Navy Budget Debated in Congress

Friday, March 03, 2006
PICTURED: Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Mike Mullen, Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV), the Honorable Donald C. Winter and Commandant of the Marine Corps (CMC) Gen. Michael W. Hagee appear before the House Armed Services Committee to give testimony and answer questions concerning the 2007 fiscal year National Defense Authorization budget request. U.S. Navy photo by Chief Photographer's Mate Johnny Bivera

The nation’s top Navy and Marine Corps leaders told members of Congress March 1 that the Navy Department’s proposed $127.3 billion budget request for fiscal year 2007 (FY07) fully supports the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) and will help win the global war on terrorism.

In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) Donald C. Winter, Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Mike Mullen and Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Michael W. Hagee thanked Congress and the American people for their continued support and stressed the impact of DoN’s FY07 budget request on current and future missions.

“Our top priorities are clear,” Winter said. “We must prosecute the global war on terror today, while deterring potential adversaries and reset the force for tomorrow.”

Winter, in his second month as SECNAV, recounted recent visits with Sailors and Marines in Iraq and elsewhere across the fleet. He expressed great admiration for their service, saying he was “struck by their genuine enthusiasm and professionalism,” and stressed a sense of urgency for fighting terrorism in the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) area of responsibility.

“We are a nation at war,” Winter said. “Support for our Sailors and Marines in the Iraqi theater of operations is our most urgent task, and I am focused daily on what the Navy and Marine Corps can do to help achieve victory in Iraq and against terrorists elsewhere around the globe.”

Mullen echoed the Secretary’s praise for men and women in uniform, saying the Navy is “fighting trim.” He told committee members the Navy’s FY07 budget request will help keep it that way and reflects his top three priorities: sustaining combat readiness, building a future Navy, and developing 21st century leaders.

“What I seek is balance,” Mullen continued. "We must be able to win the big and the small wars. Two challenges, one fleet. Our Fiscal Year '07 budget request, like the QDR itself, helps provide that balance.”

Mullen told reporters after the hearing that a large part of the Navy’s budget aims to improve the quality of life for Sailors, Marines and their families.

"We can talk about a lot of ships and aircraft or equipment and trucks. None of it works without our people,” Mullen said. “The budget is very committed to our people and rightfully so."

The proposed budget represents a $4.4 billion increase from last year’s baseline appropriations. It includes a 5.9 percent increase in Basic Allowance for Housing, a 2.2 percent pay increase and improved facilities for schools and child care.

Marines and their families will also be well served by the Department’s budget request, noted Hagee, pointing out that nearly one in every three Marines is forward-based or forward-deployed around the globe.

Hagee said requested funds will not only procure new equipment, but also fund the repair, replacement and maintenance of older gear.

“In an uncertain world, readiness is the coin of the realm,” said Hagee. “This budget request will ensure our Marines are properly equipped and trained to participate in this global war on terror.”

Other proposed FY 07–FY 11 budget highlights include the construction of seven ships and funding for 165 aircraft, for a total of 51 new ships and 1,150 new aircraft.

The FY07 construction and production plan includes two littoral combat ships, two DD(X) destroyers, one Virginia-class submarine, one LHA (R), one T-AKE, 12 EA-18G Growlers, 14 MV-22 Ospreys, 30 F/A-18 Hornets, 21 Joint Primary Air Training Systems and four KC-130Js.

Hagee, too, took time out to praise the work of Marines all over the world, comparing their courage to that of the Marines who achieved victory on Iwo Jima.

“The performance of Marines on the field of battle during these last four years has validated our commitment to warfighting excellence and to remaining the world's foremost expeditionary warfighting organization,” Hagee said.

All three leaders were quick to point out that, in addition to the service of Sailors and Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan, thousands of others are accomplishing the Navy-Marine Corps mission around the world.

“There are countless unsung heroes -- yes, heroes,” Winter told the committee, “doing extremely important work under demanding conditions on land and at sea 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all over the globe. Your personal concern and support mean a great deal to these young patriots who have sacrificed so much in the service of this nation.”

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