The Defense Department needs new investments, new posture in some regions and new and enhanced capabilities to address five strategic challenges now driving DoD budgeting, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said today.
Carter was joined by Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee on the department’s fiscal year 2017 budget proposal,
“It’s evident that America is still today the world’s foremost leader, partner and underwriter of stability and security in every region of the world, as we have been since the end of World War II,” Carter told the panel.
“That’s thanks in large part to the unequivocal strength of the U.S. military,” he added.
Also today, Carter said, five evolving strategic challenges arising from Russia, China, North Korea, Iran and global terrorism drive the department’s planning and budgeting.
Addressing all the challenges, the defense secretary said, “requires new investments on our part, new posture in some regions, and also new and enhanced capabilities.”
The department must deal with these and other challenges across all domains -- air, land and sea and also cyber, electronic warfare and space, where a reliance on technology has given DoD strengths and opportunities but has led to vulnerabilities that adversaries want to exploit, he noted.
“Key to our approach is being able to deter our most advanced competitors. We must have -- and be seen to have -- the ability to ensure that anyone who starts a conflict with us will regret doing so,” Carter said.
“In our budget, our capabilities, our readiness and our actions we must and will be prepared for a high-end enemy -- what we call full-spectrum,” he added.
Carter said the fiscal year 2017 budget proposal makes critical investments to help the department better address the five evolving strategic challenges.
These include strengthening the deterrence posture in Europe by investing $3.4 billion in the European Reassurance Initiative -- four times what the department requested in fiscal year 2016, he said.
DoD also is prioritizing training and readiness for ground forces, reinvigorating fighter aircraft fleet readiness and modernization, and investing in innovative capabilities like the B-21 long-range strike bomber, microdrones, the arsenal plane and a range of advanced munitions, the secretary said.
For the Navy, the department is increasing the number of ships and their lethality, with new weapons and high-end ships, and extending the commanding U.S. lead in undersea warfare, he said, noting that investments target unmanned undersea vehicles and more submarines with the versatile Virginia Payload Module that triples their strike capacity from 12 Tomahawks to 40.
“We’re doing more in cyber, electronic warfare and space, investing in these three domains a combined total of $34 billion in 2017. Among other things, this will help build our cyber mission force, develop next-generation electronic jammers, and prepare for the possibility of a conflict that extends into space,” Carter told the panel.
The budget also seizes opportunities for the future, Carter said, by making increased investments in science and technology, innovating operationally, and building bridges to companies that drive innovation in the United States.
Carter said that the Bipartisan Budget Act that set the size of the DoD budget gave the Pentagon a needed period of stability.
“The budget deal was a good deal; it gave us stability. We’re grateful for that. DoD’s greatest risk is losing that stability this year and having uncertainty and sequester return in future years,” he added.
“That’s why going forward the biggest budget priority for us strategically is Congress averting the return of sequestration -- to prevent what would be $100 billion in looming automatic cuts -- so we can maintain stability and sustain all these critical investments over time,” Carter said.