By Rear Admiral William Lescher
Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Budget
Today the Department of the Navy submitted our FY16 budget request of $161.0 billion to Congress. Here’s what it means for the Navy.
In a challenging fiscal context, this request provides the investment required for the Navy and Marine Corps to execute the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review mission set, ranging from providing an effective nuclear deterrent and fighting terrorism in order to protect the Homeland, to providing a stabilizing presence across the globe in order to build security globally, to projecting power and winning decisively when called upon. The budget request reflects the Secretary of the Navy’s, Chief of Naval Operations’ and Commandant of the Marine Corps’ implementation of the strategic guidance. Across a spectrum of focused investments, hard choices, and innovation and reform initiatives, the budget resources a dominant forward postured, sea-based force with balanced capacity, capability and readiness.
Figure 1: Department of the Navy FY16 Budget Request
The request sustains naval presence and readiness worldwide, and continues the rebalance to the Pacific. Operations and maintenance accounts are prioritized to properly fund ship steaming days, flight hours, depot maintenance and base operations. Increases in public shipyard capacity and Aviation Depot throughput are funded in order to address ship and aircraft maintenance backlogs that have accrued from a decade-plus of high operational tempo. Overall, the Fleet readiness accounts are focused on supporting a sustainable operational tempo; on properly maintaining ships and aircraft to reach their expected service lives; and on properly training our people and preparing them to deploy forward.
We prioritized stability in shipbuilding in order to affordably field the battle force required by the strategy — buying nine new ships in FY16. We continue the trend of buying two destroyers and two Virginia-class submarines annually, and also request three Littoral Combat Ships and the first next generation logistics fleet resupply ship, the T-AO(X). We fully fund both the refueling for the aircraft carrier USS George Washington and the procurement of a Dock Landing Ship (LPD 28) that Congress provided partial funding for in the FY15 budget.
Military and Civilian end strength is adjusted to support the force structure, sustaining improved military fit and fill rates as the fleet is projected to grow to 304 ships in 2020.
To support our commitment to a safe, modern and credible nuclear deterrent, we add $2.2 billion across the next five years to the nuclear deterrent enterprise. This funding supports the increased shipyard capacity highlighted earlier; provides added manpower for weapons surety and training systems; and addresses facilities improvements.
This fiscal environment requires each of the Services to make hard choices in prioritizing their budget, examining every account to maximize the use of resources. In FY16 we are able to increase our aircraft inventory by 36 from our FY15 plan, reflecting the restoral of 29 MH-60R helicopters associated with restoral of the USS George Washington refueling/overhaul and the tenth Air Wing, as well as the addition of two F-35Cs; however, over the next five years, we will experience a decrease of 16 F-35Cs, two E-2Ds, and nine RQ-21’s from the prior plan. We will also reduce our weapons inventory by 1,000 in order to align fielding profiles with updated aircraft integration timelines, and to focus funding on future capabilities given overall fiscal constraints.
This budget funds our most pressing MILCON needs in FY16 with 60 construction projects (38 Navy, 22 USMC) spanning key quality of life initiatives, such as unaccompanied housing in Patuxent River, Maryland, and supporting introduction of new weapon systems, such as Training Facilities and Hangar modifications to accommodate F-35’s at NAS Lemoore and P-8 support facilities at NAS Jacksonville, NAS Sigonella and Joint Base Pearl Harbor.
Reform and Innovation
We continue to drive innovation and reform practices to ensure long-term success. The Optimized Fleet Response Plan (OFRP) is a key element of that approach, facilitating recovery of the material readiness of the force, protecting the time required to properly train our Sailors, delivering sustainable global presence for the COCOMs while bringing deployment lengths down over time, and providing the capacity to surge combat power in a contingency.
This year’s submission also includes $17.9 billion for research and development, reflecting the emphasis on developing key capabilities for the future. This funding supports our Navy-Marine Corps team by providing technological advantages against adversaries in all environments and spectrums. The budget also funds eight Energy Resilience projects that upgrade aging utilities infrastructure to increase resiliency and support continuity of operations. Examples include electrical repairs to piers and improved waterfront utilities. Beyond these eight projects, the Department continues to lead with broader energy initiatives spanning gas turbine efficiency; aviation fuel conservation; and hybrid electric drive technology.
The FY16 budget strikes the right balance between sustaining our forces today and laying the groundwork for future advantage. Across the full scope of the request, we maintained a strong focus on maximizing the value of resources invested and on sustaining our war fighting advantage today and into the future. This budget sustains today’s Navy and Marine Corps legacy as America’s first responders in a complex and dangerous security environment.
For more information on the FY16 DON Presidential Budget submission see http://www.finance.hq.navy.mil/fmb/PB/BOOKS.htm.