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Secretary of Defense Budget Posture Hearing Opening Testimony at the House Armed Services Committee (As Prepared)

Chairman Smith, Ranking Member Rogers, distinguished members of the committee: thank you for the chance to testify today in support of the President’s budget request for fiscal year 2023.  
It’s great to be here with General Milley, who’s been an outstanding partner. And I’m also glad to be joined today by our Comptroller and Chief Financial Officer, Mike McCord. 
Mr. Chairman, we’re still focused on three key priorities at the Department of Defense: defending our nation, taking care of our people, and succeeding through teamwork. 

And the budget request that we have submitted to you helps us meet each one of those priorities.

Our budget seeks more than 56 billion dollars for air power platforms and systems; more than 40 billion dollars to maintain our dominance at sea, including buying nine more battle force ships; and almost 13 billion dollars to support and modernize our combat-credible forces on land. 

Our budget request also funds the modernization of all three legs of the nuclear triad to ensure that we maintain a safe, secure, and effective strategic deterrent. 

Of course, none of these capabilities matter much without our people and their families. So we’re seeking your support for a 4.6 percent pay raise for our military and civilian personnel and other special pay and benefits. 

We also plan to invest in outstanding and affordable childcare, in the construction of on-base child-development centers, and in ensuring that all our families can always put good and healthy food on the table. 

We’re also deeply focused on the terrible problem of suicide in the U.S. military. I will keep on saying it: mental health is health, period. So we’re increasing access to mental-health care, expanding tele-health capacities, and fighting the tired old stigmas against seeking help.  

With your support, I’ve just ordered the establishment of an Independent Review Committee to help us grapple with suicide to better understand it, prevent it, and treat the unseen wounds that lead to it.

At the same time, we are still working hard to implement the recommendations of the Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault, because we know that we have a long way to go to rid ourselves of this scourge.  Our budget seeks nearly 480 million dollars for that enterprise.

Sexual assault is not just a crime. It is an affront to our values, to everything that we are supposed to represent to each other and to this country.  This is a leadership issue and you have my personal commitment to keep leading.  

Now, while I’m on the topic of leadership, let me briefly address our military’s role in the world—because, as I’ve said, we succeed through teamwork.  And as I’ve witnessed myself in the last several weeks, countries around the world continue to look to the United States to provide that sort of leadership.

With help from Congress, we’ve been able to rush security assistance to Ukraine to help the Ukrainian people defend their lives, their country, and their freedom. 

Last October, I visited Kyiv to meet both my Ukrainian counterpart and President Zelenskyy. And we discussed our deepening defense partnership and our unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty in the face of Russian aggression. 

Even before Russia’s unprovoked and illegal invasion, we provided Ukraine with a billion dollars’ worth of weapons and gear through presidential drawdown authority.  

Now, we are delivering on another billion dollars pledged by President Biden. And our budget includes 650 million dollars more for security assistance in Europe—including 300 million dollars for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative.  

We’re also helping to coordinate the delivery of material provided by other nations, which continues to flow in every day. 

And let me thank all of you for your strong leadership toward our shared goal of helping Ukraine defend itself. 

Since the invasion, I’ve spoken and met frequently with Minister Reznikov—including  just yesterday—and  I have assured him that we will continue this effort. We will get him and his troops the tools and the weapons that they need most and are using most effectively against Russian forces.

We’ve also reinforced our NATO allies. We’ve sped additional combat power to the Alliance’s 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.

As President Biden made clear, we will defend every inch of NATO territory if required. And we are making good on that promise.

Mr. Chairman, as you’ve heard me say many times, we need resources matched to strategy, strategy matched to policy, and policy matched to the will of the American people. 

This budget gives us the resources that we need to deliver on that promise as well. 

It reflects our recently submitted National Defense Strategy, which highlights the pacing challenge of China.  

That’s why we’re investing some six billion dollars of this budget in the Pacific Deterrence Initiative.  

And it’s why we’re realigning our posture in the Indo-Pacific toward a more distributed footprint. 

We are 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.

And many of these investments will pay dividends in countering the acute threat of Russia as well, 
which our strategy underscores.

At the same time, we must be prepared for threats that don’t observe borders, from pandemics to climate change. And we must tackle the persistent threats posed by North Korea, Iran, and global terrorist groups. 
Now, the National Defense Strategy advances our goals in three main ways: forging integrated deterrence, 
campaigning, and building enduring advantages.  
Integrated deterrence means combining our strengths across all warfighting domains to maximum effect to ward off potential conflict. 

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. 

And to build enduring advantages, we need to accelerate force development, acquiring the technology that our warfighters need.  
So our budget seeks more than 130 billion dollars for research, development, testing, and evaluation—and that’s the largest R&D request this Department has ever made. 

It’s nearly a 10 percent increase over last year, which was the Department’s previous high-water mark. 

This includes two billion dollars for artificial intelligence, 250 million dollars for 5G, nearly 28 billion dollars for space capabilities, and another 11 billion dollars to protect our networks and develop a cyber mission force.

This budget maintains our edge but it does not take that edge for granted.

Quite frankly, Mr. Chairman, in the 21st century, you either innovate or get left behind. 

Through the President’s budget and with the help of this committee, we will continue to innovate.

With your help, we will continue to defend this nation, take care of our people, and support our allies and partners.

And with your help, I know that we will continue to lead.

Thank you. I look forward to your questions.