Provided by Congressman Rob Wittman’s Office
Rep. Robert Wittman (R-VA), Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness, made the following remarks, as prepared for delivery, on the Subcommittee’s markup of the Readiness portion of H.R. 4909, The Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act:
“Ladies and Gentlemen, I’d like to welcome you to the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness mark-up for H.R. 4909, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017.
I’d like to begin by thanking the Ranking Member, Ms. Bordallo, for her tireless effort and participation in this process, and I’d like to extend that gratitude to all of the Members here today.
Also, our staffs have worked diligently to make this mark happen. Thank you to all of them as well.
As you know, testimony before this subcommittee has confirmed that our military men and women face significant dangers as they continue to operate under the constraints that sequestration and diminished readiness levels have imposed. Here today, we have the responsibility of eliminating those dangers: our job is to reduce risk for our war fighters by making sure that they are well-trained and supported and that the equipment they use is properly maintained and combat-ready. I believe that this mark accomplishes that.
The product of bipartisan negotiations, the mark before you incorporates legislative provisions and direct report language that, I believe, make significant headway in resolving our most critical readiness concerns. Specifically, this mark prohibits the Department from implementing another round of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) in the absence of an accurate end-strength assessment, provides for increased military construction, and streamlines the DoD’s civilian hiring processes so that critical manpower capability gaps can be filled. Further, it directs several assessments of the military departments’ plan to rebuild readiness, enhance exercises, and modernize training requirements.
This mark makes careful investments to improve readiness and reduce risk, and I’m pleased that it addresses many of the factors that most directly impact our military readiness levels.
I’d like to note, however, that these measures will not and cannot entirely resolve our readiness challenges. Because of successive rounds of budget cuts and sequestration, these are issues that will need to remain in our focus for months and even years ahead.
We have heard testimony from each of our service branches about the critical necessity to address our military’s readiness shortfalls. The work done in this subcommittee has resulted in a mark that will bring us closer to achieving full-spectrum readiness levels. That is an absolute must if we are to combat and deter threats to our national security from around the world.
It is with that in mind that we proceed today. Again, I’d like to salute my colleagues on the subcommittee as, together, we take the necessary steps to train and equip our military men and women so that they can confidently and safely perform their missions and protect the homeland.”
Congressman Rob Wittman represents the 1st District of Virginia. He serves on the House Natural Resources Committee and the House Armed Services Committee, where he is Chairman of the Readiness Subcommittee.