By Scott Maucione, Federal News Network
In a test to be the top military adviser to the president, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley stressed the need for predictable defense funding, investments in space modernization and the creation of a new Space Force.
Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee to be the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Milley warned lawmakers that the potential for another continuing resolution in 2020 would set back the progress the military made in readiness over the past few years.
“Not passing an appropriations bill will have a very negative and significant effect in terms of training, manning and equipping,” Milley said Thursday. “We will have issues with procurement, new starts and delays of the acceleration of programs that are already there. Research, development, science, technology and modernization to face the challenge of China in the future or any other country in the future will be negatively impacted unless we get the full budget.”
Milley added that the military is not going to dig itself out of its readiness hold after only two or three years of healthy budgets.
“This has to be a sustained, predictable, adequate, timely funding over time,” Milley said. “CRs in general are an ineffective, inefficient use of taxpayer dollars. We’re supposed to be stewards of the taxpayer dollars. What ends up happening is price points of products and services go up because you can’t guarantee cash flow to the industrial partner you work with.”
Congress has until October to pass appropriations bills for 2020 or it will need to agree on a CR to avoid a shutdown.
Another hurdle in passing appropriations this year is that Congress will need to come to a budget deal to raise the budget caps to avoid triggering sequestration. The president’s defense budget request — $750 billion — and the House defense appropriations bill —$733 billion — both go beyond the caps.
Milley said DoD needs to use that money to prioritize its modernization needs on the nuclear triad and on space dominance.
“Space is a new domain of military operations,” Milley said. “We’ve got a considerable amount of both commercial and military capabilities in space that need to be protected and all the technologies that go with that.”
He continued to say DoD needs to prioritized artificial intelligence and hypersonics.
Milley also defended the administration’s request for a new military service based on space. He swatted away criticisms that a Space Force would add an extra layer of bureaucracy.
“The broader issue is the recognition of space as a domain of military operations,” Milley said. “Our economy depends on space and our military depends on space. We need to have the capabilities, both offensive and defensive to operate in that domain and do it successfully. A Space Force and a space combatant command is the way to go.”
Milley said instead of adding red tape, the Space Force will be a group of people who are dedicated and focused to the training, manning, equipping, doctrinal development and protection of operations in space.
If confirmed, Milley will be one of the few leaders in the Pentagon actually nominated by the White House and confirmed by the Senate. The top positions in the Pentagon, including the defense secretary, deputy defense secretary, Army secretary and Air Force secretary are all serving in an acting capacity.
Milley said it’s important to have confirmed people in those jobs to signify civilian control over the military.
“It’s very important to fill the nominated positions and get them through the system as quickly as possible; properly vetted and confirmed,” Milley said. “Having a confirmed person in place clearly helps us in uniform.”