Hearing of the Airland Subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee - Hearing to Mark Up the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014


Date: June 11, 2013
Location: Washington, DC

Senator WICKER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The Airland Subcommittee mark before us this morning seeks to address a number of significant funding and policy challenges facing the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps and their ability to fully execute the
President's national security strategy.

The mark includes a number of important provisions to increase transparency and oversight of the Army's modernization portfolio, as well as the tactical air components of the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.

Before we proceed to amendments, I would like to highlight three issues relevant to our subcommittee, sequestration first.

While I'm very supportive and appreciative of our subcommittee's deliberative efforts to satisfy the budget request from our services, I remain deeply concerned about the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate as a whole, that we have done little to mitigate the impacts of sequestration on our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines. Sequestration remains the greatest challenge facing our military, and I remain concerned that near-term fiscal expediency may have a long-term negative impact on the ability of our servicemembers and our industrial base to react to unforeseen contingencies.

Second, I am concerned that the Department of Defense did not request sufficient funding for overseas contingency operations for fiscal year 2013. As a result, the services and the Army in particular have been forced to raid their modernization accounts to fund their overseas contingency operations for the remainder of this fiscal year. I'm concerned about the impact this will have on the programs we are authorizing in the mark before us today.

And third, I remain deeply concerned about the fiscal year 2013 Defense Authorization Conference decision made behind closed doors and without consultation of all conferees that enabled the Air Force to begin implementation of its Total Force Plan. I'm convinced that some elements of the TFP were shortsighted and may adversely impact our intra-theater airlift capability at a time when our Services are evolving toward a more rotational deployment model.

Therefore, I have filed an amendment, Wicker Amendment Number 56, that would freeze the transfer conveyance or divestment of certain intra-theater aircraft until 120 days after the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force submits its report to Congress.

However, I believe the Air Force should be granted some additional time to respond to congressional concerns regarding specific elements of the TFP. Accordingly, I will not be offering Amendment 56 during this markup, Mr. Chairman, but I do Reserve the right to offer this amendment on the Senate floor.

Mr. Chairman, the Airland mark before us this morning provides our Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps with many of the vital technologies, equipment and authorities required to maintain our military's global preeminence, and I will be supporting this
subcommittee mark and recommend its adoption by our membership.

Let me echo the generous comments of the chairman concerning our staff. I want to thank Bill Sutey, Creighton Greene, Mara Boggs, and Luke Principato of the majority staff, and Bruce Hock, Tony Lazarski and Joe Lai of the minority staff for their hard work and collaboration on this mark. They have truly performed in a
magnificent way.

National security is solely a Federal responsibility, and I know, Mr. Chairman, you share my gratitude toward our staff for their bipartisan cooperation. Thank you, sir.