SECDEF: Defense Buildup Begins in 2019

Washington Report

(June 13, 2017) The defense buildup promised by President Donald Trump is still a year away, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told members of the House Armed Services Committee during a rare evening hearing yesterday.

He said the president’s fiscal 2018 request of $603 billion for the defense base budget, which many on the committee say is insufficient, “is how we are going to try to stabilize the problem and fill it in in a way that allows us to balance the force.

“The real growth,” he said, “comes in ’19 to ’23 with a program that [the White House Office of Management and Budget] OMB is keenly aware we need and President Trump has highlighted to OMB, so we have his support on this Mattis also shared where he needs lawmakers’ help. He had three specific requests: Increase the budget caps so the president’s full request can be approved; pass a real budget instead of stopgap continuing resolutions; and repeal or revise the Budget Control Act of 2011 that imposed sequestration.

During a hearing in which he addressed emerging threats around the world, he saved some his sharpest comments for sequestration.

“I retired from military service three months after sequestration took effect,” he said. “Four years later, I returned to the [Defense] Department and I have been shocked by what I’ve seen with our readiness to fight. For all the heartache caused by the loss of our troops during these wars, no enemy in the field has done more to harm the readiness of our military than sequestration.”