We Must Also Be Prepared For What Might Come Years Down The Road
Staying Ahead of Future
Threats: We Must Be Prepared
Secretary of Defense Testimony :
Opening Statement -- House Armed Services Committee (FY 2017 Budget Request).As
Delivered by Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, Washington, D.C., March 22,
Thank you very much, Chairman Thornberry. Congresswoman
Davis, thank you. Thanks to all Members of the Committee. Thanks for hosting me
I want to begin by condemning this morning’s bombings in
Belgium. Our thoughts and our prayers are with those affected by this tragedy –
the victims, their families, and the survivors. And in the face of these acts of
terrorism, the United States stands in strong solidarity with our ally Belgium.
We’re continuing to monitor the situation, including to
ensure that all U.S. personnel and citizens are accounted for. We also stand
ready to provide assistance to our friends and allies in Europe as necessary.
Brussels is an international city that has been host to NATO
and to the European Union for decades. Together, we must and we will continue to
do everything we can to protect our homelands and defeat terrorists wherever
they threaten us. No attack will affect our resolve to accelerate the defeat of
ISIL. I’ll have more to say about this later in the testimony.
Thank you again for hosting me today, and for steadfastly
supporting DoD’s men and women all over the world – military and civilian – who
serve and defend us. I’m pleased to be here with Chairman Dunford and Under
Secretary McCord to discuss President Obama’s 2017 defense budget, which marks a
major inflection point for the Department of Defense. As I will describe in
detail, the threat from terrorism is one of the five challenges, as has been noted, that the United States now faces and will in the future.
In this budget, we’re taking the long view. We have to,
because even as we fight today’s fights, we must also be
prepared for what might come 10, 20, or 30 years down the road. Last
fall’s Bipartisan Budget Act gave us some much-needed stability after years of
gridlock and turbulence, and I want to thank you and your colleagues for coming
together to help pass it. That budget deal set the size of our budget, and with
this degree of certainty we focused on its shape – changing that shape in
fundamental but carefully considered ways to adjust to a new strategic era, and
to seize opportunities for the future.
Let me describe the strategic assessment that drove our
budget decisions. First of all, 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. That’s
thanks in large part to the unequivocal strength of the U.S. military. And as we
continue to fulfill this enduring role, it’s also evident that we’re entering a
new strategic era. Today’s security environment is dramatically different from
the last 25 years, requiring new ways of investing and operating. Five evolving
strategic challenges – namely Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, and terrorism –
are now driving DoD’s planning and budgeting as reflected in this budget.
I want to focus first on our ongoing fight against terrorism,
and especially ISIL – which, as the attacks in Belgium today again remind us, we
must and will deal a lasting defeat, most immediately in its parent tumor in
Iraq and Syria, but also where it’s metastasizing. And all the while, we’re
continuing to help protect our own homeland.
Let me give you a quick snapshot of what we’re doing to
pressure and destroy ISIL’s parent tumor in Iraq and Syria. In Iraq, with our
support, the Iraqi Security Forces retook Ramadi, and are now reclaiming further
ground in Anbar Province, and are simultaneously shifting the weight of their
effort toward Mosul in the north. With our advice and assistance, Iraqi and
Kurdish Security Forces have begun the shaping and isolation phase of the
operation to collapse ISIL’s control over Mosul. That was the mission Marine
Staff Sergeant Louis Cardin was supporting when he gave his life over the
weekend – providing critical protection to Iraqi forces and coalition military
advisors in northern Iraq. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, and
with the other Marines injured in Saturday’s rocket attack. Their sacrifice will
not be forgotten, and our global coalition will complete the mission they were
In Syria, capable and motivated local forces supported by the
United States and our global coalition have retaken the east Syrian town of
Shaddadi. This town served as an important logistical and financial hub for ISIL
and a key intersection between its Syria and Iraq operations. In fact, Shaddadi
was so important to ISIL that its so-called Minister of War was involved in
ISIL’s defense of the town. We killed him, while our local partners expelled
ISIL from the town. In doing so, the coalition campaign severed the last major
northern artery between Raqqa and Mosul, and therefore between ISIL in Syria and
ISIL in Iraq. And we’re intent on further isolating and pressuring ISIL,
including by cutting off its remaining lines of communications in southern Syria
and into Turkey.
In addition to local forces we’re working with, 90 percent of
our military coalition partners – from Europe, the Gulf, Asia; 26 countries in
all, including, by the way, our ally Belgium – have committed to increase their
contributions to help accelerate the defeat of ISIL. We’ve increased strikes on
ISIL-held cash depots, oil revenues, and sites associated with its ambitions to
develop and use chemical weapons. And we’re addressing ISIL’s metastasis as well,
having conducted targeted strikes against ISIL in Libya and Afghanistan.
As we’re accelerating our overall counter-ISIL campaign,
we’re backing it up with increased funding for 2017, as the Chairman already
noted – requesting 50 percent more than last year.
Now, before I continue, I want to say a few words about
Russia’s role in this. Russia said it was coming into Syria to fight ISIL, but
that’s not what it did. Instead, their military has only prolonged the civil war,
propped up Assad, and as of now, we haven’t seen whether Russia has retained
leverage over Assad to facilitate a diplomatic way forward, which is what the
Syrian people need.
One thing is clear, though. Russia’s entry into Syria didn’t
impact our campaign against ISIL. Along with our coalition partners, we’re
intensifying our campaign against ISIL in both Iraq and Syria, and we’ll
continue to do so until ISIL is dealt a lasting defeat.
Two of the other four challenges reflect a return, in some
ways, to great superpower competition. One is in Europe, where we’re taking a
strong and balanced approach to deter Russian aggression – we haven’t had to
devote a significant portion of our defense investment to this possibility for
nearly a quarter-century, but now we do. The other challenge is in the
Asia-Pacific, where China is rising, which is fine, but behaving aggressively,
which is not. There, we’re continuing our rebalance to the region to maintain
the stability we’ve underwritten for the past 70 years, enabling so many nations
to rise and prosper in this, the single most consequential region for America’s
Meanwhile, two other longstanding challenges pose threats in
specific regions. North Korea is one – that’s why our forces on the Korean
Peninsula remain ready, as they say, to “fight tonight.” The other is Iran,
because while the nuclear accord is a good deal for preventing Iran from getting
a nuclear weapon, we must still deter Iranian aggression and counter Iran’s
malign influence against our regional friends and allies, especially Israel, to
which we maintain an unwavering and unbreakable commitment.
Now, addressing all of these five challenges requires new
investments on our part, new posture in some regions, and also new and enhanced
capabilities. For example, we know we must deal with these challenges across all
domains – and not just the usual air, land, and sea, but also especially in
cyber, electronic warfare, and space, where our reliance on technology has given
us great strengths and great opportunities, but also led to vulnerabilities that
adversaries are eager to exploit.
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. 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.
In this context, Russia and China are our most stressing
competitors, as they’ve both developed and continue to advance military systems
that seek to threaten our advantages in specific areas. We see them in the South
China Sea, and in Crimea and in Syria as well. In some cases, they’re developing
weapons and ways of war that seek to achieve their objectives rapidly, before
they think we can respond. Because of this, DoD has elevated their importance in
our planning and budgeting.
In my written testimony, I’ve detailed how our budget makes
critical investments to help us better address these five evolving challenges.
We’re strengthening our deterrence posture in Europe by investing $3.4 billion
for our European Reassurance Initiative – quadruple what we requested last year.
We’re prioritizing training and readiness for our ground forces very important
matter, emphasized, very appropriately, by the Chairman – and reinvigorating the
readiness and modernization of our fighter aircraft fleet. We’re investing in
innovative capabilities like the B-21 long-range strike bomber, microdrones, and
the arsenal plane, as well as advanced munitions of all sorts. In our Navy,
we’re emphasizing not just increasing the number of ships, which we’re doing,
but especially their lethality, with new weapons and high-end ships, and
extending our commanding lead in undersea warfare – with new investments in
unmanned undersea vehicles, for example, and more submarines with the versatile
Virginia Payload Module that triples their strike capacity from 12 Tomahawks to
40. And 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.
In short, DoD will keep ensuring our dominance in all domains.
As we do this, our budget also seizes opportunities for the
future. That’s a responsibility I have to all my successors – to ensure the
military and the Defense Department they inherit is just as strong, if not
stronger, than the one I have the privilege of leading today.
That’s why we’re making increased investments in science and
technology, innovating operationally, and building new bridges to the amazing
American innovative system – as we always have, to stay ahead of future threats.
That’s why we’re building what I’ve called the Force of the Future – because as
good as our technology is, it’s nothing compared to our people, and in the
future we must continue to recruit and retain the very best talent. Competing
for good people for an all-volunteer force is a critical part of our military
edge, and everyone should understand this need and my commitment to meeting it.
And because we owe it to America’s taxpayers to spend our
defense dollars as wisely and responsibly as possible, we’re also pushing for
needed reforms across the DoD enterprise, and we need your help with all of them
– from further reducing overhead and excess infrastructure, to modernizing and
simplifying TRICARE, to proposing new changes to the Goldwater-Nichols Act that
defines much of our institutional organization, as I intend to do shortly, to
continuously improving acquisitions.
And on that subject, I want to commend this committee, and
especially its leaders, for your continued dedication and strong partnership
with DoD on acquisition reform. We’ve already taken important strides here, such
as last year’s reforms to reduce redundant reporting requirements and
documentation. And as you’re looking to do more, so are we.
Chairman Thornberry, I know you laid out new proposals on
this last week. Some of what you’re proposing would save us critical time in
staying ahead of emerging threats. That’s very important and we appreciate that.
It’s extremely helpful. I know this is just a draft, and I appreciate that you
put it out there for discussion. In that regard, I have to say that in the
current draft, there are some things that are problematic for us. So I’m also
hopeful that we can continue to work with you on your proposals to ensure that
DoD has the flexibility needed to apply the principles in your work to
addressing all the diverse acquisition challenges we have to solve for our
warfighters. I appreciate your willingness to hear our ideas as well – including
ways to make it easier for program managers to do their jobs, and involving the
service chiefs more in acquisition decision-making and accountability – and I
look forward to working together as we have before.
Let me close on the broader shift reflected in this budget.
The Defense Department doesn’t have the luxury of just one opponent, or the
choice between fights – between future fights and current fights – we have to do
it all. That’s what this budget is designed to do – and we need your help to
I thank this committee again for supporting the Bipartisan
Budget Act that set the size of our budget. Our submission focuses on the
budget’s shape, making changes that are necessary and consequential. We hope you
approve it. I know some may be looking at the difference between what we
indicated last year we would be asking for and what the budget deal gave us – a
net total of about $11 billion less is provided by the Bipartisan Budget Act out
of a total of almost $600 billion – but I want to reiterate that we’ve mitigated
that difference, and that this budget meets our needs. The budget deal was a
good deal; it gave us stability. We’re grateful for that. Our greatest risk,
DoD’s greatest risk, is losing that stability this year, and having uncertainty
and sequester return in future years. 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 that we can maintain stability and sustain all these critical investments
I’ve been speaking of.
We’ve seen this before, and that same support, coming
together, is essential today – to address the security challenges we face, and
to seize the opportunities within our grasp. As long as we work together to do
so, I know our national security will be on the right path, and America’s
military will continue to defend our country and help make a better world for
generations to come.
See Also :
Secretary of Defense Testimony : Opening Statement -- Senate Armed Services
Committee (FY 2017 Budget Request) As Delivered by Secretary of Defense Ash
Carter, Washington, D.C., March 17, 2016