June 22, 2021
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today delivered opening remarks the committee’s annual posture hearing for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.
Witnesses included: Thomas Harker, Acting Secretary of the Navy; Admiral Michael Gilday, Chief of Naval Operations; and General David Berger, Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps.
As Prepared for Delivery:
Thank you, Chairman Reed. I thank our witnesses for being here today and for their decades of distinguished service to our nation.
As I have said, this budget request is wholly inadequate — nowhere near enough to give our Sailors and Marines the resources, equipment and training they need.
Because this budget doesn’t keep up with inflation, much less the 3-5 percent real growth the NDS Commission says we need, it is a cut. I said the same thing when President Trump sent us inadequate defense budgets, and I’ll keep saying it until we get real growth.
A budget like this sends China and our other potential adversaries the wrong message — that we’re not willing to do what it takes to defend ourselves, our allies and our partners.
And we should be worried about China for a multitude of reasons, but looking just at their Navy – they passed our fleet size target of 355 ships last year and will reach 460 ships in 2030. That’s an increase of 105 ships in 10 years.
Meanwhile, this budget supports – at best – a status quo U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. Our Navy is under 300 ships today, and there is no growth. In fact, while China is growing its fleet, our Navy is struggling to avoid shrinking.
This unacceptable situation is because our military is not being given the resources it needs.
As I’ve said, this budget makes bad choices not hard choices. For example, Admiral Gilday’s top unfunded need is a destroyer. Not because he doesn’t need it, because he was forced to cut it.
The budget also proposes to inactivate 15 ships, 10 of which have more years of service left. It buys six fewer F-35C Joint Strike Fighters than required, divests all 12 patrol craft, cuts Navy and Marine Corps munitions by roughly 10 percent, and I could go on.
As bad as this budget is, I’m concerned next year will be worse. Secretary Harker, on June 4, you directed the Navy to defund the nuclear sea-launched cruise missile and prioritize between modernization of aircraft, ships and submarines.
The Chinese do not have these false choices. They are rapidly modernizing capabilities in all domains. This is a clear example of this Administration’s “say-do” gap on China.
I thank our witnesses for their testimony today, and their service. Mr. Chairman.