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Opening Testimony by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III at a Senate Appropriations Committee Hearing (As Delivered)

Chair Murray, Vice Chair Collins, ladies and gentlemen—good morning.

Thanks for the opportunity to discuss our urgent need for supplemental funding to strengthen our national security.

On October 7, Hamas terrorists murdered more than 1,400 Israelis—and at least 36 Americans—and took more than 200 hostages. 

It was the deadliest terrorist attack in Israel's history. It was cruel, hateful, and repugnant. And as former head of Central Command, it reminded me powerfully of the crimes committed by ISIS in Iraq and Syria. 

As President Biden has said, any democracy would respond decisively to such a vile terrorist assault. And I traveled to Israel just days after the attack to underscore America's ironclad commitment to Israel's security. 

Now, we fully understand that Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people. And we mourn the loss of Palestinian civilians. 

And I have repeatedly made clear to Israel's leaders that protecting civilians in Gaza is both a moral responsibility and a strategic imperative. Democracies like ours are stronger and more secure when we uphold the law of war and protect civilians.  

Now, tensions remain exceptionally high. So let me outline the Department's four key lines of effort.

First, we will continue to protect American forces and citizens in the region. 

Our personnel have come under repeated attack in recent days by Iranian-backed militia groups. 

And these attacks must stop. 

At the President's direction, U.S. forces have conducted precision self-defense strikes on facilities in eastern Syria used by Iran's IRGC and its affiliates. 

If Iranian-backed groups continue to attack U.S. forces, we will not hesitate to take further necessary measures to protect our people. 

We have also raised force-protection measures across the region. And I have deployed a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense battery, as well as additional Patriot batteries. 

And second, we are flowing security assistance into Israel at the speed of war. We are providing air-defense capabilities, precision-guided munitions, small-diameter bombs, and other key equipment, including more interceptors for the lifesaving Iron Dome system.

Third, we're coordinating closely with Israel to help secure the release of every man, woman, and child seized by Hamas—including American citizens. 

As President Biden told the families of the missing Americans, we have no higher priority than the safe return of their loved ones. And we immediately provided U.S. military advisers to offer best practices for integrating hostage recovery into Israel's operations.

And finally, we swiftly strengthened our force posture in the region to deter any state or non-state actor from escalating this crisis beyond Gaza. 

Two Carrier Strike Groups are now in the region. Last week, an additional F-16 squadron arrived in the region, complementing other fighter squadrons already in theater. 

All this underscores the President's clear warning: no government or group that wishes Israel harm should try to widen this crisis.  

Yet even as we surge support into Israel, we remain focused on Ukraine. 

Nearly 20 months into Putin's failed campaign of conquest, the Russian military has been badly weakened. Ukraine's brave forces have taken back more than half of the territory seized by Russian invaders since February 2022. 

And that was made possible by bipartisan and principled U.S. leadership—and our coalition of some 50 allies and partners. 

In both Israel and Ukraine, democracies are fighting ruthless foes who are out to annihilate them. We will not let Hamas or Putin win. 

Today's battles against aggression and terrorism will define global security for years to come. And only firm American leadership can ensure that tyrants, thugs, and terrorists worldwide are not emboldened to commit more aggression and more atrocities.

So our actions today will shape the world that our children and grandchildren inherit.

And that's why we have submitted an urgent supplemental budget request to help fund America's national-security needs, and to stand by our partners, and to invest in our defense industrial base.

We are requesting 10.6 billion dollars to help Israel defend itself. 

The supplemental also requests 44.4 billion dollars to help Ukraine continue to defend itself against Russia's ongoing aggression. 

We're also requesting 3.3 billion dollars to meet U.S. military requirements in our submarine industrial base, and to fulfil our AUKUS commitments. 

Now, this supplemental doesn't just help meet today's urgent challenges. It also invests in our defense industrial base. 

When we send our friends munitions from our stockpiles, the money to replenish our supplies strengthens our military readiness—and we invest in American industry and American workers. 

That also holds true for funding for Israel or Ukraine to procure new equipment off the production line. 

Some $50 billion of this supplemental request would flow through our defense industrial base, creating American jobs in more than 30 states. 

These investments will also improve our production capacities far into the future—and help ensure that we are ready to tackle security challenges worldwide. 

And all that means greater prosperity at home and greater security around the globe.

Finally, let me thank you all for your leadership. Your bipartisan support ensures that we can defend America and stand by the allies and partners who magnify our strength. 

I am also deeply committed to working with you all to enact a full-year appropriations bill to keep America secure. 

As President Biden has said, "American leadership is what holds the world together." And if we fail to lead, the cost and threats to the United States will only grow. 

We must not give our friends, our rivals, or our foes any reason to doubt America's resolve. 

So I look forward to continuing to work with you to keep America secure, prosperous, and strong. 

Thank you.