Chairman Reed, Ranking Member Inhofe, distinguished members of the committee, thank you for your ongoing support for the Army as we continue our work to significantly transform to meet future threats.
I’m pleased to appear before you today as I near the one year mark as Secretary of the Army. The Army has accomplished a lot this year, but we have more work ahead of us.
We remain focused on our three key priorities: people, readiness, and modernization.
The FY23 budget enables us to support the National Defense Strategy, take care of our people, and meet operational demands at home and abroad. We will invest $35 billion in modernization, almost $2 billion in military housing and infrastructure, and fund 22 Combat Training Center rotations in FY23.
We are modestly reducing our end strength from 485k Soldiers to 476k this year and 473k in FY23. Our focus is on ensuring a high quality force. We did not want to have to lower our recruiting standards. At the same time, we are working hard to adjust our recruiting efforts given the challenging recruiting environment that we and other services are facing.
We are committed to maintaining momentum on our six major modernization portfolios. In FY23, we will field four long range precision fire systems – the first long range hypersonic weapon battery, our ship-sinking Mid-Range Capability, the Precision Strike Missile, and the Extended Range Cannon Artillery. We are modernizing our air and missile defense systems and adding another Patriot battalion to our force structure. We continue to fund the development of both FLRAA and FARA, which we are scheduled to field in 2030.
As important as it is to maintain momentum on modernization, people are the strength of our Army and our greatest asset. This budget increases Soldier and Army civilian pay and funds a number of important quality of life improvements including barracks, family housing and child care initiatives.
We remain focused on building a positive command climate across the Army. Positive command climates begin with good leaders and our new leader assessment programs are helping us to select the best leaders for command.
To reduce harmful behaviors, we are building out a prevention workforce that will help us with our efforts to build cohesive teams that are trained, disciplined, and fit. Our SHARP Fusion Directorate pilot brings together in one place all of the resources to assist victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault, and the pilots are up and running. We have hired a civilian director for the Criminal Investigative Division, and we will establish the Office of the Special Trial Counsel this summer.
We continue striving to prevent suicide in our ranks. We have started conducting 100% mental health wellness checks in some of our units, and we are surging behavioral health resources to where they are most needed even as we confront the national shortage of providers.
Even as we focus on taking care of Soldiers and their families, and transforming to meet future threats, the Army is playing a key role in addressing the threats we face in the here and now. Today, we have over 45,000 Army Soldiers in Europe to reassure our allies, deter aggression against NATO territory, and assist Ukraine in its fight to defend itself. The Army has provided a wide range of lethal assistance to Ukraine including Javelins, Stingers, Howitzers, drones, ammunition, and even Mi-17 helicopters.
And while we’re focused on Europe, we have not taken our eye off the pacing challenge of China in the Indo-Pacific.
Through Operation Pacific Pathways, we deploy thousands of Army forces and equipment sets into the region for exercises that strengthen Joint Force integration, demonstrate combat capability, and promote interoperability. In the last two years, for example, the 5th Security Force Assistance Brigade has deployed 40 advisory teams to 14 different nations. The interoperability and relationships our Army forces are building with allies and partner armies in the region, increase the potential for additional access and combined action in the event of a future crisis.
Our access, presence, and influence around the world are enduring advantages that contribute to integrated deterrence. To continue building enduring advantages relative to our adversaries, the Army must pursue cutting-edge experimentation and innovation. We are working closely with our Artificial Intelligence Center at Carnegie Mellon, and our Joint Service Integration Lab at Aberdeen to innovate with promising new technologies. Much of our experimentation activity will culminate this fall at Project Convergence 22 where our sister services will join with operational units and new technologies to work together to solve critical operational challenges we will face in the future.
America’s Army is fit, trained, and ready when called upon to fight and win the nation’s wars. We are transforming for the future, something we have to do given the dangerous security environment we face each day. I am proud of all that our Soldiers do to protect our country, and I look forward to your questions.