Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representative Michael Waltz (R-FL), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Readiness, delivered the following opening statement at a hearing on military readiness for FY23.
Rep. Waltz’s remarks as prepared for delivery:
Thank you, Chairman Garamendi.
I want to especially thank our witnesses. I know that this hearing is a bit out of sequence, and I appreciate your patience and willingness to be here.
Typically, during this gathering we would be pouring over the budget to inform our work on this year’s NDAA.
But as we all know, we completed that business last week.
Nonetheless, I believe today’s readiness update is vitally important to inform our continued oversight and work completing the FY23 NDAA.
It also provides an opportunity for the services to tell us what we got right and wrong so far.
I, for one, am frustrated by the number of cuts from operations and maintenance accounts made by the NDAA thus far to pay for lines and programs that have a zip code.
Even as Congress adopted an over $35 billion-dollar topline increase to address, in part, record high inflation, we simultaneously tied a hand behind your backs.
This comes at a time when our threat landscape is complex.
The Chinese Communist Party is in the middle of an unprecedented military buildup. If we continue to tread water, within the next decade, I am afraid the CCP will fully modernize its military, bringing it into parity with our own.
And recent events like Russia’s invasion of Ukraine remind us that we must maintain high levels of readiness for the fight today.
Striking the proper balance between current readiness and modernization has never been more important.
The INDOPACIFIC theater presents unique challenges to readiness. Today, I look forward to hearing about progress the Army and Marine Corps have made tailoring new force generation concepts like Littoral Regiments and Multi Domain Task Forces to the region.
Over the past 2 years, this subcommittee has also paid particularly close attention to contested logistics. From the Russian invasion into Ukraine, the world has witnessed the importance of effective logistics planning and sustainment operations.
Yet I remain concerned with DODs own plans for watercraft and logistics support vessels in the Pacific, as well as with bulk fuels laydown. None appear close to ready to support and sustain inter and intra theatre operations.
Another focus area of the subcommittee is the organic industrial base. Our depots are ancient, and recapitalization plans will require significant investment over many years.
When Admiral Lescher and I spoke several months ago, he said that readiness was second priority for the Navy only behind the Columbia Class program.
Yet when we looked at the Navy’s UPL list earlier this year we found 5 of the top ten unfunded priorities to be readiness related – among them key readiness degraders like spares and repair parts, as well as organizational and depot level maintenance.
While I know that you all need to make difficult tradeoffs in a budget constrained environment, it is time for us all, the services and Congress, to put our money where our mouths are. We must all do better.
Again, I want to thank the witnesses for their service and for their updates and insight here today, and I yield back.
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