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Shelby concerned over decreased funding request for Army

Shelby questioned top U.S. Army officials during a defense subcommittee hearing to review the president’s funding request.

Senator Richard Shelby during a hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee's defense subcommittee. (GLENN FAWCETT/DOD)

Alabama Senator Richard Shelby, a Republican, questioned top U.S. Army officials during a defense subcommittee hearing to review the president’s funding request and budget justification for the U.S. Army.

During the hearing, Army Secretary Christine E. Wormuth and General James C. McConville, Army chief of staff, testified before the subcommittee.

“This discussion is particularly important because the Army’s budget proposal reflects a two percent reduction from fiscal year 2021,” Shelby said.

“The reduction is proposed despite the need to maintain readiness and make progress on key modernization priorities like the long-range hypersonic missile and improved lethality capabilities,” Shelby said. “You are both very well aware that our adversaries, including China and Russia, pose new and increasing threats that erode our traditional technological and battlefield advantages. They are making unprecedented investments in their capability and capacity, and China, specifically, has a stated objective of surpassing us by the middle of the Century.”

“Given that the overall funding request for the Department of Defense does not keep pace with inflation and the Army budget proposal reflects a decrease from last year, I am concerned that we are sending the wrong message to both our allies and our adversaries,” Shelby said.

Congressman Mike Rogers, R-Alabama, has similarly has expressed concerns that Biden’s defense cuts put the U.S. at a disadvantage given China’s growing commitment to expanding its own defense budget.

Rogers — the ranking members — and other GOP members of the House Armed Services Committee recently penned a letter to President Joe Biden expressing those concerns.

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“The House Armed Services Committee recently heard testimony from Admiral Charles Richard, the Commander of U.S. Strategic Command, that China has moved a portion of its nuclear force to a Launch on Warning posture and has a nuclear weapons stockpile that is expected to at least double, if not triple, or quadruple, over the next decade. Based on most opensource estimates, to include those produced by the Department of Defense, this could bring size of the deployed Chinese nuclear deterrent to approximately 1,000 warheads by 2030. Additionally, the Annual Threat Assessment (ATA) as presented to the Congress by DNI Haines earlier this year stated that China is fielding a full Cold War-style triad of nuclear assets — intercontinental ballistic missiles, nuclear-armed bombers and submarines capable of launching ballistic missiles. China’s ballistic missile arsenal is ‘more survivable, more diverse, and on higher alert than in the past, including nuclear missile systems designed to manage regional escalation and ensure an intercontinental second-strike capability.’ Combined, these statements by Admiral Richard and Director Haines mean that China is likely to reach a degree of nuclear parity with the United States by the end of the decade.”

Shelby is the vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations and its subcommittee on defense. Shelby has represented the people of Alabama in the U.S. Senate since 1987. Prior to that, he represented the people of Alabama’s 7th Congressional District in the House of Representatives for four terms and the people of Tuscaloosa County in the Alabama Senate for two terms. Shelby has announced that he is retiring when his current term in the Senate ends.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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