Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Kathleen Hicks Remarks on President Biden's Fiscal 2023 Defense Budget

March 28, 2022 | DoD News


DEPUTY SECRETARY OF DEFENSE KATHLEEN HICKS: Great, thank you very much, Eric, and thank you all for joining us today.

Our defense budget reflects countless hours of analysis and refinement to ensure that the Department of Defense stands poised to play its vital role in advancing the president's national security objectives and the priorities articulated in the National Defense Strategy.

Today, the department has provided the classified National Defense Strategy to Congress, and we have also released an unclassified fact sheet. Based on the depth of work undertaken over the past year across the department, President Biden's F.Y. 2023 defense budget request of $773 billion, a roughly 8.1 percent increase over our F.Y. 2022 request, makes the investments necessary to implement this National Defense Strategy.

These investments are as vital as ever as we face a myriad of challenges.

The people of Ukraine are foremost on our minds. Russia poses an acute threat to the world order, as illustrated by its unprovoked invasion and vicious tactics.

Even as we confront Russia's malign activities, the defense strategy describes how the department will act urgently to sustain and strengthen deterrence, with the PRC as our most consequential strategic competitor and pacing challenge. The PRC has the military, economic and technological potential to challenge the international system and our interests within it.

We also face other persistent threats, including those emanating from North Korea, Iran and violent extremist organizations, and national security threats facing Americans at home have fundamentally changed from the post-9/11 world.

In meeting this challenge set, our National Defense Strategy prioritizes four objectives: defending the homeland, pace to the growing multi-domain threat posed by the PRC, deterring strategic attack, deterring aggression while being prepared to prevail in a conflict when necessary, prioritizing the PRC challenge in the Indo-Pacific, then the Russia challenge in Europe, and building a resilient joint force and defense ecosystem.

Our F.Y. '23 budget request makes the investments to advance these priorities by pursuing three approaches that connect our means to our ends.

Integrated deterrence is our first approach. As Secretary Austin has said, we seek to integrate and network our efforts across domains, theaters and across the spectrum of conflict to ensure that the U.S. military, in close cooperation with the rest of the U.S. government and our Allies and partners, makes the folly and costs of aggression very clear. The combat credibility of the U.S. military to fight and win in defense of our nation's interests is a cornerstone of integrated deterrence.

The administration's defense topline includes $276 billion for investment. That includes procurement and research, development, test, and evaluation. Those resources deliver the combat credibility today and to the -- into the future that we need across air, sea, land, cyber and space.

Of note, this budget ensures that our forces are backstopped by a safe, secure and reliable nuclear deterrent. Our request invests $34.4 billion in recapitalizing the nuclear triad as well as supporting nuclear command, control, and communications systems.

Our second approach is campaigning. Our competitors are increasingly undertaking activities designed to erode U.S. deterrence and advance their own interests via gray zone activities. We, in turn, will operate forces, synchronize broader department efforts, and gain advantage on our terms by tying together the breadth of U.S. and allied and partner defense activities through campaigning. Central to campaigning is ensuring that the Joint Force is ready now across the full battle space competitors can present. We therefore invest almost $135 billion in readiness.

While we remain dynamic in our ability to respond to new threats across the globe, the department will focus our campaigning efforts in the Indo-Pacific and Europe. Through our Pacific Deterrence Initiative, as well as other efforts focused in the region, the department is making investments to support our comparative military advantage, enhance our posture, provide for resilient logistics, and increase cooperation with our regional allies and partners. Similarly, our budget request makes investments that support U.S. European Command and deepen our ironclad commitment to NATO. We will optimize the responsiveness of the Joint Force, provide assistance to Kyiv through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, and bolster security cooperation programs.

The strategy's third approach, to support both integrated deterrence and campaigning, is to build enduring advantages across the department's enterprise. This begins by building the workforce that we need, investing in our most critical asset, our people. We will provide a 4.6 percent pay raise for our civilian and military personnel, and invest in providing quality, affordable child care as well.

Building enduring advantages also means that the department must continue to innovate and modernize. Of the roughly $130 billion that we are investing in RDT&E, our largest request ever, 16.5 billion is dedicated to science and technology. And we make other significant investments in more mature artificial intelligence and 5G programs.

Gaining enduring advantage also requires us to invest in the nation's defense industrial base. In-line with our strategy, we have five key focus areas for the industrial base: microelectronics; casting and forging; batteries and energy storage; kinetic capabilities; and strategic and critical minerals. This year's budget makes historic investments in all of these areas to build more security into our supply chain.

We are also focused on generating savings to the taxpayer through clear-eyed reforms. From business process improvements to weapons systems acquisition, our military departments generated $5.3 billion in savings in F.Y. '23. Those savings were realigned to meet our top warfighting needs.

Finally combating climate change is vital to building enduring advantage. By transforming the context in which we operate our climate change investments improve our readiness and have the potential to decrease demands on the Joint Force. We invest more than $3 billion to create platform efficiencies, deploy new technologies, and harden our critical infrastructure, fully aligned with our warfighting needs and mission objectives.

The department's F.Y. '23 request makes critical investments to defend our nation but our security depends on more than dollars. We must out-innovate and out-perform would-be threats. At DOD, we too often get in our own way, throwing up barriers to risk-taking and other behaviors that foster innovation.

At the same time, we face external barriers to innovation, like lengthy delays in defense appropriations that have become all too common, even accepted and expected over the last two decades. As a result, planning for the future is increasingly difficult, buying power is lost, and commercial and international partners who are absolutely central to delivering on the potential in America's innovation ecosystem can't count on us.

Both inside and outside the Pentagon, we must work to find solutions to problems such as these to realize the concepts and capabilities that this century demands.

Let me end by thanking everyone who contributed to the National Defense Strategy, our budgets, and ensuring the tight coupling of the two. The Secretary and I look forward to working with Congress in the weeks and months to come to ensure that our service members and their families have the investments they need to deter threats, and if called upon, to keep our country secure.

With that, I'll turn it over to the Vice Chairman and thank him in advance for his partnership in this effort.

VICE CHAIRMAN CHRIS GRADY: Thank you, Secretary Hicks, and thank you for your leadership. And thanks to everyone for joining us today. It really is my privilege to represent the soldiers, the sailors, the airmen, the Marines and the Guardians as we discuss the Department of Defense Fiscal Year 2023 budget and request.

With the Joint Warfighting Concept and a new strategic approach to setting requirements, our Joint Force has set out to achieve expanded maneuver in all domains, building new capabilities and leveraging technologies to achieve overmatch against any potential adversary.

And over the past several months, Secretary Hicks has skillfully led the department to an excellent outcome. The American people can be confident that this year's budget request of $773 billion ensures the Joint Force remains the most lethal and capable military on the planet. It will modernize and it will transform the force needed to win in the 2030s and beyond.

This budget resources the department to sustain and strengthen the Joint Force and it will allow us to field combat-credible forces today while simultaneously preparing for the threats of the future. And we will maintain our advantage by continuing to invest in ready, resilient and tough service members who are the best-led, the best-equipped and the best-trained in the world. However, the Joint Force must continue to receive sufficient, timely, sustained and predictable funding to ensure that we maintain our advantage and, in fact, build on it.

The future security environment requires us to innovate across all domains and drives us to optimize our investments in areas such as cyber, artificial intelligence and hypersonic programs, and we must also ensure that the nuclear triad remains the backstop of our strategic deterrent while modernizing Joint Force capabilities that enhance interoperability and ensure our enduring advantage.

So thank you, Madam Secretary, for your leadership and your words today, and again, it is my distinct privilege to represent the more than 2.1 million members of the Joint Force. Thank you.

STAFF: Thanks, everybody. Mike Stone from Reuters will have the first question.

Q: The budget earmarks $3.1 billion for climate initiatives. It's an interesting choice, it's the first time it's been broken out that way. Doesn't that present a large attack surface for budget discussions with Congress or are you going to make a significant down payment on electrifying the non-tactical field vehicle fleet with that?

DR. HICKS: Thanks very much. The national security community, including the Defense Department, has long acknowledged the importance of climate change and the challenges it presents to us. So I don't think it creates an attack surface, I think it demonstrates the administration's commitment to ensuring we are resilient.

We have to be resilient to cyber threats, we have to be resilient to climate change. Every lawmaker comes from a state or district where they're seeing the effects firsthand -- rising sea levels, drought, fires, hurricanes -- increased hurricanes in severity, and that affects our installations. So we've seen a clear alignment in a bipartisan way with Congress on the installation resiliency piece of this.

Yes, we do put significant investment in the non-tactical fleet electrification. That's fully aligned with warfighter needs. All of our climate investments are fully aligned with warfighter needs and trying to reduce that very challenging logistics tail that comes from fuel and also making sure we can pace to where the commercial market is going, because our ability to sustain our fleets depends very much on where the commercial sector goes.

So, I'm very confident in what we've put together. It is the first time we've shown those investments in this way -- second year we've tried to show it. The first time, I think we've done a really thorough job of scrubbing through the budget to put those investments forward, and I think they'll show very well.

STAFF: Thank you, ma'am. Luis Martinez, ABC?

Q: Hi, ma'am and admiral. Can I ask you about the inflationary pressures that -- in this budget? We're seeing the worst inflation in 40 years. I think that had an impact on the raises that you're -- again, the raises that we're seeing for the service members. Can you talk about the impact that that raise is going to have on service members this year and potentially into the future? And what are some of the inflationary pressures that you saw going into the budget itself, in the base this year, given, again, that the costs are rising for this budget?

DR. HICKS: [Crosstalk] Well, -- so first, I would say we obviously are seeing inflationary pressure here in '22. We've just had the omnibus pass. That omnibus did not yet take account of inflation in '22. So we'll be working with Congress through the summer on how this year sort of lands.

The '23 budget obviously starts in October and goes out 12 months past that. So we will, at the same time, be looking, over the summer, where exactly inflation lands and how inflation ends up affecting our service members.

That said, we built into this '23 budget the best information that we have at the time we built the budget. As in any year, we're going to -- we're going to be working that as we get closer to the reality, and even in execution, we'll have to work on that.

But some of the areas that we focused on -- I've mentioned already the pay raise. That's our largest pay raise in 20 years on the military and civilian side. We've put that in place. We've also looked very much at things like BAH. We've looked at the $15 minimum wage for everyone who's supporting the department. That's including our contractor base. And we continue -- the Secretary's very focused on economic security for service members.

So those are all areas that we have put investments in this year. I mentioned childcare and a few others you'll see, all of which are going to be helpful in terms of resiliency around issues of inflation. Let me just turn to the Vice Chairman.

ADM. GRADY: Yes, ma'am. Thank you. I think this is a classic example of building enduring advantage, and that is our focus on the center of the universe for our total force whether it be reserve, active, or civilians.

In that regard then, how we take a look at inflation and the pressures that it puts on our service members are front and center to everything we do. Many of the programs that the Deputy Secretary mentioned are critical to many of our families. So we look at everything from childcare to food insecurity, and certainly inflation can put a pressure on that. It can put a pressure on the budget for sure, but it can put a pressure on our people. So staying in tune to the needs of the center of the universe are our people. That total force is absolutely essential to building that enduring advantage.

STAFF: Well, I'm sure you can appreciate today is very tightly scheduled. We're about to run out of time. Tony, did you have a quick one?

Q: Yes. What is the force sizing construct for this budget? For the bumper sticker for most people who don't follow defense spending is we're prepared to fight two major -- two major regional contingencies, you know, the two-war strategy, which I know it's been abandoned, but what's the force sizing construction here, because the Army's cutting 12,000 troops, the Navy's decommissioning 24 ships, and the Air Force is retiring 150 aircraft. I got to wonder what's driving those decommissions and cuts. What strategy?

DR. HICKS: Sure. So let me answer directly on the force sizing construct and come back to your point on how you measure what we're doing. The 2018 NDS framed in the unclassified space, a force planning construct that we essentially continue, which is the ability to defeat aggression by a major power while deterring opportunistic oppression elsewhere.

There are other elements to force sizing, but that's the piece you're really looking for. Our classified NDS that we’ve shared with Congress goes into great, great detail into how we come at that issue of force sizing and provides a lot of forward-looking analysis in terms of how we will measure ourselves, so let's get to measuring ourselves.

It's very often in this town that folks are focused on a particular number, even dollar values, but also numbers of platforms, and we absolutely took a hard-nosed analytic look at what are the effects that we can create, and we used that to drive us in this strategy.

So whatever the context that you're looking at, air power, sea power, et cetera, we look to the join force capability that can -- you know-- is cyber secure? Is space resilient and can deliver effects that matched to or exceed those of our major competitors? In most places that's, most functional areas I should say, that's China. In some specific areas that's Russia.

And so, that's what we used to drive the investments we make, and I'm very confident in the analytic soundness of what we've put together.

Q: Can I ask Admiral Grady a question?

STAFF: I think actually -- oh, go ahead.

Q: Well, it's your first time in the briefing room, so thanks for that.


Q: You're the head of an organization called the Joint Resources Oversight Council. It's JROC. What impact did they have on this budget? Are there one or two items that you could point to that -- where they shaped the investment via the procurement or the R&D strategy?

ADM. GRADY: Yes. Thanks. So you know, one of the things that the Secretary imposed on us and emphasized to us was a straight line connection from strategy to budget. And I think for the military force then, there's two stops along the way along that straight line, right?

The first is the concept of operations. So the Joint Warfighting Construct across the four capability -- the four functional battles that include command and control, contested logistics, fires, and information advantage. And then there's the requirements piece, so this gets to your question about the JROC.

Within our portfolio constructs I'll give you -- I'll give you two examples. One, and you'll get a chance to hear these later, but I'll give you two examples and you'll see them across all four of the functional battles.

The first would be about $7 billion in lethal -- highly lethal precision-guided munitions. That's one that derived from those strategic directives that the JROC put out. The second would be about $11 billion to [inaudible] across our networks. So critical to command and control, another one of those functional battles that are -- is so important to us, so I'm very confident that the JROC is having a significant impact, which is what I'm responsible to help with.

STAFF: Well, thank you very much, sir. Unfortunately, we're out of time. So I'd like to thank the Deputy and the Vice Chairman for coming out today. Appreciate it. Thanks, everybody.

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