To avoid making the US military a “hollow force,” Secretary of Defense Ash Carter reiterated his call for Congress to approve a bipartisan defense budget Thursday morning in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee. The reliance on continuing resolutions, he said “undercuts stable planning, baffles our friends, emboldens our foes, and is inefficient for our industry partners.” With the nation “eight days away from the end of the fiscal year,” however, funding the government through a continuing resolution seems unavoidable. Carter warned that “the longer a continuing resolution lasts, the more damaging it is.” Even more damaging, he said, would be a return to the sequestration funding levels of 2013. Asked repeatedly by committee members to weigh in on various proposals and filibusters in the congressional budget debate, Carter replied, “What I can’t support and won’t support is anything that promotes instability, anything that moves toward sequestration, that moves away from bipartisan agreement.” On the impact of sequestration, he added, “It’s awfully unfair to do this to our troops again and again and again.”
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.