due to the incredible effort that needs to be made both in Iraq and Afghanistan. And yet, we have such significant retention and recruiting.
I also think, General Conway, that from what I'm hearing there is still shortfalls in reenlistment at the captain and major level and sergeant qualified and experienced NCO level. But I'd be very interested in that.
And I also wonder whether the fact that victory in Iraq has had and affect on the morale, retention and recruiting in the United States Marine Corps despite dire the predictions of catastrophic failure and loss of the conflict of the war in Iraq.
And also I'd be interested whether the current Marine Corps in strength is adequate to meet the dwell time goals. Is there more relief needed for the men and women who are serving in the Marine Corps, given the fact that we are basically shifting from Iraq to Afghanistan, not bringing them home?
As we know personnel is the most important part of any military and I'd be also interested in Admiral Roughead's views in that area as well.
I thank the witness. I look forward to the testimony. And I thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. LEVIN: Thank you very much, Senator McCain.
SEC. MABUS: Mr. Chairman, Senator McCain, distinguished members of the committee, a real honor to be here today with Admiral Roughead, General Conway on behalf of our sailors, marines, civilians and their families.
Two weeks ago I assumed the responsibilities as Secretary of the Navy. In this very short period of time it's been my privilege to gain first hand insight into our nation's exceptional Navy and Marine Corps. This naval force serves today around the world providing a wide range of missions in support of our nation's interests.
I'm here today to discuss with you the fiscal year '10 budget, various missions of the Navy and Marine Corps and some priorities of the department.
The department's FY10 budget reflects commitment to our people, shaping our force, providing adequate infrastructure, and sustaining and developing the right capabilities for the future. The ongoing quadrennial defense review will also aid in shaping the department's contributions to the national effort in the future.
As I have taken on these new duties my first priority is to ensure that we take care of our people; sailors, marines, civilians and their families. Thousands of brave marines and sailors are currently engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan and thousands more carry out other hazardous duties around the world. These inspirational Americans volunteered to serve. They're protecting us and our way of life with unwavering commitment. We have to show them the same level of commitment when providing for their health and welfare and that of their families.
Last week I made a visit to the National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, and visited with our wounded. This was both a humbling and inspirational experience. It reinforced the endearing commitment we owe to them in terms of treatment, transition, and support.
Programs like the Marine Corps Wounded Warrior regiment, the Navy Safe Harbor program, advances in treatment of traumatic brain injury, and programs that offer training and support in stress control have to continue to be our priorities.
Today our sailors and marines are serving and responding to a wide variety of missions from combat operations to humanitarian assistance in maritime interdiction.
The Navy has 13,000 sailors ashore and 9500 sailors at sea in Central Command's area of responsibility. More than 25,000 marines are employed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Our civilian force is also heavily engaged in supporting these operational efforts. We have to ensure that the Department of the Navy will continue to meet these missions while investing in capabilities to provide the right naval force for our future challenges.
Real acquisition reform too has to be a priority. The Department of the Navy has begun to implement the Weapons Systems Acquisition Reform Act and is ready to use this act and other tools to try to ensure that we get the right capabilities on time and at an affordable cost.
I look forward to working together with you in our shared commitment to our nation and the marines, sailors, civilians, and their families. On behalf of all of them, thank you for your unwavering support to them. I look forward to your questions.
SEN. LEVIN: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
ADM. ROUGHEAD: Mr. Chairman, Senator McCain, distinguished members of this committee, 67 years ago today our brave Navy forefathers fought at the Battle of Midway and changed the course of a world war. Today I am privileged to report to you that our young sailors, at war again, continue to live up to the standards of courage and service that were set in that pivotal battle, whether it be in a conventional battle that we might anticipate, or in the irregular fight in which we are engaged in.
On their behalf, I thank you for your continued support and for the opportunity to represent our Navy sailors, civilians, and their families.
Today we have 40,000 sailors on station around the world making a difference. We are more versatile and agile than we have ever been with more than 13,000 sailors on the ground in the central command area of operation to include SEALS, explosive ordinance disposal technicians, CD's (?), and individual augmentees.
The 2010 budget balances the needs of those sailors around the world, our current operations, and the needs for our future fleet in accordance with our maritime strategy. However, we are progressing at an adjusted pace.
Our risk is moderate today, trending towards significant because of challenges posed by our fleet capacity, operational requirements, manpower, maintenance, and infrastructure costs. Our navy is operating at its highest levels in recent years and while we remain ready and capable we are stretched in our ability to meet additional operational demands while balancing our obligation to our people and to building the future fleet.
We require additional capacity to meet combatant commander demands and to meet our operational tempo. A fleet of at least 313 ships is needed, along with capabilities that include more ballistic missile defense, irregular warfare, and open ocean antisubmarine warfare capabilities.
These needs drove the decision to truncate DDG1000 and restart DDG51 with its blue water ASW capability and integrated air and missile defense. And also to move forward in procuring three littoral combat ships this year.
As I articulated last year, our navy must have a stable ship building program that provides the right capability and capacity while preserving our nation's industrial base. The balance among capability, capacity, affordability, and executability (sp) in our procurement plans, however, is not optimal. I continue to focus on the control of requirements, integration of total ownership costs into our decision making, procuring new ship designs before production and pursuing proven designs. The use of common hull forms and components are also important. And longer production runs to control costs as we build the future fleet are imperative.
To best maintain the ships we have we reinstituted and engineering based approach to maintenance for our surface ships through the surface ship lifecycle management activity. Meanwhile, our board of inspection and survey teams will continue to use our internal in serve process to conduct rigorous self assessments on the condition of our ships and submarines.
All that we do is made possible by our dedicated sailors and Navy civilians. I'm committed to providing the necessary resources and shaping our personnel policies to ensure our people and their families are properly supported.
We are stabilizing our force this year by seeking authorization and funding for an in strength of 328,800 sailors, including overseas contingency operations funding for 4400 individual augmentees who are in today's fight.
We continue to provide a continuum of care that covers all aspects of individual medical, physical, psychological, and family readiness to our returning warriors and sailors.
In 2008 we added 170 care managers to our military treatment facilities and ambulatory care clinics for our 1800 wounded warriors and their families.
In addition, we continue to move mental health providers closer to the battlefield and are actively working against the stigma of post traumatic stress disorder.
Achieving the right balance within and across my three priorities of the future fleet, current operations, and people is critical today and for the future. I ask Congress to fully support our 2010 budget and identified priorities.
Thank you for your continued support and commitment to our Navy and for all you do to make the United States Navy and force for good around the world today and in the future.
I look forward to your questions.
SEN. LEVIN: Thank you very much, Admiral.
GEN. CONWAY: Mr. Chairman, Senator McCain, distinguished members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to report to you on the posture of your marine corps.
Our pledge, as always, is to provide you with a candid and honest assessment and it's in that spirit that I appear before you today.
Our number one priority remains your marines in combat. Since testimony before your committee last year progress in the Anbar Province in Iraq continues to be significant. Indeed, our marines are in the early stages of the most long awaited phase of operations, redeployment of the force and a reset of our equipment.
Having recently returned from a trip to theater I'm pleased to report to you that the magnificent performance of our marines and sailors in Anbar continues across a whole spectrum of tasks and responsibilities.
In Afghanistan, we have substantially another story, as thus far in 2009 the Taliban have again increased their activity. The 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, an air-ground task force numbering more than 10,000 Marines and sailors, has just assumed responsibility for its battle space under Regional Command South. They're operating primarily in the Helmand province where 93 percent of the country's opium is harvested and where the Taliban has been most active.
We are maintaining an effort to get every Marine to the fight. And today, more than 70 percent of your Marine Corps has done so. Yet, our force remains resilient in spite of an, on average, deployment-to-dwell that is slightly better than one-to-one in most occupational specialties.
We believe retention is a great indicator of the morale of the force and the support of our families. By the halfway point of this fiscal year, we have already met our reenlistment goals for our first- term Marines and for our career force.
Our growth in the active component by 27,000 Marines has proceeded two and a half years ahead of schedule with no change to our standards. We have reached the level of 202,000 Marines and have found it necessary to throttle back our recruiting efforts. We attribute our accelerated growth to four factors -- quality recruiting, exceptional retention levels, reduced attrition and, not least, a great young generation of Americans who wish to serve their country in wartime.
Our corps is deeply committed to the care and welfare of our wounded and their families. The Wound Warrior Regiment reflects this commitment. We seek, through all phases of recovery, to assist in the rehabilitation and transition of our wounded, injured or ill and their families.
I would also like to thank those of you on the committee who have set aside your personal time to visit with our wounded warriors.
Secretary Gates seeks to create a balanced U.S. military through the efforts of the Quadrennial Defense Review. We have always believed that the Marine Corps has to be able to play both ways, to be a two-fisted fighter. Our equipment and major programs reflect our commitment to be flexible in the face of uncertainty. That is to say, 100 percent of Marine Corps procurement can be employed in either a (harbored ?) conflict or in major combat.
If this nation decides, through the QDR, that it still needs a forcible-entry capability, and we tend to think that it does, then we believe, based on the threat and the risks to the ships of the United States Navy, that the requirement for a platform with the capabilities of the expeditionary fighting vehicle is absolutely essential.
The future posture of our corps includes a realignment of Marine forces in the Pacific. As part of the agreement between Tokyo and Washington, we are planning the movement of 8,000 Marines off Okinawa to Guam. We support this move; however, we believe the development of training areas and ranges on Guam and the adjoining islands of the Marianas are key prerequisites for the realignment of our forces.
We are actively working within the Department of Defense to align Marine Corps requirements with ongoing environmental assessments and political agreements.
On behalf of your Marine Corps, I extend my gratitude for the support that we have received to date. Our great young patriots have performed magnificently and have written their own page in history. They know as they go into harm's way that their fellow Americans are behind them. On their behalf, I thank you for your enduring support.
We pledge to spend wisely every dollar you generously provide in ways that contribute to the defense of this great land. Thank you, once again, for the opportunity to report to you today. And I also look forward to your questions.
SEN. LEVIN: Thank you very much, General.
Let's try an eight-minute first round.
Secretary, let me address my first question to you. The littoral combat ship program has seen significant cost growth. That was driven, in part, by the changing of requirements that the Navy has placed on it after the design and construction contracts were signed.
There's a question as to whether or not the Navy and the contractors can build the fiscal 2010 ships in the legislative cost cap of $460 million per ship. Is the Navy going to be able to buy these ships within that cost cap?
SEC. MABUS: Mr. Chairman, as you pointed out, the lead ships for both classes of the LCS, because they were the lead ships and because frankly a lot of requirements were added during the construction phase are extensive, the follow-on ships that are now in the queue, costs are being driven down. They're being driven down because Admiral Roughead and the Navy have frozen the requirements. They're not adding requirements to the LCS. Technology is mature, and we're moving forward with both variants.
We're committed to competition between the variants. We're committed to fixed-price contracts And we are very aware of the $460 million legislative cap, and that is the goal we are driving toward. Whether or not we will be able to meet that goal, I cannot tell you today. But it is a focus of ours, and we are doing everything that we can in terms of freezing commitments, in terms of competition, in terms of contracting practices to make sure that we do.
SEN. LEVIN: Is there a realistic prospect that you're going to be able to do it?
SEC. MABUS: I think there's a realistic prospect that we can drive toward that goal. There, as you know, was no escalators built into that cap. And things outside of our control or the contractor's control, escalating cost of materiel, escalating labor costs, have frankly made that less realistic.
SEN. LEVIN: When will you know whether you can keep it in that? Just a matter of weeks, months, when will you know that?
SEC. MABUS: My best guess is we will know by the early fall. But that is what I've said.
SEN. LEVIN: You're going to let us know as soon as you know.
SEC. MABUS: Yes, sir.
SEN. LEVIN: Because that can affect our decision on our authorization bill.
SEC. MABUS: Absolutely.
SEN. LEVIN: Admiral, you've talked about and I in my opening statement talked about these individual augmentees, the IAs, the sailors who are performing outside of their normal trained military specialties.
And I know that you're rightfully proud, we all are, of the ground campaign and the way in which the Navy's put in their part, more than their part sometimes, of the effort. But sometimes, you've had to pull individuals away from organizations where they are needed. As I understand it, the supervisor of shipbuilding that was monitoring the littoral combat ship program, a program that was already troubled, was one of those who was pulled off to be an individual augmentee. How are you assessing the impact of this program? And is it true that that supervisor was one of the IAs?
ADM. ROUGHEAD: Senator, thank you. And you're absolutely correct when you said I could not be more proud of the contributions our sailors are making in roles that are not normally part of the traditional Navy mission.
We have done a great deal of work in realigning the process that we use to select, prepare and train those sailors to take care of their families. As we make assignments and selections for those sailors who are going forward, we not only look at what the requirement is in theater, we look at what the impact is going to be on the command where they leave. And we work to make that balance optimal.
I would say that, quite frankly, we have sailors who are volunteering to go but can't because of the impact they would have on their current command.
With regard to a specific sailor assigned from a supervisor of shipbuilding, I would say that that has likely occurred, but I do not have any specifics on that.
But I would say that with regard to the ship's manning, particularly as it applied to LCS, when I made my first visit to the shipyard building one of the LCSs, it was apparent to me that we did not have enough. IAs had nothing to do with it. Our commander of Naval Sea Systems Command has reassessed that. We're getting more people into the oversight function of LCS.
But with respect to IAs, doing great work. We monitor it very carefully. And our IAs promote at a higher rate than those who do not go.
SEN. LEVIN: That may not have been the cause of the problem with the littoral combat ships, but if in fact such a supervisor was taken away from that capacity, you could surely worsen the problem. Will you just check that one issue out as an example of the problem?
ADM. ROUGHEAD: Yes, sir, we will.
SEN. LEVIN: I'd like, Admiral, talk to you about some of the piracy issues which have arisen. Some have suggested that the maritime industry do more to protect against pirate attacks, but there have been some suggestions that the Navy has an obligation to protect all U.S.-flagged vessels that transit the problem area. Give us your view as to whether or not the Navy has the capacity and whether it's appropriate to put military security teams on all U.S.-flagged commercial vessels that travel in that problem area.
ADM. ROUGHEAD: Sir, with regard to the counterpiracy mission and activity, since the 7th of May there has not been a successful act of piracy in and around Somalia. I attribute that to th effort, not just of our sailors but of the coalition, if you will, a very informal coalition that is formed.
I believe that one of the reasons that we're seeing some progress is the fact that the ships and the shippers are taking more aggressive action to avoid being taken by pirates. And also, it's helped significantly by our patrols.
I believe that at the end of the day the shipping companies need to look at their security requirements and provide for those security requirements. We, in cooperation with our allies and partners there, will provide a maritime security environment in which the ships can pass, but there has to be a willingness on the part of shippers to adjust procedures. They are often driven by the business in which they are engaged in.
But I believe we're seeing very positive trends. The problem of piracy will not go away until the problem ashore is addressed. We are patrolling an area four times the size of Texas. But the lawlessness ashore, the lack of governance ashore, the lack of any attempt to get control of how the money moves and how this criminal business propagates, until there is a shore component to it, we're going to continue to chase pirates at sea.
SEN. LEVIN: And the question of whether or not we should place military security teams on all U.S.-flagged commercial vehicles, have you been asked to do that? Have you considered that? Is it appropriate? Is it doable?
ADM. ROUGHEAD: I have not been asked to do that. I believe that the responsibilities for the security of ships also lies with the shippers. We will provide the security environment at sea, but I personally believe that the shipping companies bear responsibility for protection of ships.
SEN. LEVIN: Thank you.
SEN. MCCAIN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I want to thank the witnesses again.
Secretary Mabus and Admiral Roughead, the secretary of Defense, as we all know, made a decision to reduce the purchases of the F-22, with the commitment for increased procurement of the F-35. And the services, as I understand it, are planning on purchasing around 2,450 F-35s at a cost of about 300 billion (dollars). That's a cost increase of 47 percent beyond the original 2002 estimates. The Navy is obviously relying on the F-35 to close the gap that it sees in strike fighter capability.
Now, the GAO recently issued a report on the F-35, or JSF program, that was critical of its past cost overruns and predicted that the development will cost more and take longer than what has been reported to Congress.
In 2008, a Pentagon joint estimating team said that the JSF program would require an additional two years of testing and would need another $15 billion to cover new development costs.
Now, are we going to be able to keep these costs under control and procure the numbers that we have predicted? Or are we going to stick to unfortunately repeat the record that we've had on previous aircraft purchases where the price is going up and up so, therefore, the number procured are less? Are we not taking something of a gamble here?
Secretary Mabus or Admiral Roughead, either one of you or both.
ADM. ROUGHEAD: Senator, we are the last service to get the JSF. The Marine Corps will go first and then Air Force and then us. And in this budget, we have provided for the four test articles that we need.
The JSF is important to Naval aviation as we move to another generation of airplane and to also have a mix of airplanes on our carrier decks. The on-time delivery of JSF is critical to Naval aviation. We have committed to that in this budget, but we are going to continue to have to pay very, very close attention to this.
SEN. MCCAIN: General Conway, since the Marine Corps get it sooner than the Navy, what's your estimate of the situation right now?
GEN. CONWAY: Sir, right now, we know that we're experiencing and seven-to-nine-month delay in first flight of the vertical variant, the 35-B. We're told that it should fly this fall. We're also told, however, that that slip to the right of several months will not impact the 2012 initial operating capability that's been promised to us by the vendor.
We anxiously await its arrival, sir. We have accepted risk for some time now by not buying the (E and F ?) variant of the F-18. So we're pretty adamant that it's got to stay on schedule at this point.
SEN. MCCAIN: Well, Mr. Chairman, you know, there's a lot of controversy about the decision. And I support Secretary Gates' decision. But I think we need a good estimate as to whether actually the joint strike fighter will be available at a reasonable cost so that we will have sufficient number of aircraft.
Admiral Roughead, my understanding is that you're going to be 240 aircraft short by 2018.
ADM. ROUGHEAD: Senator, as we move forward into our Quadrennial Defense review and address the issue with tac air, we have to look at what some of the options are to mitigate what will be a shortage of tactical aircraft.
SEN. MCCAIN: But right now, that tactical shortage, you can't man 11 carrier decks. Is that right?
ADM. ROUGHEAD: As we move into around the 2017 timeframe, that shortage for us, depending on mitigation actions, could be as low s 70 airplanes. But we will be working on this in the QDR to determine whether it's life extension that will allow us to close that gap down. But being able to keep the carrier decks full is very important to me. And I look forward to the discussions in the QDR.
SEN. MCCAIN: Well, I'd like you to keep this committee informed, because some of our decisions will be based on the realities of production cost overruns and delays. And frankly, the history of the development of new weapon systems has not been particularly impressive as far as staying on cost and on schedule.
General Conway, all of us are so proud of what the Army and Marine Corps and Air Force and Navy are doing and achieving. But isn't it true that our goal is one-to-two deployment-to-time back? And under the present -- even though you've made your recruiting goals, it's closer to one-to-one, is that correct? What effect does that have long term since it's pretty clear we're going to be in Afghanistan in large numbers for an extended period of time?
GEN. CONWAY: Sir, you are correct in that the objective is one- to-two, seven months deployed for Marines and 14 months home. Right now, our Infantry battalions are experiencing one-to-one-point-five. Now, you have some units that are better than that, you have some units, some MOSs, military occupational specialties, that are experiencing worse deployment-to-dwell. And quite frankly, sir, 2009 is going to be a tough year for us because we've got a foot in both camps.
It's our belief that we will not see more than 18,000 Marines deployed to Afghanistan, depending on decisions yet to be made by the administration. If we can achieve that figure, that virtually gives us one-to-two across the corps.
SEN. MCCAIN: Is that planning for the 10,000 increase that General McKiernan asked for?
GEN. CONWAY: Yes, sir. That's our calculation. If General McKiernan's request for forces is fully validated, that would raise the numbers of Marines there to something just short of 18,000. And again, at 18(,000), we're in pretty good shape with that objective goal of one-to-two.
I might also add, sir, we look monthly at this resilience of the force I spoke to in the opening statement. And our force, because of our turnover and the relative youth of our force, the families and the efforts that we've devoted towards their quality of life while a Marine is deployed are all in reasonably good shape, considering how long we've been at this and with the projections that it's going to go some more years.
SEN. MCCAIN: You still have a challenge at the captain and major level and senior NCO levels?
GEN. CONWAY: No, we do not.
And I took a note when you commented. Our captains stay, 91 percent, beyond their original contracts.
SEN. MCCAIN: And NCOs?
GEN. CONWAY: No problems, sir. Again, we reenlisted our career force, which is our NCOs -- staff NCOs, really.
SEN. MCCAIN: How much does the economy impact this?
GEN. CONWAY: Sir, we say, I guess with some parochialism, that Marine Corps recruiting really doesn't vary much with the economy. We continue to get quality enlisted and officers almost regardless.
Still, I think it has to have some -- some positive impact right now. But over time, it runs a sine wave and it doesn't seem to matter, with regard to our recruiting.
SEN. MCCAIN: Admiral Roughead, are you concerned about reports we have about the Chinese becoming a maritime power and also acquiring weapons, missiles, that can go -- that can attack an aircraft carrier as far away as 1,200 miles, and apparently contained information that the Chinese will be -- either will be or are constructing aircraft carriers?
ADM. ROUGHEAD: Sir, I've been watching the Chinese Navy up close and personal for about 15 years now. And there is no question that they are stepping out onto the world stage; they're becoming a significant regional navy, with real capability.
But more than just what they are acquiring, I watch their operational patterns, which have increased significantly over the past year and a half -- simultaneous patrols, different patterns in Northeast Asia and Southeast Asia.
I believe that it is in our interest to continue to watch the Chinese, to engage the Chinese. I do pay attention to naval developments around the world. There's no question that they're introducing an aircraft carrier that will take some time for them to be able to operate it with any degree of efficiency.
But I also see advances in ballistic missiles, as you have pointed out. And it was that -- development, as well as developments in Iran and the proliferation of those missiles and sophisticated cruise missiles that was the basis for my decision to recommend that we truncate the DDG-1000 and invest more in our ability to conduct integrated air and missile defense, blue water anti-submarine warfare.
So I do watch the Chinese, as I watch all other navies around the world. And this program, in 2010, reflects the developments that I see and our ability as a Navy to continue to be able to influence events and have options.
SEN. MCCAIN: I thank you, Mr. Chairman, and the Marines who'll be going -- (word inaudible) -- in Afghanistan.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Thank the witnesses.
SEN. LEVIN: Thank you, Senator McCain.
SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (ID-CT): Thanks, Mr. Chairman. Thanks to the three of you, and welcome, Secretary Mabus. It's great to have you assume this important position.
General Conway -- well, first I want to indicate that -- just to identify myself with the line of questioning of Senator McCain on the tactical air programs. He had some very important questions that this Committee really has to wrestle with.
And next Tuesday afternoon, our Air-Land Subcommittee is holding a public hearing on these questions with representatives from the Navy, the Marines, and the Air Force there.
So we hope that we could generate some information that will enable the Subcommittee to inform the full Committee's judgments on these questions.
General Conway, I was going to ask you -- again, along the lines of Senator McCain -- about the stress on personnel.
The Navy and the Air Force has contributed greatly to our effort in Iraq and Afghanistan, but clearly it's our ground forces, the Marines and the Army, that are carrying the largest burden of the fight there and doing so brilliantly and bravely.
There's been a lot of focus in this Committee about the stress on the Army and the inadequacy of the dwell time now. And I think there's going to be a significant effort here in this Committee to increase the end strength authorized for the Army to raise the dwell time.
Also, to recognize what -- you referred to something similar, that when you put together the wounded Army warriors and others in transit, and you actually end up not with the full 547 that they're authorized now.
So my question to you, though I heard your answer to Senator McCain, shouldn't we also on this Committee be considering increasing the end strength of the Marines?
And we're talking here in the short term. If all goes well, and -- I mean, near term -- if all goes well in Iraq and, hopefully, Afghanistan, the pressure will be for the next year or two.
But for that year or two, shouldn't we be looking at an end strength increase for the Marines?
GEN. CONWAY: Sir, we are comfortable at 2,002 (sic). When offered the opportunity for growth under the previous administration and the previous secretary, we submitted our requirements at about 27,000 additional Marines, with the anticipations we had at that point of what the requirements would be, both for Iraq and for Afghanistan.
We think that this 1:2 is achievable and is reasonable for a wartime kind of scenario. So my outright recommendation to you at this point, sir, is that I would not propose growth.
I think that we are fine where we are.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: That's an unusual response, but I accept it with respect.
Admiral Roughead, Chairman Levin, I think, spoke in his opening statement -- (inaudible) -- directly about our concern about overruns, price overruns in various Navy programs, some quite significant.
But I appreciated -- and you'll forgive the parochialism here, but I think it has a broader application -- the reference in your prepared statement that Virginia Class submarine cost reduction efforts are a model for all our ships, submarines, and aircraft.
The Navy's been tough with the two submarine builders, one obviously existing in Connecticut, Electric Boat. But there's been quite a partnership formed that has now reduced the cost of the subs below what they were coming in.
For the companies, this is a benefit -- obviously, a benefit for the Navy because you're paying less -- but for the companies it's a benefit because you rewarded that by increasing the production rate.
Are there lessons to be learned here? (Chuckles.) I mean, in other words, as you look at this, why has this program worked in a cost-effective way and some of the others have not?
ADM. ROUGHEAD: Sir, I would say that -- and you touched on it -- it's the type of relationship that we have with the builder, the commitment on the part of the builder and the Navy to drive down to the 2 billion (dollars) per unit cost -- the commitment and the understanding that if we do that, we can realize the force structure that we've planned.
It's applying smart engineering practices and an openness on considering different approaches to coming at a problem.
And I would also say that in addition to just bringing the procurement costs down, Virginia Class is one of the programs that we are using to get our arms around total ownership costs over the life of a program. Because it's important that we can sustain those ships over the period of that -- which we expect them.
And I also believe it's how we invested in the R&D for those submarines. And as you know, in this budget request, we have a request for research and development funds for the replacement for the Ohio Class submarine.
There are some who may say, well, we're beginning that process too early. We are right about where we have to be with the replacement for Ohio. Those funds will allow us to put in place and to do the work in a way that we don't get into this concurrent design- and-build.
So Virginia's a great model. In this budget we're requesting the funding for the Ohio replacement, and I'm hopeful that we can sustain that approach that we learned so well on Virginia, and that will translate into the same type of results for the Ohio replacement.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: I appreciate that answer, and I appreciate the commitment to ramp up the investment in the new Ohio Class missile- carrying submarines. I think that's a very important decision for our country.
You referred earlier to China and the extent to which you're keeping an eye on China. I think submarines are part of that.
I note that they're turning out submarines at a pretty good pace, maybe three and a half a year, and that in some sense -- we're not involved in a conflict with China, and we hope we never are -- but that we're involved, if I may put it this way and ask your response, in what seems to me to be a silent competition for territory -- in some ways, dominance -- in the Pacific.
It's silent for the most part, unless an event such as the recent harassment of the USNS Impeccable occurs, when it becomes public.
But give me your reaction to that and the role of the submarine in that competition.
ADM. ROUGHEAD: Yes, sir. As a former commander of the Pacific Fleet, submarines were, as I used to say, the most important arrow in my quiver.
Submarines are extraordinarily capable. They perform a variety of missions, not just against other submarines, but they can operate in areas where others can't.
And particularly with our nuclear submarines, we can move them quickly and they are the ultimate stealth weapon, if compared to anything else.
The use of our submarines will be critical in any type of operation or engagement. We use them heavily, and they are as relevant to our future as they have played such an important role in our past. That's why I'm an advocate for them.
And it's not just the PRC and the growth in their submarines. There are business predictions, albeit some that were -- that preceded the current economic situation, global economic situation. But there are predictions that say in the next 20 years the world submarine population will increase by 280.
And these are very capable, very quiet, conventional submarines and, in some cases, nuclear-powered submarines.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: What kind of multiple is that? In other words, how much -- what's the number out there now?
ADM. ROUGHEAD: I would say globally we're probably down in the -- I'll get the exact number for you, but I'd say we're at around the upper 100s.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Okay, so that --
ADM. ROUGHEAD: So it's a significant increase.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: That's more than a doubling. It's almost a tripling.
ADM. ROUGHEAD: Yes, sir, and we're seeing countries that have not had submarine forces before wanting to acquire them.
And it becomes a very challenging naval problem, because one submarine can disrupt an operation in ways that one ship cannot.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Are some of the countries that we worry most about today, like Iran, investing in submarines?
ADM. ROUGHEAD: Yes, sir, they are.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Thanks, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. LEVIN: Thank you, Senator Lieberman.
SEN. ROGER WICKER (R-MS): Thank you very much.
Admiral Roughead, you've accepted an invitation to Mississippi in October, to speak to the Salute to the Military. I can assure you that that is a well-attended, very important event on the Gulf Coast.
And we appreciate you accepting that invitation early, and I think former governor and Secretary Mabus can tell you what an important event that is going to be and how well you'll be received by the civilians and the military on the Gulf Coast.
ADM. ROUGHEAD: Thank you, sir.
SEN. WICKER: So thank you for that.
On page five of your testimony you say that our Navy's operational tempo over the past year reaffirms our need for a minimum of 313 ships. Further down, you say, "American shipbuilding is not broken, but improvements are needed. Since becoming CNO, I have focused on our need to address and control procurement and total ownership costs."
Shipbuilding costs have been increasing as a result of a number of factors, you say, but the first you listed is the reductions in the number of ships procured.
So let me ask you, my information is that we are decommissioning ships at a rate that has outpaced production. How will -- are we going to need to increase the current rate of production to allow the Navy to achieve this goal of 313 ships?
It seems there's a significant difference between the current and projected annual Navy shipbuilding budgets. A June 2008 CBO report on the Navy's 2009 30-year shipbuilding plan states that --
CBO's analysis indicates executing the Navy shipbuilding plan will cost an average of between 25 (billion dollars) and 27 billion (dollars) per year, more than double the 12.6 billion (dollars) a year that the Navy has spent, on average, since fiscal year 2003.
Could you address that?
ADM. ROUGHEAD: Yes, sir. First off, with regard to the comment about shipbuilding is not broken, that was a response that oftentimes I hear that comment.
And you don't build shops like Virginia Class submarines or Arleigh Burke destroyers or LPDs, that are built down on the Gulf Coast, or aircraft carriers like the George Herbert Walker Bush, with a broken industry. No one can do what the United States shipbuilder does, and --
But I do believe that there are certain things that we can do together -- requirements control, commonality of hull forms to get away from starting new ship types too frequently, but rather adapting the capability. So all of those, to include appropriate oversight and other cost reduction efforts, all of those combine to allow us to build to that 313-ship floor.
We must get some of the ships running on good production lines. LCS clearly is a driver for the number that we have.
But as you pointed out in the decommissioning aspect, we also have to be able to get the ships to their full service life. And that's why this year I instituted the life extension -- not life extension program, but life cycle management program -- that allows us to better estimate, on an engineering basis, the type of work that has to be done to ships so we can get them to their life expectancy.
SEN. WICKER: Thank you.
I'm very interested in the common hull forms.
Some of the advantages of a common hull form would be self- evident. But if you would speak to that specifically, to the Committee.
Also, could you be more specific about the amount of savings, based on a common hull form, and which specific future platforms you foresee being built with common hull, or existing hull forms?
ADM. ROUGHEAD: Yes, sir. With regard to specific savings, because we rarely have gone into the common hull form approach, I do not have any good, accurate numbers on what those savings would be.
But I do know that if we can get good, long production runs of ships that have a significant amount of commonality to them, ships that have common components in them that allows for more economic orders of quantity for their production, but also for their maintenance, that that will pay off greatly.
We know, for example, that we're going to have to replace the LSDs, one of our amphibious ships. Our normal practice has been to start from scratch, blank sheet of paper, to redesign those ships.
We have a good hull form in the LPD-17, and my thought is we should simply make a variant of that ship. As we look to replace our command ships, of which we have two, there are a couple of options that we can look at there -- an LPD, perhaps, or the TAKE, that is one of our logistic ships that could be adapted.
But again, I come back to why do we pay to start from a blank sheet of paper? We should take what we have, adapt what we have, and move forward and realize those efficiencies.
SEN. WICKER: Okay. And one other thing about the Navy's recently instituted series of cost-reduction measures.
These include cutting at-sea time for non-deployed ships by about one-third and decreasing flight hours for carrier air wings; reducing or eliminating ships sent to promotional fleet weeks; delaying PCS, or permanent change of station transfers for approximately 14,000 sailors who had expected to move this summer; and eliminating many reenlistment bonuses.
Now, are -- does the reenlistment bonus, following up on Senator McCain's question, does that have something to do with the current economy? Is it less needed?
And we're doing this to help close a projected $417 million shortfall in ship maintenance. Are we asking the Navy to do too much or too little?
ADM. ROUGHEAD: As I mentioned, Senator, we are a very busy Navy. And what we have done as we've moved into the latter part of this year, we've been using the Navy extensively.
And as we await the passage of the Overseas Contingency Operation funding, it became apparent to me that, absent that money, we would be not managing to our budget.
So in the area of operations, in order to sustain our forward war-fighting ops that we have going on, we did throttle back on those operations of non-deployed ships. However, we still are continuing to invest in those who are preparing to go forward, to maintain that combat capability forward.
With regard to the manpower reductions and permanent change-of- station orders, that really is a function of extraordinary retention that we're seeing and low attrition, which has taken my manpower account significantly over what any projections would have been.
With regard to the reenlistment bonuses, we are seeing, similar to the Marine Corps, reenlistment behavior the likes of which we have not seen before.
And those bonuses are there to incentivize reenlistment. And we're seeing great reenlistment, and we have the opportunity to throttle back on those.
SEN. WICKER: Thank you.
SEN. LEVIN: Thank you very much Senator Wicker. Senator Reed.
SEN. JACK REED (D-RI): Thank you very much, gentlemen. Admiral Roughhead, there's always the debate about the right number of ships in the Navy. But I want you if you could to comment on the ability of employing unmanned aerial vehicles, unmanned undersea vehicles as a way to sort of bring that number down. Is that being considered actively and consciously by the Navy?
ADM. ROUGHEAD: Absolutely sir. In fact, a couple of events in the last few weeks that I think show how the Navy is leaning forward. We've signed a contract for a large unmanned aerial vehicle, the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance System. Fortunately, it's the same program that the Air Force has. I think there's going to be some great opportunities there.
When we rescued Captain Phillips from the pirates, it was a Navy unmanned aerial vehicle flying off a guided missile destroyer, I might add not a program of record, that provided the intelligence surveillance reconaissance that the decision makers could use as they successfully rescued Captain Phillips.
A couple of weeks ago, for the first time in history, an unmanned aerial vehicle, a vertical take off and landing aerial vehicle, at night took off autonomously from a Navy ship and landed back on the Navy ship. And the tests for that are going very, very well. So we are moving in that direction.
I do think it is important as we move into the world of unmanned vehicles and I often say that there's no such thing as one, there may be a pilotless aircraft, there may be an uncrewed submarine, but there are always people associated with it and the costs of those people are something that we have to figure in to that capability as we go forward. But we're seeing some very good progress in our UAV programs.
SEN. REED: That raises the other side of the issue, not just the number of ships, but the ability to use this type of technology and other technology to lower your manpower requirements over time. And again is that a conscious sort of deliberate process you're undertaking?
ADM. ROUGHEAD: Absolutely, Senator. And as I tell my team when they come in to brief me on something, a program or a policy, that they don't come in and talk about it without being able to talk about the manpower and the total ownership costs. But we have to keep our eye on that ball.
SEN. REED: The decision by the secretary of Defense to limit the Zumwalt production to three and then to renew production of the Arleigh Burke destroyer based upon your recommendation is something that I think has received general approval, support. But there is an issue that is inherent in that sort of what happens after Zumwalt, which is -- and one of the aspects of the Zumwalt was it was going to be transformational technology, that the next service combatant would eventually take the systems and the sophisticated processes and also the concentration of limiting personnel. Where are we in sort of thinking through that next service combatant and actually being able to benefit from this significant investment we will make in Zumwalt?
ADM. ROUGHEAD: Yes, sir. I think what we are doing with the truncation and the restart of the DDG-51 in advancing the integrated air and missile defense capability in the DDG-51 is that we can bring what we've learned from the DDG-1000 advances that we make in DDG-51 and as we put together the plan for the replacement for the cruiser fleet that we have, that's where we can bring that together.
It will also be important for us nationally to understand the nature of the architecture that integrated air and missile defense will fit into and we have to have that architecture before we can thoughtfully design the cruisers. So I think all of this comes together with a more thoughtful design for the replacement for the Ticonderoga class cruisers.
SEN. REED: Thank you. General Conway if I could we've mentioned the strain on your Marines and they've done a magnificent job. What about your equipment? You're deploying Marines into some of the most hostile terrain in the world in Afghanistan. They'll need MRAPs, they'll need significant protection for IEDs and major weapons being deployed. Can you comment on the status of your equipment?
GEN. CONWAY: Sir, we were able to -- (background noise) -- equipment from all over the world, really, to satisfy the Afghan requirement. There's a strain on equipment I think it goes without saying. Our units that are home are operating off training sets not entire tables of equipment that represent all that would be assigned, and yet we're getting by. We're in the process of rehabilitating our three MPS squadrons. The last one is at work right now down at Blount Island. So in that context our equipment is in pretty good shape.
We are concerned about the IED threat in Afghanistan, and we're moving forward in advance of developmental efforts with a new model of MRAP to reconfigure our CAT-1 MRAPs with off-road suspension taken from our seven ton vehicle. Our initial experimentation with this has been pretty successful. We're going to be doing some more tests this month, but if they prove equally successful, we're going to flood those to theater rapidly, less expensive more readily available heavier really than the updated version which will still work for us in the south and will give our Marines protection against what is the major battlefield weapon system being employed against us.
SEN. REED: And you have the funding authorized and appropriated to carry that out?
GEN. CONWAY: We came back to your committee sir and got the reprogramming authority to be able to do that. Yes, sir.
SEN. REED: Admiral Roughhead, one other question. We've talked about common hull forms previously. This discussion of the next class of the cruiser, has there been a discussion around a common hull form for that or -- ?
ADM. ROUGHEAD: There are some hull forms that have been considered in some of the preliminary work that we have done. I think the fundamental questions that need to be informed by what architecture is it going to fit in will determine the size of the ship. I believe there's a very significant decision that has to be made as to the type of propulsion for that ship. And those will come into play in deciding the size and type of ship it should be.
SEN. REED: Mr. Secretary, again we're very pleased that you have now taken over I think the term would be helm -- (laughs) -- and we also -- I note as we talked before -- you began your career at Newport and we have a very proud tradition in Newport in the Navy. And we're awfully grateful you're going to be up there shortly to say some words to the students. So thank you Mr. Secretary.
SEC. MABUS: Thank you Senator.
SEN. REED: Thank you gentlemen.
SEN. LEVIN: Thank you Senator Reed. Senator Collins.
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R-ME): Thank you Mr. Chairman.
Admiral Roughead, to follow up on Senator Reed's question, is the Navy considering the DDG-1000 hull design as a candidate for the future surface combatant?
ADM. ROUGHEAD: Senator, I'm very interested in the hull design of the DDG-1000. We've never attempted or designed a hull form like that. I think that it will be important that we get the ship out and assess it and see what that hull form does for us. It's a fairly radical departure, but as we look to the cruiser replacement, I believe that that's going to inform us significantly.
SEN. COLLINS: The fact that the Navy did not submit its 30-year ship building plan along with its budget this year was very unusual and it's raised a lot of concerns. It's also raised questions about whether the Navy is backing off from your previous endorsement of a 313 ship fleet as the floor as the minimum. Are you still supporting a 313 ship fleet?
ADM. ROUGHEAD: Yes, ma'am. What I have seen operationally the demands on the fleet, I still see that as a floor from which we would work. With respect to not submitting the 30-year ship building plan, in order to put a plan that really has some merit to it, we have to work our way through the quadrennial defense review and take the inputs from that review as to the balance and the types of missions that we'll have and then from that, put it into a plan that is fiscally executable and responsible. And so not submitting a 30-year plan this year just based on the '10 budget awaiting the QDR, I really believe is the right way to go and that after the QDR we will be able to provide to the Congress a plan that has merit to it.
SEN. COLLINS: Is this budget adequate to keep us moving toward the goal of a 313 ship fleet?
ADM. ROUGHEAD: I believe that this budget positions us very well. We have the eight ships that we have requested in 2010. In addition to those eight ships, there are seven ships where there's advanced procurement in there. It represents the start of really the start of significant production in the Littoral combat ship which is the number driver. It includes the joint high speed vessel, the first one is in this budget. So I believe all of the steps are there that allow us to be well positioned, we'll go into QDR and then move forward from there.
SEN. COLLINS: General, there are press reports that the cost of moving some 8,000 Marines from Japan to Guam are far higher, some $5 billion higher than the Department of Defense had anticipated. In addition, the GAO has put out a report saying that it's going to cost $88 million more per year to have these Marines stationed in Guam rather than Japan. On top of the cost factors we have the recent provocations by North Korea.
Should we be reconsidering the plan of moving some 8,000 Marines from Japan to Guam?
GEN. CONWAY: Ma'am, I think it's safe to say that the quadrennial defense review will have that move as well as other overseas infrastructure adjustments and cost under the consideration before they report out. I know there are special groups that are formed to discuss that so my recommendation would be to wait the results on the recommendation coming out of the QDR. They're aware of these increased projections in cost associated with the move. They're also aware of some other problems that we have associated with the move with regard to training, with regard to the quality of the Futi,a replacement facility and all those things.
I think they will be duly considered and there will be a recommendation coming out of the QDR on the moves.
SEN. COLLINS: Are you going to recommend a change in the plan?
GEN. CONWAY: We have some modifications we think are worthy of consideration and we have some keystone areas if you will -- again this Futima replacement facility has to be indeed a fully capable replacement for what we're giving up on Okinawa. We are concerned about training opportunities on Guam, in the nearby islands as well as the rest of the Asia Pacific basin. So there are some things like that that we certainly want to see considered and negotiated as need be with the Japanese before we slap the table.
SEN. COLLINS: Mr. Secretary, year after year, the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine as well as the other three public naval shipyards have had to rely on Congressional plus ups to meet the infrastructure needs that are outlined in the PONS in the out year budgets. Have you taken a look yet at how we can get the needed infrastructure improvements moved up so that they're actually budgeted for by the Navy rather than the Navy relying on Congress doing plus ups?
SEC. MABUS: Well as a general rule, Senator, we are trying to move from additional budget items to putting things in the base budget so that the base budget represents what we need. And Admiral Roughhead has been very diligent in terms of the infrastructure requirements of the Navy in terms of repair and maintenance facilities for the fleet. And I think as you move ahead that you will see an emphasis on these sorts of things.
SEN. COLLINS: Thank you. Thank you Mr. Chairman.
SEN. LEVIN: Thank you Senator Collins. Senator Burris.
SEN. ROLAND BURRIS (D-IL): Thank you Mr. Chairman. I would just like to congratulate Admiral Roughead for christening the SS Gravely from Sam Gravely, who was the first black admiral, and Secretary Mabus it's really an honor for the Navy to make that recognition of an African American, our first vice admiral in the Navy.
General Conway, you mentioned the fact that you have recruitment at 91 percent of your captains. The question was asked by Senator Wicker what did the -- did you pay a lot of bonuses to those captains. Did those bonuses have something to do with the retention of that number?
GEN. CONWAY: Sir, I don't think so. Again, to clarify, 91 percent of our captains stayed beyond their initial contractual obligation. I think they're doing so because of the fact that the Marine Corps is at war, the country needs their services, and I think they like what they're doing right now. They realize we're trying to put the best materials in their hands to fight for this nation, and at the same time we're taking care of their families while they're deployed.
Now we were able to gain say from the Congress last year a $4,000 bonus for our captains who offered to extend one year beyond their initial obligation if you will. Frankly, it was in an attempt to recognize that dedication to service and country more so than it was to get them to stay because we already knew 91 percent were staying beyond that EAS.
SEN. BURRIS: And Admiral -- and Captain I was just concerned about your minority officer status. Could you give me kind of an assessment of how the minority officers are in the rank-and-file of the Navy and certainly General in the Marines.
ADM. ROUGHEAD: Yes, sir. As the chief of Naval Operations, diversity has been at the top of my list because it is important for the nation to have a Navy where the leadership reflects the face of that nation. And we have done several things in the past year to enhance our minority outreach recruiting. We have expanded the number of ROTC units, I've expanded the number of Navy Junior ROTC units to make more young people aware of the opportunities that exist. In ROTC --
SEN. BURRIS: I have not seen many Naval ROTC units. I'm glad to hear that. I go to all these schools and I see the Air Force and the Army, I haven't seen that many Navy ROTC units.
ADM. ROUGHEAD: Senator we have some great ROTC units around the country but for example, this year we've expanded to Arizona State, University of Texas El Paso, because I believe it's important to reach out to the Hispanic community. We are also working with Tuskegee for a ROTC unit at Tuskegee. We have the largest percentage of minority midshipmen entering the Naval Academy this year. The same increase in ROTC units for minority midshipmen in ROTC. We have had more minority takers of our scholarships for ROTC. I require each community leader within the Navy to come in and what I do is sit down with them and I have what I call a diversity review. This is not a quota, check or anything like that. It is for the leaders of these communities to talk to me about how they are mentoring and how they are moving officers from underrepresented communities through the Navy and giving them the opportunities to compete fairly for the types of assignments that we all know will allow some young man or woman to rise to the heights like Admiral Gravely did.
SEN. BURRIS: General Conway?
GEN. CONWAY: Sir, we have the same objectives, not quotas, that we're endeavoring for. Our percentages right now put us slightly below the national average if you will of minorities both Hispanic and black. I would highlight some very good coordination with the Congressional Black Baucus that we've had. We've met now on three different occasions to try to ensure that we're attacking the problem in a coordinated fashion. And I would salute the CBC for their efforts in making sure that there are qualified minorities taking advantage of both the Naval Academy as well as the ROTC programs.
SEN. BURRIS: Follow up on a question that Senator Collins raised. I was at Great Lakes which is a very much improved facility, but in touring that facility, Admiral, they have buildings there that are over 100 years old. And they're just hard to keep up. Is there a facility check on these facilities that would give cause to go into the budget, either the tearing down of these buildings or, I don't even think they can be retrofitted to be of any service, so they might need new structures. So is there anything being specifically done with Great Lakes?
ADM. ROUGHEAD: Yes, sir. As you saw up there, we on the recruit side we've done a significant --
SEN. BURRIS: Well, it's a tremendous --
ADM. ROUGHEAD: -- we are in the process of moving to take the same approach with what we call our service school commands where many of those old buildings are. And in one of the things that we do is to try to remove excess infrastructure and that will be part of the plan that we engage in at Great Lakes.
I would, add, however that many times, many times, it is difficult to take some of that old infrastructure out of service and demolish it because of historic interest that exists in those buildings.
And I believe that we have to continue to work with historic organizations to perhaps look more toward representative elements of a particular historic period than trying to preserve everything that is there.
SEN. BURRIS: The report I got from the command there is just -- it's costly.
ADM. ROUGHEAD: It is extraordinarily costly, yes sir.
SEN. BURRIS: -- you've got to keep those up. Now let us switch very closely to this F-18, the Super Hornet. I understand that half of the number you ordered nine of those, that's half what you had planned and that there are 22 of the plane's electronic versions called the Growler, which can jam signals such as the kind that's detonating the -- (inaudible) -- in Iraq and Afghanistan.
You know, a recently released House Appropriations Committee report stated that the Department of Defense and Congress must seriously consider -- come to grips with the looming shortfall of fighters, and a multi-year F-18 deal is the most cost-effective approach. Likewise, the Senate Appropriations Committee said that the multi-year F-18 purchase is needed to ensure that the Navy has sufficient aircraft on the fleet.
What are you thoughts on that, Admiral and Mr. Secretary? Where are we with reference to that F-18 situation, which would certainly replace, I understand, three or four of those other old planes that are on the decks because of the technology and improvement on that F- 18?
SEC. MABUS: As you pointed out, Senator, there's a request in the FY'10 budget for 31 of the new FA-18s, 22 Growlers. The others (used and outs ?). That is sufficient to keep that line going to keep the workforce stable, to make sure that that plane is available. And one of the big areas in the QDR, in the Quadrennial Defense Review, is to look at the TAC air requirements for not only the Navy and the Marines but also all services, and having this request in that will keep this line open maintains all options for the QDR.
SEN. BURRIS: Mr. Secretary, I was at Boeing and they're complaining about that's just not enough to keep the line going -- you know, because we ordered some -- I guess it was a higher number than what we really -- the initial demand was for more, but now we've cut back on them and they're concerned about their being able to keep that line up. So you're saying that they will be able to keep that line going?
SEC. MABUS: That is my understanding, sir. That plus some purchases from other nations for the F-18 will keep that line going at a stable rate.
SEN. BURRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. LEVIN: Thank you, Senator Burris.
SEN. MEL MARTINEZ (R-FL): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and welcome gentlemen. I wanted to take a moment to also welcome Mrs. Roughead, who I see here in the audience today. I know that -- not only do we thank you for serving, gentlemen, but we also know the families are so important and so we also welcome you, Mrs. Roughead. Nice to have you here.
There's another young lady next to her that I do not know, have not met. Would you mind introducing her to the committee?
ADM. ROUGHEAD: That is our daughter, Elizabeth, who graduated from college a week ago -- a little over a week ago. She had never been to a hearing, so this is a little bit of a civics class late in her life.
SEN. MARTINEZ: I thought that might be the case. And welcome Elizabeth. We're glad to have you.
Admiral Roughead, we -- in the discussion we had in my office a few days ago, we were discussing the importance to the Navy of the United States Naval Base at Guantanamo. And I wanted to touch on that because so often we hear these days about the closing of Guantanamo and the whole debate about the detention facility within that naval base. Irrespective of what occurs with that detention facility in the future, I know that the naval presence at Gitmo has been there for over 100 years, and over that time it has had a great significance and importance to the Navy mission. And I wonder if you might touch upon that and the importance not only of continuing the mission there aside from the detention facility, but also the importance to continue to upgrade and do the things that are necessary to maintain that as the viable naval base that it is.
ADM. ROUGHEAD: Yes sir. Senator, thank you for that question, because oftentimes when Guantanamo Bay is discussed it is always in the terms of the detention facility that is there. But as you pointed out, Guantanamo Bay has served the Navy and the nation for decades. It is an important location and base for us strategically and operationally. The ability for us to more effectively conduct counternarcotics patrols is greatly facilitated by Guantanamo Bay. At times where there have been flows of migrants that come across the waters north of Cuba and from Haiti, the ability to more effectively operate is made possible by Guantanamo Bay, not simply for efficiency of the operations, but I would also submit that by having that capability down there you also save lives, as those who are fleeing their land sometimes take great risks.
So it is also a terrific place to operate in the Caribbean and out into the approaches in the Atlantic Ocean. And I believe that as we look more towards Africa in the future the sea lanes coming across the South Atlantic will become more important and having the type of capability that we have in Guantanamo Bay, where you can conduct great logistics operations and simply being able to put in there from time to time facilitates operations that I think will become increasingly important to the country.
SEN. MARTINEZ: It also provides us the only existing base in the 4th Fleet AOR, if I'm not mistaken.
ADM. ROUGHEAD: Yes, sir, the only base that we have control over in the 4th Fleet area of operations.
SEN. MARTINEZ: May I ask about the tragic Air France Flight 447 which was lost on June 1st. I wonder if the Navy is providing any support or assistance in that operation.
ADM. ROUGHEAD: Yes, sir, indeed a tragedy of significant proportion. We have -- one of our maritime planes that had been conducting counternarcotics operations on the west coast of South America has moved over and it is operating in the search area as we speak; we moved it over there very quickly. We have also prepared for movement some unique capabilities that we have that are capable of being towed at higher speeds to locate the pingers that are going to be very important.
Yesterday I spoke with my French counterpart, offering my condolences but also any support that they may need, and later today my Brazilian counterpart and I will also be talking. And I would just like to add that that's the power of the Navy to Navy relationships that we have and the way that our navies work together. To be able to pick up the phone and to be able to support one another in tragedies like this is very important. But we're standing by to do whatever we might be able to do.
SEN. MARTINEZ: Moving on to another area, obviously the shipbuilding has been touched upon, very important. And I think that maintaining the goal, Secretary Mabus, of the 313-ship Navy, I believe is essential and I think we've all spoken of that, I think, fairly well through the course of the hearing. But I wanted to also ask about the situation with the frigates. And I wondered, next year the McInerney will be decommissioned as the first of 15 frigates in Mayport scheduled for decommissioning, and I was just wondering whether there was any intent to introduce a service life extension plan for the frigates.
It seems to me that these are valuable assets and inexpensive hulls in the water which can be used in a variety of missions to support the 4th Fleet and SOUTHCOM as well, and also to maintain us on that goal to a 313-ship fleet. Would you both comment on that, please?
ADM. ROUGHEAD: Yes, sir. The frigates have served our Navy and nation very well. I was a young officer when we first introduced those into the fleet, and they are great utility players. But they're, as you mentioned, getting on in years. We are programming in improvements to their hull, mechanical and electrical. However, we are not making any investments in advancing the combat system to those ships.
The replacement for the frigates will be the littoral combat ships, which is why it's so important that we get those introduced. But we are making investments so that the ships can continue to operate safely. But we also will be taking them out of service as they are replaced by the littoral combat ships, and several foreign navies are very interested in those frigates when we take them out of service.
SEN. MARTINEZ: I know there's a lot covered on the LCS, which I think, again, is so vital to the future of the Navy. But I know we've run into some problems, obviously, in that procurement. Secretary Mabus, do you have any recommendations to the shipbuilding plan? Obviously, the cost situation with all of our military procurement seems to be an issue and can we get the LCS going forward in a timely fashion and in a cost-effective fashion?
SEC. MABUS: Senator, as you know, we've got the first LCS undergoing tests now; it's in the water. And the second one is undergoing shipyard tests with both its engines. The two follow-on ships have been contracted for, and in this budget we're asking for three more LCS'. As the numbers increase, as we continue to keep requirements stable, as the contractors with this stable flow through their shipyards are able to make the investments that drive some of the costs down, as we look at common elements for the two variants to further allow us to get costs down, I think in the two follow-on ships already you're seeing costs being driven down and certainly in the three that we're asking for in the FY'10 budget, you're going to see costs go down even farther.
One of the great benefits of the LCS is its modularity, and as you have technological advances, particularly in weapon systems, you don't have to have a whole new hull. You don't have to have a whole new platform. You can put those advances in future modules and so to keep the cost down, to keep the number of ships progressing to where we want it to be, I think that it's imperative that we make sure that the costs are kept within control and also that schedules are met so that as frigates retire, as the Navy's needs are increasing, that we do have the ships there at a reasonable cost but also on time.
SEN. MARTINEZ: Thank you, gentlemen, very much.
SEN. LEVIN: Thank you, Senator Martinez.
SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D-MO): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I know that you all have probably had enough of F-18 for today, but as you well know, it's pretty darn important to the people where I live in St. Louis. So I need to go through a couple of things with you on that. First of all, I think we need to put on the record that our manufacturing base in this country is incredibly important to who we are; and secondly, we spend a lot of time around these buildings talking about stimulus over the last six months, and clearly we have relied -- typically defense spending is very stimulating, and obviously this year is no exception and maybe very important because of that.
I understand that earlier in the testimony, Admiral Roughead, you indicated that the shortage on the F-18s, on our carriers, on our 11 carriers, the low number is 70. I believe that's the first time I've heard that number. Would you -- could you -- and I would like for you to give what the high number is. If you think the low number is 70, what is the high number?
ADM. ROUGHEAD: Senator, the predictions of past analysis have indicated that that number could be up in about the 250 range, but that's for Department of the Navy because as you know, both the Marines and us fly the older A through Ds, which would be part of a solution would be a life extension of, we think in the case of Navy aviation, we believe that there would be about 300 A through Ds that could be extended. But as I always say, you simply don't extend them, you buy more life. And that's something that we're going to be getting into in the Quadrennial Defense Review.
SEN. MCCASKILL: I understand the Quadrennial is important, but, you know, I'm sitting here with my common sense hat on. I know we have this shortage; I know in your testimony you said the F-18 I believe you said was the backbone to project power ashore. We all know how strategically important the F-18 is in Iraq and in Afghanistan and as far as the eye can see -- it's incredibly important to our efforts.
And what I'm trying to figure out as an auditor, if we are waiting for the Quadrennial in terms of getting back into a multiyear, aren't we purposely denying the taxpayers a savings that we know would occur if we did the multiyear? And does that make sense if we -- I mean -- you know, I don't want to be pessimistic about the Joint Strike Fighter, you know, I want to be optimistic. I understand that we made a commitment there and I understand that nothing's going to move that commitment.
But when we've got one plane that if we do multiyear we get it to 50 million (dollars). We've got an estimate right now on the JSF that is as high as 133 million (dollars) a copy. We still haven't had it proven; we've spent an incredible amount of money. We talked about -- in Senator Levin's bill we talked about procurement on things without flight testing where you're going to have 273 aircrafts we've procured costing an estimated 42 billion (dollars) before we have completed flight testing.
It just seems to me -- I mean, I hope I'm wrong, but if we don't do multiyear, aren't I going to be here in three years saying I told you so? We could've saved almost $1 billion by doing the five-year multiyear procurement to fill in this gap with this plane that is, in fact, as fighters, it is the backbone of our ability to push power ashore?
ADM. ROUGHEAD: Senator, as you know, the F-18 is integral to our Navy air power.
But, we, as you pointed out, remain committed to the Joint Strike Fighter, because we have to be able to always be evolving our capability from one generation to the next. So, Joint Strike Fighter is important to us. The four articles -- the four aircraft that we have in the 2010 budget is extremely important.
But, as the Quadrennial Defense Review will inform us, and by building the 31, what I'll call 18 variants -- the Growlers and the Es and Fs, that the line remains hot as a result of that, which affords us the time to get into the Quadrennial Defense Review to look not only at Navy TACAIR, but also Marine Corps and Air Force, and be able to make decisions about what is the best way forward; what are the costs associated with extending the life; and pulling all of that together and making a good decision about where we're taking Navy tactical aviation, but also Department of Defense tactical aviation.
SEN. MCCASKILL: But, are we going to pay more for waiting for the Quadrennial Defense Review, when we know we've got to have F/A-18, and the JSF's not going to be ready, and we've got to have -- I mean, I think most people think 70 is a pretty low number, Admiral. I think I'd be shocked if we ended up with just 70 as a shortfall. I think you would be too, candidly. I think it's going to be much higher than that.
If we know we're going to need them, and we know we've saved money by multi-year -- I still haven't heard a good answer why we wouldn't continue with a multi-year right now.
ADM. ROUGHEAD: Well, I think, Senator, what we've -- what we really have to do is look at tactical aviation, writ large, and make the cost-benefit analysis on life extensions. And if there is a consideration for a multi-year, to perhaps take that into account.
But, I believe that the way the line is running right now, we do have some time to make those decisions that are in the best interest of the department, and also for the Navy as well.
SEN. MCCASKILL: Well, you know, I just, I hope that, you know, we're not -- I understand that you are trying to do this in a way that -- you know, we yell at you to plan and to do cost estimates; and then we yell at you when you're doing that and you're not doing multi-year today. I get that.
But, I have a feeling that we're going to end up with a multi- year, and I have a feeling that -- at least I hope we do, because I think we're going to need at least 150 of these, at least, and that's with a five-year multi-year we (give it ?). And if we're going to do it, and everybody knows we're going to do it, it seems like to me we ought to take advantage of those savings every single year and not wait for the Quadrennial.
But, thank you, Mr. Chairman. That was all I had.
SEN. LEVIN: Thank you, Senator McCaskill.
SEN. DANIEL AKAKA (D-AK): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
To our esteemed panel of military leaders, I want to say aloha and welcome to the committee here. First, I want to say thank you to the three of you for your dedicated service to our country. And I also want to commend the men and women of the Navy and the Marine Corps for their outstanding service. And I want to thank their families -- their families for the support of their loved ones.
Secretary Mabus, in recent testimony before this committee Secretary Gates discussed a shortage of mental health providers across the DOD, particularly for military facilities in rural areas like we have in my home state of Hawaii. To address this issue, he recommended expanding the DOD medical education program to include mental health care providers.
Mr. Secretary, how would you assess the Navy's current level of available mental health care providers?
SEC. MABUS: Senator, the Navy has seen the need for these mental health care providers. We've added, over the past year -- I believe the number is 170 into our service to address these issues. We need to do more in that regard. We need to address mental health as effectively and aggressively as we address physical health problems.
One of the ways to do this is through additional mental health professionals. Another way which the Navy and Marine Corps are also actively involved is to make sure that there is no stigma attached to reaching out for mental health care for either our sailors or our Marines. And one of the things that both Admiral Roughead and General Conway have done very effectively, I believe, is to inform their commanders and begin to train the people in command to look for symptoms that would indicate a need for mental health care.
We need to attack these things aggressively and comprehensively. I think the Navy and the Marine Corps have made a very good start in this. We're not where we need to be, in the total sense, but we are moving in that direction and we certainly agree with Senator -- I'm sorry, with Secretary Gates' analysis on this.
SEN. AKAKA: Thank you.
Admiral Roughead, I would like to take the opportunity to thank you for your service out in PACOM, and also our long association that dates back many years as you were coming up in the Navy. I think I would dare say it goes back to 1978 in China.
But I would like to take an opportunity to acknowledge Captain Greg Thomas and the men and women of the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard for their dedication and commitment. They continue to provide excellent support to fleet readiness.
Admiral Roughead, I think that we both can agree that our depot level maintenance capability is essential to support fleet operations, as well as allowing our ships to reach their expected service life. What steps are being taken, at your level, to continue improving our depot level maintenance?
ADM. ROUGHEAD: Thank you, Senator. And I too echo your comments with regard to the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard. The work that they've done, the progress, the improvements that they've made in the last couple of years speak volumes about the dedication of workers who are there, and we're seeing some very good work out of that.
One of the things that we have done in the last couple of years is to appropriately size and estimate the amount of work that's required, particularly for our submarine force. Over time, we had kind of shortened it down as the submarines had aged. We were out of balance. And so, consequently, when submarines would go in the shipyards they'd be there for longer than we had planned, but not longer than they needed to be.
We are doing the same thing with our conventional surface ships. We have instituted this year a management method that is based on sound engineering, and engineering estimates, so that we can better estimate what that ship will require throughout its lifetime. We had walked away from that several years ago. We've reinstituted that this year. That's very important.
I also would say that, not just in Pearl Harbor but all of our public shipyards, and even in our private shipyards, the importance of the apprenticeship programs that all have in place, where we can attract young people into that line of work. That's extraordinarily rewarding. I think those programs are so important and I thank you for your support of those.
But, those are some of the things that we have going on, as well as just very carefully watching our maintenance budgets and making sure that we're making the right long-term investments in our ships.
SEN. AKAKA: Secretary Mabus, do you have any additional comments on that question?
SEC. MABUS: First, I want to say how much I agree with Admiral Roughead and his estimation of this.
Second, is how important it is to maintain our industrial base, in terms of ship building, and particularly the trained workforce that we have. And as we are able to better predict, as we are able to better schedule, as Admiral Roughead has said, our maintenance requirements, also our building requirements for shipyards -- the availabilities that we will need so that these shipyards are able to keep, particularly the trained workforce that we have now, and to attract the workforce that we're going to need for the future.
SEN. AKAKA: Thank you.
Admiral Roughead and General Conway, I'm encouraged with the additional funding in the Defense budget for Wounded Warrior care. The Navy's Safe Harbor Program and the Marine Corps Wounded Warrior program -- Regiment program shows the continued commitment to our service members that we will take care of them and their families.
Gentlemen, how would you assess the approach within your services to care for our wounded, ill and injured service members and their families?
Let me ask General Conway.
GEN. CONWAY: Sir, we're extremely proud of the effort. I think it's unprecedented, if you compare what's happened, say, during Vietnam or during Korea, with what is occurring today.
We took one of our commanders out of Hawaii -- the commander out there of the 3rd Marine Regiment; put him specifically in charge of the program with a loose set of guidelines, in terms of where we wanted to go, but certainly a concept that said we would take care of those Marines who are currently being treated as wounded. But, all the way back to the beginning of this war that we wanted to seek those people out and ascertain how they're doing.
And, Senator, he has taken a program even beyond our initial expectations. It has been (beautifully ?) resourced by both your committee and the department. So, I am very, very proud -- as all Americans, I think, should be, of the way that their Marines are being treated who have been hit.
SEN. AKAKA: Thank you for your responses.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. LEVIN: Thank you, Senator Akaka.
SEN. THUNE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And, Secretary Mabus, welcome to the job.
And, General, Admiral, thank you very much for your great service to our country.
Admiral, I want to direct a question to you. When Secretary Gates announced his Defense budget for -- his recommendations for FY 2010, he explained that the department will examine its nuclear and strategic force requirements during the QDR, the Nuclear Posture Review, and in light of post-START arms negotiations.
Now, presumably, these reviews and the arms negotiations will affect the future size and shape of our nuclear triad. And using that rationale, Secretary Gates decided to delay the development of a follow-on Air Force bomber, presumably, due to the uncertainty of whether or not the future nuclear force will require a nuclear capable bomber.
However, his decision to begin an Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine replacement program doesn't show a deference to the outcome of a QDR, a Nuclear Posture Review, and post-START arms negotiations, and how these events will affect the requirement for a future ballistic missile submarine.
My question is, given the uncertainty of the future size and shape of the nuclear force, how do you reconcile why the Air Force follow-on bomber program should be delayed, while the replacement ballistic missile submarine program is initiated?
And a follow-up, I guess, question to that would be, how confident are you in the future size and shape of the U.S. nuclear force requirements?
ADM. ROUGHEAD: Thank you for the question, Senator. And I'll talk about the sea-based strategic deterrent, because that's my area of expertise and responsibility.
In the analysis of alternatives that are done relative to this, the sea-based strategic deterrent has remained constant throughout those. But, it's also the time now -- and this is very similar to the timeline that we were on when we developed the Ohio-class submarine that's serving the nation so well today. We are about at the time where the development of that system needs to start to take place.
And I believe that that investment is important because, as we've seen in some of our other shipbuilding programs, when we've waited and waited, and then we've tried to rush to judgment, we end up with a less than an optimal program. So, we're about where we should be with regard to starting the development of the replacement for the Ohio- class.
We are also working cooperatively with our allies in the United Kingdom, who also are in the process of doing the same thing.
So, all of it, I believe -- the analysis of alternatives, that reaffirms the sea-based portion; the timeline that we must be on to have a good introduction and cost control over the replacement -- that time is now.
What the Nuclear Posture Review will us to do is to determine numbers -- that I believe don't have to be addressed for some time, but at least to get the design of an extraordinarily complex ship underway, now is the time the do that, sir.
SEN. THUNE: Well, and I think you could make the same argument about some of the other -- you know, the Next-Gen Bomber, arguably, has a long lead time in the development, technology associated with that; and, in fact, it was called for in the QDR to field one by the year 2018.
Secretary Gates' more recent recommendation on that was to delay it, subject to QDR, some of these arms control negotiations and the Nuclear Posture Review. And it just seemed to make the argument that we need to delay that aspect of our nuclear deterrent while pursuing the other -- it seemed to be an inconsistent position to take. And if you're queuing on the QDR, and some of these other upcoming discussions, with respect to one of those platforms, that you would also use the same rationale for the other. I guess that was the only point I was making.
ADM. ROUGHEAD: Yes, sir. And my focus is on --
SEN. THUNE: I know where your focus is -- and rightly should be. This is more of a, I guess, a question about nuclear posture than anything else.
The second question I asked, though, was how confident are you in the future size and shape of U.S. nuclear force requirements?
ADM. ROUGHEAD: I'm confident that the Nuclear Posture Review, which we are underway with -- I have some -- (inaudible) -- officers who are working in that review and participating in it, I believe it's going to be a very good process that will answer the questions that you have posed, and particularly the size of that force structure that we will need into the future.
SEN. THUNE: Let me ask a follow-up --
SEN. NELSON: Would the Senator yield just a -- we had a hearing directly on point yesterday, of which the Senator is a member of our Strategic subcommittee. And the upshot of that hearing was, in essence, we're not going to let the Nuclear Posture Review get ahead of the design, and so forth, of either the systems of the Air Force or the Navy.
SEN. THUNE: Very good.
I want to follow up with you, Admiral, too -- and this is, I think, a question that may have been posed earlier by Senator McCain. In your prepared testimony you discussed the increase -- the proliferation of ballistic missile capabilities and advanced weaponry; and specifically pointed out how Hezbollah -- a non-state actor, demonstrated a capability to acquire and successfully employ (sic) a sophisticated anti-ship missile against an Israeli ship in 2006.
How concerned are you that high-end asymmetric capabilities that threaten us in the Pacific region will proliferate to state- and non- state actors around the globe?
ADM. ROUGHEAD: Senator, I believe that we're going to continue to see proliferation. We see developments occurring in many countries. Some are proliferated, some are indigenous that are enabled by that proliferation. I think to get into any greater detail would require perhaps a different venue to be able to really dig into that.
But, I have seen, in just the last 15 or 20 years, proliferation of ballistic missile defense -- or ballistic missiles around the world. If you go back to the early '90s, a country comes on with a ballistic missile capability about once every three years.
But, the thing that really got my attention about Hezbollah in 2006, that's not even a state. That's an organization. And so I do believe that we're going to be in a period of disorder, for the foreseeable future, where those types of capabilities will be proliferating. And our ability to access, and our ability to operate, and our ability to influence is going to be based on our capabilities that allow us to go in and counter those types of threats.
SEN. THUNE: Thank you, Admiral.
Based on the threats to our power projection capabilities, how important will it be for the Navy to field a long-range carrier-based aircraft like the Navy unmanned aircraft system currently being demonstrated?
ADM. ROUGHEAD: I believe, as threats continue to evolve and proliferate, we too have to be moving generationally with our capabilities. That's why the Joint Strike Fighter is important to us, and that's why, in this budget, that we have put money into the budget to begin the development for what we're calling the "NUCAS," the Navy's Unmanned Combat Aviation System.
So, we're moving -- I mean, even before we have our first JSFs we're already investing for the follow-on to JSF. And we have to do that because other countries and -- I'm hopeful that it won't happen, but even other organizations will be moving along that same type of a timeline.
SEN. THUNE: And what is your opinion -- time frame for that sort of an unmanned system to be deployed?
ADM. ROUGHEAD: I do not believe that for that generation of the unmanned -- the NUCAS, that you'll see that -- you won't see that deployed until into the 20s, perhaps mid-20s. But, the investments that we're making now will allow us to start really getting into some good work in 2012, 2014; start working in around an aircraft carrier, which is a very complex environment because of the electromagnetic environment that we operate in, and just the difficulty, of even a piloted aircraft, of landing and taking off from an aircraft carrier.
This is the path that we need to be on, and I'm pleased that we've been able to put the money in the '10 budget.
SEN. THUNE: Great. Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. LEVIN: Thank you, Senator Thune.
SEN. KAY HAGAN (D-NC): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And, Admiral Roughead, and Secretary Mabus and General Conway, thank you for being here today, and your service to our country.
General Conway, last week I had an opportunity to go to Afghanistan. And I had an opportunity there to, obviously, speak to a number of the leaders and a lot of our wonderful generals and Marines on the ground. And I spoke with Brigadier General Lawrence Nicholson, who is the commander of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade.
And, as you know, the Marine footprint of units in Afghanistan from Camp Lejeune and Cherry Point in North Carolina represents about over 4,000 Marines. And I understand that they are dealing with the violence in the Regional Command South.
We had an opportunity to go to Kandahar and to the Helmand Province, but I wanted to know if you could provide your opinion on the combat readiness, the capabilities of our Marines with respect to being resourced, trained and equipped, and if there are any pitfalls that our committee should be aware of.
GEN. CONWAY: Ma'am, first of all, thank you for going. That's great that you would take the time and trouble to go all that way. I know it's pretty remote out there, and hopefully you had a really good stay.
We're comfortable with where we are right now, with perhaps one exception, that I will mention. As I indicated to an earlier question, we've had to draw gear really from all over the globe to put into Afghanistan to support the 10,000-plus Marines there, but we've been successful in doing that.
We had an end date on that effort of about 31 May, and I think with some rare exceptions the Marines are there with their equipment and they have now assumed operations in that area of Helmand and RC South.
The one thing that we want to do better and faster is provide them a defense mechanism against the IEDs that they face as the primary weapons system employed against them. So we're in the process of creating a capability by taking the suspension off our seven-ton trucks and putting it on what we call our Cat 1 MRAPs.
And, if successful, we'll get that to them in rapid fashion, await the development of an Afghan style of MRAP, determine what our buy needs to be. But our first and most critical consideration is providing them the protection against the enemy weapon of choice.
SEN. HAGAN: Speaking of that, one of the discussions was on the biometric measurements that were being taken. Do you see that as an area that's really helping us to define the people who are putting the IEDs out there?
GEN. CONWAY: Ma'am, it was tremendously helpful for us in Iraq, and those systems are being transported now with the force into Afghanistan. We have every expectation that it will be as successful there. We imported it to the host government. We have the same types of plans with the Afghan government, the national police and the army that we work with. So it's too early to say, but expectations are great.
SEN. HAGAN: Okay, thank you.
And, Admiral Roughead, I had an opportunity recently to meet with the ambassador from Saudi Arabia, Ambassador al-Jubeir, and earlier I believe you underscored the importance of establishing naval partnerships with foreign countries. That's a key pillar to our maritime strategy.
But one of the discussions I had with the ambassador was the Saudi naval expansion program, and he emphasized your involvement in that program -- the first iteration of that program back in the early '80s.
But as part of this, I guess, round two of it, I understand that in November of last year, our navy completed a combined naval capabilities analysis of the Royal Saudi Naval Forces. And the study provided a blueprint for the recapitalization of this fleet, and in particular, I guess, the Eastern Fleet, to improve the Saudi maritime deterrent capability and enhance its interoperability.
It's my understanding that if implemented, that this plan is going to transform the Saudi navy into a modern, self-sufficient and sustainable naval force, but as you know -- well, if this happens, this fleet we hope can contribute to the enhanced maritime security protection of the Arabian Gulf from conventional and asymmetric threats from other nation states in the area -- Iran, regional proxy surrogates and terrorists.
And I guess my question is, can you describe the status of the training elements of this Saudi naval expedition?
ADM. ROUGHEAD: Yes, ma'am, and thank you for the question on that. As you mentioned, my involvement with their navy goes back several years, and in fact, the navy that they're operating in the Eastern Fleet today is essentially the navy that I participated in putting together as a young officer, and to say that we've aged a bit is no understatement on that.
But we were pleased to work closely with the Saudi navy to put together a capabilities assessment and made recommendations to them as to what would be in the best interest of the Eastern Fleet to participate in the security needs of the Gulf writ large, to be able to operate with the other navies that are there, to be able to operate with us, and also to be able to protect their very, very critical infrastructure, which is not just oil but also water, desalinization, things like that.
So we've provided that to them and I anxiously await the decision on the part of the Saudi government, and that I will, based upon the decisions that they make and the needs that they identify, that we then will continue our support to them, but I look forward to hearing their decisions on that important program.
SEN. HAGAN: Is there a timeframe on that?
ADM. ROUGHEAD: Senator, I would like to see that move forward as quickly as possible, but the decision is really theirs to make.
SEN. HAGAN: Well, once again, thank all of you very much. I appreciate it. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. LEVIN: Thank you, Senator Hagan. Senator Webb.
SEN. WEBB: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And, gentlemen, I apologize for having had to leave. I had an event on the House side that I had to go to. I'm very interested in all the testimony.
Let me start by saying, just as a quick reaction, Admiral Roughead, on your comment on the piracy situation in response to a question, that I would fully agree with you that in terms of shipboard security, that's really not something that our military should be getting involved in. I made that comment to the executives -- business executives on these different carriers. It seems to me a pretty simple process for them to be able to put security on ships where it's appropriate.
At the same time, I think we put ourselves in a pretty vulnerable situation if we basically say that the real problem here is the instability ashore. Those are situations that we're very likely not going to change for a long period of time, if ever. And the greatest deterrent is essentially what we did. I think the message gives out when pirates attempt to attack U.S. flag vessels, and when appropriate action is taken there is a clear deterrent to further activity, and I think the word probably gets out pretty fast.
General Conway, I would again like to express my appreciation for the comments that you made on dwell time when you assumed your position, well before this became fashionable. Like when I was getting ready to come into the Senate it was an issue that I was very concerned with and you were, I think, alone among the key leaders who were talking about your goal of moving toward a two-to-one dwell time, as existed historically.
And it's kind of refreshing to me to hear so many of my colleagues now talking about dwell time and hearing people come up talking about dwell time. As you'll recall, when I introduced that amendment twice two years ago, we got 56 votes both times, but there was a lot of pushback on that, and we were just trying for a one-to- one.
So I just again want to reiterate my appreciation for you having spoken your conscience on an issue that really goes to the wellbeing of the people that we all lead, one way or another. And also I wan to reiterate my concern that this isn't simply a career issue.
We tend too often on this committee to talk about retention and maintaining the career force. That's very much the business that a lot of people are in, but when you look at the numbers where 75 percent of the Army and 70 percent of the Marine Corps typically, in this volunteer situation, leave on or before the end of their first enlistment.
I think the true measure of leadership isn't simply technical competence. It's the commitment that we make to these people for the rest of their lives and dwell time is a big part of that. So I just want to say that I think the example that you've set on that issue is reverberated in good ways.
Secretary Mabus, you've had kind of a boring morning, I think.
SEC. MABUS: It's not hurting my feelings at all.
SEN. WEBB: Well, let me -- you know, the last time we did this, Senator Nelson and I got into one of these vulgar brawls over Mayport. I don't intend to go there today. The issue will be resolved at the appropriate place. But I would like to say that at bottom, this is a decision that will be made by the civilian leadership of the Department of Defense after hearing the recommendations of the people who are involved. It's always been that way.
That's how the decision that came down from Secretary Winter was made. It was made by the civilian process. And I, quite frankly, never heard a chief of naval operations who hasn't been in favor of some sort of strategic dispersal. That's part of your job.
When I was in the Pentagon as the assistant secretary of defense and then as secretary of the Navy, we had a strategic dispersal program going on. It was very big at the beginning of the Reagan administration and as reality started to hit it got a little smaller, but we were going to put ships at Corpus Christi. We had Senator Stevens talking about some sort of home porting in Alaska.
You know, you can take a logical proposition and expand it to the point that when you measure it against risk it's not exactly equal. And in the Navy testimony today there is a good bit of comment about different sorts of risks, a lot of risks. I mean, Admiral Roughead speaks about the risks of additional operational demands and the warfighting risk being moderate today but tending towards significant in the future, and talking about shore infrastructure readiness and the risks in there.
And we know this is a very strong issue in Virginia if you look at the backlog in naval shipyards. Just from the time that this Mayport announcement was made until today from our staff sourcing, the backlog in naval shipyards has gone from about 800 million (dollars) up to 1.3 billion (dollars). So the question really is how you measure all of the elements that you have to take into account in order to build a navy and in order to protect it.
I have a thought. Let me just put it out there. If you've got chart number three -- just do chart number three. This is something we've been talking about on our staff and with other people. But we understand the realities of what Mayport has been going through in terms of losing ship components, but on the one hand we have the commandant saying in his testimony quite clearly that we need more amphibious shipping. And there are numbers, and if you look at page 21 in the commandant's testimony about needing 38 amphibious warfare ships.
We also know that to reconfigure Mayport you're really talking about a billion dollars. And the numbers that we got from people in industry say that if you're going to build a first-class amphibious assault ship, it's going to cost about 2.7 billion (dollars). Now, we might argue whether it will be a little bit more or a little bit less, but in constant 2010 dollars those are the numbers that we received.
So what would be so terrible about taking a billion dollars instead of putting it in to reconfiguring Mayport and putting it into an amphibious assault ship, basically getting about a 35-percent reduction in the deal?
SEC. MABUS: Well, Senator, as you know, the Quadrennial Defense Review is going to look not only at the home-porting issue but also at amphibious lift requirements that our nation is going to need going forward, and what ships that that amphibious lift will require.
And obviously General Conway, Admiral Roughead and I are participating in this. We're active participants. And I think that on your statement about civilian decision-making, that this Quadrennial Defense Review is one of the instruments that is being used not only for the home-porting but also for this amphibious lift requirement.
SEN. WEBB: As they say, not a sermon, just a thought. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. LEVIN: Thank you, Senator Webb. Senator Nelson.
SEN. NELSON: Mr. Chairman, I had intended to corroborate the argument made by Senator Akaka, of with, Admiral, you have already addressed it, with regard to the industrial base, and specifically it was mentioned Pearl Harbor.
On behalf of Senator Webb I would also talk about Hampton Roads, I'd talk about Northeast Florida, I'd talk about -- as Senator Akaka did -- Pearl Harbor, San Diego, the Pacific Northwest, and of course that's something you've already addressed so I won't go into that.
And I was also intending to talk about the E-2D Hawkeye, as the Navy has already stated, an essential element of the Navy Integrated Fire Control Counter Air Program, imperative for protection against the theater area and missile threat, and that the Navy wanted three; you're ordering two, and of course that's making the unit cost an additional 120 million (dollars).
And so I would encourage you to look back, that you do not, in your budget request, include a five-year projection. The $120 million increase in unit cost is not a positive sign, and what will the risk be by the Navy by delaying the initial operating capability of that system? So I won't ask you directly. I would just ask you to go back and look at that, if you will.
Now, as the chairman well knows, I did not intend to bring up Mayport, but since it was, I am compelled to do so. And the thrust of the argument here is that what has been estimated by the Navy to be about a $650 million expenditure in order to make Mayport nuclear- capable, the argument is that the Navy ought to be spending that elsewhere with all of the other unfunded needs, when in fact you all, I think rightly, have gone ahead with the long-lead items, which are the dredging of the channel.
Since Mayport is right at the mouth of the St. Johns River, you've got to dredge basically a mile and a half to get out to deep enough water out in the Atlantic. So basically that's a mile and a half on the channel that you're dredging to get in. It is not eight or 10 miles upriver, as it is in another East Coast port. And you're going ahead with the repairs, the modernization to the pier, and that's a long-lead item, and I certainly commend you, having put that in your budget request.
But with regard to should this be put someplace else in all of the navy's other needs, the ship maintenance shortfall of 417 million (dollars)? Well, the DOD budget is divided into Title I, procurement; Title II, research and development test and evaluation; Title III, operations and maintenance and military construction.
Appropriations are further divided into Defense and MILCON and Veteran's Affairs. And so when you say that it's -- when an argument is made that it's wrong to spend MILCON funds at Mayport because it should be spending more money for ship and aircraft repair, or because the Navy should buy more ships or aircraft, the DOD budget is a lot more complex than that.
The estimated cost of MILCON for a CVN homeport is 550 million (dollars), which is 7.2 percent of the Navy's total MILCON request over the next two years. And the Navy request -- what I just said in the long-lead item.
So the 550 million (dollars) investment to strategically disperse our aircraft carriers, which we're always done -- we do it on the West Coast in three home ports, and we've always done it in two ports on the East Coast. There were two carriers at Mayport until 1987. There has been one carrier dispersing until year before last in two ports, when the John F. Kennedy, a conventional carrier, was shut down under the theory of strategic dispersal.
The cost to replace a carrier is about $11 billion. The MILCON cost of making Mayport nuclear capable is 5 percent of the replacement cost of a carrier. I don't know what more I can say than the lessons of Pearl Harbor.
And there was a four-star admiral who was relieved. His name was Kimmel. He was relieved of command because of allowing all those assets to be bottled up in one place for a surprise attack. He was forced to retire and he was stripped of two of his stars. And his family, over the last half-century, has tried to get the Navy to change that, and the Navy has not changed that because of the lessons of Pearl Harbor.
I didn't intend to put up any charts, but since there was a chart, I'm going to put up this one picture. This is 1997. I have photographs from 2001. And as you can see, particularly with a commercial channel, it goes right here. That's not a good thing to have five carriers all tied up in one place at one time next to a commercial channel.
So I rest my case. I am confident that the civilian leadership will make the right decision. And, again, I don't mean to beat this to death, but it was raised and I'm compelled to raise it as well.
By the way, this decision was made. The secretary of the Navy, concurred by the secretary of Defense in his letter to Senator Warner and Senator Webb in mid-December of last year, this decision was made, but it got opened up again and therefore I am compelled to raise the issue of strategic dispersal.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. LEVIN: Thank you, Senator Nelson.
I just have a few additional questions, and if there's no other senators that show up, then we'll leave the record open for questions that they or I might have.
First, Admiral, relative to the question of accession to the Law of the Sea Convention, you say in your prepared statement that accession remains a priority for our Navy. Is that your own personal and professional view regarding accession to that convention?
ADM. ROUGHEAD: Absolutely, Senator. I think that being party to that treaty is critical to our ability to operate globally, and as a nation I believe being party to that treaty is in our best interest, not just from operational interests but also from resource interests. I cannot recommend it more strongly.
SEN. LEVIN: Secretary, when we asked you a similar question at your confirmation hearing, I believe that you indicated that you did not have sufficient information at that time to address the merits of that issue. I don't know whether you've been able to focus on that question. If you have, do you have an opinion on the subject?
SEC. MABUS: Yes, sir, and I strongly support our accession to that treaty, based on the grounds that Admiral Roughead just laid out.
SEN. LEVIN: Admiral, two years ago Congress rejected the idea of deploying conventional warheads on ballistic missile subs. Are there any plans to utilize the next-generation ballistic missile submarine for both conventional and nuclear weapons?
ADM. ROUGHEAD: Senator, I believe -- where we are with regard to the next-generation of submarine is we're in the very nascent stages of that, and that level of detail has not been touched on at all.
SEN. LEVIN: All right. Now, we also specifically prohibited conventional applications for the D5 missile. Recent press reports indicated that the Navy was testing conventional applications during recent tests of the D5 ballistic missile, which only carries nuclear weapons. Now, what testing was being conducted during the D5 missile tests?
ADM. ROUGHEAD: Senator, I'm not familiar with that statement but I'd like to take that for the record.
SEN. LEVIN: All right, that would be fine.
Senator Nelson, do you have any further questions? Okay, then, as I indicated, there may be questions for the record, and there will be some for me to maybe send from colleagues. We are very grateful for your presence and the presence of your family. Your family is here. We're delighted to have them, Admiral, with us, and I congratulate your daughter on her graduation.
I hope she's not looking for a job in some states which are in tough shape, but maybe she has her eye on something. But all three of you did a great job. We're very proud of you and the men and women that you command. Thank you.