Washington, DC – U.S. Representative Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Readiness, delivered the following opening statement at a hearing on the FY 2022 budget request for military readiness.
Rep. Lamborn’s remarks as prepared for delivery:
Thank you, Chairman Garamendi. Today we will hear from the service vice chiefs of staff on the current state of military readiness and how the fiscal year (FY) 2022 budget request will support military training, weapon systems maintenance, and efforts to meet readiness requirements in alignment with the National Defense Strategy.
As DoD continues to shift its primary focus from countering violent extremist organizations to great power competition, our subcommittee remains very interested in how we are balancing current readiness with modernization investments.
Unfortunately, the budget request did not continue the progress made under the Trump administration to rebuild our military by requesting a 3 to 5 percent increase over the inflation adjusted FY21 enacted level. We cannot ask our men and women in uniform prepare to execute an array of missions and tasks then fail to provide them the resources necessary to accomplish those assignments.
I strongly believe that we must continue to invest in our military as our adversaries grow, especially China. If we do nothing, over the next decade, China will fully modernize its military, potentially bringing it into parity with our own.
I remain highly interested about the progress in standing up the new Space Force. This recognition of the importance of space as a warfighting domain is long overdue and is vital to the future readiness of the joint force. I am also looking forward to learning more about ways our newest Service intends to increase the lethality and resiliency of our space assets, especially in light of increased competition and confrontation with Russia and China.
In January of this year, the Air Force selected Huntsville, Alabama as the preferred basing location for the Space Force. Since that time, both the GAO and the DoD Inspector General have begun reviews about the process by which that location was selected.
As you know, I believe that Colorado Springs was the best option, based on many factors ranging from location, civilian and military workforce and the range of expertise in space warfare and operations specifically, existing infrastructure and capabilities, and quality of life for service members and their families. I eagerly await those reviews as we work to support and stand up this new Service and rapidly reestablish SPACECOM to confront the existing and growing threats in the space domain.
I was happy to see that the FY2022 Operations and Maintenance for the Space Force did include an increase of almost $1 billion over FY2021 enacted levels. I look forward to hearing how the department is contemplating and prioritizing readiness for it’s unique force design requirements, as compared to the other services.
I also look forward to hearing about any lingering or projected COVID-19 Impacts to Training and Readiness of the service departments. COVID presented challenges to training, with many exercises being cancelled, despite reports that there has been no degradation in readiness and that readiness levels are at historic norms.
One of our key readiness enablers is the organic industrial base. Our depots provide the capability to maintain warfighting capabilities throughout their life cycles. But recapitalization plans will require significant investment over many years at a time when we continue to have a number of other major funding challenges. I am committed to working to ensure depot recapitalization is prioritized.
Finally, and as I mentioned last year during our posture hearings, I’m concerned about people. Air Force pilot shortfall numbers have held constant over the last few years. The fighter community is experiencing the largest gap, both in the active and reserve components. It is unclear how we will reduce this backlog without robust funding.
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