Mr. Chairman, members of the Committee, good afternoon.
Sixty years ago, Allied forces fought in some of the fiercest battles of World War II. Many young men lost their lives and were grievously wounded in those battles, and I would be remiss if I did not recognize the service and heroism of at least two of the members of this distinguished committee.
The outcome of that long, difficult struggle helped to transform much of the world -- bringing freedom to distant shores; turning menacing dictatorships into peaceful democracies, and longstanding enemies into friends.
Today, another generation of Americans, along with our Coalition allies, have come to freedom’s defense. They are helping millions of liberated people transform their countries from terrorist states into peaceful democracies.
Two weeks ago, I met again with our Coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and with officials in countries that are on the front lines of this global struggle. Everywhere we traveled, I saw firsthand our men and women in uniform -- volunteers all -- undertaking difficult duties with confidence and courage. The debt we owe them and their families is immeasurable. Members of this Committee have visited with the wounded and their families. You, as I, cannot help but come away inspired by their courage, and their skill.
I thank the American people and their Congress for providing the resources and support they need to complete their missions.
It is becoming increasingly clear that the sacrifices they are making have made a difference in bringing about a world that is freer, more peaceful and that rejects the viciousness of terrorism and extremism.
Consider what has been accomplished in three years plus:
Newly free Afghans and Iraqis have held historic elections that selected moderate Muslim leadership;
Extremists are under pressure, their false promises being exposed as cruel lies;
America’s national security apparatus is seeing historic changes;
NATO is undergoing reforms in both organization and mission deploying forces outside of its traditional boundaries; and
NATO is undergoing reforms in both organization and mission deploying forces outside of its traditional boundaries; and
Some 60 nations are freshly engaged in an unprecedented multinational effort to address the proliferation of the world’s most dangerous weapons.
We are here today to discuss the President’s Fiscal Year 2006 request for the Department as well as funding for ongoing operations in the Global War on Terror.
Before discussing dollars, programs and weapons, let me offer some context for the tasks ahead.
When President Bush took office over four years ago, he recognized the need to transform America’s defense establishment to meet the unconventional and unpredictable threats of the 21st Century. The attacks of September 11th gave new urgency and impetus to efforts then underway to make our Armed Forces a more agile, expeditionary and lethal force.
The national security apparatus of the United States has undergone, and continues to undergo, historic changes on a number of fronts. We have confronted and are meeting a variety of challenges:
The urgency of moving military forces rapidly across the globe;
The necessity of functioning as a truly joint force -- as opposed to simply de-conflicting the Services;
The need to recognize we are engaged in a war and yet still bound by a number of peacetime constraints, regulations and requirements, against an enemy unconstrained by laws; and
Adjusting to a world where the threat is not from a single superpower, but from various regimes and extremist cells that can work together and proliferate lethal capabilities.
After more than three years of conflict, two central realities of this struggle are clear.
First is that this struggle cannot be won by military means alone. The Defense Department must continue to work with other government agencies to successfully employ all instruments of national power. We can no longer think in terms of neat, clear walls between departments and agencies, or even committees of jurisdiction in Congress. The tasks ahead are far too complex to remain wedded to old divisions.
A second central reality of this new era is that the United States cannot win a global struggle alone. It will take cooperation among a great many nations to stop weapons proliferation. It will take a great many nations working together to locate and dismantle global extremist cells and stop future attacks.
One thing we have learned since September 11th and in the operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere, is that in most cases, the capacities of our partners and allies can be critical to the success of our own military forces. As is the ability -- and proclivity -- of our partners to curb the spread and appeal of that poisonous ideology in their education systems, news media and religious and political institutions.
Mr. Chairman, for all the progress that has been made in recent years, the Armed Forces are still largely organized, trained and equipped to confront other conventional armies, navies and air forces -- and less to deal with the terrorists and extremists that represent the most recent lethal threats.
We have made a major commitment to modernize and expand the Army, adding some $35 billion over the next seven years, in addition to the $13 billion in the Army’s baseline budget. We are increasing deployable combat power from 33 active duty combat brigades to 43 more powerful “modular” brigade combat teams. These teams are designed to be able to deploy quickly abroad, but will have the firepower, armor and logistical support to sustain operations over time.
In addition to increasing overall combat capability, the Army’s modularity initiative, accompanied by an increase of 30,000 in the size of the operational Army, is designed to reduce stress on the force by increasing by 50 percent the amount of time active duty soldiers will be able to spend at home between overseas deployments.
And, as a result of a series of reforms we are making in the Reserve Component, those individual Reservists and Guardsmen in high demand specialties will in the future be deployed less often, for shorter periods of time and with more notice and predictability for themselves and their families.
The Department continues to reevaluate our contingency plans, operations, and force structure in light of the technological advances of the past decade.
These advances, plus improved force organization and deployment, have allowed the Department to generate considerably more combat capability with the same, or in some cases, fewer numbers of weapons platforms.
For example, in Operation Desert Storm, one aircraft carrier could engage about 175 targets per day. During Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004, one aircraft carrier could engage 650 targets per day -- more than a three fold increase. And today, one B-2 bomber can be configured to attack as many as 80 different targets with 80 precisions weapons during one sortie.
In the past, the Navy maintained a rigid deployment schedule. Ships would deploy for six months, overlapping with the ships they relieved, and upon arriving home, become relatively useless. Training and equipment readiness plummeted into what became known as the “bathtub,” with many battle groups unavailable for missions. The Navy’s new Fleet Response Plan has the capability to surge five or six carrier strike groups in 30 days, with the ability to deploy an additional two in 90 days.
In consultation with Congress and our allies, the Department is making long overdue changes in U.S. global basing, moving away from fixed Cold War garrisons and towards an ability to surge quickly to wherever capability is needed.
When President Bush took office, the Cold War had been over for a decade, but U.S. forces overseas continued to be stationed as if Soviet tank divisions threatened Germany and South Korea was still an impoverished country devastated by war. We advanced the common sense notions that U.S. troops should be where they’re needed, where they’re wanted, and where they can be used.
Those changes will bring home some 70,000 troops and up to 100,000 of their family members. Military personnel and their families will experience fewer changes of station and less disruption in their lives -- an important factor in reducing stress on the force.
The new global security environment drives the approach to our domestic force posture as well. The Department continues to maintain more military bases and facilities than are needed -- consuming and diverting valuable personnel and resources. Base Realignment and Closure, or BRAC, will allow the Department to reconfigure its current infrastructure to one that maximizes warfighting capability and efficiency. And it will provide substantial savings over time -- money that is needed to improve the quality of life for the men and women in uniform, for force protection, and for investments in needed weapons systems.
Another challenge the Department faces is attracting and retaining high-caliber people to serve in key positions. For decades, the Department has lived with personnel practices that would be unacceptable to any successful business. With the support of Congress, the Department is now instituting a new National Security Personnel System, designed to provide greater flexibility in hiring, assignments and promotions -- allowing managers to put the right people in the right positions when and where they are needed. About 60,000 Department of Defense employees, the first spiral in a wave of over 300,000, will transition into this new system as early as this summer.
The Pentagon also began to change the way it does business. We have adopted an evolutionary approach to acquisition. Instead of waiting for an entire system to be ready before fielding it, this approach has made it possible, for example, to more rapidly field new robots to detonate roadside bombs in Iraq.
Some thoughts about the future.
To the seeming surprise of some, our enemies have brains. They’re constantly adapting and adjusting to what we’re doing. They combine medieval sensibilities with modern technology and media savvy to find new ways to exploit perceived weaknesses and to weaken the civilized world. We must employ the lessons of the past three and half years of war to be able to anticipate, adjust, act and react with greater agility.
These necessary reforms have encountered, and will continue to encounter, resistance. It is always difficult to depart from the known and the comfortable. Abraham Lincoln once compared his efforts to reorganize the Union Army during the Civil War to bailing out the Potomac River with a teaspoon.
But, consider the challenge our country faces to not only reorganize the military, but to also transform the enormous Defense bureaucracy and fight two wars at the same time. And, if that were not enough, to do all this for the first time in an era with:
24 hour worldwide satellite news coverage, with live coverage of terrorist attacks, disasters and combat operations;
An increasingly casual regard for the protection of classified documents and information; and
A U.S. government still organized for the Industrial Age, not the Information Age.
FY 2006 Request
Mr. Chairman, the President’ s Fiscal Year 2006 budget request makes some tough choices and proposes to fund a balanced combination of programs to develop and field the capabilities most needed by America’s military.
- It continues the Navy’s and Marine Corps’ shift towards a new generation of ships and related capabilities;
- It continues the acquisition of Air Force, Navy and other aircraft to sustain U.S. air dominance and provide strong airlift and logistics support;
- It continues to strengthen U.S. missile defenses; and
- It advances new intelligence and communications capabilities with many times the capacity of existing systems.
The budget would maintain the President’s commitment to our military men and women and their families. It includes a 3.1 percent increase in military base pay. The budget also keeps us on track to eliminate all inadequate military family housing units over the next three years.
FY 2005 Supplemental Request
As to the current budget process, I appreciate your efforts to move the President’s supplemental request quickly. It is critical that the Military Services receive these funds very soon. The Army’s basic readiness and operating account will be exhausted in early May -- a matter of days -- and it has already taken to stretching existing funds to make up the shortfalls. I urge Congress to achieve final passage of the supplemental before the Senate recesses later this week.
Afghan and Iraqi Security Forces: Transferring resources away from the training and equipping of Afghan and Iraqi security forces would seriously impede their ability to assume responsibilities now borne by U.S. troops -- at vastly greater cost to our nation in both dollars and lives. We need the flexibility to channel this funding to where it is needed most.
Coalition Partners: The House’s reduction in funding for sustaining other Coalition forces, as well as the under-funding of the President’s request to reimburse cooperating nations, will make it vastly more difficult for allies and partners to support military and stability operations in Iraq and Afghanistan -- further increasing the strain and stress on U.S. forces.
Military Construction: Failure to fund projects that Central Command requested impedes our ability to support ongoing operations in the theater. Of special concern are the projects at Ali Al Salem Airfield and Al Dhafra Air Base to provide needed upgrades to logistics, intelligence and surveillance support.
We believe that the restriction on acquisition of the DD(X) destroyer would drive up costs, and restrict options while the Navy and the Department conduct a detailed evaluation of the program. The Senate restrictions on the USS John F. Kennedy would prevent the Navy from freeing up resources to counter current threats while preparing for future challenges.
Finally, under-funding known costs, such as higher fuel expenditures, or including new and unfunded death and injury benefits in the final bill, will of necessity force us to divert resources from other troop needs.
I respectfully ask this Committee to take these considerations into account.
Mr. Chairman, across the world, brave men and women wearing America’s uniform are doing the hard work of history. I know you share my desire to see that they have the support they need. Bringing the hope of freedom to some of the darkest corners of the Earth will render a powerful blow to the forces of extremism who have killed thousands of innocent people in our country and across the globe.
I thank you for all you have done on behalf of our troops, and I look forward to responding to your questions.