Congressman Mike Rogers, R-Alabama, on Wednesday questioned General Charles Brown, chief of staff of the Air Force, about if he shared the same concerns regarding President Joe Biden’s defense budget top-line as service chiefs of the Navy and Marine Corps expressed the day before.
“General Brown, I’ve made it pretty clear in my opening statement that I’m unhappy with this top-line,” Rogers said in Armed Services Committee hearings. “Yesterday we had your naval counterparts, sitting at that table, and General Berger said, ‘if our budgets don’t even match inflation, the risk is high, that at some point in the future, we’re overmatched and that’s not a place I want to be.’ Admiral Gilday said ‘If the Navy’s top line remains flat or lower, the fleet will decrease.’ Do you share their concerns about this top line and what it would mean to our readiness and capabilities?”
Brown testified: “Ranking Member Rogers I do, and this is why is exactly why I wrote accelerate change to lose, because I do see risk if we do not. Whether you increase the budget or not, and I realize that increasing the budget will be helpful, but as the Chairman mentioned, we’ve got to do things differently, a bit smarter in executing the budget we do have. And part of that is actually, as part of this FY22 budget, the ability to modernize, which includes retiring and making the transition from where we are today, to a more modernized fleet in the future and aircraft fleet in the future and capabilities in the future to ensure that we do not have future risk. And that’s balancing risk between where we are today with today’s combatant commanders, in addition to ensuring that all of the risk is incurred, 10 to 15 years from now, not only for the Air Force, and the joint team, but also for the nation.”
“Well, I completely agree with the Chairman’s view about being smarter and one of the ways we’ve got to be smarter is with the F-35 and getting the problems worked out there, so we don’t have the problems that we suffer now,” Rogers said. “But going back to, Admiral Gilday and General Berger, both indicated their support for the National Defense Strategy Commission’s recommendation for a 3 to 5 percent increase in defense spending. Do you share their support of that recommendation?”
Gen. Brown replied: “I do.”
The Biden administration has downsized the defense budget in their first budget request in order to fund their social priorities, including an infrastructure bill and addressing climate and social equity.
Republicans have questioned the wisdom of weakening defenses given the increasing possibility that China will invade Taiwan and given that the Russians has just held their largest naval exercises since the USSR existed in the Cold War ahead of a summit between Biden and Vladimir Putin which apparently has yielded little to decrease tensions.
Biden and the G7 nations addressed China at their recent meeting in Europe.
Rogers represents Alabama’s 3rd Congressional District. He is the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee.