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Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III's Opening Remarks at the House Appropriations Committee, Defense Subcommittee Hearing FY25 Budget Request for the Department of Defense (As Delivered)

SECRETARY AUSTIN:  Chairman Calvert, Ranking Member McCollum, distinguished members of the committee, thanks for the opportunity to testify in support of President Biden's proposed fiscal year 2025 budget for the Department of Defense.  And Chairman Cole, I look forward to continuing to work closely together as you take the gavel of the full committee.

I'm pleased to be joined by our outstanding Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General CQ Brown and by Undersecretary Mike McCord, the Department's Comptroller.  Let me start by thanking this committee for all that you do to support the U.S. military, our troops and our military families.  We began see — seeing the exceptional skill and professionalism of our forces, after Iran's unprecedented and reckless assault on Israel.  Alongside — alongside Israel and our allies, we had enormous success in defeating Iran's attack.  And we will continue to stand ready to protect our troops in the region and to support the defense of Israel, from attacks by Iran or its proxies.  And our commitment to Israel security is ironclad.  And let me be clear, while we've not seen renewed attacks on U.S. forces or facilities, as President Biden has said, we will not hesitate to take all necessary actions to protect our people.

As Secretary I've always been guided by three priorities, defending our nation, taking care of our people and succeeding through teamwork.  Our budget request for fiscal year 2025 will advance all three of these priorities.

As I said, Chairman our budget request for fiscal year 2025 will advance all three of the priorities that I mentioned.  First, the President's requests will invest in cutting edge capabilities across all domains.  And this includes $48.1 billion for naval and shipbuilding capabilities, $61.2 billion to reinforce U.S. air dominance, and $13 billion to bolster Army and Marine Corps combat capabilities.  Our request will also provide $33.7 billion to strengthen our space architecture, and $14.5 billion to develop and field advanced cybersecurity tools.  It will direct $49.2 billion to modernize and recapitalize all three legs of our nuclear triad.  And it will sharpen our tech edge through a $167.5 billion investment in procurement and a $143.2 billion investment in R&D.

Second, this budget requests will support our outstanding troops and their families.  That includes raising base pay, and housing allowances, investing in better housing, and making childcare more affordable, and funding vital work to prevent sexual assault and suicide in the military.

And third, this request will help the Department further deepen our teamwork worldwide.  Our network of allies and partners remains a strategic advantage that no competitor can match.  And you can see its power in our strengthening ties across the Indo-Pacific.  In today's expanded and unite at NATO, and in the 50 country, Ukraine defense contact group that I convene.  Our budget remains rooted in our 2022 national defense strategy.  Our request positions, United States to tackle the Department's pacing challenge, the People's Republic of China, with confidence and urgency.  It will help meet the acute threat of Putin's increasingly aggressive Russia.  It will help us tackle the persistent dangers that we've just seen from Iran and its proxies in their attack on Israel.  It will help us take on the threats from North Korea, the global terrorist organizations and other malign actors.  And it will help us continue to deter aggression against the United States and our allies and partners and to prevail in conflict if necessary.

Now, today I want to underscore three key messages.  First, even as our budget requests abides by the mandatory cap set by the Fiscal Responsibility Act, it is aligned to our strategy.  We may tough but responsible decisions that prioritize — prioritize near term readiness, modernization of the Joint Force and support for our troops and their families.  Our approach dials back some near-term modernization for programs not set to come online until the 2030s.

Second, we can only fully reach the goals of our strategy with your help.  I'm grateful that Congress passed the fiscal year 2024 appropriations in March.  The single greatest way that Congress can support the Department is to pass predictable, sustained and timely appropriations.

My third and final message is that the price of U.S. leadership is real.  But it is far lower than the price of U.S. abdication.  As the President has said, we're in a global struggle between democracy and autocracy.  And our security relies on American strength of purpose.  And that's why our budget requests seeks to invest in American security and in America's defense industrial base.  It's also why the administration has requested nearly $60 billion in the national security supplemental for the Department.  That's supplemental, which support our partners in Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan.  And it would make key investments to increase submarine production.  In fact, about $50 billion of this supplemental would flow through our defense industrial base creating good American jobs in more than 30 states.

Now, we are more than two years into the Kremlin's, a war of aggression against Ukraine.  And Putin is betting that the United States will falter, abandoned our friends, and leave Ukraine in mortal danger.  If the Kremlin prevails in Ukraine, it would embolden would be aggressors around the globe.  And we know that China, Iran and others are watching what Putin does, and how we respond.  So, we look to our partners in Congress to help us make the investments needed to strengthen American security.  Through both a supplemental and the President's budget requests, the United States military is the most lethal fighting force on earth.  And with your help, we're going to keep it that way.

I am truly grateful for your support for our mission and for our troops.  And I look forward to your questions.  Thank you.