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Posted by Randy | June 09, 2016

Wallops Island is already home to innovative work in the commercial space industry as well as important NASA and U.S. military missions. I’m delighted the Navy is considering basing the MQ-4C Triton unmanned maritime patrol aircraft at Wallops -- an ideal location to permanently station this important asset.

In case you missed it, I recently led 18 Representatives and Senators from both parties in sending a letter to the Secretary of the Navy and the Chief of Naval Operations urging the use of Wallops Island, Virginia as the permanent East Coast base for the MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft. The letter was signed by Members of the House and Senate from Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware.

This growth at Wallops Island is important to our region and to our national security – and I will continue working to position Wallops Island to continue to lead U.S. space efforts in the future.

Yours in service,

Randy 


Posted by Randy | June 09, 2016

A lot has happened in Congress these past few months that have a big impact on our region and our national security. Here’s a quick breakdown:

  • My Seapower Legislation – As Chairman of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, it’s my job to author key portions of the annual defense policy bill that have to do with the Navy, Marine Corps, and the Air Force (and have a huge impact on Hampton Roads). This year, my Subcommittee’s legislation did several critical things, including 1) Authorize the highest level of shipbuilding funding since the Reagan era 2) Protect 1/12th of the Navy Fleet from being inactivated 3) Stop the Administration’s efforts to scrap 1 out of 10 Carrier Air Wings and 4) Put down a “down payment” on the 350-ship Navy America needs. 

  • Annual defense policy bill passed the House – After my legislation passed out of my Subcommittee, it also passed the House Armed Services Committee, and was included in the annual defense policy bill. The annual defense policy bill passed the House. 

  • Bipartisan push to base Triton at Wallops Island – Recently, I led 18 Members of Congress from both parties in sending a letter to the Secretary of the Navy and the Chief of Naval Operations urging the use of Wallops Island, Virginia as the permanent East Coast base for the MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft. Wallops Island is already home to innovative work in the commercial space industry as well as supporting critical NASA and U.S. military missions – it would be an ideal location to permanently station this important asset.

  • Founded the NASA Caucus – I’m excited by the cutting-edge work that NASA is doing, and proud that so much of it is happening right here in Virginia. NASA is poised to make exciting new breakthroughs and reach new horizons in the years ahead. Recently, I founded the bipartisan Congressional NASA Caucus to help enhance the understanding of Members of Congress about the important work being done at places like the Langley Research Center and Wallops Flight Facility, and speak directly to the public about the great work NASA does around the country.

There is no higher Constitutional obligation than to provide for our national security. I will continue fighting every day to ensure our nation is secure, our citizens are safe, and our servicmembers are equipped to accomplish their missions and come home to us.

Yours in service,

Randy







Posted by Randy | June 09, 2016

The United States and the Philippines have been allies for decades, and our militaries have fought side by side from World War II to Vietnam to Iraq. Now, as China threatens Philippine sovereignty and destabilizes the Asia-Pacific region, it is more important than ever that Washington and Manila stand shoulder to shoulder.

You can read my recent piece about the importance of the alliance in The Diplomat  here or below.

Yours in service,

Randy

P.S. Here in Hampton Roads, we are privileged to be home to one of the country’s most concentrated Filipino-American communities and to benefit from both a strong strategic partnership with this community and from their significant contributions to our region’s economy. I’m proud to serve as a Member of the U.S.-Philippines Friendship Caucus, a bipartisan group of lawmakers supporting the U.S.-Philippines alliance and promoting the welfare of Filipino-Americans here in the United States.

As South China Sea Verdict Nears, Washington Must Stand with Manila
The Diplomat
June 9, 2016

With tensions rising in the South China Sea, the United States’ alliance with the Philippines may be approaching one of its most important moments in its 65-year history. Over the past few years, the world has watched as China has steadily worked to achieve de facto control of the islands and waters encircled on a map by a “nine-dash line” encompassing the northern two thirds of the sea.  Now, at some point in the weeks ahead, the Permanent Court of Arbitration is expected to rule that China’s expansive claims are illegitimate. Such a ruling could bring tensions between China and the Philippines to a boil, right around the time that a new administration will be coming to power in Manila. In these trying and dynamic circumstances, it will be more important than ever that the United States and the Philippines stand shoulder-to-shoulder to deter escalation and aggression.

The good news is that the U.S.-Philippine alliance is stronger today than any point since the Cold War and on a trajectory to grow stronger still. Over the past 15 years, shared concerns about terrorism, natural disasters, and China’s growing power and aggressive behavior have drawn us back together.  Today, 71 percent of Filipinos support a stronger U.S. military presence in Asia—the highest percentage of any country in the region.  In 2014, our two countries signed a landmark Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) authorizing U.S. military forces to operate at a number of “agreed locations” throughout the country.  Last year, Congress authorized a new Southeast Asia Maritime Security Initiative that will enable the United States to partner with the Philippines and other countries in the region to improve their maritime security.

These trends are all encouraging. But while the U.S.-Philippine alliance has been gaining strength, so has China.  Over the past two decades, Beijing has been steadily improving its ability to project power into the South China Sea and wage a campaign of “gray zone” paramilitary aggression with its Coast Guard and maritime militia.  Since 2012, the Chinese Coast Guard has effectively occupied the Scarborough Shoal, a small shoal off the main Filipino island of Luzon that China claims as its own, and begun construction of artificial island outposts atop disputed features.  So far, the Philippines’ response to the occupation of Scarborough Shoal, China’s reclamation efforts, and the frequent harassment of its fishermen has been laudably measured: avoiding violent confrontations and appealing instead to international law and the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

Now, with international arbitrators expected to rule in the Philippines’ favor, our ally may face another uptick in Chinese aggression. According to close watchers of the South China Sea, Beijing’s next move may be to declare an “air defense identification zone” (ADIZ) over the South China Sea and enforce it with military aircraft and surface-to-air missile systems based on China’s artificial island outposts. Beijing could also begin building another artificial island base atop Scarborough Shoal, just over 200 miles from Manila. China could also increase the frequency with which it harasses and interdicts Filipino and other nations’ shipping inside its expansive nine-dash line.

To deter China from taking any of these destabilizing steps, the United States and the Philippines will need to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in the weeks and months ahead.  The two countries signed the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty “so that no potential aggressor could be under the illusion that either of them stands alone in the Pacific.” Secretary Carter was right to declare in April that our commitment to the security of the Philippines remains “ironclad.”  But to deter aggression in the South China Sea, we should also make clear that—as stated in the treaty—both parties are bound to respond to attacks on the “armed forces, public vessels or aircraft” of the other party, as well as “island territories under its jurisdiction.”  To have maximum impact, these words should be backed in the near term by the continuous presence of U.S. naval forces and, in the longer term, by continuing efforts to build up the Philippines’ defensive capabilities, offset China’s military growth, and maintain a stable balance of military power in the region.

Might does not make right, but it can also be used to deter threats to peace, prosperity, and the rule of law.  While the United States should not take sides in territorial disputes, it should support those parties that are pursuing peaceful resolution. The Philippines is one such party, and its alliance with the United States is an exemplary link in what Secretary Carter recently called a “principled security network” in the Asia-Pacific region.  That link was forged 65 years ago, but by adhering to our shared principles in the trying weeks ahead, the United States and the Philippines can prove that it remains strong.

Read the full Op-Ed here

Posted by Randy | June 08, 2016

Friend-

While the world is only becoming more dangerous, from ISIS to Russia, our men and women in uniform are being asked to do more with less resources. After years of reckless cuts to our military, it is time to begin reinvesting in the tools our warriors need to keep America safe and come home safe themselves.

Recently, my Seapower Subcommittee and the Readiness Subcommittee held a joint hearing to hear firsthand about these issues from the war fighters and operators dealing with them every day. Watch what they had to say on Fox News >>

                                                                    

My top priority is to ensure our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines are equipped with what they need to successfully accomplish their missions and return home safely. Our men and women in uniform deserve nothing less from their elected representatives.


Yours in service,


Randy

P.S. There's no doubt that reconciling defense spending with our rapidly increasing national debt and deficit is a big task. Admiral Mike Mullen, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has called our national debt this country’s “biggest national security threat.” There’s far too much waste at the Pentagon, which is why I have supported a full audit of the Department of Defense to ensure that every taxpayer dollar is well spent. However, we cannot use the national debt as an excuse to jeopardize our national security. Washington can – and must – get its fiscal house in order without cheapening our national security.
Posted by Randy | June 01, 2016

Friend –

Did you know that only 1 in 4 Navy strike fighters is ready for combat? Or that some of our ships are spending so long undergoing repairs that their captain and crew never get to go to sea? These are just two of the challenges that our men and women in uniform are dealing with on a daily basis. Last week my Seapower Subcommittee and the Readiness Subcommittee held a joint hearing to hear firsthand about these issues from the war fighters and operators dealing with them on the deck plates. Watch what they had to say here >>


Bottom-line: Our best chance to bring our servicemembers home safely is to send them off prepared. We must be doing everything in our power to ensure that is the case.

Yours in service,
Randy

P.S. Last week, I also led a group of Democrat and Republican lawmakers down to Naval Station Norfolk to hear directly from some of our Fleet Operators. Here is the internal memo that we’re sharing with Members of Congress about the issues we saw and heard about – added a few of my own notes for you to see. We need to be better equipping our men and women in uniform so they can keep us safe, and come home safe.


Posted by Randy | May 26, 2016

Wanted to share a couple photos with you from Monday, when I led a group of Democrat and Republican lawmakers down to Naval Station Norfolk to hear firsthand from some of our Navy warfighters – the men who command our ships and our aircraft every day -- about the challenges they face equipping, resourcing, and training our fleet. Did you know that:

  • An average deployment has gone up from 5.5 months to 7 months -- many deployed sailors are away from their families for more than half of a year.

  • America’s Navy can meet less than half of the demand for ships from our commanders around the globe, according to the Navy.

  • Of our older strike fighters (half of Navy’s aircraft), 1 in 2 is grounded due to a shortage of parts and maintenance.

After 8 years of the Administration dismantling our military, these are just a few of the challenges facing our Navy. Instead of making sure they are the best trained and best equipped so that they never find themselves in a fair fight, we’ve been asking them to do more with less. Bottom line: this Administration wants to manage our Navy’s decline -- we need to be committed to rebuilding it.

This roundtable aboard USS Eisenhower gave Democrat and Republican Members a chance to hear directly from warfighters about the challenges they face in an age of growing threats and shrinking budgets. 

Today, due to increased operations and a shortage of funding and parts, only 1 in 4 Navy fighters is ready for combat. One aviator from NAS Oceana described his job as “managing scarcity.”

The Eisenhower is preparing to deploy to the Middle East, where she will relieve the USS Truman, another Norfolk-based carrier whose deployment was just extended to sustain the fight against ISIS. Average deployment time has gone up 32%, according to the Navy.

Longer deployments mean more stress on our ships, our sailors, and their families. The wear and tear on the destroyer USS McFaul was clearly visible after a nearly 8-month deployment

And it’s not only the ships – our MH-53 helicopters are an average of 24.6 years old. As aircraft get older they grow harder to maintain—this one has been cannibalized to provide spare parts for other aircraft.

Talking to enlisted sailors gave Members a chance to hear directly about the challenges they face on the deck plates. As the Senate and the House prepare to make decisions on the annual defense policy bill, it’s absolutely critical to hear from the men and women whose lives and jobs these decisions impact.

The men and women who wear our nation’s uniform go into harm’s way to defend our freedoms. Our best chance to bring them home safely is to send them off prepared. That is why, as Chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, my top priority is to ensure our soldiers, sailors, airman, and marines are the best trained and best equipped in the world. I will never stop fighting to defend our defenders.

Yours in service,

Randy

P.S. In case you didn’t get a chance to read it yet, here is the internal memo we sent to all Members of Congress about what we saw and heard from our Fleet Operators on Monday. We can have no higher priority than ensuring those who fight to keep us safe are equipped to come home safe.

Posted by Randy | May 24, 2016
 

Friend –

Yesterday, I led a group of Democrat and Republican lawmakers down to Naval Station Norfolk to hear firsthand from some of our Navy warfighters – the men who command our ships and our aircraft every day – about the challenges they face equipping, resourcing, and training our fleet. This Thursday, the House Armed Services Seapower and Readiness Subcommittees will be holding a joint hearing to get this critical message to as many lawmakers in Washington as possible.

Here is the internal memo that we’re sharing with Members of Congress about the issues we saw and heard about on Monday – added a few of my own notes for you to see. Our best chance to bring our servicemembers home safely is to send them off prepared.


You can read the full memo with my notes here.

Yours in service,

Randy


Posted by Randy | May 19, 2016

Friend -

Every day, we should be grateful for the law enforcement officials who put themselves in harm’s way to keep us safe. This week, as we honor National Police Week, we offer a special thank you to all the men and women who, with dedication and courage, work hard every day to protect our communities and our loved ones.


Don’t forget to find an opportunity this week to commemorate the dedication of these special patriots – whether it’s by post on social media or a personal thank you to a local officer. We are grateful.

Yours in Service,

Randy

P.S. – I will always stand to support those who serve to protect our communities. Recently, I joined in sending a letter to increase resources for the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program, which has been a critical asset to state and local law enforcement officers as they combat drug trafficking around Richmond and Hampton Roads.                    
Posted by Randy | May 18, 2016

The Seapower legislation I recently authored begins the process of rebuilding the U.S. Navy, authorizing three more ships than the President funded, and providing the most money for shipbuilding since President Reagan was in office. From aircraft carriers to submarines and much more, my legislation not only provides our sailors with the resources they need to be successful--it also supports the national strategic asset that is the Hampton Roads industrial base. As the full House of Representatives prepares to vote on the annual defense policy bill that includes my Seapower legislation, you can read coverage of the work I've been doing to support our warfighters in The Virginian-Pilot here or below.

Yours in Service,

Randy

 

Defense spending plan moving through Congress is good news for Hampton Roads
The Virginian-Pilot
May 18, 2016

For Hampton Roads, where Pentagon dollars are a lifeblood of the economy, the 2017 spending proposals making their way through the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate are mostly good news.

Sailors should get a pay raise. The region’s shipbuilding and repair industries are in line to be fully funded. The legislative plans would block President Barack Obama’s desire to start a new round of military base closings and stifle the Navy’s desire to mothball 11 cruisers, including two based in Norfolk.

There’s one noticeable downside that could affect the region’s construction contractors: Spending for onshore construction projects is markedly smaller than previous years.

The new year may not be one for major new initiatives, but the proposals – if they become law – will give the region a stable source of funding and defense work, said Craig Quigley, executive director of the Hampton Roads Military and Federal Facilities Alliance.

“I’d say stability is desirable. This is pretty stable,” Quigley said Tuesday.

The annual spending plan, known as the National Defense Authorization Act, is one of two major bills that decide how lawmakers allocate defense money. The NDAA sets policy rules and directs spending, while the appropriations bill writes the checks.

The House and Senate armed services committees have each drafted their versions of the authorization act in recent weeks. The full House is expected to take up its bill later this week. After the Senate considers its own version, negotiators for the two chambers will work out a compromise.

Quigley predicted a final agreement won’t be reached until late this year. National and congressional elections will bring negotiations to a standstill until Congress returns after the Nov. 8 voting, he said.

In the meantime, here’s a breakdown of some key elements that resonate in Hampton Roads:

Aircraft carriers and submarine construction: Both the House and Senate legislation would continue funding construction at Newport News Shipbuilding of the two Ford-class carriers, the USS Gerald R. Ford and USS John F. Kennedy, as well as preparations for construction of a new USS Enterprise. They also include money for midlife overhauls of the USS George Washington and the USS John Stennis.

At the urging of Rep. Randy Forbes, a Chesapeake Republican, the House bill proposes speeding up the pace of carrier construction to begin building a new flattop every four years instead of every five. The change, beginning in 2022, would add more jobs and ensure an 11-carrier fleet, said Forbes, a senior member of the House committee. The Senate version does not include that provision.

The Navy would buy two more Virginia-class submarines as part of a multiyear procurement. The attack subs are a joint project with Newport News Shipbuilding and Electric Boat in Groton, Conn. Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, a member of the Senate committee, said he expects Newport News would be “deeply involved” in future years in building replacements for the Navy’s Ohio-class submarines.

Ship construction and overhauls: Both chambers’ authorization act proposals provide enough money for ship repairs or overhauls to reverse the recent trends of layoffs in local shipyards, said Bill Crow, president of the Virginia Ship Repair Association. Recently approved contracts mean the private yards are expected to see a boost in work this summer that will stretch into 2017, Crow said.

“We’re definitely seeing an upturn,” Crow said. “There’s work on the horizon for the next year or so.”

Quigley said, if adopted, the spending will help the Navy catch up on a backlog of ship maintenance.

”This is something we really need,” he said.

Pay and benefits: A pay raise is coming for sailors and other service members, but the amount is up for debate. The House bill proposes a 2.1 percent increase while the Senate bill favors the 1.6 percent raise requested by the Pentagon.

Military construction: Hampton Roads would be getting its smallest allocation of brick-and-mortar construction money in several years, Quigley said.

A total of $86.2 million was proposed by the House committee for a project at Norfolk Naval Station and two projects at Joint Base Langley-Eustis. By comparison, last year Congress approved more than $240 million for eight projects on bases or facilities in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Hampton and Newport News.

Quigley said the view of many in Washington is that buying equipment, training, overhauling ships and aircraft, and fighting wars have a higher priority than building projects. He noted that Obama’s original proposal didn’t include any money for military construction in the region.

No base closings and the cruisers stay put: Both the House and Senate rejected the Pentagon’s request for a new round of base closings.

The legislators’ proposal also blocks the administration’s plan to mothball 11 guided missile cruisers, including the Norfolk-based USS Anzio and USS Vella Gulf. Defense officials have tried for years to get congressional approval to remove the ships from service to save money and slowly bring them back online after overhauls.


Read the full article here.

Posted by Randy | May 17, 2016
Earlier this morning, I joined America’s Newsroom to talk about Iran’s treatment of our sailors and why – in the absence of leadership from the Administration – it is critical that Congress acts now to hold Iran accountable. That’s why I introduced a bill to do just that. Watch here or below to learn more >>



P.S. You can read more coverage of my bill this week in the Washington Times, The Hill, the New York Post, or the Washington Free Beacon. Equipping and defending our defenders – so they can successfully accomplish their missions and return safely home – will always be my top priority in Congress.
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