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Potential for Great Power Conflict 'Increasing,' Milley Says

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America's top military officer told the House Armed Services Committee that the world is getting more unstable, "and the potential for significant international conflict between great powers is increasing, not decreasing."

Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the committee that the Fiscal 2023 Defense Budget Request of $773 billion enables the U.S. military to handle the missions today and also ready the force for the potential battles of 2030 and beyond.

A fighter aircraft approaches another aircraft for refueling.
Lightning II
An Alaska F-35A Lightning II approaches a KC-135 Stratotanker in the Indo-Pacific region, March 10, 2022. The F-35As are currently deployed to Kadena Air Base, Japan, conducting integrated operations with joint partners and allies to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific region.
Photo By: Air Force Airman 1st Class Yosselin Perla
VIRIN: 220310-F-IV266-1078C
Two aircraft carriers sail together in the Pacific.
Double Transit
The USS Carl Vinson and USS Abraham Lincoln transit the Philippine Sea, Jan. 22, 2022. Operating as part of U.S. Pacific Fleet, units assigned to Carl Vinson and Abraham Lincoln Strike Groups, Essex and America Amphibious Ready Groups, alongside Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, are conducting training to preserve and protect a free and open Indo-Pacific region.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Thaddeus Berry
VIRIN: 220121-N-XB641-1329C

Milley was quick to point out that the U.S. military is only one part of overall U.S. national power. He emphasized the military works in conjunction with — and often in support of — the other centers of American power: diplomatic, economic and informational.

"In coordination with the other elements of power, we constantly develop a wide range of military options for the president as commander in chief and for this Congress to consider," he said. "As the U.S. military, we are prepared to deter and — if necessary — fight and win anyone who seeks to attack the United States or our allies or our vital national security interests."

The president's budget request will enable the appropriate decisions for modernization and transformation of the joint force in order to set and meet the conditions of the operating environment that the United States will face in 2030 and beyond, Milley said. The character of war is changing, and the U.S. military must be ready to face the challenges that emanate from that.

Army Gen. Mark A. Milley speaks into microphone.
Milley Testimony
Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, testifies before the House Armed Services Committee during a hearing on the fiscal 2023 defense budget request in Washington, April 5, 2022.
Photo By: Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jack Sanders, DOD
VIRIN: 220405-D-XI929-1008

"In alignment with the forthcoming national defense strategy and the national military strategy, this budget delivers a ready, agile and capable joint force that will defend the nation while taking care of our people, and working with our partners and allies," he said.

The general called Russia's invasion of Ukraine "the greatest threat to peace and security of Europe and perhaps the world in my 42 years of service in uniform."

President Vladimir Putin's unnecessary war threatens not only European peace and stability, but global peace and stability, he said. "The islands of the Pacific and the beaches of Normandy bore witness to the incredible tragedy that befalls humanity when nations seek power through military aggression across sovereign borders," Milley said. "Despite the horrific assault on the institutions of freedom, it is heartening to see the world rally and say never again to the specter of war in Europe."

He told the representatives that the military stands ready to do whatever is directed.

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Milley said that China, as the pacing challenge to America, requires the U.S. military to maintain competitive overmatch in all the domains of war, cyber space, land, sea and air.

"The United States is at a very critical and historic geostrategic inflection point," he said. "We need to pursue a clear-eyed strategy of maintaining the peace to the unambiguous capability of strength relative to China or Russia."

This requires the U.S. military to simultaneously maintain readiness today and modernize the force for the future. "If we do not do that, then we will be risking the security of future generations, and I believe this budget is a major step in the right direction," he said.

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