Durbin Commends Rock Island Arsenal Workforce While Chairing Hearing On U.S. Army

[WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Defense, today highlighted the accomplishments of the Rock Island Arsenal civilian workforce during a hearing reviewing the budget of the United States Army.

“I see the value of our civilian workforce every day in Illinois at the Rock Island Arsenal,” Durbin said. “When the private sector couldn’t provide our troops with what they needed for the fight in Iraq, the civilian workers at Rock Island stepped up to answer the call. Those personnel are a national treasure.”


Video of Durbin’s remarks is available here.


Audio of Durbin’s remarks is available here.

Durbin’s full opening statement, as prepared for delivery, is available below:

Opening Statement

Army Budget Overview Hearing

Senator Richard J. Durbin

April 30, 2014


The Subcommittee meets this morning to receive testimony on the fiscal year 2015 budget request for the United States Army.


I am pleased to welcome:


  • The Secretary of the Army, John McHugh
  • The Army Chief of Staff, General Raymond T. Odierno
  • The Chief of the National Guard Bureau, General Frank Grass
  • The Chief of the Army Reserve, Lieutenant General Jeffrey W. Talley
  • The Acting Director of the Army National Guard, Major General Judd H. Lyons


Thank you for being here with us today and providing your testimony.


The fiscal year 2015 President’s budget request includes $119 billion for the Army that falls under the Defense Subcommittee’s jurisdiction. The budget request does not include funding for Overseas Contingency Operations, which is a major concern for the Committee. Until we receive the President’s plans for support in Afghanistan post-2014, it is impossible to appropriate proper levels of funding to support our warfighters serving in war zones.


To comply with the budget caps specified in the Budget Control Act, the Army is facing an estimated $170 billion in budget reductions over the next decade, on top of sequestration, which forced the Army to cut an additional $37 billion in fiscal year 2013.


How to achieve these savings is a familiar story: each military service is forced to find a balance between end strength, readiness and modernization.  The Army is reducing end strength as rapidly as possible in order to rebuild readiness. But to do this, you must accept greater risk in modernization programs. Your fiscal year 2015 request establishes obvious priorities. The purpose of this hearing is to investigate the rationale behind those decisions and determine whether they are the right ones.


Despite the budget challenges we are facing, we must not waver from protecting our most precious asset—our people. Gentlemen, not only do you represent our men and women in uniform and their families, you also represent the civilian workforce, who are a crucial part of the Army team. However, a proposal has recently surfaced in Congress to cut DoD’s civilian workforce by 15 percent, and use the savings to invest in weapons systems and other capabilities.


Our witnesses know the value of this workforce. I see it every day in Illinois at the Rock Island Arsenal. When the private sector couldn’t provide our troops with what they needed for the fight in Iraq, the civilian workers at Rock Island stepped up to answer the call. Those personnel are a national treasure.


Rock Island is also home to much of the Army’s contract oversight capabilities, which we’ve only recently rebuilt as a nation. Some may have forgotten, but in the 1990s, large civilian layoffs forced the Pentagon to hire contractors to oversee other contractors – and the result was tens of billions of dollars wasted in “Lead System Integrator” or “TSPR” contracts.


This outsourcing of weapons system oversight cost the Army dearly. The Future Combat Systems program cost $20 billion before it was cancelled, and yielded very few fielded capabilities. Another example is the Ground Mobile Radio, which was seven years behind schedule and 70 percent over its development budget by the time it was terminated.


The drastic cuts in civilian oversight were a critical failure in both of these programs, and it is a mistake that we cannot afford to repeat again.


I look forward to working with you, our distinguished panel, throughout the year; so that our fiscal year 2015 appropriations bill can enable the United States Army to successfully defend our national interests around the world.


We sincerely appreciate your service to our nation and the dedication and sacrifices made daily by the men and women in our Army.


Thank you for your testimony this morning, and your full statements will be included in the record.


Now I will turn to the Vice Chairman, Senator Cochran, for his opening remarks.