The U.S. military is a critical component of national power, and the combination of the nation's diplomatic efforts, economic strength, overriding hope of the American message and military capability will deter its adversaries and preserve great power peace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark A. Milley said June 23.
The chairman and Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III testified before the House Armed Services Committee about the DOD budget based on the President's Fiscal Year 2022 budget request for FY 2022. On May 28, the Biden administration submitted to Congress a budget request of $752.9 billion for national defense, of which $715 billion is for DOD.
"We are in an era of increased strategic competition," the chairman told the committee. "The current geostrategic landscape is witnessing rapid change, and the potential for threats to the peace and stability of various regions — and indeed the world — is increasing, not decreasing."
States and non-state actors are rapidly transforming technologically, Milley said. "We are bearing witness to a fundamental change in the character of war."
In particular, China is increasing its military capability at a very serious and sustained rate, and DOD must ensure it retains its competitive and technological edges against this pacing threat. Readiness, modernization and combat power are key to deter war and maintain the peace, he said, adding that equally important are the combat multipliers of teamwork, cohesion and well-led units.
"We [also] want to resolve the issue of sexual assault and confront the issue of extremism. Both are corrosive to the very essence of what it means to be in the military," the chairman said, adding that the DOD must continue to invest in leader development and talent management required for the future operating environment.
"We must [also] continue to nurture and sustain a key strategic source of our strength, which is our network of many close allies and partners around the world," Milley said.
The days of the Budget Control Act are over, and repeated continuing resolutions are "hopefully behind us for good," he told the HASC.
The Joint Force will deliver modernization of our armed forces and security to the people of the United States at the FY22 budget request of $715 billion. The American people have entrusted to us a significant commitment of treasure, and we will work diligently to ensure it is spent prudently in the best interest of the nation, the chairman said.
"In alignment with the Interim National Security Strategic Guidance, this budget makes hard choices and delivers a ready, agile and capable Joint Force that will compete, deter and win across all domains, and [it] is postured for continued overmatch in the future," he said.
The budget focuses on the future and prioritizes nuclear modernization, long-range fires, hypersonic technology, artificial intelligence, shipbuilding, microelectronics, space cyber and 5G. These investments are in concert with DOD's recently developed joint-warfighting concept that will pave the way for a Joint Force of the future, Milley said.
"The PB FY22 budget request increases the readiness and ensures our people are our No. 1 priority," he emphasized. "Consistent, predictable budgets informed by the will of the people are critical to our nation's defense. And the passage of this budget in a timely way is important."
The FY22 presidential budget strikes an appropriate balance between preserving present readiness and future modernization, Milley added.
"It's a down payment on investments of the future, with a bias toward the future operating environment," the chairman said of the defense budget request. "It is now that we must set ourselves on a path to modernize the Joint Force, and this budget contributes to doing that."