Speech
Secretary of Defense Speech

Secretary of Defense Opening Testimony at the Senate Appropriations Committee (as prepared)

June 17, 2021

Chairman Leahy, Vice Chairman Shelby, Chairman Tester, and distinguished members of this committee -- thank you for the opportunity to testify today about the President’s budget request for fiscal year 2022.

I’m pleased to appear alongside General Milley, whose counsel has been crucial to us as we developed our budget and as we continue to defend this nation. 

Let me say at the outset that I believe our budget request will help us match resources to strategy, strategy to policy, and policy to the will of the American people. 

This budget is informed by the President’s Interim National Security guidance and my own Message to the Force. We believe that it funds the right mix of capabilities that we need most to defend this nation… now and in the future.

It invests in hypersonic weapons, artificial intelligence, micro-electronics, 5G technology, space-based systems, shipbuilding, and nuclear modernization… to name a few.

In fact, this budget asks you to approve nearly 28 billion dollars to modernize our nuclear triad and 112 billion dollars for research, development, testing, and evaluation -- the largest R&D request ever put forth by this Department.

Our request also gives us the flexibility to divest ourselves of systems and platforms that no longer meet our needs… including older ships, aircraft, and I-S-R platforms that demand more maintenance, upkeep, and risk than we can afford.

The Department must be ready to keep pace with our competitors… and, if necessary, to fight and win the next war… not the last one.

That’s why we have commissioned a Global Posture Review and a new National Defense Strategy, which will further inform and guide our resource decisions.

This budget reflects our focus on the pacing challenge that we clearly see from the People’s Republic of China, to include more than five billion dollars for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative and DoD investments more broadly.

Last week, after our China Task Force completed its work, I issued an internal directive kicking off Department-wide efforts that will, among other things, help bolster our deterrence against the PRC, revitalize our network of regional allies and partners, and accelerate the development of cutting-edge capabilities and new operational concepts.

However, China is not our only challenge.

Our budget also invests 617 million dollars to counter the damaging effects of climate change, and additional funds to prepare for future challenges like another pandemic.

It helps us counter belligerence from Russia, particularly in the cyber realm.  You’ll see more than 10 billion dollars devoted to cyber security, cyberspace operations, and cyber research and development.

With its emphasis on space, missile defense, and more sophisticated sensors, our budget will also help us counter the increasing ballistic-missile capabilities of nations like North Korea and Iran. 

It funds a troop presence and counter-terrorism capabilities in the Middle East and South Asia to meet the threats posed not only by Iran but also by terrorist networks like ISIS and al Qaeda… and, in Africa, like those posed by al Shabaab.

And it helps us maintain the integrated deterrent capability and global posture necessary to back up the hard work of our diplomats, allies and partners.

Now, I know that Afghanistan remains at the top of all of our minds, and I can report that the retrograde remains on pace.  We had the chance this week to update our NATO Allies in Brussels, and I was encouraged by their continued support for the new direction we are taking. 

We have accomplished the mission for which our troops were sent to Afghanistan 20 years ago.  And I’m very proud of the brave men and women who made it possible, and of those who gave their lives for that mission.

I am also deeply grateful to the families of our service members who have endured so much as they sent their sons, daughters, husbands, and wives into battle.

We will now transition to a new bilateral relationship with our Afghan partners… one that helps them meet their responsibilities to their citizens, but one that will not require a U.S. footprint larger than what’s necessary to protect our diplomats.

And that’s one reason why we are asking to move overseas contingency operations funding inside the budget.  This will add greater transparency, accountability, and predictability to the budgeting process.  And, frankly, it’s overdue.

Now, this budget also takes care of our people. 

It increases funding to support in-home care and support, which has become increasingly important during the pandemic.

We also seek to improve military base pay, retention bonuses, and other incentives that help us attract and retain the best talent.

And we will be working hard to combat challenges that make service in the ranks more difficult for all the men and women of the Department… from getting a better handle on the extent to which we experience extremist behavior, to combating sexual assault and harassment.

We know we have a lot of work to do in this regard.  And we are ready to do it.

Chairman Leahy, members of the committee, we field the greatest military in human history… made up of the finest men and women who have ever donned the cloth of their nation.

We also enjoy a civilian workforce deeply committed to every mission that we take on.

No adversary can match the quality of our people.

I am immensely proud and humbled to serve again with them.  And I can assure you that the President’s budget request for fiscal year 2022 fulfills our obligations to them and their families.

I thank you for your steadfast support of the Department of Defense, and for all you do to ensure that we remain ready to defend this nation.

I look forward to answering your questions.

Thank you.