Building our Navy to improve national security
When you turn on the news at night or check the headlines on your smart phone, you may notice that in nearly every region of the world events are unfolding that could have a profound impact on the safety of our nation. Indeed, one thing always on my mind as I serve you in Congress is that the world is not getting any safer.
In the Asia-Pacific, China has engaged in an unprecedented militarization of unclaimed islands in the South China Sea, threatening our allies there. In Europe, Russia is showing naval aggression in the Balkans and in the undersea domain. In the Middle East, Iran continues to support terror organizations that seek to further destabilize the region. The House Armed Services Committee (HASC) began its work for the year by hearing from national security experts on these and other threats. Although a productive hearing, the writing is on the wall: we face serious challenges around the world, and we must have a clear, concise strategy to meet them.
Naturally, we cannot formulate our national security strategy to meet these challenges unless we have a detailed picture of our nation's military readiness. So this week the HASC held a hearing entitled "The State of the Military." We heard from the vice chiefs of staff of the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force about the status of their respective branches. It is disappointing to report that the picture they painted was not a pretty one. Much of our equipment is outdated and there is a maintenance back log for key equipment like ships and aircraft. In fact, more than half of all Navy aircraft are grounded because they're awaiting maintenance or lack needed spare parts. Additionally, our men and women in uniform, in the view of the vice chiefs, are not getting the training they need to maintain readiness.
Most concerning to me, as the new chairman of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, was that Vice Chief of Naval Operations Admiral William Moran said the Navy is the smallest and least ready it's been in years due to high demand of naval forces, funding cuts, and consistent uncertainty about when Congress would fund the military. I took my opportunity to ask Adm. Moran specifically about the readiness and maintenance issues facing our Navy’s aircraft carriers and attack submarines. Watch the video below to hear the question and answer.
As important as it is to build new ships, it is equally important that we maintain the ships we currently have and that they achieve their full service life. In the weeks and months ahead, I will be working with my colleagues on the subcommittee to make the tough decisions necessary to rebuild our Navy - and the other branches of our military - to ensure we improve the morale and readiness of our troops, and ultimately, the safety and security of our nation.
Read news coverage of my efforts to grow our Navy below:
Seapower Magazine - Congressman: Navy’s Force Structure Assessment ‘A Very Bold and Necessary Vision’
Breaking Defense - DoD, Hill Focus On Readiness