Chairman Visclosky Statement at Hearing on FY 2021 U.S. Army Budget Request
Congressman Pete Visclosky (IN-01), Chair of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, delivered the following remarks at the Subcommittee's hearing on the Fiscal Year 2021 budget request for the U.S. Army:
The Subcommittee on Defense will come to order.
This afternoon the Committee will receive testimony on the posture of the United States Army and the fiscal year 2021 budget request for the Army.
Our two witnesses are the Honorable Ryan D. McCarthy, Secretary of the Army, and General James C. McConville, the Chief of Staff of the Army. Both gentlemen have long, distinguished careers. They were appointed to their current positions within the last year, so this is their first time testifying before the Subcommittee in their current capacity. Thank you both for being here.
We recognize that this is an extraordinary time for the United States Army. Our nation presently has over 187,000 soldiers deployed in 140 countries around the world. These soldiers are the Army’s most critical resource. We will talk today about the training, equipment, and resources needed to give our soldiers the skills and tools needed to accomplish their missions. But we would also like you to know that the members of this Committee care deeply about the welfare and quality of life of our men and women in uniform. We want to make sure we take care of these needs, as well.
We are keenly aware of the need to modernize the Army of today in order to meet potential great power competition in the future. That process began with last year’s budget request, and I think you’ll agree that this Subcommittee struck a balance between supporting your strategy and ensuring that successful, ongoing programs continue to receive an appropriate level of resources.
The Army’s fiscal year 2021 budget request continues to focus on resourcing the National Defense Strategy. To achieve this goal, the Army continues to conduct “night court” sessions to review the necessity of existing programs. This process has led to the proposed reduction or cancellation of more than 240 programs in fiscal years 20 and 21. Many of these programs are on-time, on-budget, and bring essential capabilities to our soldiers today. We want to be your partner in executing the National Defense Strategy, but not at the expense of key enablers that lead to success on the battlefield today.
I support the idea of reviewing your existing programs to determine if there is excess funding, but I do not support funding future programs in which the requirements have not been fully thought out.
One example is the recently canceled Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle, or OMFV, program. This is the Army’s third attempt at replacing the Bradley Fighting Vehicle. One month after the Congress appropriated $205 million for OMFV, the Army announced its intention to cancel the solicitation. As a result, the OMFV program will now be at least two years behind schedule and the funding we appropriated towards OMFV could have been used to continue supporting one of the FY20 programs that were reduced or eliminated. This gives us great pause when evaluating your request to once again cancel or reduce 80 programs in the fiscal year 2021 budget.
We’ve been told time and time again that “This time it’s different.” Yet, the Army has a long history of canceling high-profile programs after significant investment of taxpayer’s dollars due to an incomplete requirements process. We supported the Army Futures Command as a way for the Army to consolidate its modernization process under one roof. But, the first large acquisition program to come out of AFC fell flat because you didn’t get the requirements process correct. I want you to convince the Committee today that our continued support of Army modernization will eventually be a good investment, and how the Army’s strategy in the FY21 budget request breaks the cycle of failed acquisitions.
I would also like to highlight my concerns about the well-being and quality of life for Army soldiers and their families. Of particular interest to me is childcare. We continually hear from soldiers about the lack of available childcare. The Committee made a significant investment in fiscal year 2020 to mitigate this issue and I would like to know what the Army is doing to build upon that investment.
Gentlemen, I have seen the unfunded needs for the Army and across the Services, including readiness, improved facilities, and your stated goal of modernizing the force. This Committee wants to be your partner in achieving your goals, but it is imperative that we are investing wisely and please assure us today that your budget request prioritizes quality of life programs for our soldiers and includes thoughtfully planned investments in modernization.
With that, I thank you again for appearing before the Committee today to discuss these important issues. We will ask you to present your summarized statement in a moment, but first I want to recognize the distinguished ranking member, Mr. Calvert, for his opening comments.