Seapower and Expeditionary Forces Subcommittee Chairman Gene Taylor Opening Statement Hearing on the FY2009 USMC Budget Request
February 27, 2008
"The subcommittee will come to order.
"Today the Seapower and Expeditionary Forces Subcommittee meets to receive testimony on the United States Marine Corps fiscal year 2009 budget request. This hearing will also provide an opportunity to continue our formal series of official oversight activities on the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle program.
"There are approximately 160,000 troops in Iraq today. Of those, 25,300 are Marines. My number one goal has been, and will continue to be, to supply those troops with the best protective equipment this nation can provide. Frankly, there is a poor track record in this area; improved body armor, up-armored Humvee's, jammers, and finally fielding MRAPs have taken too long to get to the troops. At this point last year we were still evaluating MRAP vehicle proposals from various manufacturers and only $600 million had been requested for the program.
"Congress has now approved over $16.0 billion. We now expect approximately 8,000 MRAPs to be produced and at least 4,500 delivered to Iraq by this April. By October 2008, 15,274 MRAPs will be produced, and these will be delivered no later than December 2008. These are all notable improvements and are a testament to the hard work of Brigadier General Brogan's team at the joint program office, as well as the involvement of the Secretary of Defense, who unlike his predecessor, prioritized this program correctly and became directly involved with accelerating the program.
"I am still convinced we can do more with the MRAP acquisition effort. We need to speed up and streamline the MRAP manufacturing processes and I urge industry to work with the MRAP program office to accomplish this goal.
"We cannot afford to repeat previous actions in failing to address warfighters needs in a timely manner. Recently, an Associated Press article quoted an unofficial internal case study, drafted by a Marine Corps civilian, which severely criticized the responsiveness of the acquisition process and senior Marine Corps officials for failing to respond to an urgent request from Marine units operating in Iraq for MRAP vehicle capability in February 2005. I understand the Marine Corps has requested the Pentagon Inspector General to officially examine the allegations raised in the case study. I would welcome comment from our witnesses today concerning this issue and any improvements in the Marine Corps rapid acquisition process they wish to discuss.
"The combined Marine Corps modernization request in procurement and Research and Development (R&D) programs for fiscal year 2009 totals only $2.6 billion. This constitutes roughly 5.6 percent of the Department of the Navy's modernization request. The problem I have with this amount is that the Commandant has submitted an additional $2.7 billion for modernization in his unfunded priority list. I am concerned that the Marine Corps is not being funded properly in the President's budget request.
"The top priority for the United States Marine Corps, is for a Navy ship, the tenth ship of the LPD 17 class. Think about that: the Marines feel so strongly about the future amphibious force that they list a Navy asset as their top priority. The amphibious fleet is a top priority of mine. Also, I remain very concerned that the Navy and the Marine Corps are not in agreement with the composition and capability of both the assault amphibious force but also the seabasing force, sometimes referred to as the Maritime Prepositioning Force (Future) or the MPF(F). Today the subcommittee has the opportunity to discuss this with the Marine Corps in public session. On March 14th we will have the opportunity to discuss this issue with representatives from the Navy.
"The Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV), a program that has suffered many delays and restructurings, is the Marine Corps's major ground modernization program. Almost 30 percent of the Marine Corps's R&D budget for fiscal year 2009 is being applied to the EFV. The Marine Corps needs to get this program right. During the past year, members of this subcommittee have worked with the Commandant to address concerns about the vulnerability of the EFV to mine and IED attacks, and I look forward to getting an update on those efforts today.
"The budget request includes $2.1 billion within the Navy aircraft procurement account for 30 V-22s, an increase of $400 million and nine aircraft from fiscal year 2008. Since September 2007, 10 Marine Corps V-22s have been deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom, and it appears the Marine Corps is satisfied with their performance thus far. I have concerns about the self defense capability of the aircraft and I would request that our witnesses address that issue with us today.
"We have a very distinguished panel of witnesses appearing before the subcommittee today. I would like to welcome:
"At this time I would like to recognize my good friend from Maryland, the ranking member of the Seapower and Expeditionary Forces Subcommittee, the Honorable Roscoe Bartlett for any comments he would like to make. Mr. Bartlett."
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