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Nominee for Navy Secretary Vows to Support Sailors, Marines

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 28, 2009 – President Barack Obama’s nominee for Navy Secretary pledged to address the service’s acquisition process to ensure sailors, Marines, and taxpayers aren’t shortchanged.

Former Mississippi Gov. Raymond Mabus Jr., acknowledged the Department of the Navy faces complex challenges.

“One of the important [challenges] is gaining control of an acquisition process which, far too often, overpromises and under prices; breaks, sometimes spectacularly, budgets and schedules; ups requirements while lowering quantities; and resists accountability,” said Mabus.

Mabus told the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing this morning that if confirmed, that would be one of his areas of concentration.

“I look forward to working with the members of this committee to make sure we don’t shortchange our sailors, Marines and taxpayers because of an out-of-control process,” he said.

Mabus noted the contributions made by the men and women of the Navy and Marine Corps. “Thousands of brave Marines and sailors are engaged, in Iraq and Afghanistan, while courageous thousands more carry out hazardous duties around the globe,” he said. “These incredible, wonderful young Americans all volunteered to serve and are defending and representing the United States and all of us.”

He also outlined the importance of the department to the nation’s interests around the world.

“The Navy and the Marine Corps play critical roles in our nation's service, fighting America's wars, projecting power where needed, protecting the sea lanes, delivering disaster relief, cooperating with other countries, in efforts to multiply force, trying and preventing conflicts from arising or from turning into things which are larger, more dangerous and harder to control, providing training and other assistance, to nations around the globe, and doing many of these things in a sea-based, minimum-footprint way,” he said.

The nominee said the office for which he is being considered has many facets, ranging from “making sure that the Navy and Marine Corps recruit, train and retain exceptional forces, to ensuring that those forces have enough of the right equipment, to do their job, to caring for them and their families daily and especially in times of crisis, to working with Congress and the other services and the larger Department of Defense.”

Mabus, a former naval surface warfare officer, called the experience one of the most profound of his life. “It helped me so much in the other things that I have undertaken,” he said.

He also served as Mississippi’s state auditor and U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia. It was his stint as governor, however, that taught him that one person can’t do everything alone.

“Cooperation and collaboration, especially with the legislative branch, is crucial if anything is to be accomplished,” he said.

Robert O. Work also addressed the committee today. Work, who is nominated to be the next undersecretary of the Navy, said he looks forward to helping Mabus lead the Navy and Marine Corps and working with members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, if they are both confirmed.

“If confirmed, I believe that my life-long experience – first as an active-duty dependent, then a military officer … a father of a military family; and leader, strategist, and analyst – well-prepares me to contribute to these decisions,” Work said.

“I will also work hard with the secretary of the Navy to ensure that our nearly 11,000 wounded warriors receive the best care possible, and that the families of our fallen are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve,” he said.

The retired Marine, who followed in his father’s footsteps and served in the Corps for 27 years, said that he’s mindful of what looks to be an especially challenging fiscal and budgetary environment.

“The incoming secretary and undersecretary will be forced to make hard decisions about the future of the Navy and Marine Corps,” he said. “However, I pledge not to enter this important job with any preconceived notions or positions.

“I’ll listen to the best available civilian and military advice and, when asked, give … honest, pragmatic advice and counsel to the secretary of the Navy [and] the secretary of Defense, and the president,” he added.

The Senate Armed Services Committee also heard testimony from nominees for Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs, General Counsel of the Department of the Army, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Global Strategic Affairs, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works.

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