THE PENTAGON – China is still the dominant focus of the Defense Department despite the ongoing ground war in Eastern Europe following Russia’s February invasion of Ukraine.
The $773 billion budget was crafted with the overall tenants of the new National Defense Strategy that was delivered in classified form to Congress on Monday. The revised strategy still describes China as the primary threat to the U.S.
“The Department will act urgently to sustain and strengthen deterrence with the People’s Republic of China as our most consequential strategic competitor,” reads an unclassified summary of the latest NDS reviewed by USNI News.
“Russia poses acute threats, as illustrated by its brutal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.”
The budget is about $30 billion over the enacted Fiscal Year 2022 budget, but only about a 1.5 percent increase after inflation.
- The Army requested $177.3 billion – down from the $173.4 billion FY 2022 enacted budget.
- The Navy and Marine Corps requested $230.9 billion – up from $220.3 billion in FY 2022.
- The Air Force and Space Force requested $234.1 – up from $220.6 billion in FY 2022.
- Department-wide programs requested $130.7 billion up from 128 billion in FY 2022.
“This $20 billion to $30 billion is not about making the force bigger,” said a senior defense official told reporters ahead of the budget roll out, reported DefenseOne. “It is about modernizing the force making it more capable to compete with our near-peer adversaries.”
Pentagon comptroller Mike McCord told reporters on Monday that the budget request had not taken into account the Russian invasion of Ukraine and was tied to the larger NDS – the first update since the 2018 iteration that declared the U.S. was in a new era of great power competition.
Pentagon officials highlighted a $130 billion research and development effort of new technology across the Pentagon. The budget also called for $34.4 billion for nuclear modernization that includes money for the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine and the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent missile.
The request also feature $24.7 for missile defense, which includes $892 million for a missile defense system for Guam and $7.2 billion to develop long-range missiles, including new hypersonic weapons.
In terms of FY 2023 end-strength, active-duty troop levels in the Army, Marines and Navy decrease while and the Air Force and Space Force see a small increases.
The Army is set to shed 3,000 active soldiers to 473,000, the Navy will go down 1,184 sailors to 346,300 and the Marines will shrink by 249 to 177,000. The active Air Force will grow by 94 to 323,400 airmen and the Space Force will grow by 199 to 8,600 guardians.
The trend continued in divesting in legacy systems in the Air Force and the Navy.
The Navy is asking to decommission 24 ships in FY 2023 for an estimated savings of $3.6 billion. The Air Force is shedding 150 aircraft.