Remarks by The Honorable Jo Ann Davis (R-V A) American Shipbuilding Association Forum 25 February 2003.
Introduction by Mr. Schievelbein: Now it’s my pleasure to introduce our first speaker. She represents the interests of both my company and my community as the Representative from the First Congressional District of Virginia.
A strong advocate for shipbuilding and a strong defense, she was elected in 2000.
She serves on the House Armed Services Committee, and in particular, the newly formed Subcommittee on Projection Forces.
In her first two years in Congress, she already has developed a reputation in both the industry and in the House of Representatives as a very skilled and effective legislator in working to rebuild the Navy and the shipbuilding industry.
Last year, she led the fight to maintain production for the CVN(X) aircraft carrier-now called CVN 21-and she has introduced in this Congress HR. 375, the National Naval Force Structure Policy Act.
Please join me in welcoming Congresswoman Jo Ann Davis.
Over the years, the American Sea power Forum has done great work in bringing together the shipbuilding community, blue water Navy, and congressional members to discuss these important issues. In light of this, I think there is no better forum for addressing the needs of our Navy, and I would like to thank Cindy Brown for this.
In addressing the needs of our Navy, perhaps it is best to examine what has happened to the Navy over the past several years. In short, over the past decade the Navy has been forced to rob Peter to pay Paul, and this has caught up with us. Historically there has been a consistent downward trend in ship procurement and the size of the Navy. We have come a very long way from Ronald Reagan’s six hundred ship Navy.
Many in the Navy will point to the fact that our ships are no longer as labor intensive, thus requiring Jess ships. But, let’s not kid ourselves. The Navy’s budget and growth is determined years in advance, and does not always reflect the true needs of our naval force. Just last year, I received an advance copy of the May Navy Program Objective Memoranda (POM), a document which I am sure was widely perused in these circles. It was a planning document which suggested that, longterm, we reduce the number of ships in our Navy to 291 in 2006 before re-building the Navy to a base of300 ships by the end of the Future Years Defense Plan.
However, when I was handed a draft copy of DOD’s budget submit to OMB, it suggested an immediate reduction of our base force to 291 ships in 2004. This is typical of the budgetary game that we have been forced into playing since the end of the Cold War when it comes to ship procurement and construction. Cut numbers in the current years to free up money for future years procurement … When is enough enough? Our Navy, Department of Defense and the Office of Management and Budget must realize that we can no longer put off rebuilding our Navy.
Over time, the Navy has been consistent in arguing that it requires more ships. The QDR cited a need for 310 ships. As recently as three years ago, the Navy was arguing for a force of 360 ships based on 15 Carrier Battle Groups and 14 Amphibious Ready Groups. In more modem times the Navy has always argued for basing its force on Carrier Battle Groups and Amphibious Ready Groups. Earlier last year, the Navy finally publicly suggested that 375 ships was the right number. What’s going on here?
It seems pretty clear to me. The Navy is now planning to utilize a reduced combat force relying on Carrier Task Forces and smaller ready groups. Thus, it now needs only 12 carriers, even when all of the combatant commanders have suggested to me in hearings and other fora that they need at least 15 aircraft carriers to reduce mission gapping.
What does this mean for the Navy? In many respects, it means the Navy has been forced to give in to a budgetary plan that may never supply enough money for it to be a genuine worldwide presence in terms of combat power and forward deployed air presence. Now, Navy’s plan for 375 ships relies more on procurement of LCS’s and DDX’s, ships for which I have not yet even seen real plans.
This does not mean that I believe LCS’s and DDX’s should not be procured. I simply believe they should be an option in the near term to reduce risk, yet we will ultimately be forced to move toward a more robust forward deployed presence.
The ironic thing about all of this is that DOD will not even publicly endorse a budget for the Navy that would allow them to move toward a 375 ship force structure while relying on LCS’s and DDX’s. Yet, at the same time, it proposes ship swapping crews to save money and increase deployment times of ships. The result would be interesting, if it were not so disturbing, as to what this would do to our industrial base and OPNA V 4 700 when it comes to ship maintenance.
What I propose is a simple interim declaration as to the intent of Congress and the policy of the United States. Last year at the end of September, with Congressman Gene Taylor as my partner, we introduced H.R. 5196, the National Naval Force Structure Policy Act. This year, we reintroduced it with 19 of our colleagues. The intent of this act is simple. This bill declares:
“It is the policy of the United States to rebuild as soon as possible the size of the fleet of the United States Navy to no fewer than 375 vessels in active service, to include 15 aircraft carrier battle groups and 15 amphibious ready groups, in order to ensure peace through strength for the United States throughout the 21″ century. ”
That’s it. There’s no more to it. I wish there was no need for this legislation. However, I believe we have been forced to introduce this measure. The budgets for ship procurement have always looked rosy in the out years, but never in the now years. It’s time that is changed. While H.R. 375 does not set the force structure, it does set a baseline for us to plan for in the future. To those who would say this is without precedent, I would suggest they review their history and look at what Carl Vinson did with the Two Oceans Navy Legislation in the 1930’s. H.R. 375 certainly allows a level of planning with far more leeway than what Mr. Vinson allowed.
Before I close, I would be remiss if I did not point out some facts which are encouraging. With respect to the Future Aircraft Carrier, CVN 21, DOD did the right thing in planning to integrate more future technology into the carrier with a start date in 2007. We have had, in no consistent way, an ongoing carrier R&D program for future carriers. This is a start. With respect to our ship procurement rate, I’m happy to see the slight increase. However, it needs a radical increase to between 13 and 15 ships a year for long term health.
One thing we should not forget during this time is the fact that our Sailors and Marines might well be going into combat in the near future. They are the strength of our nation, and the best we have to offer. To under fund the Navy is to under fund them. They are the men and women we are concerned about. We support the operators. We should give them the best, and set a new course that steers us to a stronger, safer Navy, and a resurgent America.
Thank you, and may God Bless America.
To declare, under the authority of Congress under Article I, section 8 of the Constitution to “provide and maintain a Navy”, a national policy for the naval force structure required in order to “provide for the common defense” of the United States throughout the 21 ” century.
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
January 27, 2003
Mrs. JO ANN DA VIS of Virginia (for herself, Mr. TAYLOR of Mississippi, Mr. FORBES, Mr. McINTYRE, Mr. SMITH of New Jersey, Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN, Mr. ANDREWS, Mr. SCOTT of Virginia, Mr. CUNNINGHAM, Mr. SIMMONS, Mr. LARSEN of Washington, Mr. KENNEDY of Rhode Island, Mr. MILLER of Florida, Mr. PLATTS, Mr. SAXTON, Mr. WILSON of South Carolina, Mr. HASTINGS of Florida, Mr. GOODE, Mr. HOSTETTLER, Mr. LANGEVIN, and Mr. McGOVERN) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Armed Services.
To declare, under the authority of Congress under Article I, section 8 of the Constitution to “provide and maintain a Navy”, a national policy for the naval force structure required in order to “provide for the common defense” of the United States throughout the 21st century.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled.
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the “National Naval Force Structure Policy Act”.
SEC. 2. NATIONAL NAVAL FORCE STRUCTURE POLICY.
It is the policy of the United States to rebuild as soon as possible the size of the fleet of the United States Navy to no fewer than 375 vessels in active service, to include 15 aircraft carrier battle groups and 15 amphibious ready groups, in order to ensure peace through strength for the United States throughout the 21st century.