Chief of Naval Operations says continued resolutions and inflation are hurting preparedness

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Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Michael M. Gilday issued a stern warning to lawmakers about the dangers of funding the military under sustained resolutions, testifying that the lack of a stable and predictable budget will hurt the Navy’s ability to confront opponents such as China and Russia.

Part of the problem with continued decisions is inflation, which cuts the Ministry of Defense’s budget if the level of expenditure does not keep pace. That problem is even more pronounced this year, with the latest figures showing that inflation has risen to a almost 40 years high last month.

“Here, there is little evidence that we have understood the reality that our safety and way of life are being threatened as we come before you four months into another CR to ask for stable, predictable funding,” Gilday said in testimony to the House Grants Committee’s subcommittee on defense on Wednesday.

The US Navy guided missile destroyer USS Lassen.  (US Navy / CPO John Hageman / Handout via Reuters / File Photo)

The US Navy guided missile destroyer USS Lassen. (US Navy / CPO John Hageman / Handout via Reuters / File Photo)

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Gilday told lawmakers it is “critical time for our country”, pointing to the progress China and Russia have made, warning that the navy will have difficulty keeping pace and may soon “turn incremental gains into long-term strategic advantage.”

It is about the growing tendency for Congress to pass continued resolutions, a short-term measure that continues to temporarily fund the government at previous levels of spending, rather than agreeing on a year-round appropriations law.

While Congress passed, and President Biden signed the Fiscal 2022 Defense Authorization Act, that money must now be approved by a full appropriation bill. But leaders in Washington have not been able to agree on a budget for the 2022 fiscal year with Biden signs the second continuing decision of the fiscal year to avoid a government shutdown last month.

The continued resolution funded the government until Feb. 18, but some worry that differences in Congress could open up the possibility of funding the government through continued resolutions for the entire fiscal year.

Such an approach would severely hamper military preparedness, according to Defense Department leaders like Gilday has warned, which effectively freezes funding levels and makes it harder for the military to invest in future projects crucial to national defense.

US Capitol building.  REUTERS / Jason Reed

US Capitol building. REUTERS / Jason Reed

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The Association of the United States Fleet Director Jason Beardsley told Fox News on Wednesday that inflation and other rising costs make it difficult for the fleet to focus on long-term projects and training, saying operating under sustained decisions will undermine the fleet’s ability to compete with “near-equal” rivals. such as China and Russia.

Beardsley pointed to the Navy’s goal of reaching 355 ships, a number of Congress passed into law because it was identified as the amount needed to “contain or compete” with China. Yet operating under sustained decisions means the fleet has to allocate its resources sparingly, leading to an inability to invest in future equipment and training.

“We are lagging even further behind,” Beardsley said. “So it not only prevents us from investing going forward, but it causes us to compromise to keep up. So now we are following last year’s mission, but we have lost more money.”

Beardsley pointed to a wave of events that have plagued the fleet in recent years, including back-to-back events in 2017 who saw the fleet’s ships collide with commercial vessels and claimed that training would continue to suffer if the fleet did not receive stable funding.

Meanwhile, the Air Force Chief of Staff, General CQ Brown, Jr. warned legislators that another continued decision “would halt much of the progress we are making towards today’s preparedness and tomorrow’s modernization.”

An Air Force Joint Strike Fighter is towed back to its hangar at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

An Air Force Joint Strike Fighter is towed back to its hangar at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.
(AP)

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Brown also warned that money was not the only issue at hand, noting that the Air Force will never get back the time that could have been spent keeping up with the country’s military rivals.

“As much as a years-long sustained resolution is affecting our air force for tax purposes, the impact it is having on our rate of change is more appalling,” Brown said in his testimony. “All the money in the world can not buy more time; time is irreparable, and when you work to keep up with well-resource-strong and focused competitors, time matters.”

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