Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told House appropriators on Wednesday there is “no margin of error or any buffer” built in to the Defense Department’s Fiscal 2016 budget request “for strategic surprise.” Although Dempsey said the military “remains strong today,” that would not be the case if sequestration returns in 2016. He said the current service Chiefs have “made more proposals on changing pay and compensation, healthcare, and weapon systems than any in history.” Although he acknowledged it’s been a difficult journey, he said DOD has “taken that responsibility on.” Now it’s time for Congress to do its part and push some of those proposals through, he suggested. If Congress approves funding below the President’s 2016 budget request, which does not adhere to Budget Control Act funding levels, the US will have to change its defense strategy, said Dempsey. However, he maintained, “We think our strategy is what the nation needs.”
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.