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Wittman Opening Statement at FY25 NDAA

WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Rob Wittman (VA-01), vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and chairman of the Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee, delivered the following opening statement at the full committee markup for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2025. The subcommittee's mark is available here.

Watch Rep. Wittman's opening remarks here.

Rep. Wittman’s opening statement as prepared for delivery:

“I want to thank the chairman for recognizing me. 

“I am an unapologetic defense hawk. I believe in peace through strength. I believe in our Constitution that we need to raise an Army and sustain a Navy. And I believe in the Davidson window, which postulates a strategic inflection point with China later this decade. We need to be particularly mindful as we begin our markup that the Chinese Communist Party seeks to establish a new regional order that could include the violent seizure of Taiwan. 

“It is with this thought that I proposed the Tactical Air & Land Subcommittee mark that is before you today. In this mark, we accelerate needed force structure to deter China, including retaining F-22 block 20 and F-15E aircraft; we support critical investments in sixth generation and combat collaborative aircraft; we expand the authorities and capacity to defend against small unmanned aircraft and cruise missiles; and we advance critical Army modernization priorities. These investments are essential as we continue to address our ongoing national security challenges.

“Additionally, this mark is reflective of the battlefield changes that are occurring in real time on the Ukraine battlefield. The rise of electronic warfare and drone warfare are clear hallmarks of this conflict. My mark establishes the Drone Corps as a basic branch of Army; it accelerates counter UAS capabilities; it affirms rapid technology advancement in UAS and counter UAS technologies; and seeks to elevate Army electronic warfare from organizational misalignment. It is clear that Army leadership needs better inspiration and a renewal of thought as they prepare our Army for the quickly evolving future of conflict. 

“Finally, we are compelled to address the ongoing Joint Strike Fighter production challenges. With over 100 JSF aircraft projected to stack up on the ramp awaiting the needed TR-3/Block 4 upgrades and further challenges with getting the right capabilities in time to address the Davidson window, it is essential that we right size our nation’s largest defense acquisition program.

“Working with Chairman Rogers, Ranking Member Smith, and Ranking Member Norcross, I believe we arrived at a good position that allows us to address the more egregious concerns identified by the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation, a software independent review team, and the Government Accountability Office. I believe that the aggressive JSF oversight plan offered in the chairman’s mark will put the JSF program on the right path. We are not interested in placing blame for the programs’ challenge; we are committed to delivering solutions.

“In closing, this is a strong mark. I want to thank Ranking Member Norcross and his leadership as we navigated through a series of contentious issues. He is a leader and friend, and I am glad that we were able to deliver a bipartisan subcommittee mark to the committee.

“I urge my colleagues to support, and with that, I yield the balance of my time.”

The full markup is live streamed here.