Voice to Congress

Legislative Affairs Weekly Round-Up – May 8
May 8, 2020 by Legislative Affairs

May 8, 2020
  Looking Ahead  
  For Those Who serve  

A few thoughts from our team: Small Businesses Keep Our Sea Services Afloat

This week, the Navy League was honored to host some of the most influential members of the Navy's procurement apparatus. These guests included Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition, Mr. James Geurts, Director of the Office of Small Business Programs Mr. Jimmy Smith, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Procurement Ms. Cindy Shaver, Assistant General Counsel of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition, Mr. Thomas Frankfurt, as well as representatives from all ten buying commands of the Office of Small Business Programs at the Department of the Navy.
What we heard consistently from these experts in the field of military procurement, is the critical role that small businesses play in making the sea services the best, most advanced, most innovative, and most lethal in the world. The Navy has many programs to help mentor small businesses, guide them through the solicitation and procurement process, connect them with the wider procurement community, and inform them of upcoming Navy contracts. If your small business would like to initiate or expand operations with Navy contracting, please visit the website of the Office of Small Business Programs for the Navy to learn more. The sea services are counting on you!

Advocate of the Month

You can now view newsletters from previous weeks at our Voice to Congress site here: https://www.votervoice.net/NavyLeague/Blog

  Navy League Advocacy Updates  

Navy League Legislation Affairs Committee Members can view our updated Legislative Affairs Committee Page with all kinds of resources to support your grassroots advocacy!

Maritime Security Program COVID Support
Without assistance during this COVID-19 pandemic U.S.-flag vessel operators participating in the Maritime Security Program (MSP) will not be able to maintain laid-up vessels in the readiness status needed by the Department of Defense, and the licensed and unlicensed American merchant mariners will be facing protracted unemployment. Ask your Represenative to sign a letter of support!

Navy Budget
As China takes advantage of the coronavirus crisis to escalate its bullying of its Vietnamese and Malaysian neighbors in the South China Sea, the U.S. Navy is the best force capable of responding. The Navy is the surest guarantee of freedom of navigation on the worlds oceans and maintain the global movement of goods and services conducting crucial operations even as it has been hit hard and is focused on responding to the covid-19 crisis.

Speak up and tell congress the Navy must have a larger share of the defense budget in order to maintain readiness and expand the fleet to prepare for great power competition!

  Special Coverage of SecNav Nomination  
  Ambassador to Norway Kenneth Braithwaite has been nominated by President Trump to serve as Secretary of the Navy. Supplying both oral and written testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Braithwaite made clear Thursday his top priorities for a potential term as Secretary.

Amb. Braithwaite, a former P-3 Orion aviator, believes that the Navy has a problem within its culture which has diminished its reputation and resulted in a distrust of leadership. In written testimony he said "I believe there is an unfortunate lack of full faith and confidence in the leadership of the Department which I would endeavor to re-establish and restore." Speaking before the Committee he said "culture is the one thing that creates for an organization a sense of belonging, a sense of good order and discipline. It is my number one priority, if I'm confirmed, to restore the appropriate culture in the United States Navy."

Amb. Braithwaite said he was particularly concerned with China's actions in the arctic. "If you look at the northern sea route between Kirkenes, the most northern city in Norway, coming across the top of Russia, could reduce the amount of commerce moved out of China to European markets by half. China has launched a charm campaign to try to win Norway over. ... China now recognizes the importance of Kirkenes, securing a western terminus in our northern sea route, and they are up there and trying to, again, win over the people of Northern Norway."

The nominee also expressed his desire to have a 355-ship fleet (at a minimum) as well as his understanding and prioritization of unmanned systems. When asked about the necessary size of our Naval fleet the Ambassador responded "It needs to be minimally 355 ships. Hopefully, we build beyond that." Foreign Policy magazine reports that his influence may be limited after Defense Secretary Mark Esper took control of the shipbuilding plan from the Navy in February, something that House Seapower Chair Joe Courtney has criticized. Esper's deputy is now overseeing the plan's development.

You can view the entire hearing by clicking here and you can read the Ambassador's written remarks by clicking here.
  Sea Service Updates  

The Pentagon is concerned over the increase of predatory foreign investment in U.S. companies amidst the Coronavirus economic downturn. There is particular concern over China and other adversarial nations making large investments in companies that could prove vital to U.S. defense supply chains. ""We simply cannot afford during this period of economic uncertainty the loss of American know-how in critical tech", says Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Industrial Policy Jennifer Santos.
Meanwhile, a project underway in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is said to have the potential to catapult Naval unmanned technology forward by a decade. The program focuses on NOMARS (short for "no mariners" which means unmanned) and will provide drastic data-driven improvements to separate Navy unmanned initiatives.
And, perhaps in a sign of things to come for numerous organizations both in the private and public sectors, the Department of Defense might maintain some of its current telework programs even after the Coronavirus crisis comes to an end. The initial transition to large-scale telework was a difficult and hectic period for the DOD, but now that the transition has been made some aspects of the "new normal" may remain in place for years to come.

Please feel free to forward this newsletter to your councils, as well as friends and potential Navy League members! 

BEAUFORT SEA, Arctic Circle (Mar. 07, 2020) -- The crew of the Seawolf-class fast-attack submarine, USS Connecticut (SSN 22), enjoys ice liberty after surfacing in the Arctic Circle during Ice Exercise (ICEX) 2020. ICEX 2020 is a biennial submarine exercise which promotes interoperability between allies and partners to maintain operational readiness and regional stability, while improving capabilities to operate in the Arctic environment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael B. Zingaro/Released)

GREAT LAKES, Ill. (May 4, 2020) Chief Interior Communications Electrician Joseph Christensen instructs recruits as they arrive at Recruit Training Command (RTC) following a 14-day restriction of movement (ROM) period at an off-site facility. RTC is conducting ROM with recruits before they begin their in-processing to reduce the risk of COVID-19. More than 35,000 recruits train annually at the Navy's only boot camp. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Spencer Fling/Released)

  Sea Service News  

The State of the Sea Services
Troops should expect a big pay raise next year, despite budget uncertainty - Military Times/May 8
Despite all the uncertainty surrounding next year's defense budget and federal coronavirus spending, service members should expect to get a hefty pay raise in 2021, according to the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee.

After Crozier Firing, Top Admiral Tells Sailors to 'Show Courage in Speaking Up' - Military.com/May 7
The Navy's top officer is warning sailors to remain vigilant about their health -- even as states start or prepare to open back up -- in light of the threat the novel coronavirus poses to the force.

SECDEF Esper Preparing For Future Defense Spending Cuts - USNI News/May 4
For the Department of Defense to continue increasing its readiness and modernize its forces, the Pentagon needs its topline budget to grow between 3 percent and 5 percent annually, Esper said Monday morning during a webinar hosted by the Brookings Institution.

Big Navy Frigate Risks Oversized $1.4 Billion Cost Per Ship - Bloomberg News/May 7
The Navy truncated orders for its ill-fated Littoral Combat Ship because the small vessels were vulnerable to attack and too lightly armed. Now, a new report suggests that the frigate intended to replace it may cost 56% more than projected partly because it's bigger.

The Marines Wanted a University to Study Co-ed Boot Camp. No One Applied - Military.com/May 7
The service didn't receive any applications following its November request for public universities to study the way it trains recruits at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island in South Carolina, Capt. Sam Stephenson, a spokesman for the command, told Military.com.

*Special Coronavirus Coverage*
Updated guidance allows unhospitalized COVID-19 survivors to join the military - Military Times/May 8
The command in charge of processing new recruits into the services has updated its policy for accessing coronavirus survivors, loosening restrictions banning anyone who has been diagnosed to only those who were hospitalized because of complications.

Hospital Ship Mercy No Longer Treating Patients, Remains in L.A. for COVID-19 Support - USNI News/May 7
Six weeks after arriving in Los Angeles to help regional hospitals cope with the COVID-19 outbreak, hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH-19) discharged its final patient on Tuesday, five days after it stopped receiving patients, USNI News has learned.

Yokota Air Base commander reports additional coronavirus cases among Navy personnel - Stars and Stripes/May7
An undisclosed number of support staff accompanying sequestered Navy sailors at the home of U.S. Forces Japan have tested positive for the coronavirus, the base commander said Thursday in a Facebook post.

Esper: Pentagon ready for any new wave of coronavirus - Military Times/May 7
Venturing beyond Washington for the first time since March, Defense Secretary Mark Esper got updated Thursday on the military's coronavirus battle plan and declared the Pentagon ready for any new wave of infections.

Great Power Competition
Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman says evidence suggests coronavirus was not man-made or released from lab - The Hill/May 5
The Pentagon's top uniformed official on Tuesday maintained that available evidence indicates the virus that has caused a global pandemic was natural and not man-made or released purposely from a Chinese lab.


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