Fiscal Uncertainty Troubling to Maritime Service Chiefs
Budget challenges and the prospect of continued fiscal uncertainty are troubling and could threaten capacity and capabilities, the Navy and Marine Corps service chiefs told Congress.
Navy Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert and Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos testified with Navy Secretary Ray Mabus before the Senate Armed Services Committee about the current state of the Navy and Marine Corps.
“As I testified before you in November, I am troubled by the prospects of reverting to the Budget Control Act revised caps in 2016,” Greenert said.
“That would lead to a Navy that is too small and lacking the advanced capabilities needed to execute the missions that the nation expects of its Navy,” he said.
According to Greenert, the Navy would be unable to perform at least four of the 10 primary missions articulated in the 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance and the Quadrennial Defense Review.
“Our ability to respond to contingencies would be dramatically reduced,” he said. “It limits our options in decision space, and we would be compelled to [deactivate] an aircraft carrier and an air wing.”
Greenert said modernization and recapitalization would also be dramatically reduced, threatening readiness, and the industrial base.
“Reverting to BCA caps, year by year, will leave our country less prepared to deal with crises,” he said, adding, “our allies’ trust will wane, and our enemies will be less inclined to be dissuaded or to be deterred.”
The admiral laid out six priorities to operate within current fiscal constraints -- sea-based strategic deterrence, forward presence, capability and the capacity to win decisively, readiness, sustainment of asymmetric capabilities and technological edge, and sustaining a relevant industrial base.
Greenert said he “remains on board with the efforts to get our fiscal house in order.”
“The force has to be able to address a range of threats, contingencies, and high consequence events that could impact our core interests,” he said.
“Your Navy and Marine Corps team is united in fulfilling our long-standing mandate,” Greenert said, “to be where it matters, when it matters and to be ready to respond to crises, to ensure the stability that underpins the global economy is in place.”
“Secretary Mabus has provided us the vision, the guidance, and the judiciousness to build the finest Navy and Marine Corps that the nation is willing to afford,” he said.
The Marine Corps’ commandant said his service is at an “inflection point” after 12 years of war.
“Today, we are challenged by fiscal uncertainty that threatens both our capacity and capabilities, forcing us to sacrifice our long-term health for near-term readiness,” Amos said.
“Despite these challenges, I remain committed to fueling the most capable and ready Marine Corps that the nation is willing to afford,” Amos said.
The general said today some 30,000 Marines are forward deployed around the world, promoting peace, protecting U.S. national interests and securing its defense.
“But we do not do this alone,” Amos said. “Our partnership is with the United States Navy, and that partnership provides an unmatched naval expeditionary capability.”
“Our relationship with the Navy is a symbiotic one,” he added. “My relationship with Admiral John Greenert is unprecedented.”
This, Amos said, is why he shares Greenert’s concerns about the impacts associated with the marked paucity of building ship funds.
“America’s engagement throughout the future security environment of the next two decades will be naval in character, make no mistake about that,” he said.
“To be forward engaged and to be present when it matters most, we need capital ships,” he said. “Those ships need to be loaded with United States Marines.”
Expeditionary naval forces are our nation’s insurance policy, Amos said, and we are hedging against uncertainty in an unpredictable world.
“The Navy-Marine Corps team provides power projection from the sea, responding immediately to crises and successes measured in hours, not in days,” he said.
As the joint force draws down and combat operations “conclude” in Afghanistan, Amos said, some “argue” the conflict is done.
“My view is completely different,” he said, pointing to the recent events unfolding in central Europe.
“The world will remain a dangerous and unpredictable place,” Amos said. “There will be no peace dividend for America, nor will there be a shortage of work for its United States Marines.”
Amos said the Marine Corps will not do less with less -- they will do the same with less.
“You have my promise that we will only ask for what we need,” he said. “We will continue to prioritize and make the hard decisions before coming before this committee and Congress.”