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Austin Calls DOD FY22 Budget Request 'Right Mix of Capabilities'

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Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said President Joe Biden's fiscal year 2022 budget request is the right mix for the Defense Department.

Testifying today before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Austin said the request for $715 billion would enable the department to "match resources to strategy, strategy to policy, and policy to the will of the American people."

He said the request is informed by Biden's interim national security guidance. "[The budget] funds the right mix of capabilities that we need most to defend this nation now and in the future," Austin said. 

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and Army Gen. Mark A. Milley sit  in front of microphones at a table.
Budget Hearing
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington to testify on the fiscal year 2022 defense budget request, June 10, 2021.
Photo By: Chad J. McNeeley, DOD
VIRIN: 210610-D-TT977-0167Y

After 20 years of counterinsurgency operations around the world, the proposed budget would invest in new capabilities that will provide deterrence against near-peer competitors. It would invest in hypersonic weapons, artificial intelligence, micro-electronics, 5G technology, space-based systems, shipbuilding and nuclear modernization. The FY22 request seeks $28 billion to modernize the nuclear triad and $112 billion for research, development, test and evaluation. Austin said it's the largest research and development request the department has ever made.

If accepted, the budget would allow the department to divest itself of older systems and platforms that are no longer needed. This would include older ships, aircraft, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms that demand more maintenance, upkeep and risk than the military can afford, Austin said. 

VIDEO | 1:23:26 | Secretary of Defense and Joint Chiefs Chairman Testify on the FY 2022 DOD Budget, Part 1
VIDEO | 1:43:08 | Secretary of Defense and Joint Chiefs Chairman Testify on the FY 2022 DOD Budget, Part 2

The budget request also aims to keep pace with China. "The department must be ready to meet and keep pace with our competitors and, if necessary, to fight and win the next war and not the last one," Austin told the senators. "That's why this budget stays true to our focus on matching the pacing challenge that we clearly see from the People's Republic of China, to include more than $5 billion for the Pacific Defense Initiative."

The secretary said the DOD China Task Force completed its work, and he issued an internal directive kicking off several departmentwide efforts that will, among other things, "help bolster our deterrence against the PRC, and revitalize our network of regional allies and partners, and accelerate the development of cutting edge capabilities, and new operational concepts."

While China may be the pacing challenge, the United States must also pay attention to other competitors and other factors. The budget includes $617 million to combat the damaging effects of climate change, with additional funds to prepare for future challenges like another pandemic, Austin said. 

Austin said the budget request also aims to help DOD counter the Russians, especially in the cyber realm. "You'll see more than $10 billion here devoted to cybersecurity, cyberspace operations, and cyber research and development," he said. 

The proposed budget would also provide the wherewithal to deal with North Korea, Iran and violent extremist organizations, including the Islamic State, al-Qaida and al-Shabab. 

"I'm also confident that this budget will help us maintain the integrated deterrent capability and global posture necessary to back up the hard work of our diplomats and demonstrate our resolve and leadership all over the world, alongside our allies and partners," he said.

An aerial view of the Pentagon.
Pentagon Point
An aerial view of the Pentagon, May 11, 2021.
Photo By: Air Force Staff Sgt. Brittany A. Chase, DOD
VIRIN: 210512-D-BM568-1203

Austin told the senators that the retrograde from Afghanistan is on pace. "We have accomplished the mission for which our troops were sent to Afghanistan 20 years ago," he said. "I'm very proud of the men and women who made it possible and of those who gave their lives for this mission. I'm also deeply grateful to the families of our service members, who have endured as much as they sent their sons and daughters and husbands and wives into battle."

The relationship between the U.S. and Afghanistan will transform, and the budget has that required money in it, as well.

On the personnel side, the proposed budget looks to improve military base pay, retention bonuses and other incentives. 

The secretary also highlighted his determination to address sexual assault and harassment in the military. "My first directive as secretary of defense — issued on my first full day in the office — was to service leadership about sexual assault," he said. "I made it clear then, and I still believe, that we must not be afraid to try new approaches and to change our minds so that we can truly and fully address the scourge of sexual assault in our force.

"Clearly, what we've been doing hasn't been working and one assault is too many," Austin said. "The numbers of sexual assaults are still too high, and the confidence in our system is still too low." 

Austin has received an initial set of recommendations from an independent review commission on sexual assault in the military. He has shared those recommendations with service and military leaders and awaits more in the near future. "I look forward to receiving them, as well, and making my full recommendation to the president later this month," he said. "As I've said before, what we're doing is not working, and we need to fix it."

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