By Rear Admiral Brian “Lex” Luther
Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Budget
Today the 2019 budget request for the Department of the Navy (DON) was submitted to Congress. The $194.1 billion (Base + Overseas Contingency Operations) strategy-driven budget submission reflects the DON’s effort to build the Navy the Nation Needs and the U.S. Marine Corps Force of Choice in support of our vital national interests: protecting the homeland, preserving peace through strength, promoting American prosperity and advancing America’s influence.
While our country is as strong as ever, these interests are no longer assured due to threats presented by strategically empowered peer rivals who strive to challenge U.S. maritime superiority in key geographic regions. At the same time, dynamic and unconventional forces seek to challenge the rules-based global order and threaten the global commons, our security and our way of life. These threats present themselves following years of budget uncertainty and continuing resolutions that have taken a toll on our infrastructure, our platforms and our Sailors and Marines. The time to make meaningful investments in readiness is now.
Our approach to increase naval power must be balanced in order to achieve wholeness. We can’t choose between increased capacity or better capability – we need a combination of both. We can’t choose between more complex stand-alone technologies or networked systems, we need both. The talent to operate and sustain a larger, more lethal force is not a choice between more people or better training, it is both. This is the path to increased naval power.
We accomplish this by focusing on six specific dimensions:
- Building a bigger fleet – A 355-ship navy is now the law of the land, and quantity has a quality all its own.
- Building a better fleet – We need to accelerate and invest in game-changing capabilities and leap-ahead technologies.
- Building a networked fleet – Information sharing is a force multiplier and exponentially increases naval power to deliver lethality.
- Building a talented fleet – Our people have always been our greatest advantage over any competitor.
- Building an agile fleet – The Navy must work as part of the joint and combined force to self-sustain in areas such as logistics and fuel.
- Building a ready fleet – A bigger fleet, better, networked, talented fleet and agile fleet contributes to potential naval power, but actual naval power must include the critical dimension of readiness.
The FY19 President’s Budget request and beyond focuses on urgent modernization and growth, building on the FY17 and FY18 budgets which arrested the DON readiness decline while addressing the Department’s most pressing needs. In accordance with the 2018 National Defense Strategy, PB19 invests in growing the readiness, capability and capacity of the Navy and Marine Corps team.
The FY19 budget funds key readiness programs in support of building a more lethal, resilient and agile force that will enable the DON to significantly contribute to the deterrence and defeat of aggression by great power competitors and adversaries in all domains:
- Air depot maintenance (92 percent), flying hours (95 percent) and ship depot maintenance (96 percent) accounts are funded at their maximum executable amount.
- Ship operations are funded at 100 percent of requirement.
- Marine Corps ground equipment account is funded at 82 percent of projected maintenance.
- Facilities sustainment is funded at 80 percent (Navy and Marine Corps) of the sustainment model.
As our adversaries strive to outpace us in all aspects of warfare, we must adapt to emerging threats in the space, cyber and undersea domains, as well as devote sustained resources to developing advanced technological capabilities that enable us to stay ahead of our competitors. PB19 invests in superior, innovative and cutting-edge technology that delivers more firepower and increases lethality in order to maintain our competitive advantage. Innovative capabilities in shipbuilding (Columbia class), aviation (Joint Strike Fighter), weapons (NextGen Jammer), unmanned, family of lasers, digital warfare and ground equipment are supported by PB19. Technology enablers that allow DON to stay ahead of adversaries as their technological capabilities advance are also funded.
In addition to investing in innovation and capacity-development, we must expand our capability by building more ships to meet the rapidly changing and escalating threats we face from around the globe. These threats have put an immense strain on our fleet, leading to a breakdown in our ability to effectively provide forward presence and project power. Having more ships – and the right mix of ships – provides combatant commanders with flexibility and options, allowing them to make operational decisions based on the best response to specific threats. The [PB19 Ship Acquisition Plan] reflects a strategic mix of small and large surface combatants, submarines and unmanned platforms that enable our Navy to have the focused overseas presence needed to deter and defend against great power competitors and unconventional forces.
PB19 provides for a deployable battle force of 299 ships, which includes 11 aircraft carriers and 33 large amphibious ships that serve as the foundation upon which our carrier and amphibious ready groups are based.
- In FY19, 11 battle force ships will be delivered: 2 nuclear attack submarines (SSN), 4 littoral combat ships (LCS), 1 expeditionary fast transport (EPF), 1 expeditionary sea base, 1 amphibious assault ship (LHA), and 2 destroyers (DDG). One battle force ship, a SSN, will be retired.
- Ship procurement funds 10 new-construction battle force ships in FY19 (3 DDG, 2 SSN, 1 LCS, 1 ESB, 2 T-AO, and 1 T-ATS) and 54 ships across the Future Years Defense Plan (FYDP).
- Aircraft procurement funds 120 airframes (fixed wing, rotary wing, unmanned) in FY19 (24 F/A 18E/F, 20 F-35B, 9 F-35C, 10 P-8A, 4 E-2D, 2 C-40A, 2 KC-130J, 25 AH-1Z, 8 CH-53K, 7 MV-22/CMV-22B, 6 VH-92A, and 3 MQ-4) and 655 airframes across the FYDP.
The best ships, aircraft and technology are useless without well-trained and capable men and women to operate them. Investing in our personnel enables the strength needed to deter and defeat great-power competitors, and is essential to DON’s ability to recruit and retain the top talent that will drive innovation, excellence and success. The FY19 budget proposes an increase of 2.6 percent in military basic pay in order to compete effectively for our country’s best warfighters, as well as scientists, engineers and other issue-area experts.
Only by investing in the maintenance and development of shore facilities, including shipyards, are we able to grow readiness and lethality afloat. Military construction for the FY19 budget submission funds 49 targeted projects including: 19 new platform/mission, eight restore warfighting readiness, five European Deterrence Initiative, four Guam, four naval shipyards, four safety, three replace aging infrastructure, and two Navy/Marine Corps reserves.
In addition to shoring up readiness, capability and capacity within DON, the force must place a renewed focus on the Navy’s role as part of the joint force and must rededicate itself to engagement with allies and partners. And ultimately, in order to answer the threats of an increasingly complex global security environment, our Navy requires stable and consistent funding to execute a wide-range of complex missions at any given time.
Our competition is not slowing – it is accelerating and becoming more dynamic – and we must accelerate faster in order to compete, deter and win. This year’s budget request invests in growing the readiness, capability, and capacity of the Navy and Marine Corps as we build a more lethal, resilient, and agile force in order to deter and defeat dynamic threats from great power competitors and adversaries in all domains.
The preservation of American security and prosperity requires the investments outlined in PB19, and the advancement of American influence around the globe demands them.
For more information on the FY19 DON Presidential Budget submission, please visit: http://www.secnav.navy.mil/fmc/fmb/Pages/Fiscal-Year-2019.aspx.