Congresswoman Elaine Luria Emphasizes Need for Strong Defenses in Western Pacific

March 27, 2019
Press Release
20-Year Navy Veteran Applies Experience at Committee Hearing

WASHINGTON – Today at a House Armed Services Committee hearing, Congresswoman Elaine Luria (VA-02) questioned the Navy’s top leader in the Western Pacific region about the fight to protect U.S. territories and maintain a fleet capable of peak lethality and responsiveness.

Congresswoman Luria is a 20-year Navy veteran who spent her career on combatant ships, including four years in the Western Pacific, where long distances provide unique logistical challenges.

In questioning Admiral Philip S. Davidson, Commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, Congresswoman Luria first discussed Chinese weapons development, specifically citing the DF-26, which is known as the “Guam killer.”

She said the Navy depends on the ability to “deliver fuel, parts, and supplies in an uncontested environment,” especially over long distances in the Pacific.

Given Chinese gains, Congresswoman Luria asked if logistics is “an Achilles’ heel in the Pacific.” Admiral Davidson responded in part: “Certainly advancements with our logistics tactics, so to speak, is important going forward.”

“I appreciate that you also see this vulnerability,” Congresswoman Luria told Admiral Davidson in her opening comments.

Unprompted in his exchange with Congresswoman Luria, Admiral Davidson added: “Clearly, recapitalization of our sealift system is going to be critically important, as it’s aging out and really has propulsion plans that are expiring in capability and our ability to maintain them.”

Congresswoman Luria asked what would happen if half of the sealift fleet were unavailable for logistical operations. Admiral Davidson said “it’s a risk to our troops.”

In response to a final question from Congresswoman Luria, Admiral Davidson said he had only received 70 percent of his requested carrier presence over the last two years. In prior hearings, other combatant commanders told Congresswoman Luria they get only one-fifth or one-half of their requested carrier presence.

At a hearing yesterday, Congresswoman Luria opposed the President’s budget request to decommission the Norfolk-based USS Harry S. Truman, in part due to the significant gaps between combatant commanders’ requested presence levels and the actual presence levels.

Video of Congresswoman Luria’s exchange with Admiral Davidson can be seen here.

Congresswoman Elaine Luria represents Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District. She serves on the House Armed Services Committee, where she is the Vice Chair of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, and the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, where she serves as Chair of the Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Subcommittee.