Thursday, April 18, 2024

‘The Decisive Decade’ : Defense Secretary Austin Addresses Regan National Defense Forum

Washington, DC – Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin spoke about his participation in the historic unveiling of the B-21 Raider at the Reagan National Defense Forum. He said, “That’s the long-range strike stealth bomber that will soon be the backbone of the Air Force bomb fleet.”

Northrop Grumman developed the B-21 raider in seven years. Secretary Lloyd highlighted that the B-21 raider is an extraordinary display of combat power. The secretary said President Biden has committed to stand in this decisive decade. The United States anticipates competing with the People’s Republic of China in the next few years and shaping its security future in Europe.

Secretary Lloyd also visited the Halifax International Security Forum in Canada, where he had an opportunity to meet a young Ukrainian soldier. In his second meeting with the soldier, she presented him with an Ukraine flag signed by some fighters who liberated the city of Kherson. Citing this example, he highlighted the basic foundation of America: In the struggle between those fighting to defend democracy and those bent on imperial aggression, the United States stands with the forces of freedom.

The secretary noted they would need support from Congress and other industries to strengthen American deterrence. He said, “We’ve got the right strategy and the right operational concepts—and they’re driving us to make the right investments for our warfighters.”

In November, Ford-class nuclear-powered carriers made their first transit to Europe. In the next fiscal year 2023 budget, the department has requested more than $56 billion for airpower, focused on the F-35 and F-15EX fighters, the B-21 bomber, mobility aircraft, and unmanned systems along with a joint exercise with Indo-Pacific partners to do aerial drills with American allies to protect NATO’s eastern flank. Secretary Llyod also mentioned America’s investment in the new construction of nine battle-force ships and Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines.

Furthermore, America is investing in land-based hypersonic missile batteries and an air-launched hypersonic cruise missile. The USS Zumwalt will become the first Navy platform to the hypersonic field. The $34 billion has been requested by the department to continue modernizing our nuclear triad and to bolster our nuclear command, control and communication.

To sharpen the department’s focus on the Indo-Pacific, the department is working to deploy and mobilize American troops more quickly and invest in military construction, logistics, and infrastructure across the region. The department has also requested modernizing the Marines into a highly mobile expeditionary force. To maneuver better in the critical First Island Chain, the department is also investing in nimble new groupings, like the Army’s Multi-Domain Task Forces.

Secretary Lloyd has invited Australian and U.K. counterparts to Washington for an important AUKUS defense ministerial meeting to work together on advanced capabilities such as AI and hypersonic.

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Apurva Minchekar
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