The House Armed Services Committee (HASC) approved a set of naval en bloc amendments for the FY ’20 defense authorization bill on Wednesday, directing further reports and briefings from the Navy.
An amendment brought by Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) requires the Navy to brief the committee on the service’s plan to compete with adversaries in the Arctic Ocean in the upcoming Force Structure Assessment (FSA).
The amendment noted the committee “believes that to ensure a continued projection of naval power around the world, the Navy should include in their forthcoming 2019 Force Structure Assessment necessary vessels to address sufficient operations in the Arctic.”
To that end, the provision directs the Secretary of the Navy to brief the committee on the FSA plan to compete with adversaries in the Pacific and Arctic Oceans and the Persian Gulf by December.
The briefing is to specifically address the defense industrial base and associated maritime sector weaknesses that need to be addressed to support the expanded force structure.
Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.) put forward an amendment reviewing the Navy’s Optimized Fleet Response Plan. In April, Luria questioned top Navy officials during a hearing about the cost effectiveness of OFRP.
The Navy started implementing OFRP in 2014, seeking to realign the Fleet’s maintenance, training, and deployment cycles to fit a standard 36-month rotation. This means maximizing the availability of ships for operations while balancing time for maintenance and training and an appropriate tempo for personnel.
In 2016, the Comptroller General reviewed matters relating to the OFRP and said while it was too early to assess effectiveness, it noted challenges in implementation and execution.
Now Luria’s amendment directs the Comptroller General to conduct an updated assessment and provide a briefing to HASC by March 2020 on their preliminary findings.
“Since the Comptroller General’s report in 2016, the committee notes the Navy has experienced delays in the schedule of ship maintenance availabilities, implemented a number of changes following the release of the Navy’s Comprehensive Review of Surface Force Incidents and the Navy’s Strategic Readiness Review, and is responding to the Dynamic Force Employment requirements of the 2018 National Defense Strategy,” the amendment text reads.
The assessments should include an analysis to the extent the Navy has been successful in achieving goals established under OFRP; the impact of OFRP on ship maintenance and training and carrier air wing maintenance, training, and readiness; and how OFRP assumptions of operational availability and costs are affecting the FSA.
Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Mich.) sponsored an amendment in the set directing the Navy Secretary to brief the committee on options to improve procurement protocols for amphibious shipbuilding requirements by February 2020.
The briefings should specifically include amphibious warfare concepts and requirements related to shipbuilding and modernization; options to gain efficiencies on amphibious ship acquisition; an assessment to optimize current and projected aviation and surface connectors strategy; options to expand aviation projection from amphibious vessels; options to expand command and control networks; options to incorporate vertical launch systems; and a fiscal assessment of the options.
Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) added an amendment requiring the Navy Secretary to conduct a study on the lethality of U.S. surface ships against swarm technology and deliver a report to Congress by January 2021.
The study should at least include a threat analysis of the swarming capabilities from adversaries using various unmanned vehicles within 10 nautical miles of the coast and an adversary ship; a description of Navy capabilities to counter swarm technology via kinetic, electronic warfare, and directed energy means; and a description of future requirements for surface combat ships that includes the capability to defend against swarm tactics.
These amendments in the en bloc set were approved by voice vote.