Published: Thu, February 15, 2018

Pentagon receiving $700 billion in new budget bill

Pentagon receiving $700 billion in new budget bill

The Trump administration on Monday proposed a defense budget of $716 billion for fiscal 2019, part of an ambitious effort to substantially boost Pentagon spending after years of tight budget limits and refocus the military on countering Russian Federation and China.

The 2019 budget documents specifically highlighted "reversing the erosion of the USA military advantage in relation to China and Russia" which was a focal point of the National Defense Strategy unveiled by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in the National Defense Strategy released in January.

On top of the Pentagon's $686 billion budget request was an additional $30 billion for non-defense agencies including the Department of Energy, which maintains the nuclear weapons arsenal.

In 2017, the past year of the previous United States administration, the department spent $55.6 billion, so if Congress - which is working on a joint budget for 2018 and 2019 - had approved the 2018 request, it would have meant a more than 30 per cent cut.

But, defense analysts say, the $716 billion spending plan risks flooding too much money into a Defense Department that may not spend it wisely. "I can not overstate the negative impact to our troops and families' morale from all this budget uncertainty", Defense Secretary Mattis asserted hours before the US House and Senate approved the enormous spending outlay, cited by

US Defense Secretary acknowledges the spending jump is the largest increase since the 2002 initiation of the War on Terror by US President George W. Bush - from $345 billion that year to $437 billion the next.

The budget calls for an increase in troop strength of 25,900.

The fiscal year 2019 budget seeks to procure 10 new naval warships, along with growing the Air Force from 55 combat squadrons to 58 by fiscal year 2024.

The increase in funding also addresses Defense Secretary James Mattis' continued alarm over the degradation of the armed forces under the threat of sequestration, something the Defense Department as a whole has been warning about for years.

More: What's in Trump's 2019 budget proposal?

The active-duty Army would expand the most, going from a 2018 authorized level of 476,000 to 495,500 over the next six years. The Pentagon is said to be looking to build at least 20 more. "Major power competition, not terrorism, is now the primary concern in USA national security".

"Our forces are overstretched because of the current operational tempo, and it's not a budget issue".

"Frankly we have to do it because others are doing it", Trump said.

The 2019 budget plugs part of that gap by spending $1.1 billion on 43,000 satellite-guided bombs, about 9,000 more than in 2018.

Now, the Defense Department is preparing to issue another key document - a Ballistic Missile Defense Review - in the next several days.

Trump has asked the Pentagon to develop options for a major military parade in Washington this year, similar to one he watched last year in Paris that included French tanks, missiles and troops. The 2018 budget requested the modernisation of 56 of the General Dynamics-made vehicles. The administration budget proposal does not clearly set aside money for moving those forces to the capital.

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