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Defence budget readies US for possible China confrontation: Pentagon

The budget proposes to spend more than USD 9 billion, a 40 per cent increase over last year, to build up military capabilities in the Pacific and defend allies

Pentagon chief outlines reforms reflecting new global threats

AP Washington
The US military must be ready for possible confrontation with China, the Pentagon's leaders said Thursday, pushing Congress to approve the Defence Department's proposed USD 842 billion budget that would modernize the force in Asia and around the world.
"This is a strategy-driven budget and one driven by the seriousness of our strategic competition with the People's Republic of China," Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said in testimony before the House Appropriations subcommittee on defence.
Pointing to increases in new technology, such as hypersonics, Austin said the budget proposes to spend more than USD 9 billion, a 40 per cent increase over last year, to build up military capabilities in the Pacific and defend allies.
The testimony comes on the heels of Chinese leader Xi Jinping's visit to Moscow, amid concerns China will step up its support for Russian President Vladimir Putin's war on Ukraine and increasingly threaten the West.
China's actions, said Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are moving it down the path toward confrontation and potential conflict with its neighbours and possibly the United States. He said that deterring and preparing for war "is extraordinarily expensive, but it's not as expensive as fighting a war. And this budget prevents war and prepares us to fight it if necessary.
Milley, who will retire later this year, said the Defence Department must continue to modernize its forces to ensure they will be ready to fight if needed.
Two decades of war in Iraq and Afghanistan eroded the military's equipment and troop readiness, so the US has been working to replace weapons systems and give troops time to reset. It's paid off, Milley told Congress.
Our operational readiness rates are higher now than they have been in many, many years, Milley said. More than 60 per cent of the active force is at the highest states of readiness right now and could deploy to combat in less than 30 days, while 10 per cent could deploy within 96 hours, he said.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Mar 23 2023 | 9:19 PM IST

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