If it wasn’t clear before, this year’s defense budget sends another signal of the Department of Defense’s priorities for addressing China as the singular pacing challenge to our national security.
Over the last several weeks, Pentagon leaders took to Capitol Hill to present in open hearings and closed classified briefings the $842 Billion budget request, ranging from basic services and operational requirements to support our service members and military families to investments in research, development, and testing for the next generation of weapons and capabilities necessary to sustain our qualitive military edge against current and future adversaries.
Most compelling is the consistent message we heard from numerous DoD witnesses across multiple hearings related to China and its actions that seem to be taking “a path toward confrontation and potential conflict with its neighbors and possibly the United States.”
Oddly enough, in the same time period Chinese President Xi’s bilateral summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, seemed to overtly signal China’s intentions to challenge the current global order and replace it with one more favorable to China as the premier global power of the future.
Of particular note in this year’s budget request is the 40% increase over last year for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative, a key line of funding created by Congress in the FY22 NDAA to better focus resourcing for the Pacific region. Similarly, the FY24 request of $145 billion for research and development continues to fund at higher levels than in the past. This includes everything from hypersonic missiles to greater missile interception and defense technology, next generation interceptors, and modernization of Army and Marine Corps combat equipment including developments like the optionally manned combat vehicle. These investments also focus on building space capabilities and modernizing nuclear enterprises.
China’s persistent aggressive maneuvering in the Pacific and globally makes military readiness and innovation critical national priorities and absolutely essential to maintain our position as the strongest nation on the planet. The FY24 budget continues the shift in focus to readiness and modernization as the global order as we know it continues to be challenged.