SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
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[H.A.S.C. No. 1072]
NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT
FOR FISCAL YEAR 2002H.R. 2586
OVERSIGHT OF PREVIOUSLY AUTHORIZED PROGRAMS
COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED SEVENTH CONGRESS
FULL COMMITTEE HEARINGS
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AUTHORIZATION AND OVERSIGHT
JULY 11, 2001
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HOUSE COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES
One Hundred Seventh Congress
BOB STUMP, Arizona, Chairman
FLOYD D. SPENCE, South Carolina
DUNCAN HUNTER, California
JAMES V. HANSEN, Utah
CURT WELDON, Pennsylvania
JOEL HEFLEY, Colorado
JIM SAXTON, New Jersey
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCJOHN M. McHUGH, New York
TERRY EVERETT, Alabama
ROSCOE G. BARTLETT, Maryland
HOWARD P. ''BUCK'' McKEON, California
J.C. WATTS, Jr., Oklahoma
MAC THORNBERRY, Texas
JOHN N. HOSTETTLER, Indiana
SAXBY CHAMBLISS, Georgia
VAN HILLEARY, Tennessee
JOE SCARBOROUGH, Florida
WALTER B. JONES, North Carolina
LINDSEY GRAHAM, South Carolina
JIM RYUN, Kansas
BOB RILEY, Alabama
JIM GIBBONS, Nevada
ROBIN HAYES, North Carolina
DON SHERWOOD, Pennsylvania
HEATHER WILSON, New Mexico
KEN CALVERT, California
ROB SIMMONS, Connecticut
ANDER CRENSHAW, Florida
MARK STEVEN KIRK, Illinois
JO ANN DAVIS, Virginia
ED SCHROCK, Virginia
W. TODD AKIN, Missouri
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IKE SKELTON, Missouri
NORMAN SISISKY, Virginia
JOHN SPRATT, South Carolina
SOLOMON P. ORTIZ, Texas
LANE EVANS, Illinois
GENE TAYLOR, Mississippi
NEIL ABERCROMBIE, Hawaii
MARTY MEEHAN, Massachusetts
ROBERT A. UNDERWOOD, Guam
ROD R. BLAGOJEVICH, Illinois
SILVESTRE REYES, Texas
THOMAS H. ALLEN, Maine
VIC SNYDER, Arkansas
JIM TURNER, Texas
ADAM SMITH, Washington
LORETTA SANCHEZ, California
JAMES H. MALONEY, Connecticut
MIKE McINTYRE, North Carolina
CIRO D. RODRIGUEZ, Texas
CYNTHIA A. McKINNEY, Georgia
ELLEN O. TAUSCHER, California
ROBERT A. BRADY, Pennsylvania
ROBERT E. ANDREWS, New Jersey
BARON P. HILL, Indiana
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCMIKE THOMPSON, California
JOHN B. LARSON, Connecticut
SUSAN A. DAVIS, California
JAMES R. LANGEVIN, Rhode Island
Robert S. Rangel, Staff Director
David Trachtenberg, Professional Staff Member
Jarrod Tisdell, Research Assistant
C O N T E N T S
Wednesday, July 11, 2001, Fiscal Year 2002, National Defense Authorization ActSecretary of the Air Force; Chief of Staff, Department of the Air Force
Wednesday, July 11, 2001
WEDNESDAY, JULY 11, 2001
FISCAL YEAR 2002, NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACTSECRETARY OF THE AIR FORCE; CHIEF OF STAFF, DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE
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STATEMENTS PRESENTED BY MEMBERS OF CONGRESS
Skelton, Hon. Ike, a Representative from Missouri, Ranking Member, Committee on Armed Services
Stump, Hon. Bob, a Representative from Arizona, Chairman, Committee on Armed Services
Roche, Hon. James G., Secretary of the Air Force
Ryan, Gen. Michael E., Chief of Staff, Department of the Air Force
Forbes, Hon. Randy J.
Roche, Hon. James G.
Ryan, Gen. Michael E.
Skelton, Hon. Ike
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Stump, Hon. Bob
DOCUMENTS SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD:
[There were no Documents submitted for the Record.]
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD:
[The Questions and Answers can be viewed in the hard copy.]
FISCAL YEAR 2002, NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACTSECRETARY OF THE AIR FORCE; CHIEF OF STAFF, DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE
House of Representatives,
Committee on Armed Services,
Washington, DC, Wednesday, July 11, 2001.
The committee met, pursuant to call, at 10:03 a.m., in room 2118, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Bob Stump (chairman of the committee) presiding.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. BOB STUMP, A REPRESENTATIVE FROM ARIZONA, CHAIRMAN, COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES
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The CHAIRMAN. The meeting will come to order. Today the committee begins its review of the fiscal year 2002 budget requests of the military services starting with the Air Force. The committee will hear from the Navy and the Marine Corps tomorrow, and the Army will follow next Wednesday. I am pleased to welcome Secretary of the Air Force James Roche and Chief of Staff General Mike Ryan to testify on the Air Force's budget request for fiscal year 2002. This hearing marks the Secretary's first appearance before this committee, and we congratulate you, Mr. Secretary, and look forward to working with you. Two weeks ago, Secretary Rumsfeld testified that that budget request represents a stop-gap measure pending the completion of the Department of Defense's comprehensive strategy review. I continue to believe that this is a sound approach as resources must flow from strategy and not the other way around. Nevertheless, the conduct of the ongoing strategy review and the delay in submitting a fiscal year 2002 budget amendment has significantly complicated our oversight process.
Consequently, Mr. Secretary it is critical that the Air Force provide this committee with the additional budget details and materials necessary to complete our work on time. The Air Force budget before us represents real improvement in the area of quality of life and near term readiness. The $9.4 billion increase above the fiscal year 2001 requests funds for pay raises enhanced housing opportunities for military families, recruiting and retention initiatives and aircraft maintenance and spares.
Most of all, most all decisions on major modernization and transformation programs are deferred. In the meantime, our equipment continues to age and the cost of maintaining our shrinking fleet of aircraft grows every year. Pilot shortages continue and the readiness rate is still down due to prior year underfunding. These problems will take years to solve, and I believe this budget moves the Air Force in the right direction. The challenge will be to continue this increased level of this development in the years ahead.
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[The prepared statement of Mr. Stump can be found in the Appendix.]
The CHAIRMAN. We now recognize Mr. Skelton, the ranking member. You may proceed.
STATEMENT OF HON. IKE SKELTON, A REPRESENTATIVE FROM MISSOURI, RANKING MEMBER, COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES
Mr. SKELTON. Mr. Chairman, thank you very much. And let me welcome Secretary Roche in your maiden voyage here before our committee. We look forward to your testimony today and in the future. General Ryan, thank you for being with us today. This could well be your last appearance before our committee, though you don't return to the public until October. I want to thank you for the wonderful advice and testimony you have given us through the years.
And General Ryan, I think you're a real role model for all of the uniforms. So thank you for your service. We look forward to hearing from both of you today. Over the last 10 years, from Desert Storm to the Iraqi no fly zones and Kosovo, the Air Force has repeatedly demonstrated the critical importance of dominant air power. I believe we must maintain the strength of the Air Force and of the men and women who serve it if our country is to maintain its military power in this sense. To propose therefore this fiscal year 2002 budget of $80.5 billion, it takes a number of positive steps. Realistically, the budgets through personnel, flying hours, aircraft, we anticipated spurs bringing estimated costs in line with market realities we invest substantially in those Americans who choose to serve their country in the Air Force, both with across-the-board pay increases and training programs to retain critical skills in the mid-level ranks.
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In terms of crucial air lift capabilities, attempts to modernize C5, C17 and C130s invest in future aircraft by funding 13 of the F22s that we've heard so much about and more than doubling the investments of joint strategy. And all of these are positive steps. I applaud them. I have some significant concerns, and let me go over those if I may, Mr. Chairman. First, retention problem in key specialties still remains a challenge. The Air Force is now 1,200 pilots short of full manning levels, and this is a significant retention and training problem. The same Air Force now spends over a billion dollars in recruitment, retention, more than three times the amount it spent in the mid 1990s.
Second, the Air Force is operating the oldest fleet in history. This factor has an impact on the cost of flying hours. These aging aircraft break more often and cost more to repair. The aircraft mission capable rates have flattened out below 75 percent while total costs of maintaining these air crafts has risen to record levels.
Third, there is a combined $2 billion shortfall in general purpose and munitions. We cannot allow our war reserve to be so depleted.
Fourth, in fiscal year 2002 budget, offers only a modest increase in modernization programs and increasing science and technology funding.
Finally, I would like to thank you, General Ryan, for providing a list of still left unfunded requirements for fiscal year 2002 budget amendment, and I hope in your testimony today, you will address, in more detail, that issue. So thank you both for being with us today.
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And Mr. Chairman, thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Skelton can be found in the Appendix.]
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you.
Mr. Secretary and General Ryan, please keep your comments within the time limit. Your full written statements will be included in the record. The floor is yours, Mr. Secretary, any way you want to proceed
STATEMENTS OF HON. JAMES G. ROCHE, SECRETARY OF THE AIR FORCE
Secretary ROCHE. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of this committee, I am honored to appear before you today for the first time as the Secretary of the Air Force. I want to thank you for this opportunity to discuss the fiscal year 2002 Air Force budget. I look forward to the months and years in which we will work closely together to keep the U.S. Air Force strong and the world's leader in aerospace. Mr. Chairman, I have been blessed by coming on board the Air Force in the tenure of General Michael Ryan.
I have pointed out to David, the members of this house and the other, that Mike Ryan is not only a superb military leader, he has been a man for all seasons, and I will truly miss him. He has been a tremendous officer with whom to work, and I have the highest respect and regard for him. And Mr. Chairman, I commend him to you. With your permission, Mr. Chairman, I will make just a short opening statement, as will General Ryan, and we will request that our written statement, the Air Force 2001 posture statement be included in the record. Mr. Chairman during our testimony yesterday before the Senate Armed Services Committee, General Ryan and I emphasized to the committee members the same success stories, the concerns, hopes and plans we will discuss with you today.
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We start with the observation that America's aerospace mission, during the last 100 years, our country has harnessed and developed aerospace power to accomplish many impressive feats, including revolutionizing the nature of warfare issues, changing the face of rapid aerospace dominance and the conduct of global trade and engagement mankind has opened doors to a new universe covering space. For those accomplishments, Mr. Chairman, form the legacy of the 20th century in the 100 years to come. Aerospace power, properly guided and nourished, will further transform the interaction among nations to the benefit of our own citizens.
With its attributes, the speed, range, stealth and precision, our Nation's outstanding Air Force will continue its current global reconnaissance and strike superiority and great deterrent power that those capabilities bring with them. At the same time, this new century presents some enduring as well as new challenges, aggressive nations, proliferation of weapons of massive destruction, the rapid evolution of warfare technology and the heightened threat of terrorism.
However, Mr. Chairman, I believe that also presents us with some unique opportunities, provided we act with the foresight and vision that characterizes our citizens, soldiers, sailors and airmen throughout the President's modernization of the 21st century force. But it places a special and very welcome emphasis on people and readiness, areas of immediate concerns to our forces.
The current quadrennial defense review process and the analysis of the Secretary of Defense, as conducted by the Department of Defense, will address our strategy and management of our years for the longer term. As these intellectual efforts reach their conclusions, we will be the best prepared to consider and orchestrate the role of military aerospace power in the joint and combined operation of the future. The Air Force will then build upon our current force structure incorporating new systems and technologies that will be affected in maintaining peace and preserving freedom for other countries. We will also work to incorporate better business practices and look for ways to become even more efficient.
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I am excited about the opportunity to work together with my colleagues, the other service secretaries, to eliminate redundancy and develop a more efficient process. I believe that together, with the entire mission in mind, and with logical steps that make good sense, we will be able to find and work to eliminate the excess capacity and inefficient conditions.
Another area we in the Air Force will continue to emphasize is the mission to deepen and enrich the bonds of trust with the men and women who serve in the Air Force, and this includes our active duty Guardsmen and Reservists and civilians.
Mr. Chairman, General Ryan and I are pleased to submit to you the Air Forces 2001 posture statement. I thank you and the members of this committee for your tremendous support of the Navy and Air Force. I look forward to your questions, advice and the dialog we will conduct together in the months and years to come. Thank you very much sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
STATEMENT OF GEN. MICHAEL E. RYAN, CHIEF OF STAFF, DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE
General RYAN. Chairman Stump, Congressman Skelton, distinguished members of the committee, before we get started, I would like to thank Secretary Roche for his commitment to serve our Nation and help guide our Air Force. He is a class act, too. And I look forward to working with him throughout my tenure. I also want to thank the members of this committee for all you've done for the men and women in uniform over the four years I have had the privilege of being the Chief of Staff of the Air Force. During that time we've seen a drop in readiness that has concerned us all.
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With your help, we have been able to arrest that decline, but much more needs to be done to regain our edge across the force and turn readiness around. Consequently, this budget submission for the Air Force has a great emphasis on people and readiness. We still need your help to attract the highest quality individuals to serve in the military. I am happy to say this year we are making our recruiting goals both in terms of quality and numbers.
Our major challenge is to retain our best and brightest to stay with us for a career. Your help over the past years on pay, retirement, health care and housing has been much appreciated. Quality of life issues are terribly important to attract and retain great people, but so also is quality of service. And quality of service addresses the need to insure we give our airmen the proper tools to do the tough jobs we ask of them in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, and the no-fly zones where combat occurs on a daily basis. And the same is true in the Balkans and in Korea.
Quality of service is not just about equipment with which they deal, but the ranges and hangers and buildings and shops in which we ask them to do their work. We all know quality begets quality, and as you know, we have underfunded our modernization needs, our capital equipment and our infrastructure for too long. The average ages of our aircraft is 22 years, and grows older year by year. We must turn around this aging of both our infrastructure and our aircraft. In summary, I look forward to working with Secretary Roche and all of you as we complete this quadrennial defense review in the Pentagon and address the budget issues before us. I know together we can make a great difference as we continue to rebuild our military to meet the challenges of the 21st century. We look forward to answering your questions. Thank you.
Page 15 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The CHAIRMAN. Thank you gentlemen.
[The joint prepared statement of Secretary Roche and General Ryan can be found in the Appendix.]
The CHAIRMAN. Let me ask you one quick question. You stated there was a critical shortage of pilots. Are you able to systematically address that shortage?
General RYAN. Sir, we are holding steady at about 1200 pilots short. As you know, we ramped up our pilot training for the active duty force 1,100, and almost 1,600 pilots a year. That's all we can absorb in our force right now. With your help, we have been able to provide our pilots with bonuses which are actually helping to stem the tide out. But we have not turned this back around. We are kind of leveled off at 1,200 short. And it will take us some years to go back to the full number of pilots we need in the force.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you sir. Gentleman from Missouri, Mr. Skelton.
Mr. SKELTON. I'll reserve my questions at this time.
The CHAIRMAN. The gentleman from South Carolina, Mr. Spence.
Mr. SPENCE. I'll reserve my questions, too, Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. The gentleman from Texas, Mr. Ortiz.
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Mr. ORTIZ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I want to welcome our witnesses this morning . One of the questions that I hope maybe you can answer is what is the impact on and cost to the Air Force of the Navy's non participation in this program for fiscal year 2002? Is this going to impactI know that that the Navy decided not to participate, but, I think that under the arrangement, it was that the Navy had to pay anyway. So how, if they do not participate, how is this going to impact on the Air Force?
Secretary ROCHE. Sir, we should be talking to the Navy about this because of their lack of participation increases the unit cost to us. We will have to try to work something out with them. They have, as you know, have pushed back their purchases to later in the decade, which means the initial planes we have to bear all the cost for. That may cause us to have to pay more per plane, it may cause us to have to buy less per year to smooth it out. It is something that still needs to be worked out between the Navy and ourselves. We were not happy that our brothers did that.
Mr. ORTIZ. General Ryan, I guess the feeling is the same; right?
General RYAN. It will drive up the cost of the aircraft per unit. The exact amount we are not sure of yet. But it is substantial. How we pay for that is a question that is on the table, so we are working that in the building.
Mr. ORTIZ. Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The CHAIRMAN. The gentleman from New Jersey, Mr. Saxton.
Mr. SAXTON. Thank you very much Mr. Chairman and General Ryan, it is a pleasure to see you again. Secretary Roche, welcome. We look forward to working with you. General Ryan, when I came here in 1985, one of your compadres, General Don Laya, who was commander of the 21st Air Force at the time, invited me to come out to McGuire Air Force base and showed me a rendering of a C17 on the wall and he said if you don't do anything else while you are in Congress, you have got to help us get that airplane built. And we have been working at it ever since.
Along in the 1980s or early 1990s, Secretary Cheney suggested that we reduce the buy from 220 to 120. And we are well on our road to fulfilling, and of course, that commitment to buy those airplanes. More recently, the mobility requirement study zero five was completed and suggested that a mix of C5s and C17s numbering somewhere between 36 and 56 C17s, and modernization of some number of C5 Bs, B models, would be the most likely concept to move forward. And I am wondering if you can bring us up to date this morning on where we are with regard to that program and where we are going with the future multi year.
General RYAN. Yes, sir. First of all, we have increased the number of aircraft from 120 to 137 and those aircraft are funded in our budget today. However, they do not have beyond 120, a multi year contract. And there, we are not getting the premium price for them. I think there is consensus across Department of Defense (DOD), given the mobility of requirement study, and the demands, that we will need more C17s and indeed more strategic lift for our forces for the future.
Page 18 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Rapid mobility is a centerpiece for our future strategy, so I see us buying more C17s out into the future. How we buy them and in what quantity, we are still working our way through as we go through their quadrennial defense review. But there is no question there is a demand for strategic lift for the future.
With regard to the C5s, what we have planned to do with the C5 B is to modify four of them to see if we can get their mission capability and departure reliability up to a certain point. And if we can, at that point we will make a decision of how many of the C5 Bs we will modify for enhanced capability. That is about where we stand now, sir.
Mr. SAXTON. If I could just follow up, with regard to the C17 buy, are weis it likely that we will see a multi year buy in order to enable us to take advantage of theI have forgotten what the numbers were, but the contractor recently, I think, made an offer to do a certain number at a certain price.
General RYAN. Right.
Mr. SAXTON. Is that a likely scenario that we are going to see play out?
General RYAN. I think that we will want to go that multi year buy provided that we buy more C17s. It makes imminent sense not just for us from a price standpoint, but from a predictability standpoint for the manufacturer.
Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SAXTON. General Ryan, I saw you quotedlet me change the subject. I saw you quoted in a press article this morning relative to future base realignment and closure prospects and needs. Would you like to expand on what we saw here which where you basically said we have excess in the capacity.
General RYAN. In fact, the United States Air Force has more basing capacity than it has force structure, and our force structure is not aligned in an efficient manager, given the new world order. And so we look forward to and need a base realignment and closure (BRAC). BRAC will save us money, not in the years of executing the BRAC, but five years from the point we do it we will start getting returns as we have today on the BRACs that we have done in the past. In fact, the United States Air Force has cost avoided about $6.6 billion date on the BRACs that we did in the past.
Mr. SAXTON. Would you say that the Air Force, over capacity, is in line with the rest of the services which we understand is estimated to be, by the Secretary, something in the neighborhood of 25 percent?
General RYAN. I would only speak for the United States Air Force, because I don't have insight into the other services needs. But we areour capacity is, I would say, well over 10 percent overbased.
Mr. SAXTON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. The gentleman from Mississippi, Mr. Taylor.
Page 20 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. TAYLOR. Thank you, Mr. Secretary and General Ryan, for appearing. Mr. Secretary, yesterday it waswell, let me back up a little bit. It felt like one of the best accomplishments of this committee and this Congress last year was in restoring the promise of lifetime health care to our military retirees. The House language passed. Something called Medicare subvention was reimbursed for base hospitals for Medicare eligible retirees, thereby helping the DOD budget for taking those folks and we have a community served.
Extended language would have added TRICARE as a second payer to Medicare so that there was no out-of-pocket expense for retirees who go to live near a base, or weren't going to a base doctor. It is my understanding that the first portion of that language, the Medicare subvention language is in jeopardy because of a failure of the Department of Defense and the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) to reach an agreement on reimbursement rates. I have got to tell you that it is completely contrary what this Congress asked you all to do, and in particular, I think we are headed for a disaster on an individual basis when the first retiree is turned away from any base in America because the base says there isn't the money to take care of them.
And collectively, when those groups, once again, start writing letters to the editor, encouraging the young people not to join because they felt like they have been betrayed on the promise of lifetime health care. Now, we have got less thana little over 60 days to solve this problem before the October 1st implementation date that was promised. I happen to be one of the lucky six Congressmen whose bases are covered, Keesler Air Force Base, and DOD has made a commitment to take care of the out-of-pocket expense there.
But I didn't do it just for Keesler. We did it for every retiree who lives near every base in America. And I want to encourage you in the strongest of language. I have already asked General Ryan to supply this committee with the language necessary to make this proposition work. And quite frankly, I could give a flip what HCFA thinks of this. They have a job. Every one of you retirees pay Medicare taxes just like every other American. And they are entitled to take their Medicare to the doctor of their choice, and if the doctor of their choice happens to be a base hospital, then doggone it, let them go there.
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And I want HCFA to reimburse the people. So I have asked General Ryan for a statement along those lines today. And I have also asked for that language to solve this problem and make it mandatory between now and when we do the defense authorization bill in just a couple of weeks. And I would like to hear your thoughts on this, and hopefully you will be in agreement with what I had to say.
Secretary ROCHE. Mr. Taylor, first of all, I am a retired military officer, so I am one of the people that you are covering. Second, David Chew, the Under Secretary for Readiness and Personnel, has been very much involved with this. I not familiar with all the details, but as I have talked to David, there have been some debates. I would be privileged to take your point back to him today and call him and make the point to him that he ought to get on the phone and talk to you, make sure he understands your position on this. As you expressed it, philosophically, I think we do owe the people to serve absolutely. It is a matter of trying to get the funding right so that those folks who paid into Medicaid and Medicare, paid their health insurance, paid their Social Security; that those funds come from the appropriate places and not just all come out of funds that could be used for airplanes.
So there is a funding issue area there. But there is certainly no hint that I have that there is a desire to deny anyone. It is more how to pay for it and I would be glad to go back and talk to David today, sir.
Mr. TAYLOR. But again, if we don't change it before October 1st, they are going to be denying people and we can't let this happen.
Page 22 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Secretary ROCHE. I will make that happen, Mr. Taylor.
Mr. TAYLOR. General Ryan.
General RYAN. Mr. Taylor I want to thank you for all the years you have dogged this issue. It is one, a promise to our retirees that we must keep. I think that the methodology for payment ought to be equitable and that is, those who paid into Medicare ought to be able to use their money in our military hospitals with full reimbursement. So I support your efforts to try and make this a reality in this budget.
Mr. TAYLOR. Yes, sir. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. The gentleman from California, Mr. Hunter.
Mr. HUNTER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Secretary and General Ryan, thank you for being with us today. And General, could you explain, I have got a couple of questions for you. One is could you explain how the cannibalization rate is arrived at. I have got the statement here that the cannibalization is 7.8 per 100 sorties. What does that mean?
General RYAN. Cannibalization rate is counted on how many actual removals from an aircraft to another aircraft to get the aircraft to fly.
Mr. HUNTER. So it could be a big system or a little system. But you have to remove it?
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC General RYAN. It has something removed from one aircraft and put into another and documented, and our cannibalization rate in the United States Air Force has grown in the past 5 to 6 years, up in the 12, across the fleet, some aircraft are much, much higher than that.
Mr. HUNTER. B2. Do you have, in your understanding, do you have some funding for B2 upgrades? Do you have some list on your unfunded requirements list, some B2 upgrades requirements that aren't in the budget? Could you briefly comment on those and their import?
General RYAN. Right. In the budget we have for B2, ultra high frequency satellite communications (UHF SATCOM) upgrade, about $11 million. And that replaces the old radios. That gives us a way to get information to the aircraft when it is over vast expanses of the ocean or on a mission, a long mission. Additionally, we have about $50 million in for studying, developing extremely high frequency (EHF) capability, another communication capability to the aircraft that would give us higher data rates than just the SATCOM. Those are the two major pieces that we have in the budget this year for the B2.
Mr. HUNTER. What are your unfunded requirements that you don't have?
General RYAN. We have a list which I have submitted to theto the committee which has in it other things we like to do to B2 to follow through on mission planning capability, our capability to put small diameter bombs on the aircraft.
Page 24 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HUNTER. You think that is a priority, the small diameter bombs?
General RYAN. Absolutely. We have, with the help of this committee, been able to fund putting a 500 pound joint direct attack munition (JDAM) on the aircraft to allow us to carry up to 80,500 pound global positioning system (GPS) guided munitions.
Mr. HUNTER. But that would be at 250, wouldn't it?
General RYAN. In would be a 250 class weapon where we could carry substantially more than 80.
Mr. HUNTER. Okay. And just very briefly. What are your other precision guided munitions shortfalls that you would like to fill in the next several years?
General RYAN. Right. We have about $350 million worth of mostly precision guided munitions needs to fill up our war readiness spares capability. And those go from cruise missile capabilities like Hackerman and extended range cruise missiles through our JSAM, Joint Service Attack Munitions. It is mostly in the precision area that we are making our investments.
Mr. HUNTER. Okay. Just last, a number of officers in talking to members of the committee as we have gone around to different bases, have talked about the high personnel tempo (PERSTEMPO), the high operating tempo (OPTEMPO). You mentioned that I think in your statement with the smaller force and the fact that that is, to some degree, is related to the separations, the high separation rates we have seen in the last couple of years. Where are we with respect to the 800 pilots short, and then at one point 1,200 pilots short? What is the trend?
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General RYAN. Right. We are 1,200 pilots short now. With the help of the committee and Congress, we were able to use bonuses, focused at our Air Force members and their families to be able to retain more pilots than we thought we were going to be able to. But it looks as if we are holding on a trend of 1,200 short for the next few years. It is hard to predict because this is so tied to the economy. And airline hiring. Our retention rates are pretty level right now on pilots. And I don't see anything that is going to kick them up substantially. We are at full production on pilots. As many as we can absorb in the Air Force right now.
Mr. HUNTER. Okay. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
General RYAN. Just one other clarification if I could. Our operations tempo in the Air Force across the board is pretty good. We do not have a high OPTEMPO problem right now, except in some of our, what we call low density and high demand systems, Airborne Warning Control System (AWACs), mostly, intelligence surveillance, reconnaissance kinds of capabilities. So we are okay, in an okay position with respect to OPTEMPO, except with respect to those kind of platforms.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you. The gentleman from Arkansas.
Mr. SNYDER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good morning, gentlemen. General Ryan, would you repeat the number with regard to base closings that you think that the Air Force has saved. Did you say $6.6 billion?
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General RYAN. $6.6 billion from the very beginning until now.
Mr. SNYDER. And that is Air Force number?
General RYAN. That is correct.
Mr. SNYDER. Air Force number. $6.6 billion. I am sure you have seen the same, the discussions, some folks are skeptical that there has been real savings. You seem very emphatic that that has been real.
General RYAN. Absolutely. Those are cost avoidance. Not savings, cost avoidance. We have used the money someplace else.
Mr. SNYDER. I understand. On you-all's joint statement here, I think it was what Mr. Saxton was referring to. You state we are prepared to spend resources on unneeded facilities while struggling to maintain acceptable operations readiness levels. We must be able to close unneeded facilities, and then base operations support family housing and military destruction.
I was struck at one of the hearings that Mr. Saxton had on our military installation subcommittee a couple of weeks ago where we had the highest ranking enlisted members from each branch of service. And a couple of them talked about the problems that the aging infrastructure caused in terms ofbut they talked about how they would have to pull folks off the normal jobs in order to go plug leaks and do stuff and work with old equipment that it struck me for the first time, this is also a personnel-related issue. Do you have any comment about that, General Ryan?
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General RYAN. Absolutely. We have for the past four to six years intentionally underfunded our capability to repair what we have and replace what we have in infrastructure in order to be able to put the money against people and readiness, because if we lose our readiness, we lose our people. And if we lose our people, we have lost it all. So we have intentionally underfunded it. But, yet, that has a major impact too; and that is that if we don't give quality places for people to work, then their work isn't quality. And so we often, right now, have to use our personnel to shore up our infrastructure, where they should be doing the work that is positive instead ofought to be preventative instead of trying to recover from breakage.
We in this budget made some improvement on the replacement rate of our infrastructure. The last few years we have been running at 200 to 250 year replacement rate, which isno good business would ever do that. This year we are able to get it under 200, down to the 190 year category. But that still is way off the standard of 50 to 60 years that is in the commercial area.
Mr. SNYDER. That supports the issue of, I think, that probably the Air Force has been most enthusiastic over the last several years about needing another round of base closure.
Several years ago, I don't know, a couple of years ago when the Joint Chiefs were here, I went down the lineyou were one of themand asked the question: Does everyone think their service needs a round of base closures? And the answer to that was about the same as I saw in today's press report. The Marine Corps thought they were about right. The Navy had somenot so enthusiastic, but recognizes that. The Army and Air Force probably need another round.
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But then the next question was: Well, could we do an Air Force-specific round of base closures if this would eliminate the anxiety for a lot of our Members of Congress? And everyone in the Joint Chiefs said no, that would not be the way to go. Is that still your position?
General RYAN. Absolutely, because it is not only a base closure but it is also a realignment, and the realignment piece of this allows us to put things in the right place where we get efficiency by size. So I would say that you need to do that, because there are a lot of things that occur between the services where we can do it cheaper if one service does it for all of us. And we do that a lot these days.
Mr. SNYDER. The last question I wanted to ask to both of you is how importantin the last several weeks, I think Secretary Rumsfeld and you all have been very straightforward about the need for another round of base closing. How important is it to you all that that occur in this year's defense bill?
Secretary ROCHE. I don't know if it is a matter of timing as much, sir, as it is to just get on with the issue of being able to retire airplanes that we no longer need. We can't do that now because we apparently create what is called ''BRAC bait.'' We put a base in jeopardy for retirement if we are spending money on planes that are old and ought not to be maintained and ought to be retired. That drives us, I think, more than anything else.
Plus the era where you had to disperse everything because you were concerned as part of the triad, let us say, your bombers would be attacked by submarine missiles from the ocean is gone; there is no need to spend more to duplicate and spread out the limited number of technology specialists, as we are trying to hold onto these senior enlisted folks, but to be able to do things efficiently will make it a heck of a lot better for our people. And we are trying to do things like that which would then allow us to put the money into the fighter force.
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Mr. SNYDER. The sooner the better, I assume is what you are saying.
Secretary ROCHE. Yes, sir.
Mr. SNYDER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. The gentleman from Alabama.
Mr. EVERETT. Thank you, Mr. Secretary and General Ryan, for being here today. Thank you for your comments about the cruise missiles. Down in Pike County, Alabama, we like to see these roll out.
Mr. Secretary, you say that you could save in 2002 approximately $130 million by retiring these aircraft and that, with no long mission.
Secretary ROCHE. The B1, sir?
Mr. EVERETT. Yes, the B1. I am sorry.
Secretary ROCHE. Yes. The 165 is just a beginning number. If we were to do it all at once, we would want to use the period of '02 to do it in, so that nothing draconian is done to these people; and also the military construction of these bases which is associated with the B1, which in fact helps the whole base.
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The larger issue is that we have a fleet of 93 B1s who are desperately in need of help. These aircraft were designed in the nuclear era. They drop gravity bombs. They have six times the cannibalization rate of our average in the Air Force. The mission capability rate is somewhere in the 50 percent to 60 percent range. They were not used in '91. They were used in Kosovo, but the people were very concerned about them because of the altitude they fly. They go over defenses and become very, very vulnerable.
As individuals have looked at the B1 fleet, the concern has been it has no future and the sooner we retire it the better. General Ryan and I and our colleagues said well, let us look at this, and when we did we realized that there is a very good future for these planes if we can putit is called JSSMI, Joint Strike Standoff Missiles which have a range, say, of 160 miles, and they are effectively short-range outfits. To do that, we looked at where we stood with the B1s, and overall we are $2 billion behind in maintenance and modification. Two billion. We did not want to come up on the Congress and say more money, more money, without seeing if there is something we could do ourselves.
By consolidating we do significant things with our people and test equipment. By dropping down to 60, we have permission from the Secretary to reinvest all of that, if you agree, back into the remaining 60 to make these really class airplanes, and to give them a future that will carry them well for 30-some, 30 or 40 years, because they will be equipped to be able to go over the top in the short range. And in the longer term, they will stand off more and more. And they will carry 24 of these standoff weapons and will be extraordinarily useful and will complement our very long range that will be carried where the B1s will beon top and overtime.
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As radar and defenses and missile systems get better, we will start to back the B2 off and hopefully replace it with a more advanced system. So the notion is it is not cheaper because we keep the same amount of money. We wouldn't be asking for more money, but we would transform a fleet that is not useful into one that would be very useful. And that was the goal.
Mr. EVERETT. Let me switch horses just a minute. A couple of years ago this committee asked DOD to solve the problem of retention on our air traffic controllers. And I wonder if that has been a problem for the Air Force and/or if that problem has been solved by the Air Force. General Ryan.
General RYAN. It has not been solved, but with the help of the committee we were able to have a deal struck with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that allowed our controllers to report over to FAA and still make the age requirements that FAA had. That was helpful because it kept some of our younger folks in. But air traffic controllers are in great demand in this Nation, whether it is in the Air Force or FAA. So kind of like pilots, this is a national shortage.
Mr. EVERETT. Well, in yourI didn't see anything in your testimony about that and I wondered if it was still a problem.
General RYAN. Yes, sir, it is.
Mr. EVERETT. I know we gave them a bump up in salary, just a month, two months ago, whenever it was. What is the long-term goal of trying to keep these people and other skilled people such as computer people? I had a similar conversation with Secretary Peters before he left. How can we keep these folks?
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General RYAN. The Congress has given us the authority to pay larger bonuses to our folks in more of our skill sets and that has been very helpful in trying to target the bonuses toward those skill sets that are in demand on the outside to try and keep them on the inside. We have similar problems not just with air traffic controllers and pilots, but with aircraft mechanics. As most of you know, the aircraft industry is in a big boom time right now. Particularly the major airlines are hiring at an unprecedented rate, not just pilots, but aircraft mechanics.
So we are using that authority that you all gave us to try and focus on what is essentially, with these bonuses, an increase in pay; that, plus the initiatives to continue toward equitability in pay, with the pay raise coming this year, between 5 and 10 percent, depending on where you are in the ranks; plus housing, plus all the other initiatives that we have to keep good people in, I think it is helping. We will just have to continue to work at it. Because it isn't just one issue that drives these folks out. Most of the issues that they decide to leave on are family issues, because we are a 70 percent family Air Force.
So I thank the committee for everything you have done to give us these tools to try and address these problems.
Secretary ROCHE. If they come home every night, working on planes that are getting older and older and harder and harder to repair, it seems we don't care enough to give them the spare parts and let them refurbish aircraft, then it can be attractive to go to an airline.
Page 33 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. EVERETT. Well, back to the air traffic controllers, Mr. Chairman. I think we ought to remind DOD as often as possible, because if we lose those, we shut down a lot of stuff.
General RYAN. We are having to shut down 24-hour operations at some of our bases just because of air traffic controller shortages. And I will send you, if you would like, to our retention rates on air traffic controllers and show you where the help has been, but we are still short.
Mr. EVERETT. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
The CHAIRMAN. The gentleman from Texas, Mr. Rodriguez.
Mr. RODRIGUEZ. Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Welcome Mr. Secretary and General.
Let me quickly get to an issue thatan issue that I think we had a hearing also in the subcommittee regarding A76 studies. And I know we have had some problems throughout the Department of Defense, but with the Air Force specifically. We have had an A76 study that was conducted where one group got the contract, then several months later it was brought backa different groupand then brought back. And the Department of Defense Inspector General came out with a very critical analysis of how the Air Force was handling the A76 studies. And I had asked that that be suspended until we get those things corrected.
And specifically in terms of Lackland with those people there that had been working there, this whole year they were told they didn't have the contract, they didn't have a job. Then they were told, yes, you do have a job. Then, right before Christmas, they were told again, no, you don't have the job. And so it has been a real turmoil. And I am hoping, and I did get some feedback from you, as to what you plan to do in this area, what has been done and what corrective measures on the A76 efforts?
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Secretary ROCHE. Sir, the reason I haven't gotten into it deeply, it is still in review again. It is quite clear that it is an episode that we would like not to repeat. That kind of time, and things going back and forth, is one of the problems that we are having with A76 in general. We would like to get to a process where if we had a decent cost basiswe don't have an auditable set of books in the Defense Departmentwe don't have that. That is why we are trying to put in activity-based costing, so that we could really know what something costs, and a lot of these problems would go away.
Mr. RODRIGUEZ. Yeah. Mr. Secretary, I would just ask that you really look at that carefully because it does create a real serious problem for a lot of workers, not to mention the turmoil when youit seemed like there also were a lot of shenanigans going back and forth, for lack of a better term.
General Ryan, I know you had mentioned briefly the importance of upgrading some of our C5 B models, and I was wondering what kind of timetable you might have in this area.
General RYAN. Right. We are looking at facing over the next about four years to get a good bid on how to do this, and then do a test on about four airplanes. So it is over the next about four years, and then make a decision at that point whether we do the whole flight or not.
Mr. RODRIGUEZ. And then just finally, Mr. Chairman, if I can. I know that we have unfunded priorities of $182 million for operating base operations, that we have $520 million in property maintenance, so we don't have those resources. I was just wondering how you plan to handle that situation.
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General RYAN. We continue to do what we have done over the past years, and that is prioritize the shortages and put it, unfortunately, on the backs of our people who are running and operating our bases to work harder and smarter.
Secretary ROCHE. Fix the leaks that start leaking.
Mr. RODRIGUEZ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. The gentleman from Maryland, Mr. Bartlett, is recognized.
Mr. BARTLETT. Thank you very much. Welcome, Mr. Secretary. Welcome back, General Ryan.
Mr. Secretary, I would just like to reemphasize what my friend, Gene Taylor, was talking about. Gene and I led the fight in Congress to get Medicare subvention. I joined that fight for two reasons. First of all we owe our retired people, our ex-military people. They were out there for us and we owe them that. The second reason for doing it was they can be our best resources. If we are keeping our promises to them, they are not very good, so I reemphasize how important it is that we keep this promise. We have not been keeping our promises and we really need to do that.
General Ryan, I just want to build up something Mr. Snyder asked you about the base closings and what you saved. Are you able to redirect that to where you wish to spend it?
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General RYAN. Well, when we say we saved it, what we really mean is we did not have to spend money there. Auditing where that money would have gone, we don't have a system that does that. But I can say that, for the most part, the savings that we had out of these kind of base closures we have reinvested into readiness and people. That is where most of the additional cash flow that we have been able to save has gone.
Secretary ROCHE. One of the things that Secretary Rumsfeld has doneand this has been absolutely appliedis he is asking the service secretary to take a look at it how we can become efficient. But particularly what he has given us permission to do is anything, for instance, in the Air Force that we can do smarter. By ourselves, or with your help, we are going to be permitted to reallocate that money within the Air Force.
And so there is a real incentive for us to get smarter, to find dumb things we are doing and not do them, or to come to you and ask for your help to eliminate something. Find those monies; and then say, now we want to apply them either to property maintenance ormy own biasmore towards aircraft munitions, et cetera.
Mr. BARTLETT. Thank you. I am very pleased with that, because if the money just goes back to that big black hole which is Washington, there is not a very big incentive for you to be frugal. But if you can use the savings as you wish, it is a whole lot bigger incentive there.
Mr. Secretary, I had a base closed in my district during the last BRAC round. Our military people were there for 50 years. The children played there. They dug basements there and built houses there, and then when we closed the base, before we could give it away, we spent millions of dollars in cleaning up that base. Now, this sends a message that our military people are second-class citizens. They can live on a base. Their kids can play there. They can picnic there. They can build houses there. And it is not good enough to give away.
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Would you support legislation that says when we give a base away, we are not going to spend a dime cleaning it up unless there is a pollutant there which is migrating and provides a current risk to our society?
Secretary ROCHE. Mr. Bartlett, you and I know each other well. My first thought would be, why don't we clean up the base when the people are there if it is a real problem. The cleanup I think is legislated by law, that you have to take things back to greenfield, or whatever is required in particular areas. We know we have to face those expenses. We also know in some of our very old bases that over the history of the last 50 years we have done things for the environment that have to be cleaned up. Whether or not they would affect folks who were living on the base at the time is something that can be determined. If there is anything that does affect those people who are living there now, that should be fixed now.
Mr. BARTLETT. Well, they lived there for 50 years. Nothing happened. This is totally unnecessary money that we are spending doing this.
I would like to ask one other questionthe number of personnel. Your personnel floor is determined now by Congress. I have been opposed to that, and I use the argument that the number of personnel in our services needs to be determined by the need for personnel. We provide you with a certain number of dollars. You have to use those dollars for personnel. You have to use them for infrastructure. You have to use them for modernization. You have to use them for quality of life. If we require you to have more personnel than this formula would justify, aren't we detracting from readiness, and from quality of life, and from modernization?
Page 38 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The CHAIRMAN. Before you answer that, would you yield one second, gentlemen? That is a vote on the journal and then there will be one five-minute vote. And we will resume when we come back with you, Mrs. Davis from Virginia.
Pardon me, go ahead.
Secretary ROCHE. Legislation from a service standpoint, from a service point, is really not terribly helpful if we want to move our infrastructure and our people, outsource, privatize, and do things smart. So I am not a fan of floors and ceilings or caps.
Mr. BARTLETT. Thank you. I just think that we need to trust you. I understand the concern of my colleagues that the military appeared to be shriveling up and maybe it was going to dry up and blow away. But I think the way to fix that problem is to give you an adequate amount of money, not to mandate how many personnel you are going to have. With that it must be supported to the detriment of the infrastructure, the modernization.
Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. Gentlemen, it is necessary that we recess for a vote for hopefully no longer than 15 minutes. We will return at the sound of the gavel.
The CHAIRMAN. Meeting will please come to order. Gentlelady from Virginia, Mrs. Davis, is recognized.
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Mrs. DAVIS OF VIRGINIA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you, Mr. Secretary and General Ryan.
Mr. Secretary, with respect to the CV22, I would like to ask for you to expand on the Air Force's position regarding the planned procurement of the V22 Osprey variant for special operations units.
Secretary ROCHE. Yes, ma'am. There are two reasons we would like the V22. One is for special operations and the other is for search and rescue. In fact, we are quite excited that when this system is proven that it could be very helpful for search and rescue. For obvious reasons, you would get there a lot faster. And right now we very much support the rescheduled program to make sure there is more testing. There is money for us to begin to purchase fifty of these long lead. We want to make sure these planes fly well. We are now full participants in the program so that we don't have a situation of waiting till a later point and then turning to the Marines and saying, no, we don't like it. We are part of it now. We are working very closely with the Marines. We absolutely support this reduced schedule, and in time we think this will be a valued asset to us.
Mrs. DAVIS OF VIRGINIA. Do you have any comment, General Ryan?
General RYAN. I think conceptually the aircraft, the idea of the aircraft is very good. I have flown it. What we have to make sure is the producibility, the manufacturing, the testing that is done on the aircraft is up to the standard that we need to procure.
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Mrs. DAVIS OF VIRGINIA. Thank you. General, if you were to personally prioritize the Air Force's problems, could you tell me what you believe the top three problems would be and then what the possible solutions to these problems would be?
General RYAN. Top three problems?
Mrs. DAVIS OF VIRGINIA. Top three.
General RYAN. Our first real problem is retention, being able to retain the quality people that we need to do the tough jobs that we are asked to do. That issue is affected by all manner of contingency operations, lifestyles, pay. There is not just one solution to being able to turn around our retention to the point that we need it. The good news is that with the help of Congress we have been able to turn around our first term reenlistment rate. We are now at 57 percent versus our goal of 55 percent, but we were under for several years, 3 years, and we are just in the recovery phase of that, and pay raises, housing, et cetera, have helped that. We just have to stay the course on that on the people issue. So that is the number one issue.
I think the number two issue is our readiness, our current readiness, making sure that we have the tools that our folks need to do the jobs we ask them to do, making sure that when they go to the bin there is a part in the bin to fix the airplane so you don't have to do the cannibalization that we talked about before, and that is double work that is on the backs of our folks. Making sure our bases are operating at the right tempo with the right amount of money to be able to operate them so that our people can do the jobs we want them to do. So that is the second issue and that is a money issue.
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The third issue has to do with recapitalization and transformation of the force; that is, being able to turn around the increasing age of the force, 22 years now, headed for 30 years in the next 20 years if we do nothing about it. So being able to buy the right kind of aircraft, extend the life on the kinds of aircraft we have today to make it a viable force for the future. We have a miserable ability to predict the future, and I think that the decisions we make today are going to have to do with the kind of force that we will have postured in 15 years when threat may come from a place we never predicted. So investment in the future readiness and capability with F22s, C17s, those kinds of munitions that give us stand off and precision, are the kinds of decisions that we need to make today and invest in.
So those are my top three.
Mrs. DAVIS OF VIRGINIA. When you talk about having the tools in the bin, you know, when they go to work on the equipment, do you believe that the current procurement process that we have, you know, if they need a screw or a nail or whatever you need for those things, is that a hindrance to our people?
General RYAN. I think that we could do it more efficiently and effectively, and I know that the Secretary brings to our Air Force a background in business that will be very helpful, I think. You may want to comment on that, Jim.
Secretary ROCHE. We can do it better, we really can, and the overhead rates we pay for internal agencies are too high. We want to take a look at that. All the service Secretaries and the Secretary and the Deputy Secretary realize that we shouldn't be paying some of those rates. We should be making investments in e-business. We should be involved in supply chain management. There are private firms, and this is not part of the 5050, this is working with firms to help us to be able to do things thatwe probably have, ma'am, if we checked our own inventory, we probably have billions of dollars of inventory. God knows how much is left there from Vietnam era airplanes. We just don't know, but to do that sensibly, there are some things that can be done, and yes, we can do a lot better, but when that young person needs a part for the plane and doesn't have it and that plane has to fly, that is when the cannibalization starts. When you start to cannibalize the plane and you hit it two or three times, now you have a hangar queen, and that is bad.
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Mrs. DAVIS OF VIRGINIA. Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Thank you, General. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. Gentleman from North Carolina, Mr. Hayes.
Mr. HAYES. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Secretary, and General Ryan, thank you for being with us today. In your testimony, Mr. Secretary, you talk about the average age of our aircraft is 22 years old and a projection of acquiring a hundred aircraft per year in the near future. How does this reflect on the F22 and the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) procurement? Is that included in that, either of you?
Secretary ROCHE. In terms of the procurement budget, we have looked into the future, yes, sir. We have made accommodations for F22 and also in the later years for JSF. The issue we face is we have not really introduced a new plane since the F16 in the fighter attack world. We have had the 117, the B1, the B2. We have had a modified plane done in the early eighties, the 15E has been introduced, but the F22 is really a plane that is long overdue. It has the character to change the nature of air war by virtue of being not only stealthy, but extraordinarily fast and with super cruise being able to maintain that speed and avionics sweep that basically says to others in the world you can't compete with this type of airplane. That is why it is necessary to use F22s and we choose to fly B2s in the daytime, for instance, over heavily defended areas. It is what we need at this time. The joint strike fighter will come along thereafter and will fill in for aging F16s principally.
Page 43 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HAYES. Thank you, sir. I would make a comment. I had a briefing the other day from General Jumper and I would certainly recommend that for every Member of Congress, House and Senate. Recently a number of us were in France and we did a couple of things that I want to call attention to. Number one, we visited Lafayette Escadrille Monument, and we also saw our opposition's top of the line fighter aircraft. Tie those two together. If you go through the crypt, you will notice that the dates on which we lost pilots are somewhat random, no pattern, until you come to one section where every day or every two days we lost a pilot. Well, what happened? The enemy acquired more powerful engines and better machine guns. All right. We saw our opponents, particularly the Sukoi aircraft over there, and part of this briefing is two of our young fighter pilots who fly our opponent's aircraft against our best pilots and our best equipment, and our pilots and our equipment lose to our opponent's aircraft. Well, I don't want America to ever go through a period in their history where we lose pilots because we have inferior equipment and inferior capability. And that was a very telling story to me about why we must have the latest and best technology to protect our country, to protect our young men and women and to protect our national security. This was a wonderful briefing, and it showed how right now they can see us before we can see them, they can shoot us before we can shoot them, and I hope we will use that information, which is very well presented, and let folks know what is at stake here because it is a very dramatic and very telling piece of work.
On that issue, what is the deterrent, in your opinion, capability of our being equipped with that type of fighter but also our precision guidedit has to have a tremendous positive effect in terms of deterrence when our enemy knows that we can do those kinds of things. Just speak about that for a moment, if you will.
General RYAN. All right. I think that your comments on the briefing that you received are dead on, and I think our Commander at Air Combat Command says it pretty well when he says our people in their airplanes in this scenario beat our people in our airplanes. The one thing we certainly don't ever want is a fair fight, and what has kept the fight unfair for years has been the fact that our pilots and our air crews are the best and our equipment has been the best, and those two add together synergistically for domination.
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Today, as you saw in that briefing, our front line fighter is not the best aircraft in the world. Well, it is 171/2 years old, some of them up to 25 years old. You would expect that it would not be the best even though we have continued to modify it, and that is why the F22 is so important. The F22 is not just an airplane that takes care of other aircraft. It will be an aircraft that dominates in the arena in which we have to operate and make that arena safer for the other aircraft to operate such as the Secretary mentioned, the B2.
So we think that leading this revolution in military affairs is a necessity for us to build the F22 to give us that dominance over the battlefield we need for the future.
Mr. HAYES. Thank you, sir. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. The gentleman from Virginia, Mr. Forbes.
Mr. FORBES. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, I have a brief statement I would just like to leave in the record but I do have two quick questions. General, you may have answered these, but if you did I missed it.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Forbes can be found in the Appendix.]
We have talked about the shortfall we have in pilots, and as I understand from your testimony, you have indicated that there is a mix of things that we need to do to turn that around and that you believe we have at least stopped that from increasing. Two questions I would have is, number one, is what do you believe we would have to do to do away with that shortage and, second, can you tell us what impact the shortage has on Air Force operations and readiness right now?
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General RYAN. First of all, to recover from the shortage, 1,200 pilots short that we are today, we will take better retention of the pilots. We are at max capacity now in production of pilots. That is not going to solve it because of our absorption problems. So the answer to the pilot shortfall is retaining the pilots we have today. Today our pilots, after they finish pilot training, are required to stay with us for eight years. We 2 years ago increased that to 10 years as one of the methods to help us get an experience ratio and keep our pilots longer, but that will not kick in for another 8 years. So continued work on making sure that we put predictability in their lives, take care of their families, make sure that we give them a work environment and the kind of capability like F22, and aircraft that are of a standard for the 21st century are important retention tools for us.
The impact of not having 1,200 pilots in the Air Force has been that we have made sure that our line units are completely filled with pilots. We have not shorted any of our line units. We have taken the cuts in the headquarters and above to the point of where we are almost 50 percent short on staffs for pilots, and we have tried to mitigate the impact of that with taking others who fly, who are not necessarily pilots, navigators, Anti Ballistic Missile (ABM) operators, et cetera, and moving them into those jobs and quite honestly hiring back pilots who have retired who live in the areas where these headquarters are to fill in for about four years, but you can only do that for about four years because of the currency you need on those kinds of pilots. So we are trying to mitigate the shortfall through those kind of efforts.
Mr. FORBES. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. Gentlelady from California, Mrs. Tauscher.
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Mrs. TAUSCHER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Secretary, welcome.
General Ryan, I don't want to rush you out the door, but I know you are going to retire in the fall and I want to take this opportunity to thank you and your family for their exemplary service to this country and your leadership in the Air Force has been just phenomenal. So thank you very much. I know you are going to be here probably for other testimony probably with the Joint Chiefs, but this is the only time I get you by yourself.
General RYAN. Thank you.
Mrs. TAUSCHER. Mr. Secretary, if you could chat with me briefly about the Peacekeeper inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) retirements. I am a little concerned that this new retirement that we have just heard about in the last couple of weeks is a little premature since the Nuclear Posture Review isn't completed yet. I have dropped a bill called the Nuclear Threat Reduction Act that would enable the President to unilaterally draw down our nuclear forces, although I don't want him to do that unless it is in a leadership role. I think bilateral reductions are probably smart for us in the short term and the midterm. What is the sense for this, I know that there is a budgetary issue about it, but do you agree that it is premature to draw these down without having the Posture Review completed?
Secretary ROCHE. Yes, ma'am. The way it is structured in fact meets that criteria. The moneys that are in the 2002 budget for Peacekeeper drawdown are the studies money as to how to do it right if one is going to do it. We expect the review to be finished by the end of this year. We are assuming by virtue of the needs for modernizing the warheads on Minuteman III and other issues that in fact this will be a candidate that will come out of that review, but the way we have structured the particular drawdown of Peacekeeper is we study through 2002, then based on that decision and then based on the feelings of the Congress with regard to some existing pieces of legislation, if in fact the Congress supports the President, we will know how to do this in a sensible manner and not waste time and money to try and do it then.
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In our budget we don't fund very much beyond 2003 because we don't know, but we thought it was wise to start a program, to begin to focus to understand what the impact will be on particular facilities, the regions, how to do this in an economic way, how to move warheads, how to store, what does it mean for the Minuteman III staying behind, et cetera. So it is designed to fit precisely the criterion that you have raised, ma'am.
Mrs. TAUSCHER. Earlier you had discussed with my colleague from Texas, Mr. Rodriguez, the A76 situation and you had also in your testimony talked about the inadequate financial accounting systems right now in the Air Force and generally in DOD. Can you tell me what issues are contained in the fiscal year 2002 budget that begin to address the problem?
Secretary ROCHE. Yes, ma'am. The first one is that the three service Secretaries with the direction from Secretary Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz are imposing activity-based costing. We are finally going to have an accounting system, and I must tell you the Marines are actually further ahead, which offended me because I had hoped the Air Force would be ahead. All of our new programs in the Air Force have activity-based costing. The Navy will be doing the same thing. It will take a while to come in. The Freedman study has brought up some other ideas that our Comptroller Dov Zakheim will be responsible for. We have a Business Initiatives Council, which consists of three star officers from the Services plus the service Secretaries, to see how do we do this, how do we do it smart, what can we get rid of, how can we do things better, where we should come back to you and ask for help.
And in the budget you are going to start to see monies for the processes because you can't just say, okay, we will have an activity-based costing system and it is there. As you know well, you have got to have the correct sets of processes to make this work or you will have a disaster.
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Mrs. TAUSCHER. Will they be uniform?
Secretary ROCHE. Oh, I hope so.
Mrs. TAUSCHER. Because what a train wreck it would be if we all of a sudden had.
Secretary ROCHE. It would be a total train wreck. We have a situation where, for instance, our Marine brethren help us out with F18s in Kuwait, and they fly along side Air Force pilots. It would be insane if they had one accounting system, we had another accounting system, and if we had parts that could help them we had to do it a different way. It would just be crazy. We want to try to do this like a sensible corporation.
Mrs. TAUSCHER. So it would be like GAAP?
Secretary ROCHE. Or system acquisition plan (SAP), to give another one. But I refer to myself as a SAP fascist because if you do this you have to be tough and you have to change organizations, and I have no idea what secular effect it will mean on particular bases or other things. So I may need to come back for your help, ma'am.
Mrs. TAUSCHER. Is there anything we can do perhaps in the bill that is coming forward to us to guarantee that we have uniformity?
Secretary ROCHE. I don't want to preempt my Secretary, but I don't think he would object since he is a businessman as well for some guidance, for some strong suggestions, some help from you all to say, look, if you are going to spend this kind of money, you are going to do it, do it right and I am sure he would applaud that.
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Mrs. TAUSCHER. Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Thank you, General. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. Gentleman from Georgia, Mr. Chambliss.
Mr. CHAMBLISS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. General Ryan, I too want to thank you for service to our country. I hope you will be back before us again, but I want you to know that your great leadership has not gone unnoticed by the Air Force. It has also not gone unnoticed by those of us on the Hill and we appreciate your service.
Now, there is one side of me that is looking forward to your retirement. That is, you and I are going to do some bird hunting and I know what a great dog trainer you are. So you are going to have plenty of time now to get those dogs well trained, and we are going to find some birds in Georgia.
I know you two gentlemen faced the B1 Senate yesterday. I vented with Secretary Rumsfeld last week and I am not going to do that today, but I do want you all to know and understand how emotional this issue is with us. You have already apologized publicly and privately to us, but it was handled badly and we know and understand that you are going to make sure that that type situation does not occur again.
General, I would just like for you to confirm the fact that we now know and understand that from a physical and practical standpoint we can't move those units by 1 October, which carries us into the next fiscal year. From a planning perspective, where is the decision making process, number one, on whether or not we are going to now transfer those units to the active force, and second, what is your best guess as to the time frame if that is to be done and are there mitigating discussions going on with respect to what will be the follow-on mission for the 116th at Robbins as well as the other bases?
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General RYAN. Sir, first of all, I will repeat again, we did not handle this very well and we apologize for that.
Second, we think that consolidating the B1s is a necessity, particularly in this fiscal environment. There is very little chance that we would be able to modernize the airplane with $2 billion worth of requirements over the next few years to make it a viable airplane, and where we can find savings by reducing the size of the force and consolidating down to two locations, we think that makes eminent sense.
Three, mitigating the effect on our folks and the timing, the timing obviously we will not be able to execute in 90 days, and we are going to go back to the Secretary of Defense and ask him to give us more time in 2002, throughout 2002, to be able to study this issue and make sure that we can affect it in the right way at the same time making sure we take care of those great people, our guard, fellow men in arms, men and women in arms who have worked so hard over the years in these units. They are of great value to us, and we must find alternate uses for that force.
We are looking, as you know, in Georgia at some options that we could have. One would be association with our Joint Surveillance, Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) operation currently going on. We are also looking at an Air Combat Command, looking at air operations center kind of work for these folks, also, where they would be associated with us. So, yes, we are looking at mitigating circumstances, and I don't like the word ''mitigating,'' using these wonderful men and women who are dedicated to our Air Force in a better way when this mission goes away.
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Mr. CHAMBLISS. You are right. I won't use that term again. Follow-on or additional mission is what we are going to talk about.
Mr. Secretary, if there is any issue I feel more emotional about than this current B1 issue, it is the strong belief in our public depot system within our various branches. Obviously at Robbins we are very proud of the work we do. We appreciate very much your accepting our open invitation to come to Robbins. I look forward to being there with you on August the 8th to show you the great work that we are doing.
We have been working under a three-depot strategy with the Air Force for the last several years, and we fully expect that to continue and I want you to comment on that, and that being the case can you tell me what in your mind you are looking at with respect to how we are going to ensure the long term viability of that three-depot strategy?
And also, we have had a continuing problem in getting a definition of core out of the Air Force. Seems that everybody else, every other branch doesn't have the problem that we have with the Air Force in getting a definition of core, and are you looking at giving a clearer definition of that so we can know what to expect and we can have the debate within Congress as to what is the definition of core in the Air Force?
Secretary ROCHE. Mr. Chambliss, first of all, I can't really understand what is core and what is not core, and my fellow service Secretaries have had similar problems. So it isn't just the Air Force.
Page 52 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. CHAMBLISS. Let me write that definition for you.
Secretary ROCHE. I am sure you would like to, but with regard to the three logistics centers we have now, my sense is they are at capacity. We have business for them. There is no alternative. I believe in their viability over the long run, but I believe in the history of a new airplane. It starts out with clearly warranty periods, some contractor support. In the long run it has to transition over to a government depot because only the government depots will be able to maintain certain competencies. For instance, something I am familiar with, the Jovial computer language for B1s and B2s in the long run can only be in a government-owned facility. So the only debating issue we have is at what point do these planes transition over.
I like some of the things that have been done at Warner Robbins where the air logistics center (ALC) has partnered with companies to mutual benefit. I know in particular of some radar issues I was involved in in my prior life where we formed wonderful relations with Warner Robbins. Your folks didn't want to work seven days a week. They were tired and the companies could take over two of the days, the weekend work, for them. There are other things we can do. For instance, a special thing at Warner Robbins on the APN241 radar and C130Js where the partnership is beginning now before these planes really come in for repair and the companies provide the test equipment, they work together with the ALC. That is what I am looking forward to, to have a smooth relationship between contractors when they are valuable and then the indigenous ALC over time.
We have to invest in two things for the ALCs. We have to understand what is the right time to start investing in the tooling, et cetera, they need to maintain newer airplanes and, two, an often overlooked problem but one that is being addressed by your state, and I don't know about the others, is to get young people to come into that business because you have an aging workforce problem. But I know that in central Georgia there has been a major program to try to get to the high schools and get to some of the local colleges to try and encourage people to be engineers, to come into that workforce. So we have two problems to work and I am sure we have similar problems in the other two places as well.
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Mr. CHAMBLISS. Partnering is without question the answer. There are things we do better. There are things the private sector does better. You are right on target and we look forward to working with you on that.
Secretary ROCHE. And I look forward to seeing you on the 8th of August.
Mr. CHAMBLISS. Great.
The CHAIRMAN. Gentleman from Kansas, Mr. Ryun.
Mr. RYUN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to take a moment and talk about a few things that are happening in Kansas and get your response a little bit to what is going on with regard to the McConnell Air Force base and the B1 fleet there. Do you mind bringing us up to date on that?
Secretary ROCHE. Yes, sir, and as I think your answering machine probably tells you, I tried to reach you last night and this morning, sir. If I can back up to the larger picture, we have 93 B1s that have been starved for years. They are not what they ought to be. The mission capability rate is about 54 to 60 percent, much lower than it should be. The cannibalization rate is six times the average of the Air Force. The plane was built with late 1960s, early 1970s technology to be a nuclear bomber. It has not been adapted to this current era. As people look at these airplanes and as we push on our maintenance folks in the guard and in active force to maintain them, they are maintaining older and older airplanes without spare parts, without modifications, couldn't be used in 1991 in the desert, was used only partially in Kosovo, and then with people worried because it didn't have the altitude the B52 had nor the stealthiness the B2 had.
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People look at it and say, well, let's get rid of the whole fleet because we are spending money for something that is not relevant to this new era. In the spirit of what the President and the Secretary of Defense has encouraged us to do to take the notion of transformation and say, well, what can adapt to a new era. General Ryan, his colleagues and I came up with a notion of, look, if we can modernize these things and put stand off weapons, these short range air launched cruise missiles (ALCMs), known as joint air-to-surface standoff missile (JASSMs), they carry 24 inside, we can make this a viability aircraft for the long run.
Now what is the cost of that? As of today, sir, that plane is $2 billion in arrears. We didn't feel it right to come up here and beg for $2 billion more, but if we took down the planes and we did some efficiency in the fact that they were spread at five locations, which in many respects was part of reflecting the days of the Cold War where you spread out bombers so that you couldn't be hit by sea-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), consolidated them, we could do things efficiently, test equipment, with mechanics, et cetera, and at the same time make the 60 that remained absolutely viable for the next 30 some years. So this was done to do something good and smart rather than kidding everybody that we had 93 planes that they thought were effective when they were not.
In doing this, we knew we were going to bounce into local concerns. We apologize again for the fact this thing was berthed in the way we would never have wanted it to have been berthed, but the underlying point of good government of what we think you expect from us underlies our logic. We wish to talk about follow-on things. We wish to have the chance to work with the guard and the bases, to work with the bases themselves to find things.
Page 55 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC For instance, in Kansas there is an engine modification group who is superb. They are really very, very good. Our sense is, well, there is no reason for them to go away, we will fly engines in there. So we want to be able to look at that and say, well, why can't that stay, just because it was associated with the B1 we can still bring engines in there. We do that all the time. You know, Wichita, for heaven's sake, we fly all kinds of stuff in. There are facilities at Warner Robbins that were done for B1 that we look at and say these will be fabulous for the Joint STARS we hope to have. We would like to work with the units there for follow-on missions. We don't want the people to go away.
Mr. RYUN. One of my concerns, and I must say that I disagree with your decision because I think the reserve is more efficient in terms of the active duty in that regard with handling that particular piece of aircraft, but that if you take that particular aircraft out of Wichita, what is going to happen then with the 190th refueling team? Will you consider moving that to Wichita?
Secretary ROCHE. The group at Forbes?
Mr. RYUN. Yes.
Secretary ROCHE. No, sir.
Mr. RYUN. So you will still keep two flags in Kansas then; is that what you are saying?
Secretary ROCHE. Sure.
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Mr. RYUN. Well, that is one of our concerns. Because I know there are other states that have a lot more flags, if you will, and Kansas has two. So if you were to combine or take one of them away that would not be in the best interest.
Secretary ROCHE. We genuinely have no intent, no interest. It has not come on our radar screen at all. What we are looking for are missions where the folks in the guard can really, really maximize what they are very good at, and the cost issue, I had separately asked for cost data. The cost data that I received said that things are a wash. The Kansas guard has come up with a different analysis. We have committed to being straight. I have committed to one of your colleagues to have your folks, our folks, same room, and I bet you we are going to come to the point that came up earlier that we don't have an auditable set of accounts and how we spread overhead is probably where things differ, but we want to be very transparent on this. This is done to do something smart for the force to make the Air Force a better fighting force. It was not done for any other reason.
Mr. RYUN. I share that same concern that we do what we can to make everything better. I appreciate your time this morning. Mr. Chairman, thank you.
The CHAIRMAN. Gentleman from Pennsylvania, Mr. Brady.
Mr. BRADY. No questions.
The CHAIRMAN. Gentlelady from New Mexico, Mrs. Wilson.
Page 57 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mrs. WILSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Secretary, I have been concerned about the science and technology commitment of the Air Force over the last decade, and I know that this President has talked about turning that around, and that in the last defense authorization bill there was a major review that the Congress asked for, and I wonder if you could comment on where you are in that major review, not that you don't have a whole lot of other things going on in the building at the moment, and where you see the science and technology budget and mission going in the Air Force.
Secretary ROCHE. Oh, I thank you for the question. In my former life I was known to tell people that we would spend, since it is proprietary I won't tell you the percentage, but X amount on research and development. And if that meant shutting off lights, we shut off lights because it is easy for a chief financial officer (CFO) in a company to come and say, you know, if we don't spend so much on research and development (R&D), that goes right to the bottom line. I would say that is nice but we have no future.
The same thing applies. It is not just science and technology (S&T). It is S&T and R&D. Just doing science and never doing anything with it can be just as harmful, but if you think you can do R&D alone without having an S&T base that is also harmful. In my words the collapse of the defense industry, others say the consolidation of the defense industry, is such that you don't have a lot of the early S&T being done in companies as you used to have, and in fact, more and more of those funds are being used for bid and proposal and later R&D. So the S&T part is very, very important.
We have increased the amount in the 2002 budget. It is not enough. It will take some time to get back up there, and it will be just as it is in the company, ma'am. It will be just as arbitrary. There will be this percentage, and if we have to turn off lights, we will, hopefully no more in Kansas and Georgia but we have to do it.
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Mrs. WILSON. General, are you willing to turn off the lights to do S&T?
General RYAN. We have to invest in the future, there is no question about that. Our problem over the past drawdown years has been underfunding of defense. If we lose both the seed corn and the corn, we lose it all. So we have had to make some really tough decisions on where we place our money. We have kept S&T in the Air Force at about around $1.4 to $1.5 billion a year for the last several years, and we have tried to increase it as we increased the budget here in this last year, and as the Secretary said, that is where our future is, we must invest.
Mrs. WILSON. General, I know that one of your top priorities has been getting the airborne laser up and running. I wonder if you could talk a little bit about the status of that project and whether it is on time and on budget.
General RYAN. We asked in the 2001 supplemental budget to add funds to it because it was underfunded, to make what we think is a terribly important date, and that is, in 2003 to be able to do a demonstration airborne on the 747 that we are currently modifying. I think that directed energy in the future will be one of the revolutionary kinds of capabilities that militaries will use and we ought to be on the forefront of it. The airborne laser (ABL) is the leading candidate right now to demonstrate that capability and I think when it does, and I know it will, because the issue is not physics, it is engineering, as soon as we solve the engineering on this airplane we will have a hue and cry for its use. And if you open your imagination to other uses of directed energy, this could be a major change in the way that we fight.
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Secretary ROCHE. Speaking for the engineering trivia, it is not a trivial engineering problem.
Mrs. WILSON. Mr. Secretary, do you believe it is also on track for the 2003 date from an engineering point?
Secretary ROCHE. They need more money. I am worried about it. I worry about the integration of the system. We are shooting for that date. We would like not to give up that date, and we will spend more and more time on it to support the Chief on this one.
Mrs. WILSON. Okay. General, I strongly support the efforts in Iraq to contain Saddam Hussein, but I also know it is costing you 23,000 sorties, most of which are American sorties, every year and I wonder when you think about the capabilities of the Air Force and where we are tied down and what that keeps us from doing other places and so forth, are there any alternatives to the current rate of deployments into that part of the world?
General RYAN. My opinion on that issue is that we are currently at the lowest level we can, given the missions that we have in those areas. So I don't see, without changing the mission, any drawdown in the force further, one. That will be a policy decision that will be made at a strategic level in our government.
How it affects the Air Force on a day-to-day basis is that, as I said before, our OPTEMPO in the Air Force is sustainable right now. We have organized ourselves into a rotational air expeditionary force (AEF) capability that puts some predictability into the lives of our folks. Where we stress our force right now is in the intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance kinds of assets.
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From an OPTEMPO standpoint, there is some benefit to those operations from a tactical standpoint within the Air Force, and that is that our folks have a real mission in a real area. We would fly about the same number of flying hours on those airframes as we would if they were not in a combat situation. So from an OPTEMPO and cost standpoint, the cost is borne in the deployment backwards and forwards in the sustainment of those bases. We do need to rotate the force because they get stale, because they can't practice the rest of the missions that they would normally practice at home, and that is why we rotate them on a 90-day basis.
Mrs. WILSON. Thank you, General, and thank you also for your service and welcome, sir. Thank you.
The CHAIRMAN. Gentleman from Missouri, Mr. Akin. No questions? Mr. Skelton, you reserved your time. Do you wish to be heard now?
Mr. SKELTON. I appreciate the unfunded requirement list. I don't mean this to be a criticism, but in reviewing it maybe next time you would want to move numbers 11 and 12 up to 1 and 2. Number 11 is real property maintenance, the roofs are leaking on the family housing, and number 12 is the military personnel. Everything else would fall in place, I think, if we gave a bit higher priority to that.
Thank you again for your testimony and I think all of the excellent questions have already been asked. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. Are there any other questions? Mrs. Davis.
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Mrs. DAVIS OF VIRGINIA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Just one quick question. Mr. Secretary, I don't remember if it was you or General Ryan made a comment about the B1 units possibly going to Air Combat Command or something of that nature, and I was just wondering, how would moving Georgia's B1 units to Air Combat Command affect Langley's Air Combat Command?
Secretary ROCHE. It was General Ryan. What I think he was saying, ma'am, was that there are air operating centers, which is a battle management concept that are part of the Air Combat Command, and if we use as follow-on mission folks in the guard and integrate them and have them be part of an air operations center, you can have that in Georgia.
Mrs. DAVIS OF VIRGINIA. Thank you.
The CHAIRMAN. Are there questions? Mr. Taylor.
Mr. TAYLOR. Mr. Secretary, I had the opportunity to review your statement. I am interested in your remarks on the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program and the shortfalls that you have had. I welcome your thought on changing it to a three-year program in some instances rather than waiting for people to finish their sophomore year in order to participate if they don't get in on the four-year program, but I am curious to what extent you are using the ROTC program to, as you look about your enlisted force, recruit good young enlistees to the officer ranks with the offer of going to the ROTC program. I would like to hear your remarks on that. I know that the Academy is always an option for those under the age of 26, but to what extent do you encourage people to participate or seek out ROTC scholarships from enlisted ranks?
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Secretary ROCHE. Mr. Taylor, the Chief can tell you about the data to present. I have not gotten in my sixth week into that issue. I can tell you that I am a graduate of an ROTC program that commissioned me, full scholarship program that put me through university, and I think it is a wonderful program. I am sure that General Ryan agrees.
In my time in the Navy we had a program called NECEP, which was a program for those enlisted folks who had interests in technical things and in particular put them in universities like Purdue and other technical universities and they became the backbone of our technically qualified commissioned corps. There may be something similar in the Air Force, but clearly having a path to officer is something that does exist in the Air Force and has been widely used. The degree to which ROTC has been the mechanism I will ask the Chief to comment on if you don't mind, sir.
General RYAN. All right. We don't have a major program for taking our enlisted and putting them through ROTC, though we do have tuition assistance that allows us to do that, and in certain circumstances we focus our folks through an ROTC program to actually come to us after they have left. I think that we need to relook at our ROTC program on the basis that we now take them in the top two years and see if the third year would be viable.
One of the issues that we have today is science and technology, information management kinds of folks. I think it is a national problem, too, that those kinds of individuals coming out of our universities are not as plentiful as the demand is for their services, and we are looking not only at ROTC but at our Officer Training School and the Air Force Academy to make sure that science and technology kinds of degrees are available and encouraged because I think there is a great need for it.
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Mr. TAYLOR. General, if I may, I have noticed now over 12 years that I have had the opportunity to nominate kids for the academies that you continue to have a preponderance of the young people who ask for an academy ask for the Air Force Academy. So I don't think you have any problems filling up the Air Force Academy based on the experience of my congressional district. If you do have a shortfall in ROTC, having had the opportunity to visit Air Force kids just about everywhere, and I really am amazed at the incredible quality of kids that you continue to recruit, I would think.
Mrs. WILSON. Would the gentleman yield?
Mr. TAYLOR. Just one second. I have a real short memory.
But I would think that would present an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone, to get some great enlisted people into the officer corps, to fill up your ROTC shortfalls, if you were to work that program a little bit harder.
Mrs. WILSON. I just want to know if the gentleman knew the reason the kids choose the Air Force Academy is because you have got incredibly bright kids in Mississippi who are smart.
Mr. TAYLOR. Thank you. We always welcome a compliment like that.
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General RYAN. That is said by our only member from the United States Air Force Academy that serves in the Congress.
The CHAIRMAN. If there are no other questions Mr. Secretary, General Ryan, we thank you very much for your time. Any closing comments?
Secretary ROCHE. No, sir. Other than to say thank you and I look forward to working with you and your committee, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you. Meeting is adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 12:10 p.m., the committee was adjourned.]