Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. Mark Milley testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday to talk about the Pentagon’s fiscal year 2023 budget request and other topics. They appeared before the House Armed Services Committee earlier this week, as On Base reported.

Here are some key moments from Thursday’s hearing:

  • Pressed by Republican lawmakers, Austin and Milley both said a “win” in Ukraine would be for Ukraine to maintain its sovereignty while exposing a weakened Russia.
  • Austin echoed remarks Milley made to the House committee, saying the Russia-Ukraine conflict will likely change the U.S. footprint in Europe and our contribution to NATO. “How much it changes the contribution remains to be seen,” Austin said, adding that it may mean permanent basing in Europe, rotational deployments or a combination, depending on future discussions with the President and NATO allies. “No doubt, it will be different going forward.”
  • Asked if the administration was requesting enough money for defense, Milley said, “I fully support this budget – $773 billion is a lot of money. It is up to those of us in uniform to make every one of those dollars count.” He said the budget focuses on modernization and research and development. “There are areas of risk, but this budget will allow us to move forward and take the next steps to protect the United States.”
  • Milley said he and others at DOD are “absolutely committed” to following through on new policies and procedures to address PFAS contamination at and near installations. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) said “it’s nice to be able to say help is on the way.”
  • Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) asked about the new basic needs allowance for lower-income service members and whether DOD will interpret that authorization language to say it can enroll service members into the benefit instead of making them opt in. She also asked about whether DOD will exempt basic allowance for housing as income when calculating eligibility for the new basic needs allowance. “I am predisposed to making sure we are providing as many benefits to our service members and families as possible,” Austin said, stressing that he is focused on “tackling the issue of economic insecurity” across the force. Dozens of House Democrats recently raised the same questions Duckworth did, as On Base reported.

AP photo by J. Scott Applewhite