Navy, Marine Corps Officials Testify about Posture before Senate Committee

Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro; Chief of Naval Operations Navy Adm. Lisa M. Franchetti; and Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Eric M. Smith testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee on the Navy Department’s posture and 2025 fiscal year budget. May 16, 2024


Uh And since we have a quorum, I will begin by asking the committee to consider a list of 3549 pending military nominations. All of these nominations have been before the committee. The required length of time. Is there a motion in favor to report this list of 3549 pending military nominations to the Senate?

So, is there a second all in favor the motion carries?

Thank you very much. Uh Good morning. The committee meets today to receive the testimony on the president’s budget request for the Department of the Navy for fiscal year 2025. I’d also like to welcome Secretary of the Navy College Del Toro, Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Lisa Franchetti and come down the Marine Corps General Eric Smith. I would note that this is Admiral Franchetti and General Smith’s first pasture hearing before the committee. Uh General Smith on behalf of the committee, I’m pleased that you are joining us in good health and good spirits. Um Not surprising for a marine. So, thank you, sir. You and your family have been in our thoughts since your medical emergency last fall. And we’re thrilled at your remarkable recovery. We are grateful to each of our witnesses for your service and for the service of the men and women under your command and for the support of all Navy and Marine Corps families. And would you thank them for us, please. The importance of the Navy and Marine Corps joint mission has never been clearer. Just last month, Iran launched hundreds of drones and missiles at Israel prompting us navy vessels in the region to work with the air force, Israel and partner nations to successfully shoot down incoming munitions. In addition, Houthi rebels in Yemen have launched hundreds of drone missile attacks against us and international vessels in the Red Sea disrupting nearly 15% of global commercial trade. However, the American led coalition has shut down the vast majority of these attacks and has carried out hundreds of airstrikes against Houthi targets and other Iranian proxies significantly degrading their capabilities. I commend the service members who are taking part in these operations as well as the Navy and the Marine Corps leadership in facilitating humanitarian support to Gaza. Our adversaries should take note of the capabilities of the United States and our allies to bring to any conflict. Indeed in other cities and ports around the world, particularly the end of paycom. The Navy and the Marine Corps will continue to be the first line of deterrence and defense against China and other competitors, expanding ambitions. The United States Navy remains the finest in the world but our maritime forces must adapt quickly to this changing threat environment to that end. President budgets. President Biden’s defense budget request for fiscal year 2025 includes $257.6 billion in funding for the Department of the Navy. Within this budget, the navy has requested a number of new ships. The procurement of several new destroyers, frigates and logistics vessels is well reasoned. However, the navy has requested to procure only one Virginia class submarine in fiscal year 2025 diverging from the long standing two per year plan. Instead, the navy has requested one submarine plus roughly $2 billion to improve the capabilities of the submarine industrial base. I understand this was a difficult decision. I want to ask our witnesses to discuss their reasoning in detail. Additionally, I would like to know how the recently passed national security supplemental appropriations bill will help improve the situation particularly with regard to the submarine industrial base and workforce. And let me commend Senator Wicker for his efforts to include $3 billion in that uh supplemental. Finally, I would like to witness to discuss their expectations for submarine production numbers in the future challenges similar to the submarine program be experienced by other programs in both private and public shipyards. The department is undertaking its shipyard infrastructure optimization program which represents more than $25 billion in planned investment over the next 25 years to modernize and improve our navy shipyards. The navy recently completed a 45 day assessment of its shipbuilding program as the navy’s rule makes clear, there are significant hurdles facing the service and the nation to continue modernizing the fleet. Secretary Del Toro and my Franchetti. I would appreciate your outlook on navy’s efforts to improve shipbuilding and ship maintenance programs. General Smith, the Marine Corps is in the midst of a substantial transformation focused primarily on competition in the Indo Pacific. The service is restructuring around expeditionary concepts that will provide a more flexible amphibious force that can support a broader naval fight once ashore. Indeed, the Marine Corps is much more than a ground fighting force. It must help control the sea and air and support of the joint force to achieve this. The Corps was prioritizing a number of modernization efforts including long range fires, enhanced air and missile defense and improved ground and combat vehicles. These platforms should help equip the marines with improved force protection, lethality and mobility and general, I would ask for an update on the force design concept and progress. There also may be discussions this morning about the appropriate amphibious force structure. I understand that the Marine Corps continues to seek 31 large amphibious ships to meet its requirements. In addition to smaller vessels to support the expeditionary advance based operation concept. Others have asserted that few amphibious ships are necessary. I would ask each of the witnesses for an update on these discussions. Again, I want to thank the witnesses for appearing today and I look forward to their testimonies as a reminder for my colleagues, there will be a closed session immediately following this hearing in room SVC 217. Now let me recognize ranking member Senator Wicker. Thank you very much, Mr Chairman. I’m grateful to our witnesses for appearing today and like you, Mr Chairman, I want to um extend an especially warm welcome to General Smith um General Smith. I um I think that this is without question, your first visit to this community since your heart operation. Uh My colleagues and I are very grateful for your recovery. Um I was interested to see the uh special report on uh one of the news programs just a few days ago. Uh My hat is off to the good Samaritan Tim Leland, a CPR trained bystander who happened along uh highly trained and was willing and capable of um keeping you alive, helping you in your time of need. I’m grateful and this nation is grateful to this young man. And I know this experience has given you renewed appreciation for your loved ones and for the marines you’re leading. So uh glad to see you looking so good. I wanna join um all of you in expressing our gratitude to the men and women women serving in our Marine Corps and our Navy in the Red Sea and elsewhere, they execute missions of which there are no other naval forces capable. For one example, our navy has been the first to shoot down an anti ship ballistic missile fired in com in conflict. They are accomplishing feats like this so routinely that our nation could easily forget what an astounding accomplishment that was and what astounding abilities we have destroyers like the US S Gravely, which was built in my home state of Mississippi are protecting maritime commerce, our allies and our own forces for months on end, they operate persistently within range of enemy weapons. Their skill and bravery are evident, but these missions come at a cost putting our young men and women on extended deployments, places sailor welfare, material readiness and weapons inventory at risk. This committee has a lot of work to do. Um And we have a quantum leap that we need to make and we need to do it soon. The truth is that our naval fleet is too small and too old to meet the demands of our combatant commanders and our national defense strategy, particularly in the years going forward. The urgent need to rebuild the navy is not lost on this committee. The pertinent question becomes, how should we rebuild?

It’s clear we will not be able to do so. With the navy’s fiscal year 2025 budget request which contains cuts to naval personnel, shipbuilding weapons and military construction will not be able to meet the na the needs of our nation. With that request, we’re going to, we’re going to have to address this by working across the aisle. And I’m glad to be sitting up next to a chairman who has shown a willingness to do this over time. Here are the facts compared to fiscal year 2023 President Biden has asked the navy to take a 3% cut when accounting for inflation. These cuts impact the capacity of our force. The navy is asking to retire 19 battle force ships and procure only six. Just a fact, this is completely unacceptable as I’ve done in the past, I want to work with my colleagues in Congress, as I say across the aisle and in the other body to fix the Navy’s budget, the navy has work to do internally while my colleagues and I work on the budget. The Secretary’s 45 day shipbuilding review found delays across the entire portfolio. For example, the constellation class frigate will be three years late and will take nearly 10 years to deliver the lead ship. This is largely because the navy cannot keep its requirements steady. Almost 70% of the requirements have changed since the navy signed a contract. So the outcome that we see today is no surprise. Um This is not an example of the industry under performing. This is senior officials unable to manage a program. This is acquisition malpractice and a terrible waste of time and resources. I want to understand what urgent steps the secretary will take to improve the Navy as a customer regulator and technical authority. The upcoming landing ship medium program presents an opportunity for the navy to avoid heading down the same disappointing path as the frigate. The congressional budget office estimates a cost 2 to 3 times greater than the navy had budgeted. This new program can apply lessons learned to ensure that the marines get a ship at the capacity and schedule they need for campaigning in the Pacific. I appreciate the efforts of the submarine industrial based community over the past five years and I do appreciate the chair’s kind words about uh our efforts and our success. Recently in getting over $3 billion for the industrial base, the um industrial based community is dealing with a holistic in in a holistic fashion with structural workforce and supply chain problems. That’s why I insisted last year as a condition for the Aus Agreement that the administration make a significant down payment on the submarine industrial base. This resulted in the $3.4 billion that was included in the national security supplemental appropriation. However, I remain concerned that this approach has not been taken for other ship classes. Finally, I want to touch on the continuing recruiting crisis facing our military. Every service has struggled in recent years, but the navy has been unique in its response. Other services have invested in reforms and new programs without sacrificing quality. But the Navy has lowered standards. That approach does not appear to be working. Recent reports indicate the Navy could miss its recruiting mission by nearly 15% this year. We need to know if that’s true. The Army and Air Force are now optimistic about their ability to achieve their respective recruiting goals. It’s time for the Navy to learn from every other service and reemphasize quality. I hope our witnesses will explain to this committee how they plan to fix the Navy’s recruiting crisis without sacrificing basic standards. And that’s just the beginning of what I would like to say. We’ll follow up more on some questions. Thank you very much, Mr Chairman. Thank you, Senator Worker. Uh uh Mr Secretary, please. Good morning chairman, reed, ranking member, worker, distinguished members of this committee. It is indeed an honor to appear before you this morning to discuss the posture of the Department of the Navy first and foremost. I’d like to thank General Smith and Admiral Franchetti for again, answering the call of our nation time and time again. They like all who devote their careers and in many cases indeed sacrifice their lives in defense of their fellow Americans represent everything that makes this country a beacon of hope and freedom around the world. Together. Our combined years of service to our country totals over a century century marked by multiple deployments, time away from home and sacrifices made by our families And as we gather here this morning, tens of thousands of our sailors, our marines, our civilians and their families are either stationed or deployed all over the world making the same sacrifices and enduring the same trials that myself, General Smith and Emma Franchetti have faced throughout our own careers. And I think that gives us a special appreciation for their service in the Inter Pacific. Our N Marine Corps are sailing and operating alongside our international allies and partners in support of a free and open maritime commons. One where nations are secure in their access to the seas and where their rights within our exclusive economic zones are respected and upheld by all nations including the People’s Republic of China across Europe. We in co-operation with our NATO allies are supporting our Ukrainian partners as they continue to fight to restore their territorial and national sovereignty as Russia’s illegal, full scale invasion is now into its third year and I commend Congress for passing the national security supplemental last month, allowing us to continue providing support to our Ukrainian partners as they fight to restore peace in their homeland and indeed defense democracy for all countries and all free nations. And in the Red Sea, as you have stated, Mr Chairman and ranking member, our sailors and marines have countered hundreds of missiles and drones launched by the Houthis these past six months, over 300 targeting me and shipping and the warships of both the United States and our international allies and partners, we are confronting an adversary supported by Iran that has absolutely no respect for the innocent lives of civilian merchant Mariners. And one that is actively targeting our ships attempting to harm our sailors and marines because we dare to defend the defenseless. And last month, us S Carney and US S Arley Burke, both operating in the eastern Mediterranean Sea intercepted several Iranian ballistic missiles heading towards Israel. For those who question why the American taxpayer should provide for and maintain a Navy and Marine Corps. Look at what is happening today in the Middle East where we are defending the free flow of international commerce and actively defending our international partners and allies. Members of the committee, we appear before you today to ask for your continued support, thankful for the support you’ve passed. You’ve provided us in the past, your partnership and your commitment ensuring that nearly 1 million sailors, marines and civilians of the Department of the Navy that we lead are ready on all fronts at all times. While the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023 required us to make extremely hard choices. The 257.6 billion in the president’s budget request for fiscal year 2025 for our department, a deputy balances maintaining modernizing the fleet and force of today against planning for the future force while also taking care of our people within those financial restrictions. This budget directly supports our department’s three enduring priorities of strengthening our maritime dominance, creating a culture of warfighting excellence and enhancing our strategic partnerships around the globe. We are acquiring the most lethal agile and capable warships, submarines, aircraft weapons and systems that our world has ever seen. We are also funding the research and development of transformational technologies and fielding them more quickly to make our fleet more lethal and persistent within the current fit up. We’re investing billions of dollars in the industrial base that supports us while encouraging them to invest more in resources themselves at the same time. And as responsible stewards of taxpayer money, we will enforce accountability to ensure that our sailors and marines have the platforms and the capabilities that they need on time and on budget. Above all else, we are taking care of our personnel and their families by focusing and improving housing, expanding childcare capacity and increasing access to mental health resources amongst other critical areas. We are clear eyed about the challenges that our nation and our faces today in, in the maritime domain, both commercial and naval and as a maritime nation, we must confront the challenges of today and prepare for the potential conflicts tomorrow by investing in a strong Navy and Marine Corps. Again, it’s an honor to appear before you this morning and we look forward to discussing with you how best to deliver the Navy and Marine Corps capability that our nation requires. Thank you. Thank you, Mr Secretary uh Admiral Franchetti, please, Chairman Reed ranking member wicker distinguished members of the committee. Good morning. And thank you for the opportunity to testify on the posture of the United States Navy on behalf of the sailors, navy, civilians and their families deployed and stationed all around the world. Thank you for your leadership and your continued support in providing and maintaining the navy the nation needs. I’d also like to thank my teammate, General Smith for his exceptional partnership and collaboration. As we guide our services under the leadership of Secretary Del Toro, flanked by two oceans, the United States is and always has been a maritime nation whose security and prosperity rely on access to the sea. And for over 248 years, the US Navy has guaranteed that access operating forward, defending our homeland and keeping open the sea lines of communication that fuel our economy and underwrite our nation’s security, the events of this past year and the actions taken by your Navy Marine Corps team in the Indo Pacific in the Mediterranean in the Red Sea and beyond underscore the enduring importance of American naval power with an average of 100 and 10 ships and 70,000 sailors and marines deployed at sea on any given day. The Navy Marine Corps team is delivering power for peace, deterring potential adversaries and standing ready to fight and win our nation’s wars. If deterrence fails, I could not be more proud of this team. No other navy in the world can train and deploy and sustain such a lethal combat credible force that operates from the seabed to space at the scope scale and tempo that we do. This year’s budget supports the national defense strategy and my priorities of war fighting war fighters and the foundation that supports them. It enables the Navy to continue to meet our congressionally mandated mission both in peace and war. It is strategy driven, maintaining our focus on the People’s Republic of China as the pacing challenge, the acute threat of Russia and other persistent threats like the D, Pr K, Iran and Ve Os given the discretionary spending caps prescribed by the Fiscal Responsibility Act and a top line increase of 0.7%. The Navy had to make tough choices, favoring near term readiness, investing in our industrial base and prioritizing our people while assuming risk in future capabilities within this fiscally constrained environment. The budget request fully funds the navy’s top acquisition priority and the most survivable leg of our strategic deterrence. The Columbia class submarine. It provides funds for six battle force ships and incremental funding for two forward class aircraft carriers in Fy 25 and continues our support to Marine Corps Force design by maintaining 31 amphibious ships procuring three LP DS one LH A and eight medium landing ships. In total. The budget request procures 57 ships and submarines across the fit up. This budget prioritizes war fighting by funding our operations, training and readiness accounts. It invests in our foundation with funding for our installations for our shipyard infrastructure optimization program and for the broader defense industrial base, sending a strong signal to our industry partners on the need to increase our capacity to meet the growing demands of the present and the future. And it continues our strong commitment to our war fighters and our families through pay raises for our sailors and navy civilians and investments in quality of service initiatives such as unaccompanied housing, education, childcare, and sailor resiliency. These initiatives as well as others enabled by your steadfast support have helped us maintain historically high levels of retention which is imperative giving given the current recruiting environment. And while this environment remains challenging and our manning requirements at sea have increased, we are 2500 recruits ahead of where we were last year at this time. And I remain optimistic that our marketing and data analytics investments will show additional progress throughout the year. As Chief of Naval Operations, I am committed to pulling every lever available to me to put more ready players on the field platforms that are ready with the right capabilities, weapons and sustainment, and people who are ready with the right skills, tools, training and mindset to defend our nation’s security and prosperity whenever and wherever it is threatened. I thank the committee for your leadership and partnership in ensuring the world’s Premier fighting force remains ready to preserve the peace, respond in crisis and win decisively in war if called, I look forward to your questions. Thank you very much, Admiral General Smith, please. Good morning, Chairman Reed ranking member. Wicker, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for the opportunity to represent your marines today. I’d like to start by sincerely thanking this committee for its enduring support and your advocacy for a timely predictable and sufficient budget that enables the Marine Corps to remain first to fight. I would also like to express my deep gratitude for the partnership between Admiral Frank Ketty and me as we lead our respective sea services under the leadership of Secretary Del Toro, whether deterring responding to crisis or in conflict, it will be the Navy and Marine Corps expeditionary forces who make first contact with partners seeking help or adversaries seeking a fight. Our partnership, collaboration and integration is a decisive advantage. Last month, I published my updated guidance to the Force entitled Maintain Momentum. I chose this title as I firmly believe the Marine Corps is on the right path under force design. A few points from that document. First, I believe the Marine Corps must continue to strike a balance between high end modernization and our commitment to persistent four deployed naval expeditionary forces that campaign and respond to crisis globally. This effort is represented by our marine expeditionary units, the coin of the realm. Second, we must prioritize our operations with the Navy and its amphibious ships. And we must provide marines with the organic mobility to rapidly maneuver from shore to shore ship to shore and back again. Third, on recruiting, our performance speaks for itself will continue to make mission without ever diminishing our standards. Additionally, our top performing marines are reenlisting at record rates and we must sustain this trend. Fourth, we must maximize the capability of our reserves to ensure that our nation, nation has ready, ready bunch of warriors that they have relied on since the founding of the Marine Corps Forces Reserve in 1916 fifth. I’m dedicated to ensuring a quality of life for our marines that matches the high demands we place on them every day. That means nutritious food, high quality and accessible gyms and a safe quiet place to recover from a hard day’s work. Our barracks 2030 initiative is our most consequential barracks investment ever and it is sorely needed while aggressively pursuing these priorities. I commit to you that our Corps will always be frugal and accountable with the resources you and the American people provide. I’m extremely proud of my marines and civilian marines who enabled the Marine Corps to receive an unmodified audit opinion earlier this year, the first of any service to do so, they told us what we have long known that when you entrust us with the taxpayers’ money, it is money well spent and fully accounted for all these things are critical to maintaining the strength and dominance of your Marine Corps. This year marks 249 years since the founding of our Corps. That is 249 years of battles won and peace upheld in the name of democracy and prosperity for our nation and for all nations who abide by the international rules based order. But increasingly world events demonstrate disorders being challenged, free trade, unrestricted access to the seas, peaceful cooper operation between nations big and small are under assault. Our nation’s prosperity is underwritten by a strong Navy and Marine Corps who maintain a global presence and keep Malign actors at bay. Thank you again for the opportunity to represent your marines. Today. I pledge to continue to work closely with each of you to ensure your Marine Corps remains the most lethal fighting force on the planet. I look forward to your questions. Thank you very much, General Smith, uh Secretary Del Toro. Uh the comments both Senator Wicker and I made uh indicate that the ship building the program in the navy is in disarray. The Columbia class, which is the most critical platform uh that the navy and perhaps the nation is trying to build is behind schedule and it might fall further behind. It puts extraordinary pressure on the uh uh Virginia class submarine construction. They’re already behind 1.2 ships versus two ships a year. Uh You’ve responded uh by sending up a request for one Virginia this year and see a significant investment in the defense industrial base. The first question I have though, is there seems to be management problems and all these programs, some of it is the changing uh requirements on the ships. Uh So that the contractor is suddenly back to square one in some cases, others as to the inability of subcontracts to produce et cetera. Uh And I must say that one of the jobs that you have and it’s a tough job is to find out who’s responsible and to take directed action to correct it. So could, could you tell us what you’re doing to ensure accountability in the programs to get them back on track?

Thank you, Mr Chairman. As, as you suggest, there are a lot of challenges in the shipbuilding industry and they actually date back to the 19 eighties when we gave up on commercial shipbuilding in this country and lost so much of the talent in the shipbuilding industry that was compounded tremendously. So by COVID and the enormous challenges that we have with regards to blue collar labor in this workforce that actually impacts across all programs because the industry and even the navy and its public shipyards just simply don’t have the people that are necessary to work in our shipyards. That’s sort of the base denominator of it all. But the recent problems that we’ve actually seen here and I don’t agree with the characterization that this is all about management by no means of the imagination. These are difficult challenges that are presented to the Navy and as well, the shipbuilding industry that we have to deal with clear on. So the delay of major components for the construction of Virginia class as well as the Eisenhower is the major reason for the delays in these programs. So on the Eisenhower, for example, you have Northrop Grumman that’s building the main reduction gear when General Electric used to do that. And they are behind in delivering the main reduction gear in addition to the high pressure and the low pressure turbines to that carrier, which is why it’s behind in the case of the Virginia class submarines. It’s the turbine generators that are being delivered by Northrop Grumman that are significantly behind in addition to the quality assurance challenges that have been presented down in Norfolk naval shipyard associated with the nose cones of those submarines that you’re very well familiar with as well that has led to significant delays such that the New Jersey that was just delivered a couple of weeks ago was delivered three years late. Now, some of this isn’t just maintenance problems. It’s a attributed to blue-collar workforce challenges that we’re having the greeting of the workforce. You could argue that years ago, as you have stated before. Another testimony, you know, we had 50 year old supervisors working with 50 year old naval engineers in the navy today. It’s 35 year olds working with each other, right, that has led to significant challenges with regards to quality assurance. Now, in the case of the frigate, quite frankly, it’s a retention, a recruiting and a retention problem in Wisconsin. So what we are trying to actually do is many things. $13.9 billion in the submarine industrial base in fisk gear 25 followed by $11 billion of investment over the rest of the fit up $750 million investment in the surface industrial base. Just in Finke alone, we provided $100 million of resources to the shipyard so they can provide $5000 bonuses to their shipyard workers um for the first year if they stay in place and another 5000 and if they stay in place throughout the construction of the uh of of, of the ship itself. So we’re doing everything that we can possibly can to actually help industry and work with industry to get there. Industry also needs to do its part. We have too many stock buyback uh plans that you know, as we’re investing $14 billion into industry. You know, we’ve got billions of dollars that are going out the o the other side of the door into stockholders. So they got to focus more on the customer than just the stockholders as well too. I concur with your final comment. Uh We’re looking at uh companies that are not performing but are still being rewarded. And uh as you point out the contraction of our defense industrial base and shipbuilding is such that competition is not really there as it was perhaps 20 or 30 years ago. Uh The uh the need is great and I think we have to um put more effort behind it. There’s also, and I, and my time is expiring, there’s a capacity issue. Uh I know you have a shipyard infrastructure optimization program $25 billion over 25 years. That’s a billion dollar a year. Um I think we have to come to uh a real uh question of, do we have enough shipyards to function particularly in this environment where China has 16 major premier shipyards?

And I’ve taken too much time. Let me recognize Senator Worker. I’m tempted to ask that you be given another five minutes, Mr Chairman, but I won’t do that. Uh um Let me ask General Smith and Admiral Franchetti about um medium uh sized landing ships. Now, uh let me start with you, General Smith. Um It’s my understanding. Marines originally sought an affordable landing ship of less than 100 $50 million based on what you saw with the logistics support vessel that um Israel was having built. Tell me what um the landing ship mediums will do. And again, we have uh o only five minutes for this round of questions. What will they do in a, in a nutshell?


Thanks for that question. The landing ship medium transports, our expeditionary forces inter island uh it’s beach, it can get up into, into low uh low watermark beaches and it enables us to have access to the entire first island chain. And so we’re talking Pacific Indo Pacific Islands focused on the Indo Pacific but certainly employable in the Mediterranean. OK. So um there, there’s been requirements growth and uh I think everyone on both sides of the DAO are con are concerned about this. Um The CBO now estimates that the landing ship medium will cost 2 to 3 times more than this $150 million Israeli landing ship. Um uh How, how many of the original um uh Israeli um logistic support vessels could you use?

And what reason would we have uh for not being able to use those where you’re going to need them?

Senator, the Israeli version does not meet our requirements for beach gradients. Um The beach gradient of 1 to 40 is critical because it opens up 1 to 40. Yes, sir. Yes sir. That doesn’t. Um It, it means the curvature of the beach, its ability to beach itself and then back itself off. Um Are, are there islands where it would work?

Um Senator there are, but they would, they would limit us in our ability to spread throughout the first island chain to counter the Pr C?

OK. OK. Um So you are telling this committee that you, you really can’t use any of these um logistic support vessels that the Marine Corps initially planned to use. Senator. They would not be purpose built. Uh We, we could use them but we would lose capability. We’d lose access to parts of the Indo Pacific that we currently need to have access to in order to counter the Pr CS, uh continue to grow to what extent could they be modified?

Um Without, um, without going, um, 2 to 3 times more than um the original budget, Senator, I’ll have to get back to you on that on the ability to modify them without increasing cost. Well, uh obviously it would, it would increase cost. Um but um how is it that um I, I suppose the Israelis um are, are interested in different kinds of um uh different islands in different areas and it works for them. But, but it uh what, what percentage of the islands in the Pacific could you use the existing vessel?


I don’t have an exact number for you. I can get back to you on that. Ok. Well, please please do. Uh let let me uh let me ask um Admiral Franchetti to answer that question on the record. Let me just ask you this in the time. We have the minute we have Secretary Del Toro. Um There’s a lot of interest in this committee ab about um ab ab about a force ship by of AMS. Um Will you commit to a multi ship by of amphibious warships. Senator I am highly enthusiastic uh for the four ship multiyear procurement I always have been and uh we are in final negotiations with the shipyard to actually put forward the proposal obviously depend on what uh what the numbers come back. But we are aggressively pursuing all negotiations with the shipyard to get to a fouryear multi procurement on amphibious ships. When will you be able to, to give us a more firm answer there?

I hope within the next 30 to 60 days, sir. All right. But um can we assume that the, that we’re, we’re all working toward a yes answer. Absolutely, sir. We have the authorizations, we have the appropriations and I just want to move forward with the final negotiations to get the best price on behalf of the American taxpayer. Ok. Thank you very much. Thank you, Senator Worker, Senator Shaheen, please. Good morning. Thank you all for being here and for your service to the country. Um One of those um initiatives that I think has been helpful to expanding capacity are the supplier development funds. They can flow down to small businesses which are so critical to the innovation that we need. Um If we’re gonna um expand in the way that we want to, we have an important subcontractor in New Hampshire called Granite State Manufacturing, who’s been able to use those funds to expand their capacity to support both the Virginia and Columbia class submarines. Um As the direct result of receiving this funding, they’ve also formed a partnership with the local community college which has been critical in providing skilled workers. So can you speak at Secretary Del Toro to the importance of those submarine supplier development funds and how other small businesses might be able to take advantage of them?

Very much so, Senator, they’re extremely important. And our, our pe Os SSBN actually is working very, very closely with industry as we actually uh obligate the submarine, industrial based monies as well uh with small and medium size companies to ensure that they have um stable funding uh to be able to sustain themselves. Uh It’s extremely important and we’re highly committed to it and there’s no reason to think otherwise. Good. Thank you. Um You, you mentioned along with Admiral Franchetti, the shipyard infrastructure optimization plan, the P SI A and um the navy is called that a once in a generation investment. Um But what we’re seeing in, in the Portsmouth naval shipyard, for example is that cost overruns have thrown that schedule off. And um I wonder if you could speak maybe Admiral Franchetti to your commitment to ensuring that that project stays on, on time on schedule and how confident you are that that’s going to happen. And I I should say as part of that, how much I appreciate. As the chairman said, Senator Wicker’s commitment to getting the 3 billion for the submarine industrial base that’s been really critical to a project like the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Well, thank you. And the CIA program is incredibly important. As you said, once in a generation 100 year old dry docks, this is really critical for our future, both to improve the cadence, uh and the throughput on maintenance, but also uh to be able to fit our new platforms that we’ll be developing. So again, really thankful for the investment in this. I think I’m very committed. You know, Portsmouth is our first uh big project that we’re doing. I’ve been up to see it a few times and uh you know, they are uh about 47% complete, you know, they are on track to meet their deadline in August of uh 28. And the really good thing is that they’ve been able to continue to do maintenance while doing the optimization and uh it’s very exciting. So not only the dry dock though, as you know, we’re looking across all four public ship yards to do the optimization with both layout to increase again, the efficiency of the yard as well as in upgrading the industrial equipment. So the lessons that we’re taking from Portsmouth are already having a positive impact in Pearl Harbor and we look forward to continuing to learn. Well, the 2023 inspector general audit on environmental threats to naval dry docks at the four public shipyards, talked about the uh vulnerabilities and the need to address sea levels and flooding Portsmouth is, um, is one of the only four to have implemented those requirements for resiliency, but we saw in January in a storm that, um, water levels came within inches of the top of one of the Caissons. So it’s not clear that those resiliency plans are actually gonna be good long term. Can you talk about how you’re continuing to look at, um, maturing those, um, climate action plans to address resiliency?

Yep, the resiliency, not only of our shipyards, but also of all our bases. We’re continuing to focus on that. Um You know, all of those projects are designed to be resilient to uh any sea level rise as well as seismic and we’re continuing to work to address those needs as we design the the remainder of the projects as well. Thank you. Finally, I I just wanted to speak to the comments that you all in the beginning about the Indo Pacific and the Freedom of the Seas. I just returned with Senator Gillibrand and some other senators from a trip to the Indo Pacific. And one of the things we heard in our visits to the Philippines, to Vietnam, to South Korea and to Japan was great concern about the Pr CS um continued incursion into the South China Seas and their territorial waters, the importance of maintaining that freedom of navigation and their appreciation for the work that our navy has done to help them. So, thank you very much for that. I think that’s a very important mission that we’ve got to continue to support. Thank you, Senator Shaheen Senator, but is recognized now. Thank you, Chairman. Thank you, ranking member for allowing me to go just a few minutes early and thank my colleagues as well as I’ll be attending the unveiling of the new statue of the Reverend Billy Graham, um a great North Carolinian and a great American. Thank you all for being here. Uh General Smith, certainly glad to have you back with us for many, many reasons. Um General Smith uh this year’s Marine Corps request. It included significant investments in Cherry Point North Carolina. These projects support F-35 aircraft maintenance and operational readiness. I visited the station in February and I was impressed by the great things the Marines are doing there, especially with VM FA 542 the East Coast first operational F-35 B squadron. So if I recall correctly, VM Fa 542 recently achieved full operational capability. So how will this capability impact the Marine Corps operational flexibility and technological edge?

Senator. Having a full up round F-35 B squadron enables us to move to the next level of combat. Um Those aircraft are able to collaborate um through a uh a classified system uh in air to target. Um Adversaries, they’re able to run at low signatures and they’re able to penetrate enemy air defenses. Uh like no other aircraft we have. Thank you, General Uh Secretary Secretary Del Toro, thank you again for being here. So as proud as I am of our marines, I’ve got deep concerns with the Department of Navy um particularly when I hear about uh some unfunded priorities. So why was the F-35 Flight line utilities modernization project?

Why was that on the unfunded priorities list and not integrated into the 2025 budget?

Well, sir, as I stated earlier, we’ve uh have been pressurized by the Fiscal Responsibility Act in a significant way and we had to prioritize uh redness over modernization and capacity as well too and also prioritize our, our personnel uh first and foremost, and it led to very difficult decisions that I otherwise perhaps might not have made if it wasn’t for those constrictions. So that’s what, that’s the reason why. Thank you, Mr Secretary. You know, my concern is that the taxpayers have invested heavily in facilities at cherry point, but it seems like you were hoping that we here in Congress would pick up the tab to make sure that the proper utilities um were supportive. So um deep concerns there, General Smith uh as you know, the 26 Marine expeditionary unit from Camp Lejeune was extended during their deployment back in March because of operational needs and involving evolving mission requirements. So how does the Marine Corps balance, maintaining crisis response readiness and at the same time pursuing force modernization in these types of situations?

Senator, it’s not easy um Every time we extend a marine expeditionary unit, we put an additional strain on those ships and we get the, the cycle out of balance. We’re a three to make one force three ARG MS to make one AR M deployed. So you’re out for six months, you’re home for 12 and ideally you’re home for 18. Um So when we have a, a lack of uh of ready shipping and an extension uh of the ARG M, then you, you throw the cycle out of balance and you get an, a, an a misshapen tire, so to speak. And so it um it puts a strain on the forces that are forward deployed because they’re extended and it throws out of balance. The forces who are home preparing to train because the ships they need to train with are forward deployed. Thank you, general, if I understand correctly, the 15th mew was supposed to deploy aboard the US S Boxer and that’s now unavailable. And the 24th year was from campus Jue is supposed to sail aboard the Wasp, but that was delayed. So, what are the status of these M fibs?

And do you have enough ships to support preplanned deployments and crisis response?

And then what are the long term impacts of ship availability on these new deployments?

We’ll send the, the CNO and I have locked shields that 31 is the appropriate number of s that’s uh that’s 10 big decks and 21 LP DS. And through the P si op the ship optimization uh program, we’re working to increase the readiness of those ships. But again, the CNO and I have locked shields on the required number and we’re working to get the readiness rates up so that we can deploy as three ship amphibious ready groups. General, if you would go uh specifically to the Wasp in the US S Boxer. What is the status of those?

Uh Senator I’ll, I’ll defer to the CNO on the status of their maintenance uh and their readiness. So the uh so the wasp is uh underway during her doing her certification exercise probably be delayed from maybe just a few days from her original planned deployment. The Boxer has a material casualty on her rudder which is being repaired right now. Uh We expect uh if the maintenance progresses as it is on track, uh to be able to get her out on deployment uh later this summer. Thank you. Thank you, Chairman. Thank you, Senator Budd, Senator King, please. Thank you, Mr Chairman. Just last Friday, Senator Sullivan and I took a group of bipartisan group of our colleagues to the battlefield at Antietam, which was the deadliest bloodiest day in American history. Uh One of the units that day that suffered almost 50% casualties was the seventh main regiment led by a fellow named Thomas Hyde. Thomas Hyde received the congressional medal of honor uh for his bravery that day leading a charge, uh basically an unsupported charge into the Confederate lines. The relevance today is that after the war, he came back to Maine and founded Bath Ironworks and Bath Ironworks is the yard that built the Carney and the Arley Burke that are now defending the freedom of navigation in the Red Sea. I just think that’s a nice circular history right there and I can tell you from Senator Sullivan and I point of view, it was a very moving and important day that we spent at Antietam last week. Um Mr Secretary, you know what I’m going to ask. Uh whenever I hear about what’s going on in the Red Sea, I hear about knocking down houthi missiles. And my first reaction is, that’s great. Our navy is doing a great job. My second reaction is we just shot down $100,000 worth of missiles with about $15 million worth of our missiles. Directed energy. I hope that the department can Reprioritize because the entire defense department has cut directed energy R and D and expenditures by 50% by half over the last three years. I see directed energy as a crucial part of the Navy’s future. Can you commit to me that you will advocate for renewed research development and deployment of directed energy weapons to defend uh this country across the across the globe?

Senator, I took my first uh laser course at the Navy postgraduate School in 1986. And even back then, I thought that we needed to invest far more significantly in laser and high directed energy systems. I regret that we haven’t done that for the past 30 years or so. We need to do that moving forward. There’s no question in my mind to get to a place perhaps 5 to 10 years from now where we could actually start aggressively employing those capabilities on our ships. I hope it’s on the five year range and not the 10 year range. I like it that you say we’re going to move forward. I want it to be urgently because again, just from the point of view of economic shooting down a $20,000 UAV with a $4 million missile does not, we can’t do that very long. Plus, we’re talking about a very potentially powerful weapon in defense against as we’ve learned in recent conflicts. Aerial defense is what it’s all about. Sir. To the extent that I have authorities to do so in prom 26 I will absolutely do so. Thank you. Um Mr Secretary again, uh The DDX is the next level of surface combatant. There’s been the, in our uh 2023 National Defense Act, we talked about collaboration that collaboration is continuing between the shipyards and the navy. I I, we can’t let that falter because first in class ships tend to be very expensive and one way to avoid that. And what I’m looking for is is collaboration still a priority for the Navy between the Navy and the shipyards in the design and, and conceptualization of this new service combat. Certainly senator, not only is there a priority, but we’re actually living it right now. And as we actually had to shift DDGX to the right a bit partially because we want to be able to fully uh develop the technologies and the design of that ship so that we get it right. And so greater collaboration between industry and the government before we actually go to a full production on a fully designed uh ship is absolutely the right answer. Co couldn’t agree more. Uh uh maturity of design is critic critical. I’d rather move it to the right and not do the R and D and design as it’s being built. That’s what we’ve learned in the past is not, does not bode well for the taxpayers or the or the defense base also. Uh want to be sure there’s a smooth transition for the DDG flight three to the DDX. We can’t have a, a gap, a trough if you will because as a Senator from Mississippi knows uh you can’t turn off and on a workforce, the kind of skilled workforce that’s necessary to build these ships. So I hope that that’s part of your planning is a, is a smooth transition between the two classes of Absolutely Senator afforded the opportunity to be here another four years. I’d be more than happy to do that. We have to ensure that whether it’s me or another secretary that DDG flight three actually overlaps with DDGX so that we don’t repeat the mistakes of the past. And we’ve done that years ago. For example, with regards between Columbia and Ohio, we wouldn’t be facing the, the gap that we currently have or may have in the future, final point in, in four seconds. Uh We’ve talked a lot about shipbuilding. We need to focus and talk about maintenance and improving the throughput of our maintenance facilities because ships that are sitting at the dock for a year or more are not serving the taxpayers that or the defense of the country. So I hope that can be something uh that can be a uh we could discuss further, perhaps take some record. We’re doing more than just talking about it from 2019 to the president. Actually, we reduced maintenance delays on service ships by 56%. That is a significant achievable milestone that we simply just don’t amplify, but we are making tremendous progress in terms of the maintenance delays on our on our ships. Thank you. Thank you, Mr Chairman. Thank you, Senator King, Senator Fisher, please. Thank you, Mr Chairman uh General Smith. It’s good to have you back with us in good health and I thank the rest of our witnesses for their service and also for being here today. However, I do share the concerns of many of my colleagues about the Navy’s performance across the board and whether it’s adhering to the FY 24 NDA. A last year after months of hearings and briefings on known capability gaps in our nuclear deterrent. This committee determined that Slick A Man was the best option to fill this capability gap in the fy 24 NDA. A congress on a bipartisan and a bicameral basis. Formally established a program of record for Slick Men and appropriated sig significant funding to N NSA to develop the warhead and to the navy to develop the missile itself. Admiral. During your nomination hearing last September, you testified before this committee that the nuclear armed sea launch cruise missile is quote, a tailored option that the president should have. End quote. Do you still agree with this statement?

Yes, I do. Mr Secretary and Admiral. I am deeply concerned that the Navy did not request any funding for Slick a men in their base budget or in the navy’s unfunded priorities list letter. This is a stark contrast to N NSA which did include a robust funding request for development of the slicker in the warhead in their unfunded priorities list. Although the production decision remains years away. Let me be clear, we expect the navy to take all actions necessary to develop this missile so that if, if a decision is made to move to production, we can do so without delay. And I expect to see this program included in your base budgets moving forward for the first time since world war two to shift gears here, we have navy ships continuously operating inside the weapon engagement zone of enemy forces on a near daily basis. We’re spending significant highly capable and expensive munitions to defend against low cost missiles and drones. Uh Mr Secretary, we just heard concerns from Senator King and you know, those concerns uh come from others as well that we need to be investing more in directed energy so that we can get on the better side when it comes to the cost per shot curve. Uh But I am also um concerned about our ability to reconstitute the missiles that we’re expending right now. So Mr Secretary, how’s the Navy reconsidering its industrial based strategy to account for higher than expected uh levels of munition and or uh weapon attrition?

Well, first and foremost, Senator, thank you for your support of our Navy and Marine Corps and I know how deeply passionate you are around these issues. Um We just in the Red Sea over the course of the last 6.5 months have expended close to $1 billion in missiles. SM two SSM sixes sm three S. Um And thank you for the authorities that you provided us in 24 for example, for Miss Multiyear procurement for missile systems, we actually are starting to make progress now working with the industrial base, both the under Secretary of Defense for acquisition and sustainment and myself have been working with industry and those production rates are actually starting to come up now so that we actually will see some increases in SM two and SM six productions, obviously the more sophisticated the missile, the harder it is to produce them. But nevertheless, we are starting to see some um progress being made in the production base. Thank you. Uh Also uh Mr Secretary, I understand that uh the next Rim of the Pacific exercise it’s scheduled for later this year and that gives the Navy and the Marine Corps an opportunity to demonstrate their maritime uh combat capabilities. This is one of the many exercises that we have with our global counterparts. How’s the department of the investing in these exercises to prepare for a potential power competition in the Pacific?

Exceptionally, exceptionally well, Senator to give you just two examples, the investments that we’ve made in operation over match and perhaps, you know, just talk a little bit although that is classified program but will be exercised during RED P 24. Basically, we’ve also increased our collaboration with allies and partners for rimpac 24 which is very exciting. And the uh on the autonomous side of the house, the unmanned Navy side of the house, we’re actually looking to actually employ all four overlord projects as well too in an incredible way. So we’re very excited about rimpac uh 24. Uh General, how’s the Mrf Darwin integrate uh with the Australian Defense Forces. Senator, the Marine rotational forces. Darwin are down there during the dry season. Um They’re integrating very well. They’re exercising with them. They’re in position to forward, deploy from the southern end of the first island chain to uh to secure those routes uh and to defend against the Pr CS aggression. So, they’re doing very well. And it’s a, it’s a well done program. It involves our ch 50 threes and it involves an infantry battalion worth of marines. It’s task organized to, to distribute through the first island chain. Good. A few years ago, I led a codel uh when they were getting the um, um, barracks containers ready for the first marines that were going to be deployed there. So good to hear. Thank you. Thank you, Senator Fisher, Senator Warren, please. Thank you, Mr Chairman. So the Navy acquires everything from night vision goggles to aircraft carriers through contracts with big defense contractors. But the contractors often place restrictions on these deals that prevent service members from maintaining or repairing the equipment, won’t even let them write a training manual without going back through the contractor. Now, the contractors say that since they own the intellectual property and the technical data underlying the equipment only, they have the right to repair that equipment. These right to repair restrictions usually translate into much higher costs for dod, which has no choice but to shovel money out to big contractors whenever dod needs to have something fixed. So take the navy’s lial combat ship, general dynamics. And Lockheed Martin considered much of the data and equipment on the ship to be proprietary. So the navy had to delay missions and spend millions of dollars on travel costs just so that contractor affiliated repairman could fly in rather than doing this ourselves. Secretary Del Toro, when a sailor isn’t allowed to repair part of their ship at sea and a marine isn’t allowed to access technical data to fix a generator on a base abroad. One solution is for the navy to buy the intellectual property from the contractors. So can you say a little bit about what the benefits are of having of the Navy having technical rights for the equipment that it is purchased?

The benefits are enormous. Senator and we’ve actually had tremendous success, I’d say in the last year and a half to two years through the taxpayer advocacy program that we initiated when I came in. Um There have been three examples. One gaining the intellectual property rights for the new A CV class of uh ships that will replace the A AVS. Um, the F-35 negotiations really prove themselves out in a significant way as well too. And lastly, the uh 20 F-18 E NFS that the Congress authorized in 22 and 23 we were able to make significant gains in terms of the government. Finally getting the intellectual property rights that were necessary for us to be able to properly sustain those moving forward. So I I am very, very glad to hear this. I I like the taxpayer advocacy project and how you’re training contract officers to secure technical equipment that the Navy buys. But I think you should have the support of Congress on this Senator Braun and I have introduced the stop price gouging the Military Act to give dod more tools to get cost and pricing data so that you will be in a better position to negotiate better deals with the contractors. There’s also more that we can do to ensure that the Navy and the rest of the services have the rights they need to bolster readiness. So let me ask you, Secretary Del Toro would having a stronger focus on right to repair issues during the acquisition process like prioritizing contract bids that give dod fair access to repair materials and ensuring that contract officers are looking into buying technical rights early on. Would that help the Navy save costs and boost readiness at the same time?

Very much?

So, in fact, one of the things that we have prioritized since I came in as Secretary of the Navy, given my aquisition background is actually those negotiations need to happen as early as possible before we even as we develop the acquisition strategy for that contract to go out to bid. And uh by doing so, we will reap tremendous returns. And in the case of the L CS Senator, by the way, and I applaud uh former Cno Mike Gildea and now uh our current Cno Lisa Franchetti for actually moving the L CS maintenance strategy from a contractor service uh focus strategy to a uh sale, focus strategy. Uh Well, I very much appreciate the direction you’re going in this. I want Congress to be able to help you on this, ensuring that our service members, equipment works shouldn’t depend on whatever price some contractor wants to set after the fact, uh dod should be able to follow your lead and secure the rights to repair and all of its equipment early on. So, thank you very much. Thank you, Mr Chairman. Thank you, Senator Warren, Senator Ernst, please. Thank you, Mr Chair and, and thank you to all of you for testifying in front of the committee. Today. I’m proud to have served for over 23 years in our nation’s uniform. And uh I was first inspired actually by Ukrainians. Uh and these are the Ukrainians that I met on an agricultural exchange program in 1989. Uh then under Soviet control, my Ukrainian brothers and sisters asked me about what it was like to be free and what it was like to be an American. And those moments um outside of the comfort of my rural Iowa upbringing, my Iowa home inspired me to give back to the country that I love. And I came back from that exchange and I joined Army ROTC at Iowa State University, uh where my patriotism was solidified. I’m grateful that my daughter and her husband have followed in those footsteps and both are proudly now serving in the United States Army. But today, folks, um young people are not being inspired to serve. Frankly, the perks of service are tarnished when an administration attempts to cancel everyone’s student loans. Others have witnessed and quite possibly been influenced by the anti-american rhetoric. They see and hear from the left both on campus and online. Further students who were kept out of the classrooms by COVID lockdowns are still reeling from the consequences. We have seen this by the lowering of a VB scores by as much as 9%. Currently, only 23% of 17 to 24 year olds are fully qualified to serve. Our military is facing a dire recruiting crisis and our service branches must address it. So secretary I will start with you and let’s focus on this recruiting challenge. Uh This year the Navy is on track to be short, roughly 16,000 sailors. Just a few years back in November of 22 the navy raised its maximum enlistment age to 41 years old. Now I would consider that young. Uh but that’s a little old for an initial enlistment. What is the Navy doing right now to remedy these challenges and increase recruitment?

How do we overcome this?

Well, first and foremost, uh Senator, thank you for the comments that you made with regards to Ukraine, someone who was born in a communist country myself and lost my homeland to communists and autocrats. I cannot thank you enough for your support for the Ukrainian and for the supplemental with regards to recruiting, it does remain challenging for many of the reasons that you mentioned and it is all hands on deck. But I want to be clear, we, we’re not gonna be 16,000 sailors short. We may be somewhere between 16, less than 6200. And I think it’s gonna be far less than that, in fact, but we actually decided to actually raise our goal to recruit more sailors this year. Uh Unlike the other services, so we set the goal at 40,600 because of the shortfalls that we will have at sea. So therefore, it’s all hands on deck and perhaps to see an o comment briefly on the multiple steps that are being taken to actually close that gap. Ok. Thank, thank you. And, and historically, um I’m gonna go back to the comments I made about education because historically, education benefits have produced more of our high quality recruits. And there was a rand study that found the number of high quality recruits increased after the passage of the post 9 11 G I bill. Do you believe that extending similar benefits to that of the G I Bill for non serving individuals through the administration’s so called student debt cancellation plan has impacted recruitment efforts and undermined the fundamental principles of military service. Ma’am. I’m focused on recruiting, you know, recruits into the Navy and the Marine Corps. And one of the, when you talk to our recruiters, the biggest challenge that they sometimes have is actually getting access to the high schools themselves. So we’re working very closely with the Department of Education and with supervisors from across the nation to try to break down those barriers that our recruiters can actually get access to the high schools currently that are being allowed two times a year. We want to increase that to about four times a year. I’ve written over thousands of letters to to high school principals. In fact, allowing our recruiters back in. That’s the number one challenge that our recruiters have in terms of getting to the high school students themselves. I am really glad you brought that up secretary because last year, I did have a, have an effort to force high schools to allow uh, recruiters into those high schools. It is law that they be admitted into those high schools. 5% of our high schools across this great United States of America don’t allow recruiters on their campuses. Um So we’ll continue pushing that effort for you secretary and I’m going to double back because I will tell you that I’ve had so many of my former soldiers come to me and say I served multiple deployments overseas for G I bill benefits for those education benefits and now others are getting them for not serving. I think it’s absolutely unfair. What is going on across the United States today?

I, I think we are wiping away the benefits that we have uh promised to those that have stepped up and worn the flag of these great United States. We have to do better and we need to reward those that serve. And I think part of our recruiting challenge is that we don’t reward those that serve enough or we give their benefits to others that don’t deserve them. So, thank you all very much um for testifying today. Thank you, Senator Senator Kelly, please. Thank you, Mr Chairman uh Secretary Del Toro. I’ll talk in a little bit more detail about the nuclear arms sea launched cruise missile or slick him. And um I wanna make sure that we’re clear on the direction of the system and understand the opportunity costs that may come with fielding it. Uh You know, I get that there is a arms control rationale here that there is a uh possibly we could provide Russia with an incentive to both reverse development of, you know, a new land based clue, cruise missile that’s nuclear armed. This could be part of a negotiation, you know, I get that part of it. Um You know, at the same time, we, my understanding is we’re developing a low yield. Uh, the W 76-2 low yield SLBM warhead that could fill uh the same need for uh a low yield weapon. Um My concern though is that fielding the slick of man would likely necessitate removing some conventional munitions from our submarines. Um I’m especially concerned about the Virginia class submarines and possibly having to sacrifice torpedoes for cruise missiles. Uh, you and I were aboard us S Indiana and we spent some time in the torpedo room and you know, the modification of weapon systems aboard a ship is significant. Um There would have to be changes in the safety system, security, uh storage, launch, uh communications, uh command and control for nuclear weapons, uh secure coms, uh authorization protocols. So Mr Secretary, I know you’ve previously voiced concern uh over development of a nuclear armed sea launched cruise missile. Um What I mean, do the, does the navy currently have plans for how we would integrate slick em and into a Virginia class submarine?

And have we considered uh that we’re likely, if we were to do this, we’re likely going to replace uh weapons that we would need. And we are more likely to use in a conflict with China. I mean, when you consider the number of ships we’re dealing with and the number of torpedoes that we would need, we would have to replace those torpedoes with uh nuclear armed uh sea launch, cruise missiles support a sub. So I just want to get your take on, uh, where we’re going with this plan. Yes, sir. Well, I think you hit the nail on the head senator and to be clear, we are moving forward with, uh, uh, standing up the, uh, program management office as required by the law. But having said that I’m concerned about uh how it will operationally impact our, our submarine force and their ability actually to conduct the tactical and operations that they actually need to do in the South, in, in, in the, in the Pacific and elsewhere around the world that actually will prevent perhaps from doing the things that we need to do tactically and operationally by providing this slick and capability to the submarine. It will fundamentally change the mission of many of those submarines themselves. The second issue that I’m very concerned about is the opportunity cost here uh associated with the cost of the, of the missiles themselves. This will be a multibillion dollar program that will prevent us from doing other things that are equally important, I think throughout our naval enterprise. Well, thank you, the uh the probability of us in the future uh using a torpedo against a warship is much higher than the probability of using a nuclear launch cruise missile against a target. Um So thank you in my remaining time. Uh Secretary Del Toro. Uh you’ve talked about the need for a, you know, renaissance in American shipbuilding. You, you mentioned a little bit as I was walking in the door here. I think you labeled, labeled it maritime statecraft. I agree with that wholeheartedly. Uh Right now China Republic of Korea, Japan, they build about uh 98% of global uh ship construction. China is the world’s largest shipbuilder controls most of the merchant ships in the world. 5500, we have about 80 or 85. I think merchant ships flying the US flag. I’m concerned with the size and the status of the US merchant marine and how it’s a risk to our national security as you know, insufficient commercial maritime capacity impacts peacetime trade and supply chains. Uh but also has a great impact on our ability to move things. We need to move if we’re uh engaging in combat somewhere across the globe and this isn’t a capability that can be turned on overnight as you know, we need to invest in this uh now. So we’re ready in the future. That’s why last week I released a bipartisan bicameral report with Congressman Waltz and uh Garamendi and Senator Rubio called the Congressional Guidance for a National maritime Strategy. Our report provides a comprehensive vision to revitalize the nation’s maritime sector. And now we’re working to turn the recommendations from the report into legislation. I don’t want to go over my time, but I’m going to submit some questions for the record to you on this subject. I’ve read the recommendations and agree with all 10 of them. All right, thank you. Thank you, Senator Kelly, Senator Sullivan. Thank you, Mr Chairman. And I want to thank the witnesses today, General Smith. It’s good to see you back, sir. Semper Fi. We’re all really uh glad you’re back. Um By the way, little discussion on 31 AM FIBS. What you’re talking about. Remember we directed that. So the debate’s over, right. That’s a congressional direction. So I think it’s important. One of the themes from this hearing is the shipbuilding crisis that we are facing. Um uh I met with the CRS experts, congressional research service experts best in government. Some have been doing this for decades. This was a quote from them. This is the worst position the navy has been in over the past 40 years for designing building, maintaining and crewing ships. That’s what the congressional research service experts said, Senator Wicker has already said this is acquisition malpractice. The chairman said it’s in this array. I want to get more to the issue of who’s responsible and what should be done to fix it. But let me begin. General Smith, would you agree that as a leader in the Marine Corps, no matter what level, uh you’re serving at accountability, res and responsibility is critical uh component of leadership?

Uh Yes, sir. So if a marine platoon commander has a marine who loses his rifle on an exercise, what typically happens to that marine platoon commander, that platoon commander will be relieved. And that’s not a hypothetical issue. In 2020 a battalion commander and a sergeant major were relieved after two rifles went missing on a training exercise in camp Lejeune. Admiral Fant. Paragraph 0802 of the naval regulations titled responsibility of a commanding officer says that the responsibility of the commanding officer, his or her command is absolute what happens in the navy. If a captain of a warship is asleep in her cabin and an officer standing watch collides with another ship. Historically, they’ve been relieved of command. So that’s also not not hypothetical since 2012. The CEO of the US S porter US S Jacksonville US S Antietam, the US S John mccain US S Fitzgerald US S Connecticut have all been relieved. Mr Secretary Congress under title 10 has given you the direction to among other things, oversee the construction of outfitting and repairing of naval ships in an effective and timely manner. One thing that I think has been brought up here is my assessment respectfully of your tenure. You haven’t been focused on that. One of the things you’ve actually been focused on a lot on is uh climate change. Um Where in your nomination hearing, you devoted a full paragraph on climate change, you never mentioned shipbuilding lethality or war fighting in your strategic guidance. You issued to your department, you mentioned climate change nine times. You don’t address the size of in of trying to increase the fleet. You got to this committee, your Climate Action Plan a year before your shipbuilding plan. Where can you point to your title 10 responsibilities for climate change in this sector?

Senator, I spend 75% of my time on shipbuilding. So I don’t agree with your characterization. Can you answer my question?

Where’s your title?

10 responsibilities on climate change on climate change?

It actually impacts everything Senator impact. There are your title 10 responsibilities that we gave you. Manning equipment, training, sustaining. You can’t, no, they do exist. Senator. I just, I’m looking at title 10 right now and I’m telling you that climate change and the impact that it has on insulation redness, actually, it hasn’t impacted. It just redness. I’m actually trying to ask questions. Well, to suggest that climate change does not have an impact on climate readiness and insulation redness isn’t. It’s just I’m asking for a little more time here, Senator. You, you usually have a little more time. Let’s first ask the question. Well, let me answer the question and the answer. I’m going to answer it for him. It’s not in title 10. There’s nothing on climate change in Title 10. The shipbuilding crisis that we have right now is not just a fiasco. It’s amplified by this. Our main adversary who is building ships at the rapid rate. In 2021. The pl A had 341 ships this year. They have 370 in 2025 they’ll, they will have 395 by 2030. They will have 435 ships, 100 and 41 more ships than we have our fleet as we’ve discussed is shrinking. So, Miss Secretary, I’m gonna ask this final question. Marines and sailors that you lead have a strong culture of responsibility and accountability in light of that. I feel compelled to ask if a marine platoon commander gets relieved because one of his marines loses a rifle and a navy captain gets relieved because his crew hits another ship while the captain is asleep. Should the Secretary of the Navy be relieved or resign for failing on his number one mission shipbuilding?

Particularly when he is spending so much time on issues that are not even part of his title. 10 responsibility, actually a good leader. What they do is they actually take assessment of the conditions that exist when one comes in. And you know, well, Senator, that the acquisition issues that we’re dealing with go back decades, what I’m trying to do and have been doing from the day that I became secretary was to be honest, transparent and deeply committed to turning things around. And that’s exactly what I’ve done the ships. I must say Senator Sullivan, your time has expired. Senator Kin, please. Thank you, Mr Chair um to Secretary Oar and Admiral Franchetti. I want to begin with a question that that goes back a ways and that is the mental health of our sailors. Um As you know, and Secretary Del Toro, I thank you for accompanying me in the Hampton Roads area. In the last couple of years, we’ve had some serious issues with suicides among our sailors and we had two different units in Hampton Roads. Very different circumstances, but there were some commonalities. One folks who were connected with the refueling of the George Washington, which was in dock for a very long time. And second, the Mid Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center, two thirds of whose personnel are sailors assigned to that billet, but one third of whose personnel were sailors in the fleet who became assigned to the billet on a limited duty status because they were pregnant because they had a physical injury because they had a mental health issue because they had a, a disciplinary challenge in the fleet. Um The suicides that happened at the Mid Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center were all among the limited duty staff who were there for kind of an unknown period. They weren’t un unless it was for pregnancy. People didn’t know when or if they would be returning to the fleet and they didn’t know when they would know the answer to that question. And folks on the George Washington had trained for an M OS, you know, as a uh uh surface uh officer. And then they end up in a long term status where the ships in dock and they’re not really doing the thing for which they trained. So in each instance, this grouping of suicides and each one was different, of course. But the group grouping of suicides happened among people who were probably experiencing a little bit of lack of purpose or confusion about their status. This committee has passed bills like the Brandon Act and in other ways, tried to encourage more focus on mental health issues. Can you give us the committee a progress report on implementation of the Brandon Act. The Navy was first to move out on it but also just more generally, what you’re trying to do to make sure that people feel that sense of purpose and that they don’t um their colleagues don’t miss obvious signs that they need help. Well, thank you, Senator. Thanks for your commitment to this uh cause and it’s a very important cause the mental health of our service members, Marine Corps and the Navy. First, it starts with treating people with dignity and respect across the board. Uh Specifically, in regards to the limited duty status, um delays that existed, I would argue a year ago or so the CNO and the common actually worked hard at trying to limit the amount of time that personnel have to actually spend in a limited duty status. But we’ve done a long list of other investments. Thanks to the lessons that we actually learned about sailors working in shipyards and particularly the George Washington that have led to tremendous improvements and perhaps the CNO can comment on a few of those. Thank you, Mr Secretary. And you know, mental health is health. You know, we’re really focused on all of our sailors and being able to contribute to the best of their ability every day to get after that war, fighting spirit and uh be able to do the job that they came into the navy to do. You know, after that, we stood up uh at the direction of the Secretary uh quality of service, cross functional team to really dive into a lot of the challenges that were experienced by the sailors there uh in the Hampton Roads area. And we’re continuing to make good progress on those in terms of mental health specifically though uh we put out a mental health playbook, it’s a really one stop shopping for, for sailors of every level of leadership to be able to provide the all the different resources available to someone to be able to connect them, whether it’s a chaplain, whether it’s mental health, whether it’s uh me uh military family life counselors to really no wrong door of folks being able to get assistance that they need. Uh The other one is we found um you know, to reduce the stigma of uh potentially seeking assistance is to put the assistance closer. So we have a lot, uh 43% of our mental health and behavioral health techs are with our operating forces right now and I would say the last one on Lim do, we’re doing a Lim do sprint right now. Um But a couple of the things that we’ve done already are um establishing a coordinator at each command to be able to really coordinate what each one of those people are doing. And then we’re looking at what is the limited duty condition, uh and what can they actually do to give them meaningful jobs, meaningful work and that sense of purpose until that is remedied. The other last one is on the um you know, looking very closely at our shipyard manning uh for extended overhaul periods to make sure that a sailor doesn’t do their entire first tour enlistment in a five year overhaul that they actually have an opportunity to go and do what they came in the navy to do. Those are just a couple of examples. One last question very quickly, the industrial base is currently producing Virginia class subs at 1.3 a year. We need to be two a year for our sake and 2.3 a year to meet our commitments to Aus uh when based on the current investment levels of ours and the Australian investment, when will we hit two a year and when will we hit 2.3 a year?

Well, Senator I’m proud to report that in the immediate actually, we’re at one point so slightly less than 1.4 now. So the investments that we have made in the shipbuilding industry and the submarine industrial base, for example, are starting to finally pay off and keep in mind as well too, the continuing resolution of six months delay prevented us from making those investments um until just recently as well. So I’m hopeful that by 2028 2029 period, hopefully we’ll be able to get back up to the 2.02 0.33 production rate. That’s necessary to be able to support August and support our uh submarine base as well too. Thank you very much. I yield back, Mr Chair. Thank you, Senator Senator Kramer, please. Thank you, Mr Chairman. Thank you to all of you for your service and for being here. Um I want to follow up a little bit on, on the discussion, Mr Secretary with Senator Sullivan. Um, would you admit that you have said uh climate change is a very high priority for you, whether it’s 75% or 25% or 2%?


I will tell you exactly what I said that climate change is a top priority and I think anybody who denies that climate is having an impact on our environment and our operational red, you’ve said plenty, you’ve said it plenty already. So your rationale for focusing on climate change is that climate change is and everything. Therefore anything and you can focus on anything and everything and, and justify but I on climate change, but I don’t, I’m focused actually on climate rise along our sea bases and our marine. That, that’s a, that’s a, an outcome perhaps, but that’s not a cause and, and I think you, the tendency is you focus on climate as though we’re the cause of it or the navy is the cause of it as opposed to how you defend against it. But here’s what I want to get to you rationalize focusing on climate change because it’s a, it’s in everything and anything and therefore whatever you want to focus on, it all comes back to climate change and the message matters. Mr Secretary, the message matters. Let me ask each of you this question other than climate change, what is our most significant threat to the United States and to our freedom and to, to our liberties?

And let’s just say let’s keep it the nation states. But what were those priorities?

Who are those priorities?

Would you like me to start first?

Sure. Look the main thread to again with regards to climate change is installation redness and our ability to actually be able to deploy our ships from the ports that we still rely upon and to train our marines and bases that are along the coast that we rely upon. So do you think that China is gonna wait for us to fix all of that before they, nor is it interfering with the things that we’re doing actually to deter China around the world as well. How much do you think China worries about climate change?

How much, how much does the China Navy worry?

Obviously they don’t worry about it a lot because they’re the biggest contributor in the world to climate problems, right?

So if they don’t care about their environment, they don’t care about the people. Those aren’t the cultures and values that our military actually commit to our military is sitting around, you know, being focused on climate change. And the, and the Chinese military is not uh somehow we win because we’re on, we’re very capable ships, 57 of them exact, they have the best capabilities in the world to deploy against the Chinese. In addition to all the things that I can’t talk about here that I’d be happy to talk about in closed session, which are the SAP programs like operation overmatch and everything else for the past 6.5 months aren’t Marine Corps has proved to the world how capable we are. We are the very best. But that also includes worrying in the future about the impact that climate has on our installation. When I look at this chart that Senator Sullivan put up, I see a a really big problem that’s not being addressed nearly as, as uh um enthusiastically as climate change is with the Navy. Let me go to, to something that I think maybe you could all answer for me, I’ve been focusing a lot with the, the various services and asking them about, ok, we’re in a, we’re, we have a flat budget. It’s a cut when you consider inflation. Um We all you are all trained to say or required to say, well, that still meets the national defense strategy. Uh It allows us to increase capacity and, and you pretend like it’s all gonna be ok?

And I get it, You have to, I got it. You’ve got a boss in the White House that wants you to say those things. But, but um could you tell me in what areas do you think this flat budget presents the greatest risk the most risk?

Um Again, it’s, it’s plenty according to y’all, what areas are, are most at risk because I think that given the difficult decision, I also like to, you know, point out that, you know, we just didn’t come to the Fiscal Responsibility Act of Congress who actually were negotiating the the debt limit ceiling. I listen to the fiscal responsibility that caps our funding. So I I’m not blaming you. I’m asking you what is the most risk as a result?

Three areas, insulation, redness, the Air Wing of the future. And um well, those are the two primary ones installation, redness and the Air Wing of the future. And uh just Milk Con in general Admiral Franchetti. So as I said, our budget focused on current readiness people and we’ve taken risk in the future. So, Air Wing of the future ssnxddgx CV NS and a lot of our money is going into Psyop from a mil milcom perspective right now, 60% Senator R Barrack’s 2030 initiative uh is, is most at risk. Uh And that’s a quality of life issue because the main thing is the marines without the marines, the equipment’s irrelevant. So if those of us on this diocese within the chambers and frankly in the other chamber were to try to provide more than the fr a um which the fr a number, it was a mistake. Uh I, I wish we didn’t have to deal with it and we don’t, if we change the law, we’re in the changing the law business. Um Would we reduce risk if we provided you with a lot more?

Yes, Senator, you would. Thank you, Mr Chairman. Thank you, Senator Kramer, Senator Rosenblatt. Uh Well, thank you, Chairman Reed. Um I also like to thank uh Secretary Del Toro, Admiral Francini and General Smith. Appreciate you being here testifying today. I’m gonna focus a little bit uh mostly on Nevada and Fallon Naval Air Station. And uh we implemented some, we’re starting to implement Fallon modernization. So, Secretary Del Toro, you know, Nevada, we are so proud to host uh Naval Air Station Fallon home to Top Gun and our nation’s, this is our nation’s premier air carrier wing and our Seal training centers. And again, I want to offer uh you and your staff, my personal gratitude for working with me and the Nevada delegation on a consensus proposal to modernize the Fallon Range Training Complex, which was included in the FY 23 NDA A. So as you know, a authorizing F RT C modernization, it was no small feat and it was the result of input from the Navy, the Department of Interior Tribal Governments from Nevada’s local governments and so many stakeholders. It was a compromise that the Nevada delegation will continue to pri uh to provide support to so that we can ensure the proper implementation. So as you know, the Navy is currently working with other federal agencies and my constituents to meet the requirement of making full payment to impacted grazing permit holders. We got a lot of ranchers there. So as the Navy goes through the process of appraising the loss of these permits, it’s critical that my ranching community and Nevada stakeholders really adequately compensated. And so this is going to include the loss of their impacted ranching operation, improvements made to include water access and FS A loans that they might have associated with their allotment. And so I raised this because I’ve heard concerns from ranchers in Nevada, Northern Nevada that the Navy isn’t. They’re not considering all of the variables when it comes to payouts of their grazing allotments. And so Secretary Del Toro, can I get your commitment that the Navy will ensure that all grazing permits impacted by implementation of F RT C modernization are fairly compensated. You have my commitment, Senator, it’s my understanding we’ve been working very, very closely with the ranchers. I can’t guarantee that every single one of them is going to be satisfied with the negotiations, but we are engaging with them very transparently and very seriously to compensate them for all the reasons that you just mentioned. And I also want to thank you personally for your leadership. Actually, the expansion of Fallon is critically important to our current and future warfighter. By expanding that range, we could expand the training associated with the F-35 associated with the advanced missiles that we’ve been uh focused on as well. That’s what I’ve been focused on actually uh for a long, long time now. And I thank you for your efforts to make this a reality. Well, thank you. We’re continuing to work with you and, and I also am gonna ask if you’ll commit to briefing my staff on the amount of funding uh you have today and what you’re gonna believe, uh what, what you believe you’ll need in Fy 25 and beyond to meet some of these commitments specifically as it relates to uh to Fallon. So thank you for that. Um I’m gonna talk about housing, we talked about military housing. Um Fallon again, a major assets provides a range space needed to ensure the fleets deployable and operationally ready. Uh The base has been designated a remote duty installation since 1989. And of course, the quality of life challenges that accompany that. So we’re the only Navy base, naval Air station found in the continental United States designated in a critical housing area with housing in very short supply. So the vast majority of those stationed at Fallon live in Reno or Carson City, which are both at least an hour away. So I understand the Navy anticipates entering into some public private ventures to build about 100 and 72 new homes in Fallon. But we need a lot more infrastructure required to support them such as expanding existing wastewater treatment plants. So given the long distances, uh sailors have to travel between their home in Fallon. Fallon’s designation is a critical housing area remote duty installation. Are you considering providing some stipend or as assignment incentive pay to help alleviate the costs?

And, and we also have to attract that civilian workforce you need. So could you speak to those um issues?

The challenges in Fallon have been significant. We’re well aware of them and, and I so wish that we actually given the Fiscal Responsibility Act had more resources to devote to housing and everything else. We are investing in 25 a lot in FSRM to try to improve the existing housing as much as we can. We hope to make greater investments in mcon in 26 and 27. Um but we are deeply focused on this and we will look at this specifically to see if there’s anything that we can do to alle the conditions in Fallon. Thank you. I appreciate it. Thank you, Mr Chairman. Thank you Senator Rosen Senator. To please thank you, Mr Chairman. Uh good morning. Thanks for being here. Uh General Smith. Uh I was able to recently meet with some marines that came from the Indo Pacific uh uh great people. I mean, they’re, they’re exactly what we need in our military. You know, what resources can Congress assist with to better support our mission in the Indo Pacific Senator. Thanks for that question and thanks for the praise of our marines. Uh I share it. Uh my own son is a marine. Um Although, you know, he’s, he’s still, he’s still on the uh on the uh um he got, he’s got a meets recruiting goals. He’s still on probation. Um What I would say, sir is we need predictable, steady funding for our amphibious warfare ships. Uh We need uh llhas on four year centers and LP DS on two year centers because that provides us the operational flexibility and mobility that’s required to counter the PR C. I know you’ve kept an eye on the Middle East and uh we have seen unmanned drones, uh small unmanned drones. Um talk about what we’ve learned and what we can take from there to the Indo Pacific uh in, in, in this next in incursion Yes, sir. Um, what we’ve learned is that directed energy weapons are gonna be a thing of the future because we, we can’t get into a reverse cost curve where we’re expending, you know, million dollar missiles to shoot down $100 drones. Um, we’ve got to invest in the technology and the capability to disable drones in flight, um, to disable their, um, their targeting infrastructure and to knock them down without shooting a missile at them because that’s again, that’s putting us on the wrong side of the cost curve. And we’re working on that now at the Marine Corps War fighting lab. Yeah, I think Senator King would, would agree with you on that. We’ve talked about it quite often. Uh, Secretary Del Toro, the Navy recently released their 45 day ship building review last month and there are significant delays. Uh, the Columbia class are now 12 to 16 months late. Uh, we make components in, in Mobile for the Columbia class and we hear a lot about studying this and doing a report on that. Uh, you know, we need results obviously and I know you’re on top that. What are we doing to fix this?

Yes, sir. Well, it’s just as one example, Senator and I know your commitment, passion for this, you know, down in Austin, for example, the navy actually worked very closely with Austell over the last couple of years to turn it into a steel production facility. Um, and I have been encouraging the big primes of the last 2.5 years that I’ve been secretary aggressively to actually outsource more of their work hours to companies like Austell and the smaller shipyards so they can help with production. So in 23 alone, we had 3 million additional hours of outsourcing that’s taken place. We hope to increase that in 24 hopefully to six million. Right. And it’s the smaller shipyards that actually help as part of the team to then increase the production rates. So that with, along with all the other investments, the $14 billion over the fit up. Basically, I think are we’re gonna see production rates continue to grow in the future because of those efforts. Yeah, and we also run into a problem, you know, we budget it, we appropriate it, but we’re having a tough time allocating money for some reason, sir. Uh We’re, we’re, we’re running in a stone wall of, of people not doing their job to be honest with you. And uh you know, if we can’t get the money allocated, we can’t build anything, we can’t pay people for working and we’re having a tough time and now getting people to work, uh and people are trained to work and it’s getting worse and worse. It is not getting better if you, um you have obviously been addressing that. No, sir. And I agree with you and you know, with the continuing resolution. We can’t allocate those funds until the funds are actually given to us. So I’m actually increasing our contracting workforce in 24 so that we could actually provide resources to the vendors far quicker once they get the allocate, once we get the authorizations and the appropriations in place, and, you know, we’re working very hard to train people. We’re actually recruiting out of mcdonald’s Walmarts, welders and all those things. I mean, we’re in a tough time right now, getting people actually off the couch back to work and, and getting them trained and you’re obviously talking with people about it. And I think we need to get innovative Senator. And one thing, I’ll give you an example of something we just recently did over the last few weeks in Ohio, for example. So we met with the boiler makers union in Ohio because they have experienced uh slowdowns basically and their, and their work force. Um So Bartlett industries in Ohio, for example, is training those boiler makers on how to actually work in their shipyards. And so, and then, and hopefully we’re gonna be providing those to Wisconsin to help with the, with the uh constellation class frigate in Wisconsin. Yeah. And admiral, we, we’re running, we’re running low on people and you talked earlier about, about recruiting. Uh Please tell me we’re not dropping our standards uh to recruit. Uh That’d be the worst thing that we possibly could do. Uh drop our standard we need a well trained, obviously AAA group that wants to do it for the right reasons. Your thoughts, Senator T we are not lowering our standards. We are working really hard to improve our recruiting enterprise to improve throughput per recruiter. And uh and really look broadly at getting out to every zip code in America to bring that talent that we need people that meet our standards. We want them on our team, every single one of them. Are we taking noncitizen non-american citizens in the navy?

We only take people that are legally allowed to enter the navy. Ok. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Thank you, Senator Ville. Uh Senator Blumenthal, please. Thanks Mr Chairman. Thank you all for being here and thank you for your service and uh Secretary Del Toro, I know you visited electric boat a number of times you share my passion for undersea warfare. If I were to propose an amendment to the ND A increasing the number of submarines for fiscal year 25 to 2 instead of the one, would you oppose it?

I, I wouldn’t oppose it, Senator, but, but I certainly would be hopeful that the resources aren’t taken away from other critical programs that we’re trying to execute on right now as well. Well, would you agree with me that the best way to increase the number of submarine production from 1 to 2.3 is not to cut, but to send a signal to the defense industrial base, including suppliers that we’re going to be making real steps toward that goal of 2.3. I I think we need to help industry by making the investments that you have made in the submarine industrial base to the tune of 15 billion. We have currently 11 additional submarines that are in construction, three additional ones under contract in order to get the production rate up. But if we can’t deliver those submarines on time, it also presents opportunity costs where in a year where we’re fiscally constrained, we basically won’t be able to do other things that are critically important to the enterprise as well. Well, I think you appreciate that the suppliers, the defense industrial base take a very strong signal from that cut. I’ll give you an example. Collins and Jewel in Basra, Connecticut is a critical supplier of structural welding fabrication. Before the fy 25 budget release, they were preparing a $2 million investment with micro precision, another critical Connecticut supplier to expand their facilities in the state so they could hire more workers from the manufacturing pipeline initiative in the state of Connecticut. After that budget release on hold, Hillary company in Groton, they specialize in solid modeling software for advanced design, fabrication, metal welding and joining they plan to upgrade their water jet in order to increase capacity to serve production at electric boat on hold I could name. So that’s exactly what the resources in the submarine industrial base. Uh investment are designed to do to actually help those companies. I’d be happy to reach out to those companies and see where we can actually provide them with the funds to make the Capex investments that they need to make. Well, they need a signal that we’re moving from one submarine this year to two submarines so they can plan, they need dollars. They don’t need words from me or with all due respect from you, but I’m not just providing word. We’re prior resources in the submarine, industrial base of $15 billion. Well, they need purchase orders is what they need. They are orders that come from electric boat which are using dollars that come from the United States of America. We have 11 submarines that are actually under construction right now. We have three additional submarines that are under contract. 14 submarines is an enormous investment in, in, in, in what we need for the future. Um If, if the production rates had been and if industry actually had invested more of their own money as well too and the Capex investments and other investments they need to make to get the production rates out would be in a better place overall. I see no plan. I see an explanation for why we’re behind but no plan we’re working. We’re working very, there is a plan Senator, we are working very aggressively with all those vendors and with the primes as well. Can you give us the plan. Absolutely, sir. We have plans in place and we’ll show you exactly what we’re doing with the entire submarine, industrial based investment that you’ve been so helpful to us in providing. Let me ask you about the uh Xavier Sander Act. It’s named after a young man from Connecticut who committed suicide because he was on the US S Washington, which was under repair in maintenance. He was confined to the ship or he was uh on the ship living there while it was under maintenance. And uh we passed a law that provides that base allowance can be provided to enlisted men when they are um on ships that are in maintenance. Maybe you or Admiral Franchetti can update me as to what progress is being made in implementing that law. Yes, sir. Yes, sir. Uh We have basically want to make sure that our sailors have a separation from their work uh and their life space. So we, when they are on the ship in the shipyard, uh we’ve given the uh flexibility to move them off the ship to have housing outside of the ship. And when it is not habitable, I my time is expired, but I would appreciate in writing an update from you collaborating on that answer. Yes, sir. Thank you, Senator Blumenthal. Senator Schmidt, thank you, Secretary Del Toro. Um I have a question. So do you believe um you know a recruiting is down 20% last year so far it’s on pace. It’s down 30% this year. Do you believe that the, um, the obsession that the political leadership has right now with de I has helped or hurt recruiting efforts?

No, sir. I don’t think Deis hurt recruiting efforts at all. You don’t, you don’t think it plays any factor at all. You don’t think your obsession with race essentialism and immutable characteristics turns off a lot of people. I’m not obsessed with any of that senator. When you, uh, on the record heard me say anything to that effect. Well, no, it’s in your materials. Your, your de I 101 materials in the indoctrination that you’re putting through this Cultural Marxism. You don’t believe that it has any indoctrinating secretary. I wanna read to you from, um, your materials. What allyship is, allyship is to take intentional actions such as listening, learning and uplifting those who may be disadvantaged to ensure all voices are heard and respected. Being an authentic ally is to form genuine relationships, to advocate for fair treatment and increase feelings of inclusion in belonging for all. Do you believe they want all the members of your team to feel like they’re included?

Well, I have a question. Do you believe that you were an ally for the 1878 soldiers who were fired or the 3746 marines who were fired for not taking the COVID shot were you an ally for them, sir. I followed the laws they disobeyed. Did they feel included?

They disobeyed?

They were fired, they were fired because they, do you regret that?

Do you regret that currently existed?

I have no regrets. You have recruitment challenges. You refuse to, you refuse to admit the de I is a part of this. You’re firing qualified people who are well trained and you sit here so smugly to act like none of that has any impact on the readiness of our navy. We, we recontacted 3500 of the 4800 people who were fired. You know how many actually decided to come back to the navy shocker shocker at the level of disrespect they received from their government. Excuse me, Senator Senator, a question and thank you, uh, General Smith. Uh I understand that on May 3rd, two individuals were detained by gate guards after lying to gate guards. Um, and then trying to forcibly bypass security trucks. Now checks. Now anonymous sources are reporting that one of the detained individuals was a Jordanian national who recently crossed the US Southern border. Um Also one of the two is on the terror watch list. Uh What do you know, what have you been briefed by ice on this?


I’m I’m not familiar with that. I can get back to you on it after I check with NCIS. Ok. Um I don’t have any other questions, Mr Chairman. Thank you very much Senator Smith, Senator Chairman Mr Chairman. I, I do have one more question before we. Thank you. I have some time remaining. Um I do wanna Secretary Del Toro, I do wanna understand based on your previous conversations. Iii I really do have to get you on the record. Do you believe that climate change is a bigger threat to the American people than communist China’s ambitions?

They’re different. No, but do you, I’m asking you to weigh them?

We all make decisions. We’re gonna weigh them. One impacts the other. So you can’t sit here and tell us that Chinese communist ambitions are more dangerous, the American people than you think you’ve been following all the things that I’ve been doing since I’m asking you a question, Senator, excuse me. I’m asking you a question, asked a question, Senator, the secretary will respond and then I think you yield your time and I re I, I just have a couple more seconds because I had about a minute and a half left. It’s not an argument. It’s a question or an answer. That’s fine. I’m asking a question. Do you believe that climate change is a bigger threat to the American people than a nuclear holocaust?

Of course not. Ok. Well, thank you for actually being so courageous. Thank you. I, I just have to say that your, your comments about this. Hold on. I’m, I’m finished your comments about this, Teddy Roosevelt and Admiral Nimitz would be rolling in their grave, the way that you equivocate on this, Admiral Nimitz cares deeply about insulation, redness, climate change. He was a big climate alarmist isn’t as big a problem then as it is now. Thank you, Mr Chair. Well, thank you, Mr, but I think it’s appropriate right now uh to make a point that this committee has operated for many, many years um based on a mutual respect for the witnesses and, and the senators and to ask questions, receive answers. And if you disagree with the answer, make a comment to that effect. But the level of uh argumentation at this point, I think is something we haven’t seen in a long time. It’s not you, Senator Smith. It’s, uh, I think it’s been uh on both sides and I, I hope we can move on to more few questions and answers, but I respect your position very much. Thank you, Mr Go ahead. Uh, Senator Man, please. Thank you, Mr Chairman and, and uh I do agree as being a chairman of the Committee of the Civility to how we show the respect for what you all have done. We do have agreements and we have disagreements, we can respectfully do that. But with that being said, General Smith, I’m glad to see you back in good health. OK. We’ve had many good discussions knowing you and the marines in general. I can’t say I’m surprised that you’re fully back to work so quickly knowing you. Uh I need to thank the Marine Corps and you in particular. I’ve been advised by six Marines during my time in the Senate. This will likely be, uh the last opportunity I’m gonna have to recognize the Marine Corps contribution to my office, particularly my Senate office here in Washington. Uh I’ve had Lieutenant Colonel Jason Lambert. I’ve had gunnery sergeant, Rob Moser, I’ve had major TJ TJ. Byers. I’ve had major son, Dean Kowski. I’ve had gunnery sergeant Dane Osa and I now have Major Greg Carroll. Uh They’ve been become in integral parts of my staff. Uh during the time that I’ve been here in the Senate, I know every member of my staff has benefited from their professional and their personal experiences of interchanging ORAC with them. So I want to thank the Marines for allowing me to have six absolutely outstanding individuals. Well, we thank you for the opportunity to place in there for them to learn how our, we learned as much from them as they might have learned. I’m hoping they got as much in return as they gave us. I really do. I guarantee they did. Senator. Now, Secretary, we’re gonna bring it down a notch here. Ok. Uh Secretary Del Toro, you oversee one of the most unique national security assets in our country. It’s called the Allegheny Ballistic Laboratory known as a BL and that’s in what we call Rocket City in West Virginia. Uh It’s the only government owned the only one that we all own. The government owned contractor operated munitions facility to lay it out. Plainly, that means this infrastructure is owned by taxpayers. All it may be holden to the federal government not to shareholders of a private defense contractor. A bl builds components for more than 17 types of munitions used by every branch of our military and a variety of our allies and partners including Ukraine. However, II, I and I’d say with all due respect, they get overlooked. A bl gets overlooked because they don’t do the final assembly for these weapons. You have the property there to do it. You have the expansion there to do it. Instead, we ship every single component out to another privately owned facility which has received more than $200 million in taxpayer funds to subsidize and prop up production quality issues, the issues they’re having, they can’t do what we’re doing. We’re sending them the, the components, they are not adequately doing their job. And I’ve also learned the navy now, this is what I can’t believe. Now plans to partner with that underperform private company. The name of that company is aerojet rocketdyne Aerojet Rocket to build another duplicate version of what we already own as a federal government and they’re going to do it at Indian Head in Maryland, which is not that far from Rocket City. You already own all that in Rocket City. So my question is a bl covers more than 1500 acres that, that you own. Do we own with more than adequate space for expansion?

So we can’t figure out why is the department in the Navy?

It just seems like they’re determined, hell bent on spending more taxpayer money. You can say wasting it to prop up an under performing, truly under under performing private company instead of investing in the national asset you already have and you can do it right there and do the assembly there. You have total quality control. It’s been excellent. So only thing I can ask you publicly if you’ll come and if I can, if you can bring Secretary La Plante with you, I’ll, I’ll, I’ll accompany you will go. And if something’s wrong, tell me I’ll be the first to step back. But I, I see no reason why we can’t continue to build out what you have, what we own as a government, what we control and to expand there to do full. It’s just that they can double overnight, they’re ready to go, but the money’s all going different. And the only thing I can say is that the private contractors have more, um, than we have with our own senator. I know we’re deeply committed to trying to reduce production, uh tremendously. So, but I commit that I’ll go with you and I’ll invite secretary a plan to come with me as well to meet with you to take a look at the division of labor as it applies to this. We’ll do it sooner or later. It’s not that far. We can. Yes, certainly we can drive over. And if you maybe get a helicopter, you may ride in a helicopter, we’ll jump over real quick. I’d be happy to drive. Thank you, sir. Thank you. Thank you, Senator Manchin. Uh, Senator round, please. Thank you, Mr Chairman. Uh First of all, thank you to all of you for your service to our country. Um Secretary Del Toro and Admiral Franchetti. Are you aware of the 20 month ember study authorized to study the sharing of the electromagnetic spectrum in the critical 3.1 to 3.45 gigahertz band. I am Senator. Thank you. Are you aware of the finding of this interagency study uh that found sharing in this ban between the federal and commercial systems is not feasible unless and I quote certain regulatory technological and resourcing conditions are met and implemented. I am Senator, I’m very concerned about the. Thank you. Are you aware also that the estimate of this interagency study was that implementing the conditions could take 30 years and $260 billion. If this portion of the electro magnetic band alone, even under the very stringent conditions were met, that could be the cost. Were you aware of that?

Yes, sir. Thank you. Are you also aware that the current legislative proposals in the Commerce Committee call for the use of the 7 to 8 gigahertz band where the Navy and other services maintain similarly critical systems for the defense of this country?

Yes, sir. Yes, thank you. And can you tell this committee where you stand on these efforts if followed through without the most stringent conditions such as the development and implementation of dynamic spectrum sharing, interference, safeguards and a massive influx of federal resources to maintain the defense of this country if those aren’t included, what is your position on the current proposals to not only look at the 3.14 or 3.45 gigahertz band, but also the 7 to 8 gigahertz band for commercial production. I’m extremely defensive in any infringement on our um spectrum band and also very concerned about the uh opportunity costs that would create. I just don’t feel we have enough resources to be able to do what sometimes is being suggested to be done. Secretary Del Toro, there are, there are we have not had a single uniformed individual with any other opinion other than what you have offered just now. The challenge that we have is continuously from the administration. There seems to be a push because they recognize that there is a five G and eventually six G needs. But the pieces that they’re looking at involve areas that are critical to the defense of this country because of the physics involved, there has to be within the department of defense, someone who will stand up and make very clear to the administration that these proposals will be extremely expensive and detrimental to the defense of this country. Have you expressed those concerns to the administration?

I have expressed the concerns to my chain of command there. Senator, thank you, Admiral Franchetti. Do you have anything to add to that?

Well, as you stated, and the secretary stated, this is a, a really critical uh spectrum for us. Uh you know, it would be incredibly detrimental uh and very expensive if we were even able to adapt the systems to be able to uh to do without that spectrum. So if there were to be an agreement, the the sharing regulations, it would have to be very strict as you described. And there would always have to be opportunity for us to have access to those spectrums to be able to both train but potentially defend our homeland, which means that you have to have a dynamic spectrum sharing product in place. It does not exist today. We’re working on it, but it is not there today. Yes. Thank you, Secretary Del Toro. And I’m going to change the subject a little bit for both you and Admiral Franti. I think nearly everyone agrees that the state of the navy shipyards uh is inadequate to face, you know, the greater power competition to cite just one example, the US says, Boise, you’ve heard me talk about it before. It has been in and out of maintenance and unavailable to our war fighters. Since June of 2016, I know Secretary Del Toro was able to meet with the leaders of HD Hyundai in February this year and see firsthand how they are using A I enabled capabilities to enhance and manage their shipbuilding efforts to what degree are the Navy’s public shipyards currently using predictive analytics and A I to assist in optimizing the workflows operations and scheduling at the shipyards. So Senator, we’re finally making the appropriate investments over the last couple of years to try to get to a better place. And they’ve now actually have uh a platform that they’re using. That does just this. But I’m also proud to say that finally, um you know, we do have actually a contract in to actually repair the Boise and thanks for your support as well to, to make that happen. Uh those efforts are underway in addition to the two others that were suffering problems over the long term. And, and these are the issues that I’ve been trying to fix since I came in as secretary. And I’m proud to say that all three submarines now have contracts on them to get them operational and be put back to sea. Thanks for your support. Thank you, Admiral French. I just wanted to offer, that’s again the critical uh reason we need to do P SI op just in general, our public shipyards really need to be upgraded both in terms of the dry dock, but the industrial plant equipment as well as the modernization of the flow uh and the taking advantage of the technology that we have today to modernize them. Thank you and General Smith. I just want to say thank you for your service to our country. Thank you, sir and to your team as well. Thank you. Thank you, Mr Chairman. Thank you, Senator Rounds, Senator Peters, please. Thank you, Mr Chairman and our three witnesses. Thank you uh for your testimony today and thank you for your service to our, our country. It’s appreciated secretary uh Del Toro. Um As um other senators have have noted the the navy is working hard to expand the submarine industrial base to support the state of the Art Virginia class and Columbia class uh submarines Congress has supported these efforts uh uh allocating billions of dollars to support submarine builders, suppliers and the workforce. And as part of these efforts, Secretary uh uh Girton shared during a recent uh sea power hearing that the navy is looking to expand the submarine industrial based capacity outside of our existing shipyards including other states like the state of Michigan, which has a great deal of industrial capacity as you well know. So my question for you secretary is, could you elaborate on Secretary Gin’s comments about expanding the submarine industrial base in Michigan?

And can you commit to work with me to ensure that Michigan industrial base can provide world-class products to solve these submarine supply chain of workforce challenges. Uh We have the ability to do that. Yes, Senator. Um actually in 2023 alone, uh I took, I directed both the Marine Corps and the Navy to increase the amount of investment we have in small businesses and medium size businesses. We have pumped $1.7 billion of additional monies for those competitive areas to be actually become more healthy. As a result of that, she added 1000 small business companies to the navy marketplace. These are the efforts that have to be done systematically from the very beginning to make things better. And that’s what I’ve been doing for the past 2.5 years in the case of Michigan, um we just met with your economic development team in Wisconsin. Um And we actually talked to them about how we could work closely together with you to take full advantage of the submarine, industrial based investments that are being made in order to feed particularly Marinate shipyard in Wisconsin so that we can get the Fing and Terry program back on track, right?

Wonderful. I hope you continue those efforts. Let me know how I can assist you in those efforts. Sir. Appreciate that. Uh uh Admiral Franchetti uh Secretary uh Gin’s comments in that sea power hearing also indicated the Navy’s commitment to uh surge capacity and personnel to move the constellation class frigate program uh in the right direction. In tandem with the, the yard. Uh I certainly believe the additional funding uh Congress is providing for the frigate frigate, industrial base and workforce is also uh critical and will continue advocating for inclusion of resources uh this fiscal year as well. But my question for you, Admiral is, can you share the navy’s long term commitment to the frigate and how we must get this program, right?

Uh and its role and importance uh to the future fleet. Well, thank you. And I, you know, just had the opportunity with the secretary to go up and uh to Marinette and uh talk with the folks there and really committed to uh supporting them and addressing their workforce challenges that they have. The frigate is an absolutely critical uh ship for our navy. Uh It has for a long time in most of my career, we had frigates. They were definitely the one of the key workhorses of our fleets. It provides lots of great capability uh in in conjunction and married up with our destroyers and supporting our carrier strike groups. But to be able to operate all over the world with the capability that it’s gonna bring at a lesser cost than the DDGS is uh very important to our navy. So very excited to get them on board and as quickly as possible. Wonderful, great Secretary Del Toro. Uh you recently completed a 45 day shipbuilding review, highlighting the need to address uh the shrinking National design and uh engineering uh workforce. Uh And I’m sure you’re aware, the University of Michigan is the last remaining stand alone undergraduate through doctoral, naval architecture and marine engineering department at A R one university. So with this in mind, uh how are you supporting uh existing naval architecture programs and growing the US naval engineering workforce?

Uh for the long term, Senator, I’ve been uh actually traveling quite a bit to community colleges and universities around the world. Uh trying to get them to commit to our shipbuilding industry just came back from the University of Michigan where I was very honored to actually give the commencement speech in the engineering school, for example and meet with a tremendous staff and engineers that we have there who provide. It’s one of the two institutions in the United States that provides the naval architects to the United States Navy. Uh The Office of Naval Research actually made a a more significant investment in the program as well too. So we are working all levers across the country everywhere we can to try to get shipbuilding back on track. Thank you, Mr Secretary. Thank you, Mr Chairman. Thank you, Senator Peters. Uh Senator Scott, please. Thank you, Chairman, Secretary Del Toro, Admiral Fanti and Jerome Smith. I want to thank each of you for being here. I want to thank you and everybody who works with you and all your hard work. And um I respect everybody that serves in the military. Um But as a former enlisted navy sailor or us, Senator American citizen, I’m extremely concerned about the accountability of our navy. And I’ll give, I’ll tell you why. Uh and I love my experience in the navy. The navy failed in recruiting last year and all indicate shin’s point that you’re gonna fail this year. The Navy projects, it’s going to miss recruiting numbers by 6000 sailors this year and currently performing worse than every other service. This is happening while the navy has reduced minimum aptitude, education, fitness and character standards to as low as legally allowed. This stands in stark contrast to the Marine Corps which is exceeding expectations of recruiting while maintaining its high standards. When you look at the readiness in the Navy from an equipment standpoint, things don’t look much better. The first Columbia class submarine is 12 to 16 months late. The 4th and 5th blocks of Virginia class submarine are 36 and 24 months late. The first constellation class frigate is 36 months late. The future aircraft carrier enterprise is approximately 18 to 26 months late. The neighbors retiring ships faster than it’s replacing them and has a terrible record of getting uh ships done on uh maintenance done on time. My understanding the military has a plan to recapitalize um all the C one thirties by uh 2028. Uh these plans are critical for logistics movements and to win a war in the Indo Pacific, the Indo Pacific Commander stating they need, they need them to move fuel. Suno buoys, aircraft parts supplies people throughout the Pacific. The Indo Pacific Commander has stated that they count on this ability to prosecute a war with Communist China Air Force is on time with its recapitalization, which is now at 50%. The Marine Corps has recapitalized 100% but the Navy hasn’t even started to recapitalize the 32 year old fleet of aging one thirties. It, I would assume that you would say if a ship runs aground, leaving any of our ports, Norfolk, San Diego, the captain would be held accountable. My, here’s my concern. We’ve got delays in our yards, we got maintenance, uh ended, ended up being over budget delayed. We’ve got major shipbuilding delays. We’ve got recruiting failure, failures and my concern is I’ve not heard anybody that’s been held accountable. They’re not, I assume there’s an admiral over each one of these and I’ve not heard that one’s been held accountable and they’re all continuing to get promoted. Is that true?

Either Secretary Del Toro, Senator, I, you mentioned a lot of challenges. I see each challenge is an opportunity to make the world a lot better. These often are problems that have festered for decades without the right leadership actually applying the right lessons to avoid the mistakes that were made in the past of which there were many that I could actually highlight yet at the same time, our fleet actually has been batting back the Houthis for six months in the Red Sea more successfully than any other Navy or Marine Corps for that matter in the Mediterranean. Since World War two in the India Pacific, we’ve actually been deterring the, the Chinese actually by establishing my question real quick. Who’s been held accountable?

You got delays, you got delays all over the place, you got recruiting failures. Um Is, has anybody, has anybody been held accountable?

Like I’m a business guy, whether we, whether you um uh you know, if anybody takes a job, um they’re expected to perform the job and if they can’t, I mean, it’s their fault. I mean, there’s, you know, don’t take the job if you can’t, you know, you can’t do it. So my question is, has anybody been held accountable for shipyard fail and delays?

Um maintenance delays, recruiting failures, who’s been anybody held accountable?

Different people have been held accountable at different times for different things. But we have to be more specific than just that. I mean, how do I hold?

I try to hold the industry accountable as well too. Look, I think, and Terry for is one example, their retention rate actually last year was atrocious. That is part of the reason why we have actually established up to a three year deal play in the delivery of the constellation class frigate. What we’re trying to do is actually put positive efforts in place to help F and Terry get to a better place. When in the case of the enterprise, the main reduction gear from Northrop Grumman has been delayed because they actually won the contract and it wasn’t General Electric who had it before, you know, that’s created problems as well too. Now, back to the case of the constellation, maybe if the constellation, if that had not been under bid during the previous administration and hadn’t been delayed from the very beginning and they came in with the best value price for it and the navy had not accepted it back then. We’d be in a better place with regards to the frigate as well too. So the answer is not one person in the navy has been, there have been people held accountable for different reasons and I ask you for one, just give me one. I’m not gonna invade people’s privacy either in terms of individuals who have been held accountable for different problems in the Navy. So you, so this is I have a record of holding even senior leaders accountable when they falter in the United States Navy. And my track record shows that. Thank you chair. Thank you, Senator Scott, Senator Duckworth. Please. Thank you, Mr Chairman and good morning to our witnesses, Secretary Del Toro. I want to discuss the housing issues at Halsey Village um at Naval Station, Great Lakes. I understand housing issues have plagued Halsey Village for years. Even from a previous administration, I’m not here today to assign blame, but I do want to work constructively with the Navy on a path forward. The Navy leased Halsey Village to hunt military communities under a 50 year lease. And hunt is responsible for day to day operations. The Lake County board chair and mayor of North Chicago where Halsey Village is located, wrote to hunt military communities on October 2023 to express their concerns regarding the physical condition of Halsey Village. In their letter, they wrote there is not a neighborhood in all of Lake County that is in worse condition than homes village. The neighborhood has taken on the moniker of zombie village given the great numbers of homes in various states of neglect. End quote. There are 353 housing units in Halsey within Halsey Village. Currently 249 housing units are uninhabitable with four or 44 of these units so badly deteriorated that they are cornered off behind a chain link fence. It is unacceptable that the Navy is renting housing units in Halsey Village to military families and Illinois residents knowing the conditions of these homes. The navy also offers prorated rent for sailors to live in Halsey village. This creates an incentive for junior enlisted sailors to live in substandard conditions. No one should be living in Halsey village and the Navy should not be creating an incentive for sailors to live there either I want to discuss the future of Halsey village and communicate my expectations as the Navy finalizes decisions. One the Navy must keep my office, Senator Durbin’s office and the Lake County community and local elected leaders updated on decisions being made regarding Halsey Village, the path to remediate and redevelop. Halsey village will take years and I understand that I will remain laser focused on ensuring the interests of the community are protected and heard. Two, there are still 22 housing units in Halsey Village being rented to military families and 88 units are rented at market rate to Illinois residents until a decision is made on the future of Halsey village. The Navy must continue to be responsive to the needs of the residents and and force hunt military communities to address any maintenance issues. Three, I understand that the Navy is discussing options to redevelop the land after the homes in Housey Village are demolished. The Navy must ensure that no corners are cut using a commercially compatible developer to avoid environmental remediation costs. If such a solution would not be acceptable to the Lake County community and local electric leaders, for example, to avoid remediation, you can’t just pour concrete over it and say, ok, it’s not commercial property that way we don’t have to deal with remediation if the community actually wants to have that property be used for future residential housing which is desperately needed in the community Secretary Del Toro I understand that remediating and redeveloping house village will be costly and this problem preexist your tenure there. I understand that I ask that you work with me and my staff to ensure that remediating and redeveloping house village remains a priority for the Navy and that we are resourcing these efforts appropriately. Can you commit to that?

Thank you, Secretary Del Toro. Once the Navy finalizes plans for Halsey village, can you provide my staff with a copy of the Navy’s plan to remediate and redevelop Halsey Village, including any timelines associated with those plans?

Yes, thank you. And if you find yourself in Illinois in Chicago, anytime this summer, I invite you to come out to Halsey Village, able to work with you. Yes, ma’am. Promise to do so. Thank you, Mr Secretary. You back Mr Chairman. Thank you, Senator Dunk or Senator Mullen, please. Thank you, Mr Chairman Mr Secretary. I I just want to make observation here and I’m not, this is not trying to be confrontational to you at all. You’ve had enough of that. I don’t really feel like doing that today. I have an eight. So I’m trying to be in a good mood. Um I, but I, I just say first of all, you mentioned a while ago and as a bragging point that you’re battling the houthis terrorist organization, you call that success when they don’t even have a Navy. If we want to eliminate them, we could if we wanted to just stop what they’re doing, we could by holding them back for six months, but yet they’re still still disrupting and still have the ability to attack shipping, uh uh uh uh freighters. That’s not a win. That’s, that’s far from a win. We’re the U United States Navy and we were at one time the largest navy, but we’ve succeeded that to China, which goes back to what Eric Schmidt was saying about the idea of uh of, of, of the climate being the biggest threat to China. I, I really don’t think China is too concerned about the environment at this point. In fact, they’re laser focused on us and in fact, they’re running circles around us. In fact, as you know, Mr Secretary, they have the largest navy in the world now, they built 30 ships last year alone. We barely completed two. That’s a problem. Don’t you think it is a problem?

That’s a huge problem that we’re retiring 50. Uh according to your all’s records, you guys have roughly 50 that you’re gonna retire or have to go in for maintenance. It’s going to be out of service by 2028. We have 292 ships currently on the fleet, not all of them are actually at the sea. They have 370. I’m sure they’re laser focused on the environment. Our concern is, are we safer today than we were?

The answer is that is probably not probably not because we’re trying to balance the environment with real power and, and, and in your body language would just honestly just aggravate people just by the way you’re behaving. And I mean that sincerely because you don’t take it serious. In fact, it’s serious to us and you almost joke and laugh about it with your body language. And I, and I’m just saying as a con constructive criticism that could be a problem because we want you to succeed. The last thing I don’t, I want you to do is not to succeed. But even when he was pressed by, by, by uh uh Senator Scott over here, Rick Scott, you made a reference to the last Previa previa, the last administration. Why you’re in the situation you’re in today because they had something under bid. But yet we have current things that are constantly coming under bid. You’ve been in position for how, how long now?

2.5 years, 2.5 years. How long has this administration been in place?

About three?

I think it’s time to start owning your own responsibilities and still still blaming the previous administration. And yet you sit there and you go, nah, nah, that’s the problem, sir. I it’s, it’s not that we’re just trying to be confrontation with you. It’s that I don’t think you’re hearing us. It’s like, you know, best we’re just senators up here and we have no opinion. That’s a problem. And so if you wanna try getting along so we can all get in the same boat and same and row together, then let’s have actual serious conversation about actually moving forward and what our priorities are. The navies need to be focused on winning fights. Let the epa worry about the environment now. Switching gears totally, Andrew. Good to see you. I want to talk a little bit about Genesis. Um And I say this because we’re having serious recruiting issues. I mean, I had a conversation this morning with 33 people that their sons were all trying to get in the service. Um One is ad one track athlete waited eight months to finally get in and they were giving him a hard time because of Genesis because he’s broke a leg or two. You know, there was some other one that had some health concerns uh from his past when he was a little kid. Uh and he actually dropped out after six months of trying to be in, by the way, all these are d one athletes, uh another individual had, uh had uh some issues with their shoulder still competing but couldn’t get in the service. And I, I just kind of go around. I mean, I was a pretty rambunctious kid. I broke a lot of bones and I would believe that most boys that they haven’t at least broke some bones probably didn’t live a good life. Uh growing up because you gotta push yourself. My son currently is AD one wrestler for Oklahoma State. Um, got cleared to wrestle internationally, got cleared to wrestle by USA by NCAA wrestling. And he has been having a hard time getting cleared in because he’s supposed to report to boot camp this summer and yet he hasn’t got cleared yet. I’m not bringing it up for my son to do anything. I’m just saying is Gene is actually helping us because they start looking at an accident he had when he was seven years old, when he got bucked off a horse and he broke his arm and they asking question about seven years old, broken arm. Is, is it really working?

I mean, I understand what Genesis is trying to do. I get that, but at some point, is it getting in a way to help us recruit or is it actually hindering our ability to recruit?

Well, well, thank you. And, you know, we’ve had a lot of quest uh discussions about Genesis, actually, all of the, the service chiefs and Os D working with the DH A which is the owner of the system to provide this kind of feedback uh of where it is potentially slowing things down. And I think, you know, just in my time, uh as the CNO that they, we’ve made some definite improvements in streamlining the process in reducing the amount of times people have to go back, uh and get paperwork and, and DH A can continues to take this feedback and I will provide this feedback right now as well to them as we continue to move that process forward. So I think, you know, it’s a little bit of growing pains with the new system. We’re really committed to working with DH A to make sure that it does what it needs to do to get us, our recruits uh into the system as quickly as possible. So again, I would like to get with your staff offline on those because it’s always good to have examples um because it helps illustrate exactly where some of the, the hold ups are the reason. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Senator Mullen. Senator Carton, please. Admiral Frank Ketti. I wanna start by commending the sailors who have been under attack by an outlaw band of rebels and brigand in Yemen since October 7th. Um It’s the case that uh the navy is now awarding them combat awards. Is that correct?

Yes, we heard Testim, we’ve had a briefing on the committee from officials from Central Command that those sailors have now been in, in what was called the weapons engagement envelope for longer than any sailor since World War two. Is that the case?

Yes, it is. Um So we should all be proud of their bravery and skill. Um But I, I do not think that is a good news story. That is a bad news story um when our sailors go into the weapons engagement envelope. The point should be to destroy the envelope in the first place. So those outlaws don’t have those weapons anymore yet. It seems that all we’re doing there is shooting down missiles and drones that are flying at our ships or other ships in the region or maybe, maybe shooting down missiles and drones as they’re being fueled on the launch pad. Is that a fair assessment?

Well, Senator Cotton, I would say there are two aspects to what we’ve been doing there. We have o operation, prosperity guardian, you know, working hard with 20 other nations to keep the free flow of commerce going. And that’s what you’re talking about, defending against missiles. Um We also have uh another operation which is designed, excuse me to degrade the houthi capability uh ashore. Again, those are policy decisions and the navy’s job is to provide options uh to the sun com commander and the Suncom commander’s options to go up. And II I know that the three of you are not in charge of these war fighting decisions and ultimately the they’re policy decisions. But I I find it alarming that we have all these sailors that are in my opinion, sitting ducks. It’s great that we have the defense systems that we need to keep them safe. Um But it only takes one of these missiles and drones to get through and hit one of our ships and cause a mass casualty event. That’s what we saw a few months ago in the tri border region of Iraq, Syria and Jordan, uh, when we lost three soldiers. Um, so I would encourage you all as you’re discussing these policy matters inside of the Pentagon to stress that you would like to see your sailors not sit in the weapons engagement zone but destroy the weapons engagement zone. Um, General Smith, you haven’t got to talk much today. So why don’t we talk about Marine Corps recruiting?

There’s been a lot of talk about the challenges navy recruiting has faced. We’ve had the same conversations uh with army recruiting, which I think is even more severe, so much so that they had to drop their recruiting goals, meet them. The Marine Corps is going to meet its goals. Is that correct?

That is correct, Senator. Ok. So that is a good news story. So what do you think the Marine Corps is doing?


That other services can learn?

Um not only the Navy but especially the army since it’s uh challenges are more severe and it’s more like the Marine Corps. Well, Senator, our recruiting environment is one that is professionalized. Um We have career recruiters. Uh So each of our recruiting substations, um our recruiting stations, Dallas Fort Worth, San Antonio has a um career recruiter and we reward our recruiters who are out there for one tour. They are given their choice of duty stations when they finish a successful tour. Or they’re given their choice of school and if they don’t meet their mission, they’re relieved. I mean, it’s, it’s a Marine Corps mission. Um, we, we’re not selling anything. We’re offering an opportunity and it’s part of our, our branding, if you will, that we’re, we’re offering people an opportunity to earn the title Marine. And that’s the thing that we continue to, to express. Um, while there are benefits to, to joining, there’s the G I Bill and that’s very important. Um You’re, you’re competing for the title Marine and we hold that very, very dearly. And we, we, you know, there’s an old recruiting poster, we didn’t promise you a rose garden. We still believe in that and we still believe in the value of service to our nation and we’re not lowering our standards and people are attracted to that. I think that’s wise advice to heed. There are other problems like Senator Mullen talked about with Genesis. We’ve heard testimony on this committee before. I think there’s bipartisan agreement that Genesis has probably swung too far in the direction of excluding people who could serve as opposed to making sure you don’t have medical washouts and initial entry training. There’s also an issue I think with your, your doctors at me p stations around the country and the throughput they have. But I think at the end, it’s what General Smith says the armed forces are here to defend the nation. They are not a skills training pro program for people who want a civilian job, they’re not a financing program program for people that want to go to college. It’s not a daycare for people who have kids or uh health care for people who are sick. It’s not a travel agency for people who want to see the world. The armed forces may do all those things, but the armed forces first and foremost, are designed to fight and win our nation’s wars. And that the one thing we will promise all of our recruits, whatever service they enter is hard and realistic training that will enable them to win and survive and combat in defense of this nation. Thank you. Well, thank you, Senator Cotton. Uh and your words have been amplified by your own personal service. Thank you. Uh Senator King request additional route. Senator King, Secretary Del Toro. I think there’s some confusion in this hearing about your interest in climate change. My understanding is it’s not an academic interest in climate change, writ large. It’s an interest in how climate change will affect the operation and readiness of the Navy. Is that correct?

That is my chief most responsibility as Secretary of the Navy is to care for the mission readiness of the Navy and the Marine Corps and part of that is insulation redness. Yeah, I went back and looked at, at, at uh title 10. Uh one of your responsibilities, construction, outfitting and repair of military equipment. Construction, maintenance, and repair of building structures and utilities necessary to carry out the responsibilities of the department. And then later on, it says one of your responsibilities is carrying out the functions of the department. So as to fulfill the current and future operational requirements, the unified and specified combatant commands estimates are sea level will rise about a foot in the next 15 to 20 years. As much as 6 to 8 ft by the end of this century, I would suggest that if you’re not taking account of that in your uh facilities in, in everything from docks to all of the any and all of the coastal facilities, uh that would be a dereliction of duty. Yes, sir. We won’t be able to maintain the ships, the submarines, everything else that we operate on these bases uh without paying attention to what might occur in the future. And in fact, some of your facilities I’ve, I’ve been in Norfolk a couple of years ago, are already suffering the effects of, of rising sea level. Is that correct?

Yes, sir. And in the Marine Corps as well too, we’ve had to expend an extraordinary amount of sources actually raise roads in Paris Island, for example. And, and Camp Pendleton, Camp Lejeune and a lot of other investments. So we have to pay attention to these things or otherwise they’ll get the best of us and your responsibility because of the effects on readiness and operations are to mitigate and uh uh adapt to these changes. That’s correct. That’s correct. Senator, thank you. Um I, I do want to change the subject just briefly. Uh We talked about directed energy. The other technology that I think we’ve missed is hypersonics, particularly defense against hypersonics. And I hope that is an emphasis of your R and D as you go forward, we’ve got $12 billion aircraft carriers that we don’t want to be sitting ducks. We need must develop defensive mechanisms for hypersonics. Very much so, sir. And, and that encumbers things that we do in cyberspace and sap programs. Uh but investment in CPS is also important for us as well too. And it’s, we address the very difficult challenges that we’ve had in shipbuilding for decades now. And you take a look at the zoo Wall class destroyer, for example, you know, and overcoming the challenges with the advanced gun system now trying to put CPS on it. It is one of my top priorities as well and hopefully we’ll have it on the first one, late 25 and the, the 2nd 1, 26 and the third one in 29. Well, I hope that’s a, it’s a, it’s an urgent priority, not just a priority because our, the core of our deterrence is our projected sea power and we have to be able to defend it if we can’t, the deterrent goes away. We just lifted the first advanced gun system on the Zoom Malt just last week, sir. It’s moving along well. Where was the Zoot built again?

Maine, sir. Thank you, sir. Uh Admiral, we talk a lot about recruiting. I wanna thank you for sending a ship to the coast of Maine this summer. One of the problems with recruiting, if you look at the data nationwide is there are many parts of our country now who never see a person in uniform, they never see military assets in the northeast. There are virtually no bases left. My hometown of Brunswick had a naval air station for 50 years, 60 years now. It’s gone. The people, the navy people that were the, just in many ways, the heart of our community are, are, are gone. So thank you for sending the ship uh to Maine. And I, I would urge you to do similar kinds of deployments because we need young people to see their military to see people in uniform. And, and I think that’s uh that’s an important step. Um Finally, uh Admiral, I just want to uh commend to you following up on work on mental health. Uh This is a crisis as you know, it affects suicide, it affects readiness, it affects the, the, the well being of your sailors. So I hope that this is a continuing process on the ships on the shore. Uh And, and is that something that you see as a priority?

It, it definitely is a priority and uh we’ll continue to focus on this earlier this year. We put out our culture of excellence where we look really broadly at our entire culture and all of the things that we are doing to support our sailors. Mental health is one of them. There are a lot of other programs that we pulled all together again to create war fighters. Uh And that’s all about getting after their body, mind, spirit, to build great people, great leaders and great teams. And we’re going to be focused on this for a long time in the future. I want to welcome you back and you fought your own battle this year. And you also rendered a service by proving to the American people that uh Marine Corps generals do, in fact have hearts. So that was a plus. Thank you very much. I, I think some of my marines might debate that point with you, sir. But uh but I do in fact have a heart and it is fully functional. Thank you. Yes, sir. Well, thank you very much uh Senator King, uh uh just a few points as we close. First of all, I will relate to you that I was speaking to General Carilla, the Centcom commander commending him on an extraordinary operation uh that defeated AAA huge missile attack against the state of Israel. And he went out of his way to commend the Navy. I didn’t bring it up, he brought it up and for a West point grad and a paratrooper like general Carilla up to the, you must have made an impression on your, your service members. Thank you for your own service, Mr Chair. Thank you. But I’m a firm of credit. You should be proud of that. In fact, frankly, uh I think before that attack, if you uh said that we could destroy essentially every missile that was being fired or hundreds of them and only have one casualty. Unfortunately, a young Bedouin child, uh you’d say no, that’s not possible. You did it because the US Navy, as well as our air force, our naval aviators, et cetera. So we are performing better than any other service has ever performed. But we still have lots of problems and you’re dealing with them. The discussion on climate change here is interesting because um when I was a kid, the Arctic Ocean was frozen and now I don’t think the Arctic Ocean is frozen. In fact, I think it’s navigable. So let me ask him a second. Does a navigable Arctic Ocean prevent challenges to naval strategy?

Very much. So, sir. And we’re seeing it actually with uh greater Chinese incursion and greater Russian activity as well too. As you know, our nation doesn’t necessarily have the icebreakers that are necessary to operate freely in that zone. I’m very proud of the fact that our navy is also uh stood up and actually when Russian ships were deployed close to our island, we actually deployed necessary destroyers out there to go meet them. Um That will continue to be even a greater challenge in the future. That is the result of the accumulating effects of climate change, sir. So from a strategic point of view, we have to worry about it. From an equipment point of view, we have to worry about it because of icebreakers which we, we’re not really invested in training, we have to worry about it. In fact, I know the military as just the army, I should say, excuse me, the army is increasing its presence in Alaska with the new airborne uh unit training, et cetera interagency training. So, um you know, it is an important concern. I should, I hope that would be obvious. But uh thank you all very much for your service for your testimony. Uh We will adjourn uh the public open session reconvene at SVC 217 at 1230 for the closed session. Uh And thank you for your testimony. The over session adjourned.

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