Transcript: Testimony of U.S. Navy Admiral Jonathan Greenert on the impacts of defense sequestration
House Armed Services Committee hearing on “The Future of the Military Services and Consequences of Defense Sequestration” held on Nov. 2, 2011
Testimony of Admiral Jonathan W. Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations of the United States Navy:
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Chairman McKeon, Ranking Member Smith, and members of the committee, it is my honor and I’m frankly quite excited to appear before you today for the first time as the Chief of Naval Operations. I very much thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, for all you’ve done for our sailors and their families throughout the years.
“In the interest of trying the characteristics of a picture painting a thousand words, I’ve provided a little chart of where we are today – where your Navy is. We do our best at operating forward at what I call the ‘Strategic Maritime Crossroads.’
“We deploy from the ports in the United States – and they’re shown in little dots here – and in Hawaii. We have about 45 ships underway on the East Coast and the West Coast collectively, which are preparing to deploy. 145 ships underway today total. So that’s about 100 ships deployed. About 35% to 40% of our Navy – your Navy – is deployed today. And it’s been that way for about three years. For a perspective, in 2001 we had about 29% of your Navy deployed.
“We operate out and about around what I call the ‘Maritime Crossroads,’ where commerce is, where the sea lines of communications are, because it’s about ensuring economic prosperity around the world and influence in all the theaters. Those areas – those crossroads are – they look like little bow ties perhaps… We operate from what I call ‘Cooperative Security Locations’ – those are shown as little squares from Guantanamo Bay in the Caribbean to Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean to Singapore through Guam through Djibouti, Bahrain and, of course, the Mediterranean and in Rota. So we are clearly globally deployed.
“We’re required to be forward, flexible, and lethal as we demonstrated in Libya, Somalia, off the coast in Yemen, and of course today in Afghanistan, where we provide about one-third of the close air support for our brothers and sisters on the ground. No permission is needed for our operations, and we’re all United States sovereignty.
“As I said, it’s about freedom of the seas for economic prosperity. And as we change our operations in the Middle East, from perhaps a ground focus, your Navy and Marine Corps will retain the watch forward. We’ll deter, we’ll dissuade, and we’ll assure. We’ll be postured to fight as needed. We are your offshore option. We won’t be intrusive, we are stabilizing, and we continue to build partnership capacity with allies and with our friends.
“And I’d just add as a clip, today there’s a Chinese ship – a hospital ship – conducting operations in the Caribbean sea and has been on a round the world tour recently doing their part – I guess – in the world.
“Our focus in the future will be in the Pacific and the Arabian Gulf, but we won’t be able to ignore the other regions. Where and when trouble emerges next is really unknown and, as has been stated in this room many times, the future is unpredictable as we know. We have to be prepared, we have respond when tasked, and our challenge is to posture for that possibility.
“But in the end, all that being said, we can never be hollow. We have to be manned, trained, and equipped with a motivated force. We have to build the Navy of tomorrow – the ships, the aircrafts, the unmanned systems, the weapons, and the sensors.
“Underpinning it all are our sailors and their families. We have to take care of the sailors, the civilians, and the families, and build – as I said – in the future the motivated, the relevant, and diverse force of the future.
“As John Paul Jones said years ago and it still applies, ‘Men mean more than guns in the rating of a ship.’
“But above all, we have to be judicious with the resources that the Congress provides us.
“To look ahead in this current budget plan that we’re working on – about a half a trillion dollars over 10 years – it’s a huge challenge. There are risks. It’s manageable with a strategic approach and with appropriate guidance given.
“On the other hand, in my view, sequestration will cause irreversible damage. It will hollow the military and we will be out of balance in manpower – both military and civilian – [and] procurement modernization. We are a capital-intensive force. And going in and summarily reducing procurement accounts here and there will upset quite a bit of our industrial base, which in my view, if we get into sequestration, might be irrecoverable. [In] 1998, we had six ship builders companies; today we have two. We have six shipyards going on to five in 2013…
“I thank you for the opportunity to testify, and I look forward to your questions. Thank you, sir.”
- House Armed Services Committee
- Admiral Jonathan Greenert’s written testimony (PDF)
- Admiral Jonathan Greenert’s biographical information (PDF)
- Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction’s website
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