Posted by Randy | April 14, 2016
In 1987, the U.S. Navy had 594 ships. In 2003, it had 297. Today, the Navy has just 272 ships in the Fleet and is poised to shrink even further.
This week, I chaired a hearing of the House Armed Services Seapower Subcommittee on the need for a significantly larger Fleet, with witness testimony from former Navy Secretary John Lehman and former Fleet Forces Commander Admiral Robert Natter. Americans have succeeded at tough tasks many times throughout our history -- I know we can rebuild our Navy again and return to Ronald Reagan’s approach of “peace through strength.” In case you missed it, you can watch coverage of this important hearing on both WAVY TV and Channel 13 News Now.
Posted by Randy | April 01, 2016
Wanted to be sure you saw my opinion piece in the Daily Press today, about the critical role that Virginia – and Hampton Roads in particular – plays in protecting our national security and equipping our men and women in uniform. Virginia doesn't just rely on a strong military — a strong military relies on Virginia. Read online here, or below.
Opinion: Our vital military partnership
By Congressman J. Randy Forbes
March 31, 2016
One of the many things that makes Hampton Roads unique is its relationship with the military. With approximately 82,000 military personnel, 43,600 civilian employees of the Department of Defense and thousands more civilians performing more than $8 billion in DoD contracts, Hampton Roads is an epicenter of U.S. military activity.
While all branches of the military play a significant role in the region, the Navy has the strongest presence. Naval Station Norfolk is the world's largest naval base and homeport for a large portion of our fleet — with four of nine carrier strike groups, three of nine amphibious ready groups, and more than a third of the Navy's cruisers and destroyers based in the region.
There are several reasons all that firepower is amassed here in Virginia. First, Hampton Roads is home to one of the best natural harbors on the East Coast. It never freezes, is relatively sheltered, has a deep channel, and there are no bridges to prevent Navy ships from entering and exiting. Hampton Roads also has a unique strategic asset in its maritime industry, which boasts shipyards capable of building any class of ship and about one-fifth of the entire nation's shipbuilders, according to the Census Bureau. Hampton Roads is where everything comes together: ships from the piers and dry docks, sailors fresh from training at Dam Neck Annex, aviators and aircraft from Naval Air Station Oceana and ammunition from Naval Weapons Station Yorktown. All these ingredients are combined in training areas off the VA Capes, where our forces undergo complex exercises to build skill and unit cohesion before deploying.
Hampton Roads is home to a lot of our military's brains, as well as its brawn. Norfolk is home to a number of Navy headquarters overseeing the fleet and its future development, as well as the only NATO headquarters on U.S. soil. Across the water, Air Combat Command at Langley Air Force Base is responsible for thinking about the future of air warfare, while Training and Doctrine Command at Fort Eustis is where the Army is designing/building its future force. Throughout the region, modeling and simulation centers create virtual worlds where our warfighters can train and try out new tactics. And in one nondescript brick building on Norfolk naval base, the military is operating a Joint Information Operations Range, a virtual space in which U.S. government cyber warriors can safely practice waging cyber warfare without effecting civilian networks.
With all this activity, it's not surprising 45 percent of Hampton Roads' economy is supported by federal spending — mostly defense related — while 36 percent of jobs in the area are supported by the military. In fact, the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission argued DoD spending is more important to the region than the automobile industry is to Detroit. The military creates economic growth and many well-paying jobs. But it can also render the region vulnerable to changes in defense policies and spending. That's why, when the Navy proposed moving a carrier from Norfolk to Florida and economists calculated approximately 11,000 jobs and $600 million in economic activity were at stake, I led the charge to block the relocation, and led efforts blocking the administration's plan to delay an aircraft carrier refueling. That's why I work to diversify our region's economy by strengthening ports, shipping, warehousing, tourism, space and transportation — industries critical to our region's growth. As chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, I fight every day to provide our military with the cutting-edge capabilities they need and to champion the critical defense industrial base that supports our military.
Last but not least, the military is important to residents of Hampton Roads because thousands of service members and veterans call this area home. When we flip on the news and hear about helicopter crashes, furloughs or long waits at the VA, often it is affecting people we know. When we think about military issues, we see faces. It's a neighbor who kisses his children goodbye before another deployment, not knowing if he will see them again. It's a daughter who raised her hand in service to her country at the age of 22. It's a family legacy stretching two, three, four generations deep. It's an empty chair at the table. It's the reason why I serve.
Virginia truly is the home of the brave. As residents of this unique region, it's our job to partner together, work alongside each other, and elect leaders who are committed to supporting our servicemembers, strengthening our economy and protecting national security. Because Virginia doesn't just rely on a strong military — a strong military relies on Virginia.
Posted by Randy | April 01, 2016
From Eastern Europe to the Middle East to the waters off the United States, Russia has become a growing challenge to U.S. national interests and security -- and this Administration's weak foreign policy hasn't helped matters. Now is the time to use one of our greatest strengths, the U.S. Navy, to stop Russia from growing increasingly aggressive. I recently wrote an op-ed in National Review Online about why it is critical that the U.S. returns to an approach of "peace through strength." Read here or below.
Bring American Seapower to Bear in Europe
To counter Russian aggression, seaborne forces must be deployed to European waters.
National Review Online
By J. Randy Forbes — April 1, 2016
As a result of the brazen Russian aggression recently witnessed in the Crimea, Ukraine, and Syria, there is widespread recognition that U.S. military presence and activity in Europe must be increased. Even the Obama administration is reversing course on its plans to shutter European bases and withdraw forces and equipment from the continent. To date, however, public discussion and government proposals have been too narrowly focused on the deployment of additional American ground and air forces to deter and counter further Russian aggression. It is true that these forces are needed to signal American commitment. But, while necessary, increased presence on the ground will not be sufficient, and ought to be complemented by the presence of additional American naval forces in European waters.
Deterring Russian aggression in Europe is not a new mission for our naval forces. Indeed, throughout the Cold War, it was a top priority. During this period the Navy typically maintained one or two carrier strike groups on station in the Mediterranean, ready to respond to any conflict or crisis along with one to two dozen surface combatants, amphibious ships carrying Marines, and an unspecified number of submarines. In the North Atlantic, American submarines, surface ships, and aircraft were constantly tracking Soviet subs threatening the United States and our sea lanes to Europe. Perhaps most important, ballistic-missile submarines were kept constantly on station, undetectable beneath the waves, ensuring that our nation and the NATO alliance had the ability to respond to even the most devastating nuclear attack.
Today, however, U.S. naval presence in Europe is a fraction of its former self. Our combat forces in the Mediterranean have been scaled back from dozens of ships to only four destroyers, just one of which is continuously at sea and in position to intercept missiles coming from Iran. Carriers are now present in the region only as they transit to the Middle East, and amphibious ships have become so scarce in the theater that the Marine Corps is considering deploying aboard foreign ships. While our NATO allies keep most of their naval forces in European waters, the size of these forces has declined significantly.
As a result of these trends, the United States and our partners are finding it hard to deal with increasingly threatening Russian naval activity, and to project power into strategically critical areas that are coming under threat. It has been widely reported that Russian submarines are operating at levels of activity not seen since the Cold War, and threatening the undersea cables that are critical for telecommunications and financial transactions. Russian surface forces and subs have also been more active on Europe’s watery flanks in the Baltic, the Black Sea, and the eastern Mediterranean, and have even launched cruise missiles into Syria. Moreover, as our top commander in Europe, General Philip Breedlove, recently told Congress, Russia has also been deploying land-based anti-ship and anti-air missiles along the coasts of the Baltic, the Black Sea, and Syria to create “bubbles” of well-defended water and airspace into which even our most capable forces will be challenged to go. Together, these developments have given Russia strategic leverage over America’s allies in Europe and called into question our ability to defend them.
To mitigate these threats and restore stability in Europe, America must bring more seapower to bear on the continent. Starting at the top, America must sustain and modernize its nuclear deterrent so that Russia, which has once again taken to brandishing its 1,790 active nuclear warheads, will never question our ability to respond to a nuclear attack. The Navy’s next-generation Ohio replacement submarines, which will safeguard 70 percent of our total nuclear arsenal, will play the most important role in that. To deter and respond to conventional attacks, more U.S. naval and amphibious forces should be deployed to European waters, including the Mediterranean, where they will also be able to respond to terrorist threats and pop-up crises in the Middle East and northern Africa. Larger numbers will be required to counter Russia’s growing fleet, and new capabilities and concepts of operation must be developed to counter the “anti-access/area-denial” challenges that General Breedlove is worried about.
These burdens of deterring Russia will fall upon a Navy and Marine Corps that are stressed to meet the other demands already thrust upon them. With only 272 ships — less than half of Reagan’s fleet, and less than one third of what we had under President Kennedy — our Navy will be hard-pressed to provide the presence and surge capacity needed to simultaneously deter conflict in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. But we cannot afford to continue “pivoting” into one theater at the expense of another. What we must do instead is increase investment in our Navy and rebuild the fleet that we need for national defense, not the one that recent administrations have been willing to pay for.
Seventy years ago, Winston Churchill said of the Russians that “there is nothing they admire so much as strength and there is nothing for which they have less respect than weakness, especially military weakness.” We have seen what Russia makes of weakness. It is past time we rebuilt our fleet and restored deterrence in Europe.
Posted by Randy | March 31, 2016
Wanted to pass this along in case you missed it – earlier today I joined Fox Business to discuss the recent news that the Pentagon is planning on transferring nearly a dozen more terrorist detainees held at Guantanamo Bay to other countries. This Administration needs to understand that defeating ISIS and protecting American citizens are our top priorities -- not releasing terrorists from GITMO. Watch the video here or click below:
Posted by Randy | March 30, 2016
Every year since 1982, the United States House of Representatives has conducted an art competition for high school students across the nation as a way to highlight the importance of fine arts in schools. Since its inception, more than 650,000 students have participated. Winning pieces are displayed in the Cannon Tunnel, a prominent thoroughfare in the U.S. Capitol building, where they are viewed by thousands of visitors each year.
The 2016 Congressional Arts Competition is underway, and I would like to invite all high school students in the Fourth District of Virginia to participate. Through this competition, one student from Virginia’s Fourth Congressional District will have the unique opportunity to have their artwork showcased in our Nation’s Capitol, alongside compositions of other student artists from across the country. The student whose artwork is chosen to be displayed will also be invited to attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Washington, D.C. in June.
You can read more about the competition on my website athttp://forbes.house.gov/ConstituentServices/artscompetition.htm
All submissions must be received in one of my district offices by Wednesday, April 20th in order to be considered. Please send all entries to:
Posted by Randy | March 25, 2016
I’m committed to continuing to work to preserve the critical national asset that is America’s Merchant Marine.
Posted by Randy | March 24, 2016
When Iran detained ten U.S. sailors in January, Americans here at home watched the video footage with anger and concern. To many of us, the incident revealed yet again how foolish and short-sighted the Administration’s dealings with this anti-American regime really are. I also take it as another sign of the impact that devastating cuts to our military are having on the training and readiness of U.S. forces being sent in harm’s way.
I recently received a briefing on the initial findings of the Navy’s official investigation into the situation, and am deeply concerned by what I heard. That’s why, when I was chairing a recent Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee hearing, I urged all Members of Congress to receive the same briefing on this incident as soon as possible, so that we can work immediately to ensure that it never happens again.
If you missed it, watch WVEC's coverage of my comments here or below.
I will continue to fight every day to ensure that the servicemembers who are sent into harm’s way are equipped with the training and resources they need to successfully accomplish their missions and return safely home.
Posted by Randy | March 23, 2016
It seems every time we flip on the news, we see a world that seems significantly more dangerous than it was even just a few years ago. Yesterday’s horrific terrorist attack by Islamic State militants on Brussels was the latest example.
From the rise of ISIS to the aggressive behavior of Russia and China, U.S. national security faces serious challenges around the globe. Yet, in a House Armed Services Committee hearing yesterday, the nation's highest-ranking military officer admitted that the Administration's proposed military budget does not take into account any of these threats.
Watch below the clip of my questioning the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on whether the Administration’s defense budget and strategy reflects the real threats facing this country.
Posted by Randy | March 23, 2016
Today, on March 23rd, the Supreme Court is hearing seven cases from religious non-profit organizations, including the Little Sisters of the Poor, challenging the oppressive fines and dictates of the federal government through a rule issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under Obamacare, known as the HHS mandate.
Every American should be free to live out their faith without fear of punishment from the government.
Posted by Randy | March 14, 2016
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