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Public Statements

Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. DAVIS of Kentucky. I thank the gentleman for the opportunity to share with you tonight, as I remember those days being both a freshman doing Special Orders, and also serving on the Armed Services Committee before moving over to the Ways and Means Committee. I appreciate the chance to share.

One thing that I would emphasize: you know, over the last 18 months we've heard a lot of interesting arguments in the media about the 99 percent and the 1 percent and on and on, and it fueled lots of politics. I think the whole argument got best clarified by a group of Army men and women who put together a little video called ``The Real 1 Percent.'' It was focused on servicemembers and servicemembers' families.

Most recently, a little company called Ranger Up T-shirts--admittedly with a tie to my alumni in the Rangers--more accurately stated it was the 0.45 percent. It just talked about the descending level of public involvement in the military to almost a minimal level. People don't understand right now, at this time, that we are in the midst of two wars, we have threats of a wide spectrum that we've never had before. When I enlisted in the military 36 years ago next month, our Army was twice as big as it is today. We're carrying an operations tempo that's significant.

I'm very concerned about the cuts and have made that clear. I'm grateful for the leadership on the Armed

Services Committee of Chairman McKeon to try to keep moving these numbers in the right direction because it's my West Point classmates--who are commanding divisions today--who are out there facing these challenges of increased operations tempo. And what an operations tempo is is this, Madam Speaker: that's how often the units have to rotate or deploy into some type of a theater of operations, whether it's peaceful or hostile.

With the drawdowns in personnel, if operations in Afghanistan continue through 2014 and beyond, potentially, that means the deployment rate of our marines and our soldiers could actually be greater than it was in recent years and actually exceed the time during the surge in Iraq in 2007. That's unconscionable to me.

The key to successful doctrine and to successful defense policy ultimately begins with investing in people. The second thing we do is address the threat. Then, after we address the threat, we look at doctrines to deal with that, and finally systems.

Are there opportunities to make cuts in defense to save money? Absolutely. But one of the challenges that often gets missed in debates in Washington, whether it's add money or cut money, is dealing with the root causes that demand that spending. For example, if we look at acquisition spending rather than cutting people, there's tremendous opportunities for cutting of spending. The Federal acquisition regulations, the defense acquisition regulations prescribe a level of overhead that would be considered unacceptable in the private sector.

The gentleman from Virginia, who's about to speak, who is a successful executive in the automotive industry, watched great changes take place over time in terms of what it took to bring a car to marketplace. I'm going to mention this in perspective of a defense example that I personally have been touched by.

Toyota, which is headquartered in my district, redesigns every part on every vehicle and retrains every employee--the entire customer service network and distribution and supply chains are redone every 3 years. The average time to bring an end item, a vehicle, online in the United States military right now is about 15 years.

Now, I keep in my office a little memento. As a former Army aviator who flew here and in the Middle East and had two delightful tours in lower Alabama, which the current Speaker pro tem represents, at Fort Rucker, Alabama, I was very excited about the V 22 Osprey coming online. I got to go to the factory in Fort Worth and was out on the floor, and I managed to pick up a piece of scrap that was cut off from flight test article number 1, the wing spar for flight test article number 1 for the V 22 Osprey. That was 22 June, 1987. Now, here we are almost 25 years later and that aircraft has just come into service. There were starts, there were stops, there were huge additional costs that were put in by requirements that in many cases are entirely unnecessary to get a safe and flight-worthy vehicle.

What this comes down to is, if we can collapse these acquisition timeframes from 15 years to 5, we're going to save all of that cost. We can afford to make the investments that are necessary in our active duty soldiers and in our veterans. It allows us to minimize the institutional impact of these deployment tempos and these wars. I think, furthermore, it's going to allow a more agile defense industrial base that will have predictability and can adapt our technology and our tools to new threats as they emerge, because a lot of the weapon systems that come online now in fact were designed for another era and another timeframe.

To overcome that, we've got to change the process, and that's going to come by a long period of interagency reform and other efforts. But I want to tell you, in this Defense authorization, the keys to beginning that process are addressed.

I think, in a very difficult political environment between the administration calls for spending cuts without bringing about the regulatory acquisition reform that's necessary to really sustain that, the political impasse with the Senate, it's been tremendously helpful to see the leadership of Chairman McKeon, members of the Armed Services Committee to make sure that everything that's possible to be done will keep the money flowing before these rules and regulations can be changed.

The other thing that I would say as well is I voted against the Budget Control Act last year precisely because of defense sequestration. There was an unfair toll that was taken because the root causes were not addressed in that and, hopefully, this lays the foundation for that, along with other reforms that are going to be included in the bill.

At the end of the day, we have the ability to debate tonight freely. American citizens who are watching this can share whatever views they want to. They can go to bed and not be in fear because of men and women who volunteer to stand in harm's way to answer that call when it comes in the middle of the night, and I'm grateful for that, and they're the last people that we need to let down. And that's why I'm a strong supporter of this Defense authorization.

I thank you for the time to share tonight.

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