U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support, held a subcommittee hearing today entitled “Current Readiness of U.S. Forces.”
Remarks as prepared for delivery:
This hearing of the Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support will come to order. The subcommittee meets today for the first time this year to receive testimony on the current readiness of our military forces. Before introducing our witnesses, I would like to thank the Ranking Member, Senator Kaine, for his continuing role on this subcommittee. I look forward to working with him and the other Members of the Readiness Subcommittee on the many important issues we will and must tackle today and in future hearings.
We are joined this afternoon by General James C. McConville, Vice Chief of Staff of the Army; Admiral William F. Moran, Vice Chief of Naval Operations; General Glenn M. Walters, Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps; and General Stephen W. Wilson, Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force.
I thank the witness for their continued service to this nation.
I’d like to remind our witness that while we are in an open hearing, I ask that they do not hold any unclassified information back from this committee. Understanding the true readiness levels of each service is paramount in defending current and future budget requests.
Last month, Secretary Mattis rolled out the National Defense Strategy, which laid out a new strategic approach to addressing military challenges through: building a more lethal force; strengthening alliances and attracting new partners; and reforming the Department of Defense for greater performance and affordability. I believe building a more lethal force begins with rebuilding and maintaining our readiness while also looking forward to modernizing our force structure.
Maintaining the delicate balance between sustaining readiness gains while modernizing is more important than ever. For example:
- Our Air Force continues to shrink; since Desert Storm, there are 30 percent fewer Airmen and less than 50 percent of Air Force fighter squadrons are ready to fight in high-intensity combat.
- The Marine Corps has only 32 of the required 38 amphibious warships, severely impeding their ability to achieve unit training levels necessary to recover full-spectrum readiness.
- Repeated collisions in the Pacific highlighted the Navy’s need for increased and more thorough training of both enlisted Sailors and officers.
What I would like from our witnesses today is an outline of how you plan to restore readiness through the lens of the newly unveiled National Defense Strategy. Specifically:
- How do we regrow and sustain our force?
- How do we maintain the equipment that has been through two decades of war while modernizing?
To close, ensuring the safety of Americans, both at home and abroad, should be a bipartisan priority and I look forward to working with my colleagues, especially those on this subcommittee, to give our men and women in uniform the resources they need to succeed.