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Austin Says Proposed Budget Matches Policy to Will of American People

June 24, 2021 | BY Terri Moon Cronk , DOD News

The Defense Department's budget request will help DOD match its resources to strategy, strategy to policy, and policy to the will of the American people, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III told the House Armed Services Committee yesterday.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testify in a large room with flags behind them.
Defense Testimony
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testify on the fiscal year 2022 defense budget during a House Armed Services Committee hearing in Washington, June 23, 2021.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Carlos M. Vazquez II
VIRIN: 210623-D-WD757-1151A

Austin and Army Gen. Mark. A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified about DOD's budget in President Joe Biden's fiscal year 2022 request. Last month, the Biden administration submitted to Congress a request for $752.9 billion for national defense, which includes $715 billion for DOD. 

Austin said the budget request would pay for the right mix of capabilities DOD needs to defend the nation now and in the future by investing in hypersonic weapons, artificial intelligence, microelectronics, 5G technology, space-based systems, shipbuilding and nuclear modernization, and other programs. 

"[This] budget asks you to approve nearly $28 billion to modernize our nuclear triad and $112 billion for research, development, testing and evaluation, which is the largest R&D [research and development] request ever put forth by this department," Austin said. "Our request also gives us the flexibility to divest ourselves of systems and platforms that no longer meet our needs, including older ships, aircraft [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] platforms that demand more maintenance, upkeep and risk than we can afford." 

The department must be ready to keep pace with its competitors and, if necessary, fight and win the next war, he said, adding that’s why DOD has commissioned a Global Posture Review in the new National Defense Strategy to further inform and guide its resource decisions. 

"This budget reflects our focus on the pacing challenge we clearly see from the People's Republic of China, to include more than $5 billion for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative," the secretary said. 

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VIDEO | 1:34:26 | Secretary of Defense, Joint Chiefs Chairman Testify Before House Panel on FY 2022 Budget, Part 1
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VIDEO | 1:22:40 | Secretary of Defense, Joint Chiefs Chairman Testify Before House Panel on FY 2022 Budget, Part 2
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VIDEO | 52:57 | Secretary of Defense, Joint Chiefs Chairman Testify Before House Panel on FY 2022 Budget, Part 3

However, China is not the United States' only challenge, he added. "Our budget also invests $617 million to counter the damaging effects of climate change and additional funds to prepare for future challenges, like another pandemic. It helps us counter belligerence from Russia, especially in the cyber realm. And you'll see more than $10 billion devoted to cybersecurity, cyberspace operations, and cyber research and development with emphasis on space and missile defense and more sophisticated sensors.”

The defense budget request also will help DOD counter the increasing ballistic missile capabilities of nations, such as North Korea and Iran, Austin said. It funds "a true presence" in counterterrorism capabilities in the Middle East and South Asia to meet threats posed by Iran and terrorist networks, such as ISIS, al-Qaida, and al-Shabab in Africa, he said. The budget request also helps DOD maintain the integrated deterrent capability and global posture that's needed to back up the work of diplomats, allies and partners, Austin added.

With the retrograde in Afghanistan, the secretary said DOD transitions into a new bilateral relationship with its Afghan partners that helps them meet their responsibilities to Afghan citizens. It will not require a U.S. footprint larger than what's necessary to protect U.S. diplomats, which is one reason DOD wants to move overseas contingency operations funding inside the budget— to add greater transparency, accountability and predictability to the budgeting process, he noted. 

The budget also takes care of DOD people by helping them receive increased funding for in-home care and support, which has become increasingly important during the COVID-19 pandemic, Austin said. 

"We also seek to improve military base pay and retention bonuses and other incentives that will help us attract and retain the best talent," he added.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III testifies.
Austin Testimony
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III testifies before the House Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill regarding the fiscal year 2022 defense budget, June 23, 2021.
Photo By: DOD Screenshot
VIRIN: 210623-D-XT155-001

"Yesterday, I received the final recommendations and complete report of the Independent Review Commission. In the coming days, I'll present to [President Joe Biden] my specific recommendations about the commission's findings, but I know enough at this point to say that I fully support removing the prosecution of sexual assaults and related crimes from the military chain of command," Austin said of the commission's work on sexual assault in the military. "We are prepared to work with Congress to amend the Uniform Code of Military Justice in this regard. The IRC also recommended the inclusion of other special victims crimes inside the independent prosecution system to include domestic violence. I support this, as well, given a strong correlation between the sorts of crimes and the prevalence of sexual assault," he added.

"No adversary can match the quality of our people, and I am immensely proud and humbled to serve with them again," Austin said. "And I can assure you that the president's budget request for fiscal year [20]22 fulfills our obligations to them and to their families."