The Chief of Naval Operations, Secretary of the Navy, and Commandant of the Marine Corps testified together April 25 before the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) on the Department of the Navy budget request for fiscal year 2014.
The three naval leader's testimony emphasized the realities of sequestration restraints on the fiscal year 2014 defense budget presented to congress earlier this month.
Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), Admiral Jonathan W. Greenert delivered an opening statement that outlined the budget strategy and subsequent carryover from fiscal year 2013 as well as targeted the intended course for the next fiscal year. Greenert explained how Navy leadership has made key decisions in light of fiscal ambiguities, placing an emphasis on the characteristic of the Navy's forces mandate to operate forward where it matters, and that the Navy will be ready when it matters.
"We organize, man, train and equip the Navy by viewing our decisions through three lenses, or tenets," Greenert said. "They are Warfighting First, Operate Forward and Be Ready. Regardless of the size of our budget or our fleet, these three tenets are the lenses through which we evaluate each decision."
Greenert laid out the fiscal year 2013 budget strategy along with the carryover structure to show how the current appropriations bill allowed for further investment in our Navy operations and maintenance. Greenert stressed that while there are certain "must pay" items that will be funded, there is also a commitment to conduct training and maintenance for forces next to deploy and prepare to meet the fiscal year 2014 Global Force Management Allocation Plan (GFMAP).
Greenert noted the aspects sequestration has played on the Navy's budget planning, stressing that budget shortfalls were sure to carry over into fiscal 2014. This setback would reduce the Navy surge capacity of fully mission-capable carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups through fiscal year 2014.
"Taken together, our O&M and investment shortfalls leave us a $9 billion carryover challenge for FY2014," Greenert said.
He added however, continuing sequestration would grow the carryover challenge from $9 billion to $23 billion. While this centers on O&M costs Greenert made clear that other critical fleet operations would be subject to reduction as well. All panel members present at the hearing addressed the overwhelming theme of sequestration negatively affecting ongoing and future operations across the Department of the Navy.
In his outlook for 2014, Admiral Greenert defined his strategy for Navy priorities. He maintained that the Navy would continue to forward deploy, and would continue near-term investments to address challenges in the Middle East and Asia-Pacific. Additionally, Greenert stated that the Navy would continue to develop long-term capabilities, at the appropriate capacity, to address warfighting challenges in both regions.
Overall, when looking at the 2014 budget, Greenert gave a clear view of what the Navy can expect for the investment of research and development in new technology, specifically when it comes to shipbuilding goals. With over $44 billion being invested in ships, submarines, manned and unmanned aircraft, weapons, cyber, among other procurement items and programs to include the delivery of 300 ships by 2019, Greenert expects much greater interoperability and flexibility when it comes to the future of the fleet.
Greenert expressed his commitment to grow manpower by 4,600 Sailors, stating these new Sailors would, "reduce our manning gaps at sea, enhance the Navy's cyber capabilities, and improve our waterfront training."
Equally important were the CNO's focus on critical readiness and safety degraders such as sexual assault, suicide, operational tempo, and at-sea manning.
Greenert said this budget sets a course for the Navy to successfully meet the Strategic Defense Guidance laid out by the Department of Defense. Thanking his Sailors and Navy Civilians for the tremendous amount of perseverance, production, and patience throughout the fiscal unease, Admiral Greenert closed his testimony remarks by recognizing the need for the removal of sequestration in order to fully execute the Navy mission.
"We again ask for your support in removing the burden of sequestration so that we can better train, better equip and deploy properly these brave men and women in our defense of our nation."