tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN January 31, 2015 3:00am-5:01am EST
in fiscal year 17 through 20, we have $5 billion invested as advance procurement for the first ohio, which in 2021 is $9 billion on top of the ship building plan we have now. very difficult to do. we have to do it, though, senator, so we'll have to continue to work in that regard. >> thank you, and i obviously have the same concern you all do on our war fighting capabilities. when you look at the difficulties in syria, and iraq, and that area, what are the kind of things we're not able to do there that you look and you go, if we were doing this, and this, it would really help move the ball forward. where are you being placed in a tighter spot right now? general odierno, if you give us a start. >> i would just say it is -- the first thing is this fight against iraq and syria is a long-term issue. this is not something resolved in weeks and months. something that will have to be resolved in years. and it is going to require a
combination of efforts with the local indigenous governments, going to require efforts from training and indigenous force and support from us for a very long period of time. and it is going to require continued assessments and adjustments on how we believe we will continue to support that effort. i think over time if that threat continue, we have to reassess what our strategy is, so that's the hard part about it. this is not a short term problem, it is a long-term problem. it is going to take a long-term dedicated effort to solve it across many different lines of effort, whether it be through diplomatic efforts, combination of joint capability, and enabling indigenous forces and the capability we need to do that. >> so if you're facing a long-term challenge, and as you look long-term, you may have less tools in the toolbox to deal with it. >> that's correct. >> general dunford. >> senator, thanks for that question. right now, as i mentioned earlier, we're taking all the risk, not with our deployed
units, but units and home stations. so everything that general austin asked us to do from a marine corps perspective, we're able to do now. but as general odierno said, should this continue on really for us it is a question of capacity to do everything that we're doing at a sustainable deployment to dwell rate, just to give you some idea of how
fast our marines are turning now. they're all deploying for seven months, home for 14 months or in some cases less and back out for seven months in perpetuity. that sustained level of operational tempo is something that concerns me and isil is part of that. >> and that also makes it pretty difficult on the home frond, doesn't it? >> senator, really two issues. one is the time available to train for all of the emissions. and the second is the time available to spend time with your family. and we're particularly concerned with our midgrade enlisted marines what it comes to that particular challenge. >> general odierno in regards, as you look forward, how are you planning to mix with the national guard? and how does that figure into
are coming out of the active army. because of that, we have to rely more on the national guard, u.s. army reserves. and we have to remember what we're trying to achieve is our national guard and reserve provides us a depth to respond to complex problems. and so the issue becomes as we have to rely on some areas, more on our -- on them in the
beginning, such as in logistics, and area like that, where we don't have enough structure in the active component now because of the reductions, we have to rely more heavily on the national guard and u.s. arm reserve for things such as that. and in terms of the combat capability, there is still going to have to provide us the depth. we have less capability in the active component. comments he also said if anyone accuses me of saying this, i will deny it. let me just ask you this, general welsh, do you find those comments to be acceptable in any way to accuse our men and women in uniform to say you're committing treason if you communicate with congress about the capabilities of the a-10 or the capabilities of any of our other weapons systems? yes or no? >> no, ma'am. not at all. and there is an investigation currently ongoing into that incident.
when i read the newspaper article, i contacted the general officer involved. and his commander. the department of defense ig is overseeing an investigation being run by save ig and will present the facts to the committee when the recession is complete. >> i hope that this is a very thorough investigation because obviously i know this is very serious to accuse people of treason for communicating with congress. one thing i would like your commitment on that i think is very important, do you -- unconditionally denounce if it is found to be true. and air combat command in responding to press inquiries about this has not denied that the general made those comments. but do you denounce those comments and do you support the legal rights of members of the air force to communicate lawfully with congress about the a-10 or any other issue? and do you commit that the air force will take no punitive action against airmen who are
exercising their lawful right to communicate with congress? >> senator, i complete to the lawfulness. i support any airmen's right to discuss anything you want to discuss with them. my job is wait until the facts are known. and make recommendations to the secretary and then report the decisions as she makes as a result of that when it is done. >> i appreciate that, general welsh. it worries me about the climate and the tone that is set if members, airmen, airwoman, are told that they'll be committing treason if they communicate with us. what i'm hearing is that there is actually an investigation going on in reverse to find out who has communicated with congress and to me that seems the opposite of what we would be trying to accomplish in looking at whether -- what general post said and whether it was lawful or not. so i hope that there will be no punishment or any kind of
pursuit of people trying to communicate with congress. will you commit to me with that? >> i know of nothing along those line at all. i would be astonished by that. and certainly i'm not part of it. the secretary is not part of it. i would not condone it. >> thank you. >> senator shaheen, happy birthday. >> thank you, mr. chairman.
hear from people serving what they see first hand about the impacts of some of these policy decisions. so i'm hopeful that we will hear more of those discussions. you know, i have been pleased chairman mccain has started the armed services committee hearings this year with a broader view of national security policy. and one of the issues that has been brought up with respect to national security policy is that one of the concerns is the fact that we have not had an ongoing budget process that people can count on, that we have a debt, that in the future is a concern. and that it would be important for us to address that. i certainly put sequestration in that category that it is important for us to address this and do it in a way that provides certainty, that deals with the short falls that our military is facing and that it is important for us to do that with respect to all of the agencies of the federal government that deal
with national security. i wonder, gentlemen, if you agree that's an important goal we should be working towards in congress. general odierno? >> i think the strength of our country is based on many different factors. it is important we understand that as we go forward. we certainly understand that. what i would say to that is that the important part of our defense spending, important part that rolled out and ensuring security should be considered as we do that. i know you know that, senator. >> thank you. does everyone agree? >> yes, ma'am. >> yes, ma'am. >> yes, senator. >> thank you. >> so to be a little parochial this morning, as i think most of you are aware, the port smith naval shipyard is a shipyard that shared between new hampshire and maine and is, i think, one of our very important public shipyards. i know you know this. i wonder if you could talk about the importance and the impact of sequestration on our shipyards, on our depos and the concern that that provides. we talked about the impact on our active duty military. our civilian workforce is also affected. >> the impact was very much underestimated. that's part of your point. a few facts. we lost 70,000 mandates of planned shipyard work we had to defer because we had no overtime, and we furloughed them. how do think feel about the importance of it? what are we losing that we lost, you understand, 1700 submarine days. that's like taking five submarines and tying them up for a year. that's the kind of impact. i worry about going -- it takes five years to recover from that collectively. we talked about the importance of the nuclear deterrence. these public shipyards can't underwrite all that. because of port smith, i can do work in the other shipyards. port smith is a major part of a ship maintenance enterprise that we must have. and i worry about it in sequestration. >> thank you very much. does anybody want to add the -- to the impact on depots and the country? opening statements, we talk about trust and we talk about retaining high quality people, predictability is important to people. and i fear that some of the folks that were furloughed won't come back as they do have other opportunities. >> i share that. and admiral greenert, i know you appreciate this, one thing i heard from shipyard employees is as we're looking at an 18 workforce and the need to hire new people and the shortage of
stem educated people that engineers, mathematicians, scientists, are in small supply. they'll look in the private sector and that creates a real question for all of us. >> i could add, you know, we already reduced 4500 out of our depos, what we found following the furlough is as you pointed out, our doctors, engineers, our behavior health specialists, all of these people, because of the worry of the uncertainty and jobs available for them other places, they are taking those jobs at a higher rate than we have in the past. that's the impact we have. the experience we're developing, we're losing. it is a big concern for us, general odierno, thank you for mentioning in your brief the reserve and national guard forces. and also to senator donnelly for bringing that point up as well. we feel the impact. we're hurting too through sequestration. with respect to the dod and sequestration, general, you mentioned just this morning that we must appropriately care for our soldiers. and our soldiers and families are bearing the burden of the decisions. we must train, maintain and sustain a force and equipment. but with sequestration in place, we recognize we have to utilize taxpayer dollars to the best of our ability. could you please give examples to the panel on where we are holding our military leaders
accountable and how they are best utilizing taxpayer dollars in such a time as this. >> a couple of things that we continue to do that i think are important. we are -- we are reducing all our headquarters. and the reason we're doing that, so we can get more capability to the soldiers that are serving. so we made a decision, the army, to reduce all our headquarters to the two star level by 25%. and what that -- to free up dollars in order to train our soldiers which helps. we have reorganized our brigade
combat team and eliminated headquarters so we're able to fund and train the best we can. we are trying to reorganize in our aviation capability so we're getting rid of aircraft that are no longer capable of doing the things we need them to do. we're transforming our training strategies. we have just now developed a strategy, a total force strategy and forces command where we are training every -- training -- we all training we do is a combination of active guard and u.s. army reserve. so we can maintain that capacity
so we're trying to make it as efficient as possible. we're also looking at how we are making the most out of our training dollars in live training and virtual training and constructive training. so all of those things are the kind of things we're doing. we're also streamlining some of our sustainment activity because we became too overreliant on contractors during peak years in iraq and afghanistan. we want to retrain our green suit capability because we have to sustain that at a very high level. and that also will reduce our dollars we're spending on contracts that allow us to do this. so these are just a sample of the kind of things we're trying
to do to put money back in that will allow us to take care of the soldiers. >> thank you, general. and as a follow on to that, and maybe all of you can just very briefly respond, just last week we had the state of the union. i had invited a friend of mine from iowa state, we were cadets together, to attend. he lives here in washington, d.c. at least temporarily and he responded, joni, i would love to, but i can't, i'm being fitted for my new leg. well, he's stationed at ft. bragg but lives here at walter reed. great friend of mine. i was able to visit with him on monday.
so his last tour to afghanistan was a little more difficult than most. and because of that, he has lost his left leg. we have a lot of soldiers, a lot of members that are going through difficulties and challenges. and i would like to know, just briefly, from each of you, the impact of sequestration as is in regard to our medicare and follow on for soldiers and their families, briefly, gentlemen. >> one of the issues that we're working through that we have to watch carefully is we have to consolidate our medical capability and facilities. as we do that, we have to make sure that every soldier and their family member gets provided the same level of support no matter where they're stationed. that becomes a challenge as you start to reduce and so we have to be careful to ensure that. we will still have the best highest level care. the issue becomes the sustained care over time across the country and overseas because where our people are serving and making sure they get the right coverage for themselves and their families. there is some difficult decisions that are going to have to be made. i do worry that one of the things we -- they should be able to rely on is the best medical care for them and their families as we move forward. this is something we're going to have to watch very carefully as
we move forward. >> admiral? >> i think the general got the key points for us there. it is about the resiliency programs and the wounded warrior care and recovery programs. we have to fund them and we have to make sure they don't get caught up in some overall reduction. we have to be vigilant in that. for us, it is a program called safe harbor. i watch it myself, to make sure we don't inadvertently have these kinds of things caught up and, again, the verb, they get sequestered. so we have to watch that. >> thank you. >> i think the key for us is what john highlighted there and that's identifying where they could get caught up in this. and then come to you and ask for help. i know you'll provide -- the committee will provide it. this is one of the sacred trust things. >> thank you. general? >> maybe i address also the nonmedical care aspect of it. we establish a wounded warrior regiment to take care of our one of the challenges now as we move forward. we have to move that into the base and move it into the base at the same time you're dealing with sequestration. that will certainly remain a priority for us, but one of the other things that competes with the resources that we're going to have fewer of. i did my back of the envelope math and this is 156 years of service to the united states sitting before us at the table in military capacity. and we owe you thanks, but we ought to listen to you. for the record, i just note, i voted with enthusiasm for the nominations that were before us early, but there were 42 nominations to lieutenant colonel and ot one woman among the nominees. those nominated were superb qualifications, that's a fact of interest and i wanted to bring it up that people on the committee pay attention to that. communities, for our local people, and that's the point i think i wanted to make, and you made it very eloquently. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you senator boxer. senator vitter? >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to echo the comments that having made about the bipartisan work of this committee on
highway bill, good bill, very bipartisan basis, but the financial committee has the hard part, which is the financing part. and i want to cut right to that. so let's cut to the chase. i agree, we need to get this done, we need to get it done on a medium to long-term basis, not another band-aid approach. my suggestion for all of us who truly want to do that is to cut right to the chase, and to really dive into those discussions about low we finance it in a realistic way. folks on the left, including the administration may have ideas that are perfectly valid ideas that just objectively are going nowhere in this congress.
we should be receiving if we went back to sequestration in 2016, it would be a similar impact with the full weight of sequestration comes with 30% of the budget. >> thank you. general. that gets to the points about the constraints. >> thank you. i just returned from budget committee. i apologize for missing some of the discussion. >> not accepted. >> thank you. always a pleasure to work with you.
i remember campaigning in 2012, people said what do you think of the sequester, it will never happen but here we are. we're focusing all of our budgetary attention on a declining part of the budget. the growth in the budget right now is in mandatory programs. that's what's driving the federal deficit. it's not defense. it's not national parks. it's not the head start program. it's a vigorous reaction but it's the wrong target.
this is not where the problem is. we're headed for a moment where discretionary spending including defense is at the lowest level ever, ever. we really shouldn't be asking this discussion. it's a pointless exercise in terms of trying to deal with the budget. we need to be talking about a much larger question, particularly the cost of health care in this country. we really have to start talking about how the deal with it. i hope this committee which sees the impact of sequester more than any other economy in the congress, more than half of it fails within our jurisdiction
with lead the way of trying to find some kind of solution that makes sense. i don't really have any specific questions except to underline what i heard you say in your opening statements is this will really be devastating. americans lives are being put at risk. would you agree with that? >> yes, sir. >> yes, sir. >> yes, sir. >> that should be the headline that americans lives are being put at risk. you guys are having to go
through these extraordinary gyrations to try to deal with this budget situation and the danger is risk to american lives both our people in uniform and our civilians. i certainly want to thank you for your testimony. i'd like to ask one other question. i would say sum the uncertainty of this situation is almost as bad add the dollars. is that correct. >> it is. there's a lot of angst. that concerns to me. one final question for you, admiral. talk about the risk to the
industrial base. my concern is that you can't turn on and off the industrial base when welders leave to go somewhere else you can't just pick them up the next year. isn't that a deep concern to the navy. >> it is. we're at the point where in our shipbuilding plan, we're at about minimum sustaining. the good news we are buying efficiently. that all comes unravelled if you start dropping out shipping here or there and in aircraft and weapons we are. that's the mid business people that make very specific and re refined equipment. we really really need them. this lack of planning and the inability can't keep them open.
you can't buy an economic quantity and it is a deep concern. as you said, you can't bring it back fast. >> when you have to delay multiair procurement you end up pay paising more in the end. the taxpayers lose both ways. >> they include do. thank you. >> i want to thank you for the work that you're doing along with a number of efforts to try to address this issue. thank you very much. >> you said that if sequestration level reduks
to see the most decline? we're also reducing the amount of ncos and the amount of soldiers we're bringing in and have reduced the ability of people to reenlist. that will increase if we have to go to sequestration. >> those are the soldiers who tend to have the multiple combat deployments? >> that's correct. >> you're losing their combat experience? >> that's correct.
can you explain why it might be so hurtful? >> it would have an impact on the deployment of our marines. today we consider the optimal force. we did a study on this in 2011. we call that a one to three deployment add well. we came to 182,000. that puts us at a 1 to 2 deployment to dwell. we're deploying 7 months, home for 14 months, back out for 7 months. if we go down to 174,000 and really, with a marine security guard plus, it'd be about 175 would be the only change i'd make from my predecessor's comment. many of the units would be close to 1-1 than 1-2. marines would be home from eight or nine months between 7-month deployments with an impact on
the quality of training we're able to provide as well as impact on families. >> okay. admiral, you had testified that if sequestration remained in place, you'd only be able to sustain about 255 ships, which is approximately 50 less than today, is that still the case? >> it's not, senator. that was about 15 months ago when i did that testimony. that was a scenario based on using fore structure retirement. and have kind of taken that off the table. so i would look at other avenues, probably other modernization. and it concerns me about, when i talk to capability in the future, that's more likely where we would go for that kind of savings. >> my time has expired. thank you, all. >> senator mccaskill? >> thank you, mr. chairman. as you might be able to tell, i don't have much of a voice today, which is being celebrated
many places around here. i won't spend a lot of time questioning because i have questions for the record i would like. i know that senator manchin touched on the acquisition process. i would certainly recommend to the members of this committee and to the leaders in our military, the report issues by the subcommittee on investigations under the leadership of senator mccain and levin where they took information from a variety of important experts about our acquisition process and particularly the challenges that the bifurcation represents between the civilian and the military and how awkward that has been and how expensive it's been in the long run. that's a technical term, "frickin," i figure i can say that since i can't talk. i will use this time to briefly ask one question. and one of the things i have discovered as i have done an enormous amount of work in the
area of acquisition. and by the way, getting rid of sequestration, i think, is maybe the most imperative bipartisan challenge we have in the senate. and it is a bipartisan challenge. and we're going to have a lot of them. and how we on this committee step up in a bipartisan way to try to address it i think will be meaningful. one of the problems in the military is that it is based on leadership and your ability to be promoted. and what positions you have are relevant to whether or not you're promoted. and it's kind of the short stick to get to be a systems manager. and so what happens, these program managers, they don't want to hang out in those jobs. they get all the heat when things go wrong. they are not seen as bright and rising stars within the military. it's not the career path that is the most desirable whether you're back in the days when we
couldn't get the companies to even give anybody with authority that clipboard to check on contracting, the representatives. i mean, when i started doing this, you know, it was the lamest member of the company that was handed that clipboard to do the contracting checks. so i would love if not now but in writing later how you all believe you can elevate these positions so they're seen as part of a trajectory of success within the military. because until we get quality leaders running these acquisition systems, these programs, we're going to continue to struggle with costs that we just frankly can't afford in this country anymore. and i've only got three minutes left. if any of you want to take a stab at that, that would be great and i apologize for my voice. >> senator, we're very aware of
the issue you just brought up in terms of insuring that in certain parts of our service they have the ability to move up and get rewarded for the work that they're doing. we manage it very carefully. with our acquisition corps specifically, we have management guidelines that we're attempting to follow. for me, it's more about, it's not only that, it's more about the mixture of experience between acquisition and operational experience. and that would help also in that area where we make sure we have that dual experience. and we've moved away from that a little bit. where we put -- make somebody an acquisition officer very early on. but that said, we have put programs in place to ensure that the promotion rates are at least equal. but with that said, i believe we have to constantly review it, look at it, and ensure that they are having the opportunities for promotion. and we will, i will respond in writing in more detail. >> in the navy, we have a corps called acquisition professionals
not literally a corps. it's a subspecialty. and it's in statute how they are promoted and what jobs they are required. but we need to do some work in there. number one, the report of fitness is very similar to an unrestricted line officer. so the attributes they are evaluated on don't match up with the reality of what they do day in and day out. we need to revise that. that's in progress. and i'm working with our acquisition professional. number two, we need to cross pollinate. people who may not be acquisition professionals need to serve with them and understand what do they do so that as we go back and forth and describe what i need and what they need, the reality, we need to understand that so we can do better. number three, the assignment process needs to be -- it's like a conga line right now, we need to go in and find out, who are these people performing very well? get them in the right job, keep them there so they can develop the program and we're not just
shifting people through there. and lastly, encourage our program managers to come forward. the program's not going well. we've got to evaluate them and actually reward them for coming forward and saying i've got a problem here. what happens is they fill in the data and say check it out, doing well, i've got to get out of here before this thing goes bad. and then the poor person that comes in and it explodes gets the heat. >> senator, i think this is a fascinating area for study. i spent about 2 1/2 years in the acquisition business. and the thing i walked away with is my primary lesson. i didn't understand any of the rules when i left any more than i did when i walked in. it's complicated. what i did understand was the quality of the people we have in the acquisition business in the air force. it's a specialty for us, we get a lot of people actually wanting to come into the air force, young acquisition and
contracting offices. we start to lose them where they become disconnected in their duties when they get to the mid career. they don't feel they were critically important to the big air force. they feel they're critically important to their program. and not having that connection is a big problem. in my view. we have a number of general officers who are acquisition officers. we have some of our contracting officers. so there is a path for them if we can make them want to stay long enough to enjoy it. it's tough work. you have to be very talented to do it well. and we have to make sure they understand that they're critically important to the air force. this is where that civilian military connection, i think, will make a big difference if we can get it right. they have to feel like we're all in the same air force. not that they're in a separate section. it's just buying things for us. that won't work over time. >> senator, i think we have a
similar construct to what admiral green had talked about with the navy. i understand the question you were asking. i don't have anything to add, but we will take the time to respond thoughtfully in writing. >> colonel graham. >> thank you, captain. nato partners are reducing their spending regarding defense in general, is that fair to say? >> yes, sir. >> how many nato nations spent 2% of their gdp on defense? >> senator, the answer's two or three, i believe. >> two or three. >> so that's a dilemma for us because as you look over the next coming years, the capabilities of our nato partners are diminishing, not increasing, is that fair to say? >> in the ground side, yes. yes, sir. >> the uk's improving their navy, but the capacity is small. >> same for the air force. >> yes, sir. the problem is the capacity problem for -- >> okay. >> so what will we be spending on defense? at the end of sequestration? what percentage of gdp will we spend on defense? estimate.
>> i believe it's about 3%, senator. >> i think it's 2.3. can you do me a favor and check among yourselves and send us if you can find agreement among the four of you the number that the military views we will spend on defense relative to gdp? and then also add into that letter the average the nation has been spending on defense, let's say since vietnam. i think it would be very instructive to the committee to understand the true effects of sequestration. i believe it's around 2.3%. and that's about half of what we normally spend on defense since vietnam. but i could stand corrected, just let us know. have each of you talked to the president about this problem with sequestration? >> we have, senator.
>> all of you? >> yes, sir. >> what does he say? >> the conversations that we are having -- i think as you see our submission of the '16 budget, you'll see that, in fact, our budget is well above sequestration. and that's a budget that we have worked with the president. so i think you would see that he believes that the department of defense cannot operate under sequestration. >> has he suggested a solution to replace or repeal sequestration beyond the '16 budget? the answer is -- >> not to us, senator. >> okay. does he seem upset when you mention to him the consequences of what the congress has decided to do with his signature? >> i think the discussions that we've had with the president, he understands the challenges we have, he understands the security environment. he understands the pressures
that is being put on all of our services. and i think -- >> but has he submitted a plan to you and say i understand what you're telling me, this is unacceptable as commander in chief, here's how i intend to fix it. has he suggested such a plan to any of you? >> i'm not aware of one directly. >> we're the ones that created this mess. the president signed the bill, so, you know, it's not just fair for me to comment on the president. the congress is in the same boat. we don't have a plan, but senator mccain credit is challenging some of us on the committee to find a plan. mr. president, help us, we can't do this by ourselves. we're going to need the commander in chief to weigh in and inform the american people
that the sequestration cuts are unacceptable, not just on the defense side, are you familiar with the foreign operations account under the 150 account? foreign aid account? are you all familiar with what we do? the state department, other agencies? do you agree that's a vital program in terms of national defense all of its own? >> it is. >> have you looked at what happens under sequestration to our ability to be engaged in africa to deal with malaria, with aids and a variety of other health care issues? >> i have not, senator. >> have you, general? >> we have through our commands understanding the cuts and what that could mean to stability. >> well, you need to take a look because the military's been the strongest advocate for a robust foreign assistance account. if you think sequestrations are a problem for you, you ought to look at what it does to our
state department. having said all of that, do you all agree that once we get sequestration fixed and right, whatever that turns out to be, that we should reform our benefit pay and compensation packages to make the military more sustainable? >> yes, senator. because if we don't, regardless of sequestration, we would have to take significant cuts in our capacity. >> do all of you agree with what the admiral just said. >> i agree, sir. >> would you urge congress to look at this commission report seriously? on pay and benefit reform? >> senator, i would urge to look at it seriously. but not having to get into the details of the report itself, i'm not sure the merits of the report itself at this point. >> nor would i, but i would suggest we need to look at reforming pay and benefits, be generous but sustainable. as to the marine corps, what is your infrastructure account looking like general? >> senator, we're programmed for about 70% of the dod recommended amount against infrastructure. because over the last couple of years -- >> what does that mean to the marine corps?
>> we have an unprecedented $8 million program over the last few years, and what will happen over time is we won't be able to properly maintain it. that means there'll be mold in the barracks, the barracks will not be maintained at a rate where they're suitable. that means the ranges won't be properly sustained. those are some of the impacts. >> do the other services have similar concerns? >> absolutely. we've taken significant risk, sir. >> will that affect retention and family quality of life? >> it'll affect family programs, it'll affect quality of life, and it'll affect the ability to train the way we need to train. >> thank you all. >> thanks, mr. chairman. mr. chairman, i would apologize for being absent, but i know that my apology will be rejected. so -- i won't even endeavor. because there's no committee
hearing or meeting more important than this one going on today. >> you're forgiven. >> thank you. but on a more serious note, i would like to thank the chairman for his constant and relentless focus on this topic and for raising it, again, at the very outset of this session of the congress so that we can put a lot of these issues in context. many of my constituents who are digging out from a major weather event in the northeast might be forgiven for comparing sequestration to the weather. there's an old saying, everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it. and we have talked about sequestration a lot on this side of it, but the congress has yesterday to do anything meaningful about it.
and i thank the chairman for putting it very much on the front burner as we begin consideration of this budget. i take it, admiral, that in your testimony there's no mention of a brac because there's no planning for one and none is on the table at this point. >> well, the department has requested a brac. in my testimony, i didn't speak to it. i'm always open to it. it's a good process. but i'm satisfied with the navy's infrastructure as it exists today, base infrastructure. >> so -- >> there's no immediate need for a brac in your view? >> in the navy, i'm satisfied with my base lay down there in that regard. but again, the process makes the bases i have that much more efficient. it's not a bad process per se. >> you spoke very cogently in your testimony about the
fragility of the maritime industrial base, which i think is a major consideration that very often the public doesn't understand as a consequence of sequestration. and you note that the damage can be long lasting and hard to reverse. that's true of facilities and manufacturing plants, not only at places like electric boat, but also in the supply chain across the country and particularly in the immediate vicinity in connecticut, for example, where parts and components and supplies are necessary to in effect make the weapon systems and platforms that make our military as powerful as it is. is that correct? >> yes, sir, it is correct. in fact, i would worry less about company like electric -- a
larger company, but as you said, the key is they have to go do these subprimes, if you will, particularly nuclear and we are sole sourced in so much of our nuclear technology and our plants, that's a huge asymmetric advantage of ours. that goes at risk if these smaller businesses close, where do we go? do we go overseas? this is really a serious subject, sir. >> thank you. >> there's been some discussion of the mental health consequences of losing professionals as a result of the sequestration process, as you may know, senator mccain and i have spearheaded a bill to provide better mental health care to our veterans, the clay hunt bill, which i hope will be voted on literally in the next day or so, next few days, if not today. general odierno, can you speak to that. within the active military, also extremely deeply troubling, perhaps you could elaborate on
that point. >> thank you, senator. unfortunately, you know, we've had to decrease, actually, our behavior health capabilities over the last couple of years. not something we want to do. and this is during a time of concern where we believe we should be increasing our behavior health capabilities in order to support our soldiers. this is a long-term problem, and it's not one that goes away because we're out of iraq or out of afghanistan. it's one that be sustain itself for a period of time. and it's our requirement to do this. so it's one thing that's very important to us. and we're trying to be as efficient as we can. we're trying to get it down to the lowest levels possible. but i -- i worry about that. we're trying to improve it. but it is an issue that is of
great concern to us. and, frankly, when we had to furlough civilians, one of the specialties that walked away from us was our behavior health specialists. because such a need for them and many other walks of life that they decided because of the uncertainty that they would go work somewhere else. and that's very problematic for us. as a service. >> let me ask, generally, there's been a lot of talk about retention. which is extraordinarily important. what about recruitment? which is as important, you want the best to be attracted. has sequestration affected recruitment? >> we've been able to meet our goals for recruiting. but it's starting to get more difficult. and so we're a bit concerned as we look ahead to the next two or three years. we've had high standards, able to meet those standards. part of the problem as well as the population eligible is decreasing. because of the other problems we're having in the youth of our society.
so for us, it's becoming critical. and i think the uncertainty of military service and the constant discussion of reducing military budget is going to have an affect on reenlistment and recruitment. >> is that true of the other services, as well? >> we're meeting goal, but one of the measures is at what week of the month of the four weeks do you finally meet goal? and we're starting to get into the third week, which is very unusual for the last four years in the high-tech ratings. >> thank you. >> senator, i think for us, the big draw to the air force is word of mouth from those who have served. our testimony from those currently serving. increasingly, that testimony is through social media. and people see it on blog sites and other comments. sequestration lit up the blog
sites with this job sucks kind of comments. that has died off, but it will come back and it will come back stronger than it happened before. and those are the testimonials i'm worried about affecting recruiting. we haven't seen an impact yet. >> senator, there's an area. we're not complacent about the need to recruit high-quality people. we've not seen an impact. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> i want to thank you for your leadership on this issue that you just discussed with the witnesses and i'm afraid it's only the beginning, but i think it's a good beginning. senator? >> thank you, mr. chairman. as we struggle with sequestration and, yes, we all agree that we should eliminate it. but as we -- as i said, struggle with how to do that, though. generally, when confronted with a complex issue like this, you look at how you can achieve more efficiencies and you've talked about that. and there's a whole range of other things that should be on the table. and i think of senator king also
mentioned we should be looking at the mandatory spending side of things. which is a whole other ball of problems. shouldn't we also be looking at the revenue side of things in order to look at how best can we have more revenues so we can have less of these kinds of huge cuts all across the board. not just to the military, but on the domestic side. do you have any thoughts about that? any of you? >> senator, i'm not sure what you're referring to.
anyone else want to chime in? i think we need to have an honest discussion, a frank discussion. i noticed you mentioned the supplemental assistant. even as we speak the army can conducting listening sessions in hawaii. i think we can agree that the men and women have made tremendous contributions to our national security as to our men and women serving in all other areas. i'm also aware that the second striker combat team, the 26th infantry division is preparing to leave for joint military
exercises in thailand, south korea and the philippines. can you speak to the importance of this kind of mill to mill programs in maintaining stability in the asia-pacific region especially when the rest of the world particular in the middle east and africa are the very unstable at least we can provide level of stability in the yaz pacific area. i think that's worth pursueing. would you give us your opinion. >> it's increasing each year. it's to build confidence in our allies our strong allies that we have in developing capabilities that allows us to sustain strong partnerships with many militaries as was discussed here with us being produced
it's important that we are able so leverage our multi-national partner capability through these exercises. we're able to gain more capability working together, gaining confidence and getting used to working with each other. it's critical to our future strategy and having these forces are incredibly important because that gets us about halfway there. we have to go to the continental united states. it becomes much more difficult. having those forces in hawaii becomes very important for us because the ability to do this in quicker fashion. >> is sequestration going to impact our ability to engage in these mill to mill programs? >> it will. it will reduce the dollars we have available to do events like this. we certainly would rather now have reduce. we think they're very important. i believe it will not be able to do events like that. we'll have to reduce them and it
will cause us problems in developing a future security architecture throughout the pacific region. >> can you provide us with specifics of which of these kinds of programs you would have to reduce if 2016 sequester comes into play? >> the problem we have in the army is if sequestration goes in there's only two places to come out of modernization accounts and readiness accounts. it readiness accounts funds many of these exercises. we'll have to make decisions on which exercises we will not do. all of them will be affected. we'll have to reduce them to some level and reduce the readiness of our units conducting this. >> thank you. in some of your testimonies you
discuss the importance of sustained investment and tech technological -- with increase threat of cyber warfare. could you address the impacts to our cyber security capabilities should sequestration come into play. >> we've increased the spending in cyber. we have a lot of infrastructure things we have to do in order to protect our networks that better protect our nation. that's going be prolonged. last year we we hoping for $800 million. that puts more strain in the dollars. if sequestration comes into play it will take us longer to
consolidate our networks and make them more capable of producting them from outsider attacks. i'm very concerned. >> although my time is up i assume the rest of you agree it will make it difficult to your cyber security infrastructure in place or to even build it. >> it would be hard but a top priority. >> same comment. >> it's a core capability that's going to suffer from the same affects as all the other capabilities areas of sequestration sequestration. >> thank you. >> thank you, chairman. i want to thank all of you for your service and really for your decades of commitment.
see the level of experience at this table highlights something that is worth mentioning so that the public understands why the recruitment and retention issues are so important. you just, the military fundamentally different from other government agencies from private sector. you can't hire a colonel or general from the private sector or another agency. i think the incredible amount of experience that all of you represent really helps highlight that to our constituents. i've got a couple of questions that i want to ask general walsh in particular. i want to thank you for one, my first question speaking to this issue in the media recently. it's something i've been very concerned about recently. that is with respect to remotely
piloted aircraft pilots and the crews that make those missions possible. i've become very concerned about the current level of resources supporting the training the retraining the retention of those personnel and i know you share some of that concern. what i want to ask you is if we're as challenged as we appear to be because of the tempo pace in large part, if the budget control act goes into affect you give us the sense of the scale of what we'll be facing in terms of not meeting the demand with regard to remotely pilots aircraft in way that's really going to put us at an e morenormous
disadvantage. i want you to articulate the scale of challenge. >> we believe we would have to cut the number of orbits those pilots and other crew members fly. in strange way it would make the problem we're discussing better. we have flying ten above that. ten above the number we had. we surge nine times in eight years because of mission requirements. those crews understand. they are excited about the mission. they're tired. if we went to 45 camps we create a more sustainable battle mission as soon as that happens. the problem would be operation
requirements. the problem would be alleviated to a great extent. >> do you see that going down in the future? >> no, i don't. it inkriesing again. all the trainers are doing operations. >> right. on another separate issue if the bca levels go into affect do you see any feasible way to modernize the existing triad that we have?
>> it's going to have to be modernized. what do we expect of ours? >> i guess i should say in its entirety. i think that forces some difficult conversations. would it force those kinds of decisions. to decide where is it the nation will go with this. we just don't have enough money in our budgets in the air force and navy to do all the modernization that you would need to do if we took everybody's desire. >> thank you all.
that's a bipartisan effort. we have to do a better job on acquisition we form. we'll be spending a lot of time on that in this committee. i've come to one conclusion already and that's in the process it requires your input in a much more meaningful fashion. i think you would agree with that. if you're responsible you should play a much greater role in the process. that's one of the conclusions that i think we're in agreement on and that we will probably try to add to the ndaa. there's a lot more that needs to be done. i'll be counting on you to understand you'll be asked some tough questions in the days ahead. i thank you for being here.
the senate focusing on veteran's issues. they will focus on preventing suicide. senators are scheduled to hold a final passage vote a 5:30 p.m. eastern. also, consideration of the house passed homeland security bill which includes provisions to block president obama's order on immigration. expect a vote on advancing the legislation tuesday. you can watch the senate live on c-span2. the political landscape has changed with 114th congress. not only are there 43 new republicans and 15 new democrats house and 12 new republicans and one new democrat in the senate. there's also 108 women in congress including the first african-american in the house and the first veteran woman in
the senate. keep track using congressional chronicle on c-span.org. it has a lot of information there. new congress best access on c-span. c-span radio and c-span.org. president unvailed a new proposal friday. it's part of the president's 2016 budget request. this event from the white house is 20 minutes. ladies and gentlemen the president of the united states accompanied by ms. alana simon.
>> my name is alana simon. i'm 19 years odes and studying computer science at harvard. when i was 12 years old i was diagnosed with a rare liver cancer. thanks to incredible advances the help of scientists and the community, i was able to identify the change in the dna that leads to this cancer. rather than trying to learn about all the cancer, i just examined a small, well-defined patient group. with this knowledge we're working on the first diagnostic tests. last year at the white house science fair i met the president and got to discuss my research with him. it was such an honor to meet him
then. it's with great pleasure introduce the president to you today. [ applause ] >> well, thank you so much alana for that wonderful introduction. let me just be clear. when i was 19 i was not doing genetic testing. when mittet her at the white house science fair last year, she tried to explain her research to me and to help her explain her findings she made these giant pink chromosomes out of swim
noodles, which was helpful to me because i know what swim noodles are and i saw how they fit together. i could not have been more impressed with alana. she represents the incredible talent, energy and possibility of our young people. i'm so proud of her and grateful that she introduced me here today. she's doing great at harvard from what i understand. those of you interested in purchasing stock in her i'm sure she has an agent of some sort. you can talk to her. we've got some folks here who are going outstanding work to keep americans healthy. we have america's health and human services secretary.
you can give her a round of applause. [ applause ] our surgeon general. stand up. [ applause ] our new surgeon general. we haven't had one in a while. we're really happy to have him here. he looks sharp in his uniform. we have dr. harold burmis of the national cancer institute. [ applause ] we have the singing scientist dr. francis collins here. [ applause ] we have my science advisor dr. john holder who does not sing. [ applause ]
for anyone wondering is there a doctor in the house? we have you covered. we also have members of congress who are here. lamar alexander from the great state of tennessee is one of the key supporters of encouraging medical innovation. i'm so looking forward to working with him. [ applause ] give lamar applause. senator patty murray is preparing to work with him on the issue. she couldn't make it here today. on the house side we have congresswoman diana. [ applause ] last week in my state of the union address i focused on what we need to do to make sure middle class economics help more americans get ahead. we've got to help working families make ends meet. make them feel more secure in a
constantly changing dynamic global economy. we have to offer more opportunities for people to upgrades their skills. we got to build the world's most competitive economies. that last part is what i want to focus on today. we've invieded some of america's brightest minds in medicine and technology and some of our strongest advocates for privacy and perhaps most importantly we provided patience most at stake in these efforts. we're here to harness what is most special about america. that is our spirit of innovation our abilities to dream and take risks and try to
do things. as a result of that not only improve our economy but lives and women and children in general issues to come. together, what's so exciting is we have the possibility of leading an entirely new era of medicine that make sure new jobs and new industries and new life saving treatments for diseases are created right here in the united states. we shouldn't just celebrate innovation, we have to invest in innovation. we have to nurture innovation. we have to encourage it. make sure we're channelling it in ways that are most productive. that's especially true when it comes to medicine. after all when american researchers developed a vaccine for polio, a program created by
congress helped to distribute it. it helped american doctors discover the risk factors for heart disease. grants from the national science foundation supported the early experiments that led to the invention of mri. these kind of investments don't always pay off. by definition will sometimes lead us down blind alleys. it will also tell us what we don't know, which then helps us figure out new pathways. when pay off, then they create economic opportunities in ways that we could never imagine. so francis dr. collins here helped lead the human genome project and we've got a number of people who are deeply involved in that process. one study found that every dollar that we spend to map the human genome has already
returned $140 to our economy. there's a huge economic stake in us tapping in to this innovation. [ applause ] nothing wrong with clapping about that, yeah. but as anybody who has ever watched a loved one battle with an illness, particularly a life threatening illness, and i suspect that there's nobody here who hasn't been touched in some fashion by that experience. what everybody here understands is that the most important impact these investments can have can't be measured in dollars. if we have an opportunity to prevent hurt and heart break for more families. if we have the opportunity to help people live longer, happier, healthier lives if we had the chance to make sure that a young person like alanna who
stricken by a disease before their life has even really gotten going, if we have a chance to make sure that they are okay and cured, and then able to make incredible intrib contributions to our society, wen then we've got to seize that. then we've got to go after that. that's why we're here today because something called precision medicine, in some cases people call it personalized medicine gives us one of the greatest opportunities for medical break throughs that we have ever seen. doctors have always recognized that every patient is unique and doctors have always tried to tailor patients to individuals. you can match a blood transfusion to a blood type. what if this was just as easy
just as standard. what if figuring out the right dose of medicine was as simple as taking our temperature? that's the promise of precision medicine delivering the right treatments at the right time every time, to the right person. for a small but growing number of patients, that future is already here. eight out of ten people with one type of leukemia saw white blood cell counts return to normal with a new drug targeting a specific gene. genetic testing for hiv patients helps doctors determine who will be helped by a new anti-viral drug and who will experience harmful side affects. and advances in technology means these break-throughs could be just the beginning. the year dr. collins helped sequence the first human general ohm it cost about $100 million
and today it cost less than $2,000. where wearable electronics make it easier than ever to record blood sugar and heart rate and let doctors across the country collaborate more closely than ever before and more powerful computers help us analyze more data faster than ever before. so if we combine all of these emerging technologies, if we focus them and make sure that the connections are made then the possibility of discovering new cures, the possibility of applying medicines more efficiently and more affectively so that the success rates are higher, so that there's less waste in the system which then means more resources to help more people, the possibilities are boundless. so the time is right to unleash a new wave of advances in this
area in precision medicine just like we did with genetics 25 years ago. and the really good news, this is how you know that the moment is right is there's bipartisan support for the idea. [ applause ] -- here in washington. which makes me very happy. when i was a senator back in 2005, i worked with a republican senator richard burr on a bill supporting precision medicine. newly elected republican senator bill cassidy who also happens to be a gastro anterologist recently called precision medicine, an incredible area of promise. and that's why the budget i sent
this congress on monday will include a new precision medicine initiative that brings america closer to curing diseases like cancer and die abeeabeat, diabetes and gives us the access that all of us need to keep our families helpier. first we will work with the national cancer institute. we want to find the genetic factor that's can lead to cancer and we want to use that knowledge to develop new and more active approaches to help people beat this disease. second, we're going to work with the fda to develop new approaches for evaluating next generation genetic tests. the way we approve a new gene sequencing technology is going to be different than the way we approve a new pacemaker or prosthetic device. we need to make sure that our approach reflects the differences in technology.
third, we're going to work with the national institutes health to create a research group of one million volunteers just like analyzing our dna teaches us more about who we are than ever before analyzing data from one of the largest research populations ever assembled will teach us more about the connections between us than ever before. and this new information will help doctors discover the causes and one day the cures of some of the most deadly diseases that we face. so if we have a big data set a big pool of people that's varied, then that allows us to really map genome of one person but now we can start seeing connections and patterns and correlations that helps us refine exactly what it is what we're trying to do with
respect to treatment and finally we're going to make sure that protecting patient privacy is built into our efforts from day one. i'm proud we have so many patient rights advocates here today. they are going to be on the sideline, not going to be an afterthought. they will help us design this from the ground up making sure we harness new technologies and opportunities in a responsible way. so the precision medicine initiative we're launching today will lay the foundation for a new generation of life saving discoveries but in order for us to realize its potential i'm asking for hospitals and researchers and privacy experts to join us in this effort and i'm asking entrepreneurs and nonprofits to help us create tools that give patients the chance to get involved as well. because we want every american ultimately to be able to securely access and analyze their own health data so that they can make the best decisions for themselves and for their
families and ultimately, this has the possibility of not only helping us find new cures, but it also helps us create a general genuine health care system as opposed to just a disease care system. part of what we want to do is a allow each of us to have sufficient information about our particular quarks that we can make better life decisions. that's ultimately the most promising aspects of this. making sure we have a system that focuses on prevention and keeping healthy, not just on curing diseases after they happen. medical break-throughs take time and this area of precision medicine will be no different but the patients with us this morning are living proof that the dawn of a new era has
arrived. if we start today and seize this moment and the focus and the energy and the resources that it demands, there's no telling how many lives we could change and every single one of those lives matter. bill elder was one of michelle's guests at the state of the union last week. where's bill? here he is. stand up bill. [ applause ] bill is a good-looking young guy. about 20 years ago, bill was diagnosed with cystic fieb rose is fybrosis and his disease is caused by a particular mutation
in one gene. one night in 2012, bill tried the new medicine for the first time. just a few hours later he woke up knowing something was different. finally he realized what it was. he had never been able to breathe out of his nose before. think about that. bill is now 27. when he was born 27 was the median age of survival for a cystic fybrosis patient. today bill is in his third year of medical school. for the first time in my life bill said -- [ applause ] >> for the first time in his life, he says i truly believe i will live long enough to be a grandfather. one day, bill will be able to tell his grandchildren about ho