Senate Appropriations Committee

Article excerpt

Testimony as delivered by Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, Defense Subcommittee, Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Mr. Chairman, members of the Committee:

I thank the Committee for all you have done to support our military these many years, and I appreciate the opportunity to provide an overview of the way ahead at the Department of Defense through the President's Fiscal Year 2008 Defense Budget, which includes the base budget request and the FY 2008 Global War on Terror Request.

I believe that it is important to consider the budget requests submitted to the Congress this year--the base budget and the war-related requests--in some historical context, as there has been, understandably, sticker shock at their combined price tags--more than $700 billion total.

But consider that, at about 4 percent of America's gross domestic product, the amount of money the United States is expected to spend on defense this year is actually a smaller percentage of GDP than when I left government 14 years ago, following the end of the Cold War--and a significantly smaller percentage than during previous times of war, such as Vietnam and Korea.

Since 1993, with a defense budget that is a smaller relative share of our national wealth, the world has gotten more complicated, and arguably more dangerous. In addition to fighting the Global War on Terror, we also face:

* The danger posed by Iran's and North Korea's nuclear ambitions and missile programs, and the threat they pose not only to their neighbors, but globally, because of their records of proliferation;

* The uncertain paths of China and Russia, which are both pursuing sophisticated military modernization programs; and

* A range of other potential flashpoints and challenges.

* In this strategic environment, the resources we devote to defense should be at the level to adequately meet those challenges.

Five times over the past 90 years the United States has either slashed defense spending or disarmed outright in the mistaken belief that the nature of man or behavior of nations had somehow changed, or that we would no longer need capable, well funded military forces on hand to confront threats to our nation's interests and security. Each time we have paid a price.

The costs of defending our nation are high. The only thing costlier, ultimately, would be to fail to commit the resources necessary to defend our interests around the world, and to fail to prepare for the inevitable threats of the future.

As Sun Tzu said more than 2,500 years ago, "The art of war teaches us to rely not on the likelihood of the enemy's not coming, but on our own readiness to receive him; not on the chance of his not attacking, but rather on the fact that we have made our position unassailable."

A perspective in this regard--closer in time and place to today--is that of George Washington who said in his first [State of the Union] address, "To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace."

FY 2008 Base Budget

The President's FY 2008 base budget request of $481.4 billion is an increase of 11.4 percent over the enacted level of FY 2007, and provides the resources needed to man, organize, train, and equip the Armed Forces of the United States. This budget continues efforts to reform and transform our military establishment to be more agile, adaptive, and expeditionary to deal with a range of both conventional and irregular threats.

Some military leaders have argued that while our forces can support current operations in the War on Terror, these operations are increasing risks associated with being called on to undertake a major conventional conflict elsewhere around the world. This budget provides additional resources to mitigate those risks.

The FY 2008 base budget includes increases of about $16.8 billion over last year for investments in additional training, equipment repair and replacement, and intelligence and support. …