By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, Feb. 26, 2015 – Under the president’s fiscal year 2016 budget proposal, the military’s sea services would be able to carry out their worldwide missions, but if sequestration triggers, all bets are off, senior Navy and Marine Corps officials said on Capitol Hill yesterday.
Sean Stackley, the assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition; Lt. Gen. Kenneth J. Glueck Jr., the commanding general of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command; and Vice Adm. Joseph P. Mulloy, the deputy chief of naval operations for integration of capabilities and resources, testified before the House Armed Services subcommittee on sea power and projection forces on the budget request.
Sea Services Remain Busy
The sea services have been busy, the officials said in a joint statement released by the subcommittee. The Navy and Marine Corps have key missions in power projection and deterrence. While the sea services have to accomplish the missions of today, they said, now is the time to build and equip the Navy and Marine Corps of tomorrow.
In the past year, sailors and Marines around the world continued to perform the mission and operate forward. They were “where it mattered when it mattered,” the officials said in the prepared statement.
This included the first strikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, typhoon relief in the Philippines and reassurance patrols in the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea. Marine Corps units deployed to every combatant command and executed numerous exercises to strengthen relationships with allies and build partner capacity. Marines also responded to emergent crises in Sudan, Iraq and Libya, and most recently off the coast of Yemen to participate in strikes or reassure American allies.
“The Navy Department maintained a steady pace of over 200 engagements, more than 30 amphibious operations, 150 theater support events, and 130 exercises in 2014,” officials said in the statement.
The department’s fiscal 2016 budget proposal represents the bare minimum to execute the defense strategy guidance. It still, however, “results in high risk in two of the most challenging missions that depend on adequate numbers of modern, responsive forces,” the joint statement said.
“The principal risk to the department’s ability to meet the [defense strategy guidance] remains the uncertainty in future funding, which affects our planning and the ability to balance near- and long-term readiness and capability,” the statement said. “The fiscal 2014 President’s Budget was the last budget submission to fully meet all of the missions.”
The Navy made difficult, strategy-based choices and shifted funds to higher priority missions, but that is not sustainable, officials said in the statement.
Reduction of Weapons, Aircraft Capability
Fiscal constraints compelled the department to reduce the capability of weapons and aircraft, slow modernization and delay upgrades to all but the most critical shore infrastructure, the joint statement said. “As a result, the department is challenged with maintenance backlogs, compressed training for modernization, and impacts on our people and their families due to extended deployments,” they added.
If sequestration returns, “a revisit and revision of the defense strategy would be necessary,” the officials said in the statement.
“With limited ability to mitigate the impacts as we did in fiscal 2013, sequestration in fiscal 2016 would force the department to further delay critical warfighting capabilities, reduce readiness of forces needed for contingency response, further downsize weapons capacity, and forego or stretch force structure procurements as a last resort,” the statement said.
“The department’s capability and capacity to meet operational requirements over the long term will be reduced, including our ability to deploy forces on the timeline required by combatant commanders in the event of a contingency,” the officials said in the statement.