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A preview of my chairmanship

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Washington, February 15, 2017 | comments
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I wanted you to see my most recent interview with DefenseNews on what the priorities of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee will look like for this Congress. As Chairman, I will immediately focus our efforts on supporting the Navy’s plans to rebuild its fleet from the current level of 274 ships to the Navy’s stated goal of over 350 ships. Not only is Virginia home to the world’s largest naval station and largest concentration of U.S. Navy forces, it also boasts the shipyards and skilled workers needed to build and maintain the next generation of ships and submarines in our Navy’s fleet.

I will keep you updated on the work of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee throughout the year.



Interview: Rep. Rob Wittman, the latest in a line of influential chairmen

Feb 15, 2017

Virginia Republican Rob Wittman took over in January as the new chairman of the House Seapower and Projection Forces subcommittee, assuming the reins from Randy Forbes. The subcommittee arguably is the most influential public body driving discussion and perceptions of the U.S. Navy, and many will be looking to Wittman to set the legislative pace on Capitol Hill about the Navy and about U.S. Air Force bomber and tanker programs. Speaking with Defense News about the upcoming deliberative session, Wittman, who most recently chaired the Readiness Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee, said his top priority was setting a proper course for the Navy’s plan to expand to 355 ships and overseeing the Air Force’s B-21 bomber program.

How will you approach your chairmanship?

I look at it as what are we going to do to make sure we get our Navy to where it needs to be? It’s not just the shipbuilding side. I want to make sure we’re focusing on the other elements that don’t necessarily always make the headlines, but especially what we are going to do as we bring the Navy up to 350 ships to make sure that sailors and Marines are part of that formula too. The tail on this effort, to me, is a big deal.

I think I will be as in-depth and as discerning as Congressman Forbes was. Look back and I’ve served with [former Seapower chairman] Gene Taylor. I’ve been on the Seapower Subcommittee since I’ve been here. I’ve traveled around with Gene, crawled around the hulls of Littoral Combat Ships 1 and 2 with Gene as we tried to figure out that platform, as well as with [former chairman] Roscoe Bartlett as we talked about the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle and the trials and tribulations that EFV went through. I’ve been able to learn and take lessons from all of them. I think all had strengths in how they dealt with the Navy, how they looked at programs.

I think my look at how the subcommittee works, the things that we do, the things that we address, will take what I’ve learned from those three gentlemen in my time here and combine the best of what they put forward. I would like to make sure that my leadership style is something that includes members of the committee and takes the time to study the Navy and the Marine Corps. Not just the general aspects of what they do but the in-depth aspects.

I will be traveling to every shipyard in the country in the next two months, I’m going to be on the ground talking to folks. The same way with our projection forces. I’ll be out there talking to the companies that are involved in our strategic assets, whether it’s building lift capacity with KC-46As, with the new B-21 bomber platform. What we are doing to keep the other platforms, because there’s a big question the Air Force hasn’t answered about as you build these new aircraft, what’s going to happen to the older aircraft? Many of them, like the B-52s, are very old platforms. A lot of questions there.

I want to make sure I know the details so I can ask the right questions, be demanding in the right ways so the Air Force and the Navy make sure that we do our job. And make sure that we have the right operation of those elements of our Armed Forces. And make sure that we’re modernized for the future. We talk about readiness of the operation and maintenance and training. I think what’s forgotten in the realm of how the Congress looks at it is the role modernization plays as you look at the demands around the world, at our adversaries and what they’re doing to modernize their systems -- in many instances catching up and in some instances surpassing our capability. We’d better be asking the tough questions, not only about how do we sustain what we have but how do we modernize to keep up with our adversaries.

Read the rest of the interview here.

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