Armed Forces News

Yokosuka, Japan - June 2017: Seaman Daniel Keaton, assigned to the U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), paints the hull of the ship. Blue Ridge is in an extensive maintenance period in order to modernize the ship to continue to serve as a robust communications platform in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations. (Navy photo by MCS Seaman Patrick Semales)

The Navy and Marine Corps must move forward with plans to modernize and update their respective resources, the services’ two senior-most military officers told a panel of lawmakers.

“America needs a larger, more capable fleet,” Adm. Michael M. Gilday, the chief of Naval Operations, told the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee during a June 25 budget hearing.

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China’s fleet is now the world’s largest, Gilday said. Its vessels are an average of 11 years old, he added, compared to 21 years old for the U.S. Navy.

“Our fleet can control the seas in conflict and project power ashore today, but we will be increasingly challenged to do so in the future unless difficult choices continue to be made,” Gilday said. “We need to transition away from older less capable platforms and deliver the platforms, weapons and systems that provide overmatch.”

Gen. David H. Berger, the commandant of the Marine Corps, cited the continuing effort to completely transform the service by 2030.

“While I’m encouraged by our progress, I’m not satisfied by the pace of change,” Berger said. “We must move faster.”

Responding to questions posed by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., Berger recognized that the plan to man the fleet Marine force at 100 percent is hard on families. “[To] your point on the stress on families … when we deploy forces, like we have right now onboard naval ships, and it’s a [planned] six or seven-month deployment, you know, that’s tough,” Berger said.