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US Congress should approve 30 billion extra for military spending: Jim Mattis

LiveMint logoLiveMint 23-03-2017 Lalit K. Jha

Washington: US defence secretary Jim Mattis has called on Congress to approve an additional $30 billion in military spending this year to maintain a safe nuclear deterrent and a decisive conventional force that can fight “irregular” enemies.

Testifying before a key Congressional committee to see an increase in their budget, Mattis said the US military must ensure that the president and his diplomats always negotiate from a position of strength. “Global threats require a global response, applying the full weight of our own and our allies’ power, allies which are also increasing their defence outlays,” he said.

“Diplomatic solutions will remain our preferred options, though we cannot deny the role of our military in setting the conditions for diplomatic progress,” he said, adding that military deterrence is only credible if military strength is sufficiently formidable that allies can confidently align with it in tempering adversaries’ designs.

Mattis explained that the 2017 budget appropriation—including the additional $30 billion—was required to “get our aircraft back in the air, our ships back to sea, and our troops back in the field with refurbished or new equipment and proper training”.

“We must look reality in the eye. We see Russia and China seeking veto power over the economic, diplomatic and security decisions of nations on their periphery. Terrorist groups murder the innocent and threaten peace in many regions and target us,” Mattis said.

“North Korea’s reckless rhetoric and provocative actions continue despite United Nations censure and sanctions. This situation calls for our department to maintain a safe and secure nuclear deterrent and a decisive conventional force that can also fight irregular enemies since our military must be able to counter all threats facing us,” he said.

General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said in today’s strategic environment five key challenges—Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, and violent extremist Organisations—most clearly represent the challenges facing the Joint Force. They serve as a benchmark for Joint Force posture, the size of the force, capability development, and risk management, he said.

Over the past several years, Russia has invested in a full-range of capabilities designed to limit US ability to project power and meet our alliance commitments. These include long-range conventional strike, cyber, space, electronic warfare, and undersea capabilities.

Russia is also modernising nearly all elements of its nuclear force. These capabilities allow Russia to counter US and Nato power projection and undermine the credibility of the Nato alliance, he said. Similarly, China has embarked on a significant programme to modernise and expand strategic and conventional military capabilities, Dunford said. PTI

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