ANALYSIS – I have written that “Biden’s Defense Budget Fails to Meet Minimum National Security Needs,” and Biden’s defense budget is “The Greatest Threat to US National Security – Not ‘Extremism’ or Climate Change’ – as Biden has claimed. And now more experts are lining up to make similar assessments.
Expert national security witnesses told members of the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that President Biden’s fiscal 2022 defense budget request accepts too much near-term risk in exchange for funding long-term needs.
As Andrew Clevenger reports:
Under-resourcing current national security demands could fail to deter regional ambitions of China and Russia and invite a conflict that the United States is ill-equipped to handle, the experts warned.
Pentagon leaders, including Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III and Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, have described the Pentagon’s $715 billion fiscal 2022 budget request as biased toward the future, noted Stacie Pettyjohn, [a specialist in defense strategy and wargaming] and director of the Defense Program at the Center for a New American Security.
But the problem is not the long term, but the more dangerous near-term. Experts argue that in the budget request are indications that Team Biden’s national defense strategy, still under development, might not sufficiently prioritize deterring great power aggression now and for the immediate future.
Near-term deterrence requires developing a military capable of defeating a conventional attack and strengthening strategic stability, Pettyjohn said.
“Absent significant changes to the current U.S. force structure, considerable investments in emerging technologies, and the development of new operating concepts, the U.S. military could lose a war against a great power like China or Russia,” she added.
Other witnesses, such as Roger Zakheim, director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute, testified that Congress should fund the Pentagon as envisioned in 2018 by the Trump administration’s National Defense Strategy.
That strategy called for 3-5 percent annual growth year over year. Accounting for growing inflation, Biden’s budget actually represents a cut in buying power from the last of President Trump’s budgets, Zakheim added.
Zakheim was also a former deputy staff director and general counsel for the House Armed Services Committee who also served on the National Defense Strategy Commission, a panel of experts created by Congress that reviewed and endorsed the 2018 Trump National Defense Strategy.
Clevenger reports that Zakheim added:
By retiring aging weapons that still have some functionality — known in the defense world as “legacy systems” — the budget might invite aggression from China in Taiwan or Russia in the Baltic states… ADN