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Strong Deterrence Enables U.S. to Ensure Global Rules, Rights

With many hotspots around the globe creating uncertainty, the United States will need more than the assistance of Congress and American industry to build, maintain and strengthen the deterrent capability needed to defend democracy and maintain a free and open global world order.

"These next few years will set the terms of our competition with the People's Republic of China, and they will shape the future of security in Europe, and they will determine whether our children and grandchildren inherit an open world of rules and rights, or whether they face emboldened autocrats who seek to dominate by force and fear," said Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III during a keynote presentation Saturday at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III smiles from behind a lectern.
Forum Remarks
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III delivers remarks at the 2022 Reagan National Defense Forum at the President Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Simi Valley, Calif., Dec. 3, 2022.
Photo By: Chad McNeeley, DOD
VIRIN: 221203-D-TT977-0324

Deterrence is at the heart of the National Defense Strategy, which the Defense Department released just last month, Austin said. 

"We've got the right strategy and the right operational concepts," Austin said. "And they're driving us to make the right investments for our warfighters. So we're upgrading and honing and strengthening our armed forces for a changing world." 

In an imperfect world, Austin said, "deterrence does come through strength. We will continue to make clear to any potential foe the folly of aggression against the United States at any time, or any place, in any theater, or any domain." 

An aircraft flies above the clouds.
F-15EX Flight
An F-15EX aircraft flies towards its new home at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., March 11, 2021. The F-15EX is a capability the Defense Department has invested in within the FY 2023 budget request in order to strengthen American deterrence.
Photo By: Air Force Tech. Sgt. John McRell
VIRIN: 210311-F-VG448-003R

Austin laid out some of the efforts the U.S. military is undertaking to strengthen that deterrence, including that on land, air and at sea. 

In the fiscal year 2023 budget, he said, the Defense Department requested more than $56 billion for airpower. That is focused on the F-35 Lightning II, the F-15EX fighter, the B-21 Raider and other systems.

The B-21 raider aircraft sits in a hangar with the American flag in the background.
B-21 Bomber
The B-21 Raider was unveiled during a ceremony in Palmdale, Calif., Dec. 2, 2022. Designed to operate in tomorrow's high-end threat environment, the B-21 will play a critical role in ensuring America's enduring airpower capability.
Photo By: Air Force photo
VIRIN: 221128-F-XX000-0002

"American airpower helps deter conflict every day, from joint exercises with our Indo-Pacific partners, to aerial drills with our allies to protect NATO's eastern flank," Austin said. 

Deterrence also happens on the ocean, he said. There, the Defense Department is investing in construction of nine battle-force ships, and continuing to invest in the Ford-class nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and the Columbia-class ballistic-missile submarines. Just last month, he said, an American Ford-class nuclear powered carrier made its first transit to Europe.

A large ship moves through the water.
Ford Return
The USS Gerald R. Ford returns to Naval Station Norfolk after completing its inaugural deployment to the Atlantic Ocean, Nov. 26, 2022. Ford-class carriers such as the USS Gerald R. Ford are one of the capabilities the Defense Department has invested in within the FY 2023 budget request in order to strengthen American deterrence.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Nathan T. Beard
VIRIN: 221126-N-QI061-2036R

Also included in deterrence are long-range fires — the kind finding success now in Ukraine. 

"Long range fires will be vital for contingencies in the Indo-Pacific as well," he said. "We're investing in land-based hypersonic missile batteries and in an air-launched hypersonic cruise missile. And the USS Zumwalt will become the first Navy platform to field hypersonics." 

A large ship moves through the water.
USS Zumwalt
The USS Zumwalt approaches the Gov. William Preston Lane Memorial Bridge, also known as the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, as the ship travels to its new home port of San Diego, Calif. The U.S. military depends on the technology built in to systems such as the Zumwalt. The Defense Department recently stood up the Office of Strategic Capital to ensure that technologies under development right now, which may be critical to future U.S. military requirements, are able to get the funding they need to make it to market.
Photo By: Liz Wolter, Navy
VIRIN: 161017-N-CE233-284

Perhaps the strongest deterrent, Austin said, is America's nuclear capability. And there's plenty of investment there as well, he told the audience. 

"Deterrence means a safe, secure and effective nuclear arsenal as the ultimate backstop to deter strategic attacks on our country and our allies, including NATO, Japan and the Republic of Korea," he said, adding that the fiscal year 2023 budget includes $34 billion to modernize the nuclear triad and to bolster nuclear command, control and communications. 

Austin called on Congress to pass an on-time appropriation to ensure the department gets the capabilities needed to further strengthen its deterrent capability.

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