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Deputy Secretary Of Defense Dr. Kathleen Hicks Remarks on President Biden's Fiscal Year 2022 Defense Budget Request

STAFF:  Hello everyone, happy Friday.  Importantly, happy budget day, and thank you all for coming.  So first before we begin, I want to thank my colleague, Chris Sherwood, who has been working diligently to make it a success, and certainly it is. 

So today as you all know President Biden submitted his fiscal year 2022 budget request to Congress.  The request includes $715 billion for the Department of Defense.  To speak about these critical investment for the Department, we have a days long schedule of briefers here for you today including, Comptroller and J8.  But first, Deputy Secretary of Defense Doctor Kathleen Hicks will join us to provide opening remarks on the vision and key priorities as laid out in the budget. 

Now, the Deputy Secretary does have a hard stop after this so we will not be taking questions.  However, please do note, that there is ample time devoted at the end of the briefing for questions.  So with that, I'd like to welcome Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks.

DEPUTY SECRETARY OF DEFENSE KATHLEEN HICKS:  Thank you, Jamaal, and thanks to all of you for being here today.  Before providing some brief opening remarks and -- I'll be turning it over to Ms. McAndrew, who I think you know is performing the duties of Under Secretary of Defense for Comptroller and Vice Admiral Boxall, Director of Force Structural Resources and Assessment of the Joint Staff. 

I do want to publicly thank Anne, Ron, and their entire team.  There are so many moving pieces to this budget as you about to hear over the coming hours.  It's an incredible size and scope and they have done an especially skillful job in a difficult environment this year, so thank you to them.  As Secretary Austin has stated, he is committed to matching resources to strategy, strategy to policies, and policies to the will of the American people. 

President Biden's FY 2022 Defense Budget requests $715 billion does just that.  The request is directed by the President's interim national security strategic guidance, and further guided by Secretary Austin's message to the force which lays out three priority areas of the Department.  Defend the nation, take care of our people, and succeed through teamwork.  To defend the nation, the Department in this budget takes a clear eyed approach to Beijing and provides the investments to prioritize China as our pacing challenge. 

The PRC has become increasingly competitive in the Indo-Pacific region and around the world.  It has the economic military and technological capability to challenge the international system and American interests within it.  It does so along a continuum of conflict, ranging from routine statecraft, to coercive behavior, to the potential for combat operation.  Most immediately, defending the nation means defeating COVID-19. 

You will see investments that reestablish DOD's important role in pandemic preparedness and health force protection.  Defending the nation also means addressing the damaging effects of climate change on our military installations.

Simultaneously, we need to address, excuse me, advanced and persistent threats emanating from Russia, Iran, North Korea and other actors, non-state and transnational included. Of note, this budget reflects the president's decision to withdraw all U.S. forces from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021, and provide over-the-horizon capability for counterterrorism and Afghan National Security Forces support.

As the president's interim guidance makes clear, advancing America's national security interests requires a whole of government approach. Often times, that will mean that the Defense Department serves in a supporting role to diplomatic and economic tools. This puts the United States in the best position to avoid conflict and peacefully advance our interests.

However, to deter aggression, the U.S. military will need to be ready. The FY 2022 requests provides the resources necessary to ensure that DOD maintains that credible deterrent by sustaining readiness and protecting investments in critical capabilities. The budget also documents some of the tough choices we had to make.

We lessened our reliance on vulnerable systems that are no longer suited for today's advanced threat environment or are too costly to sustain. Critically, we reallocate resources to fund research and development in advanced technologies, such as microelectronics. This will provide the foundation for fielding a full range of needed capabilities, such as hypersonic missiles, artificial intelligence, and 5G.

Modernizing also means bolstering our capabilities in cyberspace. This request ensures that the Joint Force maintains the ability to succeed in a contested cyber environment. It provides the resources for the department to defend forward, and continues building cyber resiliency and protecting critical infrastructure.

Deterring Beijing and others who would threaten our security also means leveraging our greatest strategic asymmetry relative to those global competitors, our network of allies and partners. In succeeding through teamwork, the FY 2022 request strengthens our relationship with our friends across the globe. It modernizes our alliances and further promotes interoperability.

More than this, it also strives to ensure that the department is working with all those across the nation who have a role in our national security. That includes focusing investment in American manufacturing and innovation, especially in underrepresented populations and small businesses.

Doing so means that we will not only build back better, but bolster America's national security industrial base. The president's request also ensures that we continue to care for DOD's total force. We have prioritized growing our talent by providing pay raises for both military and civilian personnel. We seek to make investments in the workforce where the department has critical needs.

The request also looks to build an increasingly resilient force, one that recognizes and embraces its diversity as a strength. We also make investments in the military health system and a host of family assistance programs. In assuring accountable leadership in the department, the budget supports sexual assault and harassment prevention.

And while the vast majority of those at DOD serve their country and uphold their oath to the Constitution with honor and integrity, we must be ready to address insider threats and extremism. The budget provides funding to strengthen DOD's ability to identify and address such threats in its ranks.

To ensure that our investments are aligned with our priorities, our FY '22 request has been subjected to a reform process that realigns spending and reduce costs.  The majority of these savings were generated by improving business processes, reforming policy and focusing on divestments. 

Part of that reform process is ensuring that the department conducts a consolidated financial audit.  Now only does audit assist in informing strategy but it provides transparent accountability to the American people. 

As directed by the interim guidance, defending America also means setting clear priorities within our defense budget.  The president's strategy driven budget requests achieves that goal and positions the Department of Defense to meet the array of security challenges that we face today and in the future. 

Thank you for your time today.  Ms. McAndrew and Admiral Boxall will be up momentarily.  Thank you.