SEA-AIR-SPACE NEWS: Sea Service Leaders Double Down on 2023 Budget Request
Berger, Gilday and Schultz
Defense Dept. photoNATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Leaders from the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard insist their 2023 budget proposals to Congress prioritize the sea services’ advantage both today and in the future, despite the controversial feedback the request received.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday said the 2023 budget proposal aligns closely with the goals of the upcoming unclassified version of the 2022 National Defense Strategy. This will include prioritizing China as the Defense Department’s top pacing threat, boosting deterrence by fielding and investing in combat-credible forces, and campaigning as a joint force using those forces, he said April 4 during a panel discussion at the Navy League’s annual Sea-Air-Space conference in National Harbor, Maryland,
The classified version of the strategy was disseminated to Congress on March 28, and the unclassified document is forthcoming, according to the Defense Department.
Gilday added that the investments the Navy — as well as the Marine Corps and Coast Guard — are making now are aiding them in their future goals.
“I think you can take a look at the investments that we’re making and the force that we are fielding in this decade … [and] over the next five years,” he said. The transition period between 2028 and 2032 will really come alive in the 2030s for the three services, he said.
The Department of the Navy requested a total of $230.8 billion for fiscal year 2023, according to budget documents released March 28. This would include a $180.5 billion budget for the Navy and a $50.3 billion budget for the Marine Corps, if approved. At the same time, the Coast Guard has requested $13.8 billion for 2023.
Gilday said the Navy’s undersea, surface, air and cyber investments are critical to the change it is attempting to make. He cited the Virginia-class fast-attack submarines being loaded with hypersonic weapons, advancements in fielding the Constellation-class guided missile frigate and the new MQ-25 Stingray autonomous refueling drone as just some capabilities moving the Navy towards its modernization goals.
In its 2023 budget request, the Navy is also asking to buy nine ships while simultaneously decommissioning 24 — a request that will likely experience pushback from Congress.
“Given the fact we only have so many ready ships that are manned properly, that are trained properly, that have ammunition in their magazine, that have the proper maintenance, in order to do that we had to make some very difficult decisions about divesting of supplies,” Gilday said.
While all three of the sea services are working to transition for the future fight, Gen. David Berger, commandant of the Marine Corps, emphasized the importance of maintaining current readiness.
The Marine Corps in recent years has undergone a sweeping transitionary effort known as Force Design 2030. Unveiled by Berger himself, the program calls for the Corps to divest in a number of legacy capabilities in order to free up funds for modernization.
“None of us have a belief that we can wait until 2028, or 2030 or 2034,” Berger said. “The capabilities, the forces that we’re fielding are for now.”
The 2023 budget request continues these efforts, as some $700 million will be reallocated toward “investment priorities” if approved.
Berger said a key tenant to keeping current readiness on par with future readiness is the ability to have operators test new technologies as they are being developed.
“In order to move at that speed, you have to learn at that speed,” he said. “That means a lot of experimentation, a lot of wargaming, a lot of trial and error, and the mechanisms to feed it back into your force development process to make adjustments — which we have.”
Meanwhile, Adm. Karl Schultz, commandant of the Coast Guard, said its 2023 budget proposal will boost the readiness and relevancy of the service.
The Coast Guard is undertaking an ambitious shipbuilding plan to acquire three new Polar Security Cutters and increase its presence in the Arctic. However, the service announced that the first Polar Security Cutter’s delivery would be delayed another year to May 2025. The 2023 budget proposal is seeking $167 million for the new vessels.
Schultz, however, was optimistic.
“It’s very encouraging that the administration [and] the Hill is embracing the fact that a ready Coast Guard … needs to be funded properly,” he said.