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Milley Says Budget Request Balances Readiness, Modernization

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President Joe Biden's fiscal year 2022 defense budget request strikes a balance between readiness today and future modernization, Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee today.

The $715 billion request preserves present readiness, the general said, but it's also a down payment on future readiness. "It is now that we must set ourselves on a path to modernize the Joint Force," Milley said. "And this budget contributes to doing that."

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 U.S. military is the most capable force on Earth, and any country that doubts the effectiveness of the military or the will and grit of the American people would be wrong, Milley said.

"Alongside our allies and partners, American troops are currently training or conducting combat operations or other operations in 165 countries to keep Americans safe," Milley said. "We are conducting major exercises as we speak in Europe. We are monitoring the [demilitarized zone] in Korea. We are conducting freedom of navigation operations in the strategic waterways of the global commons. We are sustaining operations in space, and cyberspace. We are supporting our allies and partners in Africa, Asia and Europe, and we are patrolling the skies of the Middle East. And, as we speak, our joint force is conducting a safe, responsible and deliberate strategic retrograde from Afghanistan in good order, while ensuring continued support [of] the Afghan National Security Forces." 

Milley said the purpose of the United States military is to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic. He said this mission remains the same, but the conditions and strategies continually change. 

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and Army Gen. Mark A. Milley sit at a table.
Austin and Milley
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-TT977-0273

"We are in an era of increased strategic competition," Milley said. "The current strategic landscape is witnessing rapid change and the potential for increased threat to the peace and stability of various regions and, indeed, the world. States and non-state actors are rapidly transforming technologically, and we are bearing witness to a fundamental change in the character of war." 

Milley also said China is increasing its military capability at a very serious and sustained rate, and the United States must retain the competitive and technological edge against this pacing threat. 

"Readiness, modernization and combat power are key to deter war and maintain the peace, and equally important are the combat multipliers of teamwork, cohesion and well-led units," the general said. "We must resolve the issue of sexual assault and confront the issue of extremism. Both are corrosive to the very essence of what it means to be in the military. And they destroy cohesion, they destroy teamwork, and they reduce combat power. Additionally, we must continue to invest in [the] leader development and talent management required for the future operating environment. And, finally, we must continue to nurture and sustain a key strategic source of our strength, which is our network of many close allies and partners around the world."

The U.S. Capitol building
U.S. Capitol building
The U.S. Capitol building
Photo By: Elizabeth Kearns
VIRIN: 200124-D-ZZ999-1001

The fiscal 2022 budget request does this, he said. "The Joint Force will deliver modernization with this budget of our armed forces and security to the people of the United States at the FY22 budget request," he said. 

The budget required hard choices, but overall, it would deliver a "ready, agile and capable joint force that will compete to deter and win across all domains, and which is postured for continued dominance in the future," Milley said. 

"Our job is to be your joint force," he said. "Our contract with the American people is that we, the United States military, will be able to fight and win. When called upon, we will support and defend the Constitution, always and forever."

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