Calvert Remarks at FY24 Budget Hearing for the United States Navy and Marine Corps (As Prepared)
The Defense Subcommittee will come to order.
Today, the Subcommittee will receive testimony from:
• the Honorable Carlos del Toro, Secretary of the Navy;
• Admiral Michael Gilday, Chief of Naval Operations;
• And General David Berger, Commandant of the Marine Corps, welcome to the Subcommittee.
The United States Navy and Marine Corps team is the cornerstone of our nation's defense and represents the embodiment of our commitment to global freedom and stability. With a presence in every corner of the world, this team stands ready to defend our national interests and the interests of our allies at a moment's notice. Their mission to maintain freedom of navigation on the world's seas and project American power, when necessary, cannot be overshadowed by their unmatched ability to respond to natural disaster or humanitarian crisis.
By embracing new technologies and tactics, the Navy and Marine Corps team are better equipped to respond to a wider range of threats and operate effectively in contested environments. This transformation will also improve their ability to work alongside our allies and partners.
By fully implementing Force Design 2030 the Marine Corps is positioned to deter and react to Chinese aggression and fulfill the Congressional mandate to seize and defense of advanced naval bases and conduct land operations for naval campaigns. Operating within the Chinese A2AD weapons-engagement-zone is not a decision taken lightly, and is the only option.
They are the embodiment of American strength and resilience. As a nation, we must continue to invest in our Navy and Marine Corps team to ensure that they have the resources, training, and equipment they need to carry out their mission and keep our country safe.
The Navy and Marine Corps’ combined budget request for Fiscal Year 2024 is $255.8 billion, roughly $11 billion over the Fiscal Year 2023 enacted level.
At first glance, the request seems to represent a sizeable investment towards our future. However, given the rapid pace of inflation and challenges faced by our industrial base, this budget does not do enough to keep pace with our adversaries.
The Navy continues to retire ships faster than it builds them, putting us dangerously behind our adversaries in ship count.
I am troubled by the Navy’s request to decommission 11 ships and build only 9. While the Marine Corps accelerates its force redesign, the budget fails to include any significant investment in amphibious ship construction. I know you have to make trade-offs, but you need to explain to this committee and the American pubic how this makes sense.
The Navy is seeing inflationary impacts to the pricing of many aspects of its readiness. Flying hours are six percent more expensive than in fiscal year 2023. Rising port fees and competition for shipyard labor is driving an increase in the cost of ship maintenance and new construction. Sustaining and modernizing existing infrastructure is costing five percent more than general inflation.
This budget also fails to tackle the aging strike fighter inventory. In both the skies and the seas, the Navy and Marine Corps must plan for looming shortfalls. Once again, this Administration is betting on Congress to bail it out.
I am encouraged to see this budget meets the Department’s long-time goal of possessing long-range strike capability a reality. For the first time, the Navy’s budget proposes to procure eight Conventional Prompt Strike hypersonic weapons. I look forward to hearing about how that effort is going.
The budget also proposes multiyear procurement for a variety of munitions. We must provide the demand signal that industry needs to scale to the capacity that today’s threats demand. However, this cannot be done without proving real savings and producing real results. I look forward to hearing more about this proposal today.
I am also encouraged by the successes we have seen when we partner with the private sector. If we are to succeed in a rapidly changing threat environment, the Navy must continue to experiment with commercial technology to address our evolving operational needs. We need to continue to invest in these partnerships.
I look forward to hearing from you all about a range of issues that continue to face the Navy and Marine Corps today. These include recruiting and retention, improving quality of life for our servicemembers and their families, establishing stable and predictable plans for our shipbuilding programs, improving our defense industrial base, and supporting rapid innovation.
Finally, I’d like to hear General Berger’s thoughts on how this budget advances his strategy to shape the Marine Corps and position it for success.
Before we hear from our witnesses, I would like to recognize the distinguished Ranking Member, Ms. McCollum, for any opening comments.