Chair McCollum Statement at the Fiscal Year 2022 United States Army Budget Hearing

2021-05-05 12:25
Statement

Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN), Chair of the Defense Subcommittee, delivered the following remarks at the Subcommittee's hearing on the Fiscal Year 2022 United States Army Budget.

This afternoon the Committee will receive testimony on the posture of the United States Army. 

Our two witnesses are the Honorable John E. Whitley, Acting Secretary of the Army, and General James C. McConville, the Chief of Staff of the Army. 

Both witnesses have long, distinguished careers. 

Secretary Whitely, this is your first time testifying before the Committee.  General McConville has testified before the Subcommittee before, and we welcome you back. 

And while we enjoy a strong working relationship with both of you, I would be remiss if I didn’t commend President Biden for his recent nomination of Christine Wormuth to be the first female Secretary of the Army.  This is long overdue and we welcome the opportunity to work with
Ms. Wormuth.

Gentlemen, your public message is “people first”. Now, more than ever, we need to ensure that the health and welfare of our soldiers and their families is truly the number one priority. 

We have soldiers deployed in 140 countries around the world and our Army National Guard has been called upon to execute an unprecedented number of missions. 

This Committee expects a continued investment in the health, safety, and wellness of our soldiers and their families. 

This includes ensuring that Army leadership is being proactive in eliminating instances of sexual assault, harassment, and ideological extremism in the ranks. 

I am also concerned about the constant pace of Army National Guard deployments. 

Our Guardsmen and women are currently engaged in missions addressing issues such as acts of civil disobedience, Capitol complex security, Southern border missions, and overseas operations. 

I worry about what this “deployment fatigue” does to the morale of our soldiers and how you are addressing retention issues as a result of that. I look forward to hearing how your request for resources tackles these important issues.

Simultaneously, the Army is embarking upon a modernization effort, the likes of which have not been seen in the last four decades. 

This initiative requires a significant investment in research and development to be successful, and I think you’ll agree that this Committee has been supportive of your past efforts. 

We have also supported the Army Futures Command as a way for the Army to consolidate its modernization strategy under one roof, and I look forward to your honest assessment of how your newest Command is performing.

While we have not yet received your fiscal year 2022 budget request, I hope that we can discuss your priorities for the coming year. 

I am particularly interested in your continued “night court” process that reviews “legacy” programs to identify duplication and excess in order to fund higher priority programs. 

It is vitally important that all of the Services continually perform budgetary review processes to ensure appropriated funding is invested wisely, so I think everyone on the subcommittee would like to hear more about “night court.”

We want to continue to be your partner in executing the National Defense Strategy, but we need a high level of fidelity into your proposal to reduce or eliminate certain programs in order to fund higher-risk R&D efforts.

Given the benefits of your modernization pursuits, including working with small businesses and the public sector, I want to ensure we are given every opportunity to understand your acquisition approach.

We understand this is a challenging time for the Army, your soldiers, and their families. 

It’s the Committee’s responsibility to provide you with a sufficient level of resources to support readiness, improve facilities, and modernize the force.
This Committee is an equal partner with the President in achieving our national security goals, but it is our responsibility to achieve that efficiently for the taxpayers as well as conduct oversight on the programs we fund. 

Fiscal year 2022 could be a challenging budget year for the Army and I’d like to hear how you are prioritizing all of the programs across the Army.

With that, I thank you again for appearing before the Committee today to discuss these important issues. 

 

Subcommittees: 
117th Congress