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Austin: Budget Funds Military to Accomplish Today's, Tomorrow's Missions

In the 21st century, military establishments that don't innovate "get left behind," Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III told the House Armed Services Committee today.

Joint Chiefs chairman, defense secretary and comptroller sit at long table.
Leader Testimony
From left: Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and Mike McCord; undersecretary of defense (comptroller)/chief financial officer, appear before the House Armed Services Committee for a hearing in Washington on the fiscal 2023 defense budget request, April 5, 2022.
Photo By: Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jack Sanders, DOD
VIRIN: 220405-D-XI929-1015

The fiscal 2023 Defense Budget Request provides the funds to ensure the U.S. military can keep innovating, he said.  

The $773 billion request is firmly based on the new National Defense Strategy and provides the funds to ensure the United States can thrive in a world with China as the pacing challenge and deal with the Russian invasion of its neighboring country. 

The budget also provides the funding to deal with the threats posed by North Korea, Iran and violent extremists, Austin said. 

The key priorities for the U.S. military are to defend the country, take care of the people of DOD and succeed through teamwork, he said.  

The request puts its money where its mouth is by seeking more than $56 billion for airpower platforms and systems, and more than $40 billion to maintain U.S. dominance at sea. This includes funding nine more battle-force ships. The budget calls for almost $13 billion to support and modernize combat credible forces on land.  

The budget continues the bipartisan call to modernize the three legs of America's nuclear deterrent. 

Paratroopers board a military aircraft.
Latvia Deployment
Soldiers assigned to the 173rd Airborne Brigade board a C130J Hercules at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Feb. 24, 2022. Paratroopers deployed to Latvia to demonstrate the United States' commitment to NATO Allies and bolster defensive capabilities.
Photo By: Army Pfc. Semaj Johnson
VIRIN: 220224-A-HD587-0421

All these capabilities are powered by people, and the budget calls for a 4.6% pay raise for military and civilian members of the department. It also calls for more and better childcare facilities in DOD and money to ensure the department is a safe and diverse workplace. 

"We're also deeply focused on a terrible problem of suicide in the U.S, military," Austin said. "I'll keep on saying it: Mental health is health, period. The budget calls for increasing access to mental health care, expanding telehealth capabilities, and fighting the tired old stigmas that's against seeking help." 

DOD is also implementing the recommendations of the independent review commission on sexual assault. "Our budget seeks nearly $480 million for that enterprise," Austin said. "Sexual assault, as we know, is not just a crime, it's an … affront to our values, and to everything that we're supposed to represent to each other and to this country. This is a leadership issue, and you have my personal commitment to keep leading." 

An airman secures a pallet of equipment.
Securing Pallets
Air Force Staff Sergeant Rafael DeGuzman-Paniagua secures a pallet of equipment at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., March 24, 2022. The 305th Air Mobility Wing is sending equipment to Europe as part of the U.S. security assistance to Ukraine.
Photo By: Air Force Airman 1st Class Joseph Morales
VIRIN: 220324-F-QU646-1042A

The United States needs to keep leading, too, the secretary said. Since Russia invaded Ukraine Feb. 24, American leadership has become even more crucial. "Countries around the world continue to look to the United States to provide that sort of leadership," he said. "With help from Congress, we've been able to rush security assistance to … help the Ukrainian people defend their lives, their country and their freedom." 

The United States is providing that leadership, and Austin reiterated the United States’ unwavering support for Ukraine. He told the members of the committee that even before Russia's unprovoked invasion, the U.S. sent more than a billion dollars' worth of weapons and supplies to Ukraine. 

Even more assistance is flowing to Ukraine now. "We're also helping to coordinate the delivery of material provided by other nations, which continues to flow in every single day," he said. 

The U.S. military has also reinforced the NATO allies on the eastern flank, raising our posture in Europe to more than 100,000 troops. "These reinforcements include dozens of aircraft, an aircraft carrier strike group and two brigade combat teams," he said. "We will defend every inch NATO territory if required. And we're making good . . . on that promise." 

Joint Chiefs chairman, defense secretary and DOD comptroller sit at long table in front of audience.
Austin Testimony
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III speaks while appearing with Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Mike McCord, undersecretary of defense (comptroller)/chief financial officer, before the House Armed Services Committee for 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-XI929-1012

While Russia is in the headlines, China is the real worry for DOD, and this is mirrored in the budget request as well. The fiscal 2023 request includes $6 billion for the Pacific deterrence initiative. "It's why we're realigning our posture in the Indo-Pacific toward a more distributed footprint," he told the representatives. "We're going to enhance our force posture, infrastructure, presence and readiness in the Indo-Pacific, including the missile defense of Guam. And it's why we're making broad investments in such key areas as undersea dominance, fighter aircraft modernization, and advanced weaponry including hypersonic strike." 

These same investments can be used against Russia as well. 

The United States is a global power, and it must be prepared for threats that don't observe borders from pandemics to climate change, Austin said. 

The national defense strategy advances U.S. goals in three main ways: Forging integrated deterrence, campaigning and building enduring advantages, Austin said. 

Jet prepares to launch off carrier.
Lightning Launch
An F-35C Lightning II prepares to launch from the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln in the Pacific Ocean.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Michael Singley
VIRIN: 220112-N-MM912-1037C

"Integrated deterrence means combining our strengths across all the warfighting domains to maximum effect to ward off potential conflict," he said. "Campaigning means our day-to-day efforts to gain and sustain military advantage, counter acute forms of coercion by our competitors and complicate their preparations for aggression." 

Building enduring advantages means the department must accelerate force development, acquiring and fielding the technologies that service members need. "Our budget seeks more than $130 billion for research, development, testing and evaluation," he said. "That's the largest [research and development] request that this department has ever made." 

The request includes $2 billion for artificial intelligence research $250 million for 5G, nearly $28 billion for space capabilities, and another $11 billion to protect DOD networks and develop a cyber mission force. "This budget maintains our edge, but it does not take that edge for granted," he said. 

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