On March 2, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson testified before the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee-Defense with Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Robert Neller about the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps’ FY17 budget request.
Below are Adm. Richardson’s opening remarks.
I am honored and humbled for the privilege to appear before you today as your CNO, on behalf of our more than 500,000 active and reserve Sailors, our navy civilians and their families, to discuss the Navy’s budget request. To start, I want to thank you for your leadership in keeping our nation secure, and in keeping our Navy the strongest Navy that has ever sailed the seas. This year’s budget continues that important work.
It’s always good to start by framing the problem. America has been and remains a maritime nation, and our prosperity is tied to our ability to freely operate in the maritime environment. Today’s strategic environment is increasingly globalized and increasingly competitive. Global systems are used more, stressed more, and contested more. For the first time in 25 years, there is competition for control of the seas—the maritime environment has seen explosive growth. From the sea floor to space, from deep water to the shoreline, and in the information domain, things are accelerating. The global information system has become pervasive and has changed the way we all do business, including at sea. Technology is being introduced at an unprecedented rate, and is being adopted by society just as fast. And finally, a new set of competitors are moving quickly to use these forces to their advantage, and for the first time in 25 years, the U.S. is facing a return to great power competition.
These new forces have changed what it means for the Navy and Marine Corps to provide maritime security. While the problems are more numerous and complex, our responsibility remains the same. Naval forces must provide our leaders credible options to protect America from attack, to advance our prosperity, to further our strategic interests, to assure our allies and partners, and to deter our adversaries—which rests on the ability of the Navy, working with our sister services, to win decisively if conflict breaks out.
To do this, the Navy is focusing on four lines of effort. First and foremost, we’re going to do right by our people. Senator Durbin, I was there just last week to see our great team take in and ‘Sailorize’ our recruits. The support of the community is critical to that mission. With the Marines, we are broadening naval warfighting concepts and capabilities. We will be strengthening our partnerships, and we will be learning faster.
Unquestionably, the most important part of our Navy is our team. Everything we do starts and ends with our Sailors, civilians, and their families. And as our platforms and missions become more complex, our need for talented people continues to be a challenge. We need to recruit, train, and retain the right people, and our Sailor 2025 initiatives are aimed squarely at that challenge. These efforts are based on our core values of honor, courage, and commitment and demonstrated through four core attributes of integrity, accountability, initiative, and toughness.
That team is committed to our mission, which requires us to strengthen naval power at and from the sea. This budget reflects some very tough choices as we achieve this aim. We have prioritized shipbuilding and the industrial base. First in that effort is the Ohio Replacement Program, which I believe is vital to our survival as a nation. We are taking steps to more deeply ingrain information warfare. And we’re also investing in our naval aviation enterprise, rapidly integrating unmanned systems, and bolstering our investments in advanced weapons.
In addition to these investments, we are adjusting our behaviors to keep pace with a world that continues to accelerate. We are doubling down on an approach that relies more heavily on experimentation and prototyping, and we are pursuing multiple avenues to drive shorter learning cycles into all that we do. We must learn faster.
To close, I wanted to mention that I’ve had the honor over the last few days to spend time with Senior Chief Ed Byers, who was awarded the Medal of Honor, Monday, by the President, on behalf of the Congress.
Senior Chief Byers represents the very best of our servicemen and women. He is emblematic of this generation’s continued commitment to our core values—and to their fellow Americans. He is a Navy SEAL, and the SEAL ethos reads, “My loyalty to Country and team is beyond reproach. I humbly serve as a guardian to my fellow Americans, always ready to defend those who are unable to defend themselves. I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions.”
Mr. Chairman, all our people want to do is protect this great nation. It is my job to lead them well and prepare them for that task. The 2017 Navy budget is this year’s best approach to solving the problems and seizing the opportunities that face the Navy today. I thank you again for your leadership and support, and I look forward to your questions.