For the first time in a long time, the Defense Department entered the fiscal year with a budget, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said troops should be extremely pleased with the development.
“What the troops have seen is a commitment from the executive and legislative branches of government to give them the wherewithal to do their jobs,” Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford said during an interview with reporters traveling with him.
President Donald J. Trump signed the appropriations bill on Friday meaning the Defense Department starts fiscal year 2019 with money in the bank. The president signed the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act in August. Both bills must be passed before DOD can operate.
Defense leaders had made the case for the budget through “identifying the challenges we face and also the demonstrated performance of our men and women in uniform every day,” Dunford said. Congress understood that the U.S. military needs these capabilities, “and we can be entrusted to make good use of them.”
His message to Congress and the American people this year is for an appropriate, sustained level of funding. “It took us years to get into this problem and you don’t spend money efficiently, you don’t spend money as good steward, if you lurch from year to year,” he said. “You can’t plan a program and develop capabilities over time.”
Predictability will allow the department to build effective partnerships with industry. This will allow companies to deliver capabilities on time and on cost.
“We need to have predictability to properly prioritize what we are going to invest in,” he said. “Every year, no matter how big the budget is, you have to make choices. We are much better at making choices if we are informed by a three-to five-year look ahead and predict what level of funding we will have.”