Top Pentagon officials told senators on Thursday that they think this year’s projected military budget would be sufficient to meet the department’s goals for the following year.
President Joe Biden’s complete budget proposal will not be made public until Friday, but according to a news release published Thursday by the Department of Defense, it is projected to include $715 billion in financing for the department.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley both told Congress that the spending was enough for the department’s requirements and aligned with its goals.
“This budget provides us the ability to create the right mix of capabilities to defend this nation and to deter any aggressors,” Austin said during testimony before the House Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on defense.
Austin said the budget includes investments in hypersonic weapons, artificial intelligence, microelectronics, 5G technology, cyber capabilities, shipbuilding and nuclear modernization — as well as climate change mitigation and preparation for a future pandemic.
The budget also includes funding to resist Russian cyberattacks, counter threats from countries like North Korea and Iran and maintain troop presence in the Middle East and South Asia.
“It strikes an appropriate balance between preserving present readiness and future modernization,” Milley said, adding that it is “biased towards [the] future operating environment.”
According to Milley, it is critical that the United States invest in modernization and sophisticated technology like as hypersonics and artificial intelligence.
He warned that China is “investing heavily” in high-tech defense capabilities, and that the US should do the same.
The $715 billion ask is slightly lower than the fiscal 2021 budget of $740 billion that passed in December despite a veto from Trump.
He opposed in part because he had requested that legislators add language repealing Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which shields technology firms from liability for information published on their platforms.
Austin also told legislators on Thursday that the withdrawal of soldiers from Afghanistan is “proceeding on pace, indeed slightly ahead of it.”