Department of Defense budget posture in review of the Defense Authorization Request for FY 2022
In light of external challenges, including increased strategic competition with China, the growing risk of cyber-attacks from adversaries such as Russia, and the mounting significance of cyber and space in the security landscape, the Fiscal Year 2022 defense budget faces many firsts. As a result, many within the DIB and government alike question how President Biden’s $715 billion budget will fare in a time where failure poses historic and enduring consequences.
During a full committee hearing on 10 June, the Senate Committee on Armed Services, chaired by Senator Jack Reed (D – R.I.), gained important insight regarding the Defense Authorization Request for FY 2022 from Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin III, and General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Austin responded to questions regarding how the budget’s proposed divestments and modernization efforts would impact Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) platforms in key regions, such as the Middle East and the Indo-Pacific, the pacing threat of China, and the recapitalization of the nuclear triad.
Committee members from both sides of the aisle, although incongruous on the budget’s substantive decline from President Trump’s FY 2021 top line of $721 billion, allotted significant portions of the hearing to understanding how the U.S. defense budget compares monetarily and functionally to that of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). China’s defense budget, which has grown by nearly $200 billion in the last decade, provides real means for overwhelming U.S. capabilities and sparking a security crisis. The proposed budget provides an unprecedented allocation of $112 billion for research and development, with the explicit goal of keeping pace with adversaries. Senators Mark Kelly (D – AZ) and Roger Wicker (R – MS), however, raised concerns regarding the prioritization of cutting-edge capabilities, like hypersonic technology and artificial intelligence, over tried-and-true systems and platforms.
A-10 aircraft comprise some of the $2.8 billion worth of proposed divestments and platform retirements. In addressing questions on these divestments, Austin and Milley assured the members that the divestment of 42 A-10s and the likely reallocation of funds away from three new amphibious transport docks (LPD) were both modest in significance and vital for the U.S.’s efforts to counter and deter adversaries. Additionally, the witnesses assured members of their confidence in the budget’s ability to deliver its stated goals—the importance of which cannot be devalued in the face of Russia and China’s combined budgets, which exceed that of the U.S.
Witness testimony reiterated the importance of modernization efforts in response to questions on counterterrorism and stability in the Middle East after the withdrawal from Afghanistan. They further discussed modernization in the context of adapting to climate change and maintaining the status quo in the Indo-Pacific. To this end, the witnesses emphasized their commitments to revitalizing the nuclear triad and dispensing remediations for previously contaminated sites.
The National Defense Industrial Association’s Legislative Policy team works diligently to support and educate on modernization efforts. In collaboration with members, divisions, and other DIB member organizations, NDIA recently provided SASC with suggestions and proposals for safeguarding the U.S.’s cybersecurity, streamlining procurement and government-industry collaboration, and adopting the most effective and transparent practices within these efforts. Additionally, NDIA continues to work closely with affiliates to provide insight into emerging capabilities and the future of warfare. On 12 July (8:00am-5:25pm CDT), join NDIA and Texas A&M University to hear from residers of the Joint Staff, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Combatant Commands, all Services, the Academe, and Industry on Joint All Demand Command and Control (JADC2) and how it will shape future domains.