March 14, 2019
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, gave opening remarks this morning at a SASC hearing to receive testimony on the Department of Defense budget posture.
Witnesses included Patrick M. Shanahan, Acting Secretary of Defense; General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff; and David Norquist, Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller).
As prepared for delivery:
The Senate Armed Services Committee meets today to receive testimony on the defense budget request for Fiscal Year 2020. We welcome our witnesses:
Patrick M. Shanahan, Acting Secretary of Defense;
General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff; and
David Norquist, Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller).
I thank the panel for their distinguished service to our country.
I am pleased to see that the Department of Defense budget request is $718.3 billion and the overall national defense request is $750 billion. This amount is an increase of almost 3% in real growth. General Dunford, you, the National Defense Strategy Commission and Secretary Mattis all recommended a real growth increase of 3-5% over the FYDP. I agree that is the right number. We have a lot of work to do if we want to stay ahead of China and Russia in some very critical areas of defense.
However, the top line is only part of the story. We must ensure that we are effectively and efficiently spending this money. That is why I want to commend you Secretary Norquist for all your hard work delivering an audit of the Defense Department this year. That audit should help us identify areas that need more attention and hold people accountable to spend this money properly.
Despite leadership changes at the Department of Defense, I believe the implementation of the National Defense Strategy should continue without pause.
When President Trump came to office, he inherited an American military in crisis. Meanwhile, China and Russia were rapidly modernizing their militaries and making the world safe for authoritarianism.
America's military advantage has eroded in key warfighting areas such as long-range ground-based fires, cyber, space, electronic warfare, as well as air and missile defense.
The Commission on the National Defense Strategy—a bipartisan, independent commission—stated, “Put bluntly, the U.S. military could lose the next state-versus-state war it fights”
The conclusion of the 2018 National Defense Strategy states we need “urgent change at a significant scale” to address strategic competition with Russia and China.
I look forward to hearing what “urgent changes” our witnesses are recommending.
Even the best prepared budget request will be meaningless if we don’t reach a budget agreement soon. The Commission on the National Defense Strategy also stated that “there must be greater urgency and seriousness in funding national defense.”
Without sufficient, sustained, and predictable funding, we will squander the progress the military has made over the past two years—improved readiness, increased procurement of critical capabilities, and investment in future technologies.
I see no bigger imperative than this: to reach a budget agreement immediately in order to fully fund defense and fully implement the National Defense Strategy in a timely manner.