Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  I also want to welcome Admiral Gilday to this confirmation hearing regarding his nomination to be the Chief of Naval Operations. 

I want to thank you for your many years of exemplary service to our nation, and for your willingness to continue to serve.  I also want to thank your family, who also serve, for their dedication and support, which is so critical to our military’s success.    

Admiral Gilday, you have an exemplary record of service and I believe you are well qualified to be the Chief of Naval Operations. 

If you are confirmed as Chief of Naval Operations, you will be tasked with recruiting and retaining a quality force, and ensuring that force contains the necessary structure and readiness levels to meet our nation’s current challenges, and the posture to respond to tomorrow’s threats.

The Navy is already challenged to procure needed ships and aircraft on time and on budget, and this challenge will be compounded by the need to recapitalize the ballistic missile submarine fleet that was built in the 1980s.  The Navy is also struggling to maintain and support the ships and aircraft we already have in the inventory, including having some attack submarines that are unable to conduct operations due to delayed maintenance availabilities.  In addition, if you are confirmed, you will have to face the challenge of implementing programs to improve readiness and professionalism in the Navy’s fleet to avoid preventable accidents like the McCain and Fitzgerald.  Admiral Gilday, I am interested in your vision of the Navy and how you would go about making that vision a reality.

A major focus of the committee this year has been the state of privatized military housing.  I saw this first hand in my visit to Navy family housing in Rhode Island.  Admiral Gilday, you will also be responsible for ensuring that the Navy quickly provides acceptable housing for all its service members, and changes the Navy system for overseeing family housing to ensure that Navy commanders assume a sense of ownership of the housing situation and prevent a repeat of the poor conditions we have found. 

We live in tumultuous times and many core values are being tested.  I am concerned that such times can have a corrosive effect on our military personnel.  It has never been more important that our Navy have principled leaders who promote respect throughout the ranks, and adhere to a moral code that can serve as an example to all our sailors and marines.  Admiral Gilday, we all expect and demand that you will be that leader.

I again thank you for your commitment to your nation.  I look forward to your testimony.