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Navy Officials Hold a Press Briefing on FY23 Navy Budget, March 28, 2022

STAFF: All right. Good afternoon, I'm Lieutenant Katie Diener, the public affairs officer for the Navy's FY23 President's Budget Request. The Honorable Meredith Berger, Performing the Duties of Undersecretary of the Navy and Rear Admiral Gumbleton will brief the Department of the Navy submission for fiscal year 2023. Following the overview, they will take questions for approximately 10 minutes. Please limit your questions to one with a follow up. Ms. Berger, Rear Admiral Gumbleton, over to you.

PTDO UNDER SECRETARY OF THE NAVY MEREDITH A. BERGER: Thank you. Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Meredith Berger, and I'm the Acting Undersecretary of the Navy, and along with Rear Admiral Gumbleton, the Navy's Budget Officer. I am pleased to provide to you an overview of our F.Y. '23 budget request.

This request delivers the resources necessary to operate and build a lethal, integrate, forward maneuverable naval force capable of preserving freedom of navigation, deterring aggression, and defending our nation and our way of life. The department's budget request supports the nation's priorities, driven by the hierarchy of strategy documents you see listed here. Forefront in this group is the national defense strategy.

The Department of Navy's budget request enables the Department of Defense's investment in the three pillars of the national defense strategy: integrated deterrence, campaigning forward, and building upon our interring advantages to fulfill the strategic priorities identified in the NDS.

Secretary Del Toro's strategic guidance to the Navy and Marine Corps is fully aligned with the national defense strategy and identifies the Department of the Navy's three enduring priorities: strengthen maritime dominance, empower our people, and strengthen strategic partnerships and alliances. Likewise, the Chief of Naval Operations NAVPLAN and the Commandant of the Marine Corps’s Force Design [2030], provide the direction to the services to guide our Navy and Marine Corps team.

In line with the NDS and supporting Secretary Del Toro's enduring priorities, this budget request is strategy based, analytically driven, and reform-minded to maximize the value of every dollar entrusted to us.

The Department of Navy will train, build, and equip the world's most powerful naval force in order to defend the nation, our allies, our values, and our interests. We will build toward integrated all-domain power with the Navy, Marine Corps, and at times the Coast Guard to contribute to the joint force.

We are committed to building a modernized naval force, operating forward with sufficient capability, size, and mix to deter and defend, prioritizing readiness to provide integrated, lethal, and survivable forces. 

Implementing Force Design 2030, the commandant's initiatives include modernization efforts to optimize the Marine Corps through the demands of naval expeditionary warfare and enabling our marines to be the nation's stand in force able to both deter and act inside an adversary's operating area. We prioritize innovation and distributed maritime operations, investing in long range fires and hypersonic weapons as well as increases to unmanned platforms, and we will resource installation and facility resilience, climate readiness, and a once-in-a-generation recapitalization of our four public ship yards. 

Our people are the foundational strength of this department. We will build and sustain a strong, diverse, and healthy force, ready at the time at all times, and focused on war fighting and leadership at every level.

The Navy and Marine Corps invest in talent management, and we are producing more capable, more accountable sailors and marines while increasing our ability to attract and retain the most talented individuals across the force.

Our request provides a pay increase to all war fighters and civilians, supports our families and furthers our efforts to eradicate harmful behaviors. We increase funding to expand education and training, building on the intellectual capability of our war fighters as well as support for their families with increases in child and youth programs.

The Department of Navy recognizes that we are stronger through our partnerships. Our partnerships across the government and among our global network provide an unmatched and irreplaceable advantage. We will work to sustain and expand that advantage by seeking to achieve seamless integration, communication, and collaboration with each of our allies and partners. 

We support investments in the European and Pacific Deterrence Initiatives while supporting our industrial base partners here at home. Focused on mission readiness, we invest in solutions that increase the department's resilience to climate change and reduce our adverse impacts on the environment. And we prioritize active campaigning through our operations, exercises, engagement, and interoperability with our allies and partners across the world.

These enduring priorities centered on the nation's strategic objectives and driven by the nation, excuse me, driven by the Navy and Marine Corps team are physically balanced and deliver integrated, all domain naval power capable of maintaining our maritime advantage, strengthening our ties with allies, and protecting the American people.

As we look to our security and operational environment we face increasing global threats from coercive and maligned actors. We are looking broadly at the war in Ukraine and how it may embolden others around the world. China and Russia, two autocratic powers increasingly aggressive actions threaten peace, stability, and rules-based order.

China has expanded and modernized nearly every aspect of the People's Liberation Army to include an exponential expansion of their maritime capabilities, and capacity with a focus on eroding U.S. military advantage.

China has militarized islands in the South China Sea, and has drastically increased their incursions in the maritime environment to normalize their provocative behavior. And events in Ukraine and the rapid expansion of China's nuclear force highlight the need for our strategic deterrence capabilities and forces.

Over 90 percent of trade and more than 90 percent of international communication cables span the -- span across the ocean floor. The value of forward naval forces cannot be overstated. We provide a combat credible presence ensuring critical waterways remain open.

Our forward-deployed and strategic forces signal formidable strength to our allies, and deter our adversaries. American security rests on our ability to control the seas and project power across all domains.

Your Navy and Marine Corps team must be resourced to operate, build, train, and equip the most modern, technologically advanced, and combat-ready force. As of today 28, March, the Navy and Marine Corps provide forward postured maritime-based forces including over 53,000 sailors and 29,000 Marines.

Currently deployed or underway on 128 ships to include five carrier strike groups, and two expeditionary strike groups. Along with our allies and partners, we are operating from the sea bed to space to provide immediate response options to our leadership to deter and defend against our adversaries.

Overall your Navy and Marin Corps are engaged in joint, integrated operations around the world, and demand for our presence continues to increase. This requires careful management of deployment schedules given the general trend of declining ship count over the next future years' defense plan while requirements for any of forces remains high.

To continue Rear Admiral Gumbleton will now highlight further how our Navy and Marine Corps are supporting our global requirements and then he will detail our investments in this budget request to meet Secretary Del Toro's enduring priorities to strengthen maritime dominance, empower our people, and strengthen strategic partnerships and alliances.

In support of the Defense Department's pillars of integrated deterrence, campaigning forward, and building upon our enduring advantages. Rear Admiral Gumbleton.

REAR ADMIRAL JOHN GUMBLETON: Thank you, Undersecretary Berger. Transitioning to the fiscal slides, the FY 2023 President's Budget Request is $230.8 billion. This was a $9.1 billion and 4.1 percent increase of our recently enacted FY '22 budget.

On the top, you will see a graph by service split percentage, a Navy budget at $180.5 billion and Marine Corps budget at $50.3 billion. Beginning in the lower-left our Navy budget increased by almost 5 percent, shows real growth in all appropriations. In the lower right-hand, our Marine Corps budget increases by nearly 2 percent.

The significant growth in operation and maintenance and restriction development. Within Marine Corps funding you'll note what looks like a 35 percent reduction in military construction, this is an artifact of how generous Congress was during the FY '22 enactment.

Overall, the growth is achieved in this request budget decisions reinforced by warfighter analytics, and tough choices were still required. You will see in these next slides how the department's request enables us to provide the joint force commander globally responsive, combat-ready Naval expeditionary forces aligned with and supporting the Department of Defense strategic pillar.

For ship construction, the department appreciates the strong support by Congress for naval shipbuilding in FY '22, which include five vessels over our PB '22 request. This year we plan to procure an additional nine battle force ships.

Pivotal to supporting our national strategic priority of integrated deterrence the details of our submarine investments include the Columbia class program request of $5.9 billion for the third and final year of incremental funding for the ship, as well as advanced procurement for future Columbia class submarines.

The Virginia class submarine budget request $6.6 billion or 25 percent of the appropriation for two Block V fast attack boats as well as the advanced procurement for the '24 and '25 boats. Within our surface ship portfolio, the Ford class carrier program requests $2.5 billion incremental funding for CVN-80 and 81.

The department's request funds two destroyers at $5 billion, while seeking multi-year contract for nine plus one ships across the FYDP [Future Years Defense Program]. And the frigate request includes $1.2 billion for the fourth ship of the class.

Reviewing our amphibious platforms this request includes one LHA ship with the first increment of $1.1 billion as well as one LPD for $1.7 billion, which will end production of this ship class. Turning to our logistics platforms, one replenishment oiler is requested for $795 million, and one towing, salvage, and rescue ship for $96 million.

We also request two additional ship-to-shore connectors, and we request $618 million of advanced procurement for the Harry S. Truman's complex refueling overhaul. Our request includes two used sealift ships for $141 million, an affordable way to recapitalize our strategic lift requirement.

And as you can see on the pie chart, 56 percent of the SCN request is to support our nuclear-powered vessels. Columbia at 21 percent will rise to over 30 percent of our SCN account in FY '26 as we begin serial production. Finally, the department will request to decommission 24 vessels.

Here our Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Plan or SIOP will provide modernized maintenance facilities needed to sustain that future fleet. We appreciate Congress' strong support for SIOP adding 839 million in our FY '22 enactment.

The department's FY '23 investment of $1.7 billion is required for our four naval shipyards to be ready to sustain our Virginia and Ford class vessels. As noted on the slide table, construction efforts comprised the bulk of our request and are targeted to recapitalize aging dry docks and three of four of our shipyards to support these modern platforms. 

Our OPN replaces outdated equipment by purchasing a new reactor servicing complex, a 175 ton heavy lift portal crane, and several smaller pieces of equipment at other shipyards.

Shifting to force design, we ensure that marine forces operating forward provide the foundational integrated deterrence and day-to-day campaigning necessary to build advantage with our allies and partners. 

Entering year three of this 10-year comprehensive transformation effort, force design focuses on three priorities: equipment modernization, talent management, and training and education. During the FY23 build, the Marine Corps divested of legacy capability and capacity not aligned to the future threat, reallocating $700 million of savings into war fighting investment priorities. The most pressing listed on the table including long range precision fires, networks, and sensors.

Modernization investments have also included over $20 million for updating manpower systems and $150 million for training and education programs in FY23. Through these efforts, the Marine Corps will function as the stand in force, operating inside actively contested spaces, facilitating and leveraging all-domain tools as the eyes and ears of the fleet and the joint force.

Shifting to aviation procurement, the department appreciates the strong congressional support of our aviation program in FY22 including the added funding for 22 additional aircraft. The department's request of $16.8 billion PB-23 supports the start of procurement for the MQ-25 Stingray and multi-engine training system, and that is the program buy for the MV-22s and CMV-22s. 

In this budget, our significant aviation investments include a production of F-35B and Charlie Lightning IIs. We're requesting 28 F-35s in this budget, request five E-2D Advanced Hawkeyes as they enter the final year of their five-year multiyear contract, procures five additional KC 130Js, also entering the final year of their five-year multiyear contract.

Moving to rotary wing, we are requesting 10 heavy lift CH-53 King Stallions, and we finalized the recapitalization of our rotary wing trainers for the procurement of 26 additional TH-73A training helicopters.

And lastly, we are increasing investments in unmanned aviation. The Marine Corps procures five additional MQ-9A Reapers, and the Navy resumes the procurement of three MQ-4 Tritons, and begins the first year of procurement of four MQ-25 Stingrays, paving the way into integrated unmanned carrier aviation.

Moving to enhanced competitive capabilities, this year's budget request continues investment to develop improved war fighting capabilities across all domains. This year's budget request - pardon me.

Research and development funding increases by 9 percent for Navy and 6 percent for Marine Corps over the '22 enacted amounts. The Navy remains committed to the strategic deterrence mission, spending $1.2 billion of R&D funding to recapitalize all portions of the undersea leg of the triad including submarines, TACAMO, Trident E4, and our nuclear command, control, and communications network.

Other significant Navy investments in weapons and platforms include increases to hypersonic weapons through conventional prompt strike and standard missile, both strike fighter variants and several classified programs.

In FY23, the department is procuring 22 small and medium unmanned undersea vehicles, and the Marine Corps continues investment in force design capabilities, including NEMESIS and MQ-9A mission systems. Embedded within programs on the slide the department continues to build enduring advantage with investments in climate. These departmental investments are aligned to maintain maritime dominance, balancing investment in both manned and unmanned platforms with airborne, surface, and subsurface missions.

In addition to these platforms, investments in Project Overmatch support linking them together seamlessly to integrate the sensors, platforms, and their weapons to facilitate distributed maritime operations.

As we transition to this next section I would emphasize that readiness remains a clear department priority and FY23 continues prior year gains on ship and aircraft maintenance efforts to improve overall department readiness. Campaigning forward influences competitive perceptions of the benefits and costs and risks inherent in their actions while amplifying our strengths.

On the top of the slide, our ship maintenance account decreases by 3 percent below '22. However, this decrease is due to a one-time spike for private sector contracted submarine maintenance in our PB22 request. In this account, we improved shipyard performance by marinating 37,000 dedicated civilians while implanting process improvements and reforms.

The Navy continues to see positive performance in the OPN pilot to competitively contract private sector maintenance across both fleets. 25 of our 41 surface ship availabilities are in this pilot. 

At the bottom of the slide, ship operations has a 6 percent budget increase, resources deliveries of military sealift vessels, requesting additional underway days for our civilian mariners and to support grey-hulled warships, funding increases to reflect our predicted deployment schedules with increased spare parts, consumable materials, and training.

Turning to Marine Corps equipment and readiness at the top of the slide, you'll note that budget remains flat and consistent with the depot maintenance required for wheeled and track vehicles. Modest increases to the ground equipment request due to depot rates are offset by planned programmatic reductions and maintenance requirements for automotive and combat vehicle equipment.

At the bottom, Marine Expeditionary Force training and readiness is prioritized with funding of $1.2 billion, a $240 million increase from last year's request. This resources the recently stood up new Marine Littoral Regiment in Hawaii and will enable to conduct exercises with our allies and enhance our presence in the Indo-Pacific. Finally, this increase supports talent management reform with a $20 million increase to manpower systems and modernization.

Looking at aircraft depot maintenance at the top of the slide, funding improves over '22 to sustain gains in aircraft mission capable rates. This includes funding increases for $53 million for airframes, $132 million for engines, and $31 million for component repairs over FY22 levels. 

The Navy continues to make progress improvements at our aircraft depots, reducing the time to conduct maintenance and returning aircraft and engines back to the fleet. In the bottom half under air operations this budget increase is applying our program by 16 percent to account for more up aircraft, increased prices for parts, and enabling pilots to execute more of their training matrix, leading to improved air crew proficiency and safety.

Accordingly, we're resourcing 38,000 more flying hours than '22 for fleet operations. And finally, to train our student naval aviators we're resourcing 19,000 more flying hours. This critical investment will support increased student pilot throughput, supporting the recovery of our tactical aircraft pilot shortfall.

At the top left of the slide you'll see the Navy installations and support graph. The department appreciates Congress's support for our shore infrastructure in FY22 and the one-time adds of $565 million for natural disasters and $408 million for Red Hill efforts. When you back out the one-time Red Hill and natural disaster repair funding, the Navy shore infrastructure funding increases 7 percent in '23 over FY22 enacted. Navy increases FSRM by 3 percent with facilities sustainment funded at -- to 85 percent of the OSD model.

In regards to climate change, the '23 budget increases climate investments by a total of $137 million across the shore providing funding for electric vehicle leasing, charging stations, installation resiliency, and natural resource carbon sequestration projects.

Reviewing the top-right of the slide and Marine Corps installations in support you'll note an increase in the Marine Corps FSRM portfolio to $1.3 billion in FY23, however, sustainment percentage drops from 80 to 56 percent.

The Marine Corps is undertaking an OSD-approved pilot initiative for holistic FSRM modeling, which emphasizes restoration and modernization, and demolition instead of sustainment funding. This tiered-based approach will reduce footprint while prioritizing investments in the highest valued facilities.

We look forward to learning from this pilot to influence future budget requests. Finally, the Marine Corps also prioritizes tackling the climate crisis with investments that include electric non-tactical vehicles, and carbon sequestration efforts. Moving to military construction in the bottom half of the slide.

We appreciate the strong Congressional support in FY22 by adding 23 projects and $2 billion. Including additional funds supporting SIOP. The department's PB23 request of $3.8 billion funds 28 projects grouped as you can see on this slide including 15 projects for the Navy, and 13 projects for the Marine Corps.

These investments support new platforms and enhance missions such as pier -- pier to support Virginia class submarines with Virginia payload modules at Naval Station Norfolk and F-35 fighter aircraft at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point. 

Our people provide the foundational strength for the department, and by building enduring advantages through our naval forces we created a more resilient, agile, and innovative team.

Not only do we value continuous training but we are committed to fostering a culture of warfighting excellence built on leadership, dignity, and respect. Accordingly, this budget request includes a 4.6 percent pay raise -- pay increase for sailors, marines, and our civilians.

You'll note that both Navy, Marine Corps are reducing end strength to get our budget request rises in support of this pay increase. In the subsequent slides we’ll cover these programs and note that we are growing part of civilian team to reflect increases in our SAPR [Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program] and climate initiatives.

Not depicted on this slide our PB23 request number includes funding the 203,000 Navy and 22,000 Marine Corps civilians. The department cannot achieve our mission without their dedicated support. Now moving to Navy personnel at the top of this slide the chart shows the active-duty Navy FY23 PB request will decrease by 620 sailors.

Total Navy end strength reflects decreases associated with the force structure changes offset by growth to buy back medical manpower billets. Moving to reserve Navy at the bottom of the slide, we continue our commitment to our sailors and the training we have invest in them as we prioritize assessing active-duty sailors into our reserve fleet.

Navy reserve end strength decreases as we reduce reserve personnel supporting LCS units, headquarter staffs, and installation services. Those reductions are partially offset by increases in our fleet maritime operation centers to provide increased command and control surge capacity.

Looking now at our active duty Marine Corps, our request supports an active force of 177,000 Marines with a planned one to three deployment to dwell ratio. Also, reflected here is a reduction of 1,500 Marines from the PB22 plan to continue alignment with the commandants force design efforts.

This request also invests in talent management reform initiatives to offer financial incentives to attract and retain talent. To the bottom, our request supports of 33,000 reserve force of ready for mobilization Marines. Marines with an end strength decrease of 3,800 from the PB22 plan.

Reduced Marine end strength is due to divestment of one legacy UAV squadron and recruiting and retention challenges caused by COVID-19. However, we will return to a planned end strength of 36,600 by FY24.

This budget request will allow for stabilization of reserve force enabling it to seamlessly integrate with the active component force to support global operations and emerging requirements.

With respect to the department's family housing programs located at the top portion of the slide, this year's request includes $324 million supporting three government-owned new construction projects at NSA Andersen, Guam, and revitalizing 96 townhomes at bases in Japan.

These investments directly impact the quality of life of our forward-deployed sailors and marines while executing the Guam Defense Policy Review Initiative as forces relocate from Okinawa to Guam. The bottom half of this slide highlights the Department's view that taking care of our people and families is a direct force multiplier.

With regards to our sexual assault prevention and response, the department has increased our funding by $110 million. This is enable implementation of the Independent Review Commission recommendations along the four lines of effort: accountability, prevention, climate and culture, and victim care and support.

The majority of the costs associated with the IRC recommendations are to create a full-time prevention workforce for both the Navy and Marine Corps. This request continues to offer education and training opportunities at our flagship institutions, at our pilot and Naval community college, and tuition assistance programs.

And finally, the department's child and youth programs support the mobile military family’s readiness by providing affordable, high-quality programs. Our PB23 request increases by 38 percent or $150 million over FY22, supporting a new child development center at Point Loma, the $15 an hour minimum wage increase, and fully funds the fee assistance program.

In our final section building on Secretary Del Toro's top three priorities, I would emphasize that finding ways to expand industrial-based partnerships is critical to our strength and capacity.

Likewise, campaigning forward operating alongside our allies and partners changes the cost and risk calculations of our adversaries as an advantage that China and Russia can never match. With respect to our critical industrial partners, the department has made investments in the Columbia integrated enterprise plan, $231 million to fund continuous production of long-lead-time components, and material to stabilize the supplier base.

We're also requesting $541 million to invest in the submarine industrial base. This includes targeted investments to shipbuilder infrastructure, supply chain capacity, and strategic outsourcing, and workforce training. In our weapons industrial base, we include $79 million investment for special tooling and test equipment to increase a SM-6 production.

And $37.6 million of our budget request is focused on building supply chain resilience for future weapons including hypersonic weapons, directed energy weapons, and advanced batteries. Now shifting back to our international allies and partners.

Although not an exhaustive list, some of our many important operations and exercises that our Navy and Marine Corps participate include most recently French, Italian, U.S. aircraft carrier strike groups operated together strengthening our maritime integration. 

Later this summer 17 NATO allies and partners will work together in the Baltic Sea showing the resolve of the NATO alliance. UNITAS, the longest running multinational maritime exercise in the world will commence later this fall with our South American partners and allies. 

Our CARAT series of exercises reinforces U.S. presence and commitment to South East Asia, improving Navy and Marine Corp interoperability and capabilities with our partners. These critical partnerships generate key capabilities, increase our capacity, provide access to strategic positions and defend the rules based international order. With allies and partners we are stronger and more secure than we could ever be on our own.

MS. BERGER: Thank you, Rear Admiral Gumbleton for that detailed overview of the Department and Navy's investments and priorities in our FY23 budget request. To summarize the Department's budget priorities, prioritizes maritime dominance in our people and drives operational concepts and capabilities. It improves our readiness through sustained investment and performance improvement and accelerates investments in more lethal network capabilities and concepts integrated with the joint force.

Finally, the Department's request was a collaborative, analytically-driven approach maximizing the resources available. It represents the best mix of readiness for today, modernization for tomorrow and investment in the future while taking care of our sailors, marines, civilians, and their families and strengthening our allies and partnership.

Rear Admiral Gumbleton and I thank you for joining us her today and we look forward to your questions.

STAFF: We're going to start on the phone with John Ismay, New York Times.

Q: Yes, hi. The single LHA line item, I want to know if that was a intended replacement for the Bonhomme Richard and then I wondering if you can get into some detail on the ship decommissionings?

I saw that in the DOD guidance but not in the Navy paperwork. You mentioned a cruiser -- cruisers LSDs and LCSs.

ADM. GUMBLETON: I'll take that one. So the LHA was always part of the plan so it was independent of the BHR. It was just a program shift that we worked to build. Pivoting to with respect to the 24 ships to decommission that does include nine LCS, it includes five cruisers, it includes two submarines, two oilers, two ESDs and four LSDs; 16 of which will require a -- are not at service life and we'll request a waiver through Congress.

STAFF: All right we'll go around the room to Sam LaGrone, USNI.

Q: Hi. It's -- I had a couple of clarifications on numbers here. So in the '21 ship procurement plan it said at this point in the FFG 52 program y’all were going to be doing two ships a year. Your budget has one. It's -- what should I read into that?

And then the number of F-35Cs are down from, I think, an anticipated 20. So what is it, 17. I can't -- I don't have the thing in front of me. And can you -- can you kind of put some color as to why that number is down?

ADM. GUMBLETON: You bet. So it was JSF first in the first part of the question, again, sir?

Q: It was FFG(X) 52 was supposed to be two this year.

ADM. GUMBLETON: So FFG two years previously there was some consideration about it opening up a second yard and trying to get to, you know, a more profound building profile with FFG. Throttle back one yard looking at what we would call a saw tooth, so what you see in the budget request is what one yard can build over the FYDP. And so that answers the first part. With respect to JSF, the numbers did come down from a previous budget view and that simply reflects the balance of this budget request as you look at our portfolios increasing for ship construction in R&D while focusing readiness.

We have a whole force JSF. Simply we chose to bring those numbers down.

STAFF: All right, we'll go on the phone. Vago Muradian, Defense Aerospace.

Q: Hi, everybody. Thanks very much for talking to us today. The question I've got is at a time when there's almost universal acknowledgement that the United States Navy is not large enough. How is the Navy justifying the ship retirements, including for nine littoral combat ships, right, but that $4 billion or so dollars could have addressed other modernization priorities, it could have addressed readiness concerns. It could have addressed shipyard concerns. How -- how are you guys justifying these retirements?

MS. BERGER: Well, we -- we are taking that in consideration a lot of the things that you just mentioned and it's a hard thing to make a decision to decommission ships but what we are looking at is what offers the best capability against the threats that we are facing.

And so as we think about how to build a force that we can sustain within the budget that we have that's how we've made some of these, again, tough decisions. And as we look across LCS, this is a place where we have identified that there are real costs, especially at the -- for the freedom class to be able to make some of the repairs that are needed on those as we measure that against what is the best contribution to the capabilities that we need.

We are getting -- we are not finding that we need to have the anti-submarine mission set anymore and so we're able to take that from the decom and put some of that funding towards some of the capability that we need and similarly we're grateful for the support for the decommissioning of the cruisers. This is -- this is a place where we can prioritize safety and also be able to make sure that overall we have the right mix to meet the capability and capacity that we need.

GUMBELTON: If I could add to the Under’s answer. This is about opportunity cost. ASW mission, that went away. Roughly $50 million a year support cost for these vessels and an opportunity to reinvest $1.8 billion when this ASW mission sets going to be taken up by the frigate of which we're buying the fourth of the line in this budget request. So it -- it speaks to a return on investment to get at the lethality we need for our near peer competitor.

STAFF: Alright, Megan Eckstein (Defense News)

Q: (Inaudible)… I can see in the slides you have line items for SSNX, DDGX, next generation air dominance. Last year there had been a memo outlining the concern that it was difficult to invest in all three at the same time. And I just wonder if these dollar amounts that you have represent keeping all three programs on track or if any have had to be say like accelerated or decelerated based on budget concerns.

GUMBELTON: Yes, thank you for that question. I would suggest that right now I personally am not tracking when we need to have the next ship design come online. So forgive me for that. But this does represent, though, is the acknowledgement that we do need to invest in those future classes. So with SSNX and DDGX you certainly see that. And although NGAD is a, you know, a classified line, investments do go up over the FYDP somewhat dramatically for NGAD. So we know we have to get after this and this reflects our best balance versus risk on those platforms we need to move out on.

STAFF: Justin Katz, Breaking Defense

Q: Thank you. On the ship decommissionings, just two pointed questions. The first one is how much money do you anticipate you can save if you decommission all 24 ships and then a follow-up. Is there another portion of your budget that is depending upon the savings you expect from those decommissions?

In other words, will you have a budget short fall if everything else stays the same but you're not allowed to decommission some of those ships?

GUMBELTON: Yes, thank you, Justin. The -- so 24 ships, 16 of which somewhat early, certainly the LSC. The total value of the reinvestment opportunity is $3.6 billion across the FYDP. Now I -- sometimes Congress opines that they don't want us to decom a ship and generally we work with the committees to restore value to, for example, our personnel and ops and maintenance lines to sustain those ships.

If that were not to happen than that would be a hole in the budget.

Q: Is $3.6 [billion] for all 24 ships?

GUMBELTON: That's correct.

Q: OK. Thank you.

STAFF: All right, we have time for one last question. We'll go to Mallory, USNI.

Q: Hi, thanks so much. I want to follow up on what you said about the next generation air dominance. You said the investment got quite dramatically throughout the FYDP. This is a multibillion program for the next generation fighter. How do you justify classifying that spending and how long do you think it's going to be classified and how do you make the case to the tax payer that you need this money when you can't tell them how much it is?

GUMBELTON: Yes, thank you for that question. Our -- our folks on the Hill who monitor this program and approve those budgets are read into these programs and they have full access to understand what we're requesting and what they cost. Thank you.

Q: But why is it classified? 

GUMBELTON: You'd have to direct that question to the program manager.

STAFF: All right everyone. That's all the time that we have for today. Thank you for coming.

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