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There is a direct and undeniable link between our strong and virile economy and the stability of the world in which we trade. The Quadrennial Defense Review, mandated by Congress, validated the unique effectiveness of naval forces in contributing to crisis prevention and crisis resolution ... to promoting that stable world. The National Defense Panel provided an independent assessment. Once again naval forces, with our ability to stand off a potential hotspot for indefinite periods of time ... with no issues of sovereignty, no issues of basing rights and with no host nation support agreements required of any kind ... was validated as one of our nation's most useful tools for maintaining world stability. Our "Presence" ... the presence of United States Marines forward deployed at critical points around the globe contributes significantly to this nation's ability to ensure world stability.

But, the old adage, "You have to spend money to make money," is true. And you have done just that. The money you have provided the Marine Corps has been well spent. We have endeavored to be frugal. We fully understand and appreciate Congress' efforts to balance our federal budget and provide for the financial security of our nation. But even in the face of that daunting task, you have seen the value of equipping and funding your Marines. And I want to thank you for that. I want to thank you on behalf of that vigilant Marine standing his post in the rain on the other side of the world. Due to your foresight, he's warm and dry in his new Gor-Tex parka. I want to thank you on behalf of the Marine infantryman, who is today, walking in a pair of comfortable, quality boots ... boots built to support him in "every clime and place." You cannot believe what a difference that makes. I want to thank you for the ammunition, the spare parts, and operating moneys which translate into training and readiness. Readiness is paramount!

I want you to know that we not only appreciate what you have done for us over the last several years, but that we have endeavored to enhance our capabilities utilizing that which you have provided. We feel strongly that we have succeeded in that undertaking. As an example, the funds provided for the Warfighting Laboratory have been put to good use in our Sea Dragon experiments. The first Advanced Warfighting Experiment (AWE), Hunter Warrior is complete. We learned much. We anticipate learning even more from the next AWE, Urban Warrior which is now underway with an anticipated conclusion in the spring of 1999. In Urban Warrior we are investigating new technologies, concepts and organizations for operations in the burgeoning urban littorals ... areas which the QDR and the NDP both agree will be important in the decades ahead. But we are not just testing new ideas ... not just gathering data. As a result of the Lab's conclusions, we are actually fielding new capabilities. I've spoken before of the Chemical Biological Incidence Response Force, now a unique part of the nation's defense. But, there is much more. We have begun to field non-lethal weapons sets with our Marine Expeditionary Units world-wide. These sets don't, in any way, dilute the lethality of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force but rather they give the commander a broader selection of capabilities. And, this summer, our MEUs will deploy with the Dragon Drone, an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. In a short period of time ... certainly very short when compared to traditional research, development and acquisition procedures ... we have taken an off the shelf piece of equipment, the Dragon Drone, enhanced its performance, conducted experimentation, and then fielded a capability that greatly increases the battalion commander's ability to fight. This single UAV provides-over-the-horizon day or night reconnaissance, surveillance, target acquisition, and even delivers non-lethal weapons. Given its breadth of capabilities, this is an inexpensive system with a price tag of between $45,000 and $90,000, depending on the configuration.

All these things and much, much more are discussed in our booklet "United States Marine Corps Concepts and Issues '98." I commend it as an excellent resource which provides information on a range of Marine Corps topics from, procurement programs, to personnel programs such as recruiting and our transformation process, to our operational concept, to the activities of the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory and its series of Advanced Warfighting Experiments.

When I first came before Congress, I was asked, if I could have anything for the Marine Corps, what would it be? I told you, I'd like to retire some of our Korean War vintage personal equipment and outfit your Marines with modern gear that would make them more effective in the field. You helped with that and so much more. Again ... thank you. I further thank you for recognizing the value of the V-22 tiltroter aircraft. This aircraft exponentially increases the effectiveness of our forward deployed expeditionary forces. The QDR recognized this, and today, because of the foresight of the Congress, the administration, and the Department of Defense (DoD), we will more rapidly assimilate this unique capability, having moved 11 planes from the out-years into the current Future Years Defense Program (FYDP). This action had two very advantageous effects. First, it decreased the unit cost, and saved the American people tens of millions of dollars. Second, and more importantly, there is no new capability being procured by the DoD today which yields such a significant ... such a revolutionary ... difference, in our ability to fight the nation's battles, as the V-22 Osprey. And I don't just mean a tactical difference, although the scope of tactical applications is truly staggering. The procurement of an operational V-22 capability has enormous strategic implications. Because it flies at speeds only achievable with a fixed wing aircraft and because it can refuel in flight, the Osprey can self deploy. We can pick up combat loaded Marines in CONUS and move them to point of crisis ... quite literally anywhere in the world. And, we don't need an airstrip when we get there. It flies like an airplane, takes off, hovers, and lands like a helicopter and has a greater payload and greater range than mid-sized helicopters. When we field operational squadrons of V-22s, the warfighting CINCs and the NCA will have a host of options never before available ... options and capabilities found in no other military in the world.

America depends on and uses her Corps of Marines. This has never been truer than it is today. During the cold war, Marines were called upon to respond to crisis about once every fifteen weeks. Since the cold war, that commitment has tripled to once in every five weeks. Since my testimony just last year, the people have sent us to do their bidding in the world, on ten separate occasions. We were there. We were ready. And to ensure we continue to be ready, we maintain an average of 23,464 Marines forward deployed ... ready to respond when the nation says, "Send in the Marines!"

We do two things for this nation, we make Marines and we win battles. Congress, who handles the purse strings of the nation, has done much to equip us to win those battles. I want to tell you the people's money has been well spent. I ask you for your continued support.

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One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias