May 28, 2021, 1:45 p.m.
For the Biden administration, the US Department of Defense must begin moving away from outdated weapon systems and vulnerable platforms in order to keep up with the advancement of the Chinese military in military technology.
That emerges from the Pentagon's $ 715 billion budget request, published Friday, calling for the Army's budget to be reduced and the purchase of existing fighter jets, tanks and ships while unmanned ships develop and the US nuclear arsenal be comprehensively modernized.
"You will see a significant investment in our naval forces, long-range fires and probably the biggest request for RTD and E for technology development," Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told lawmakers Thursday, describing the Pentagon's research under an acronym and development efforts .
President Joe Biden's first budget is a notable departure from former President Donald Trump in that it slightly favors the future over the present, as the Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley did in the same budget preview hearing yesterday Congress submitted’S Guidelines calling for a US Navy of 355 ships that predicted a long-term decline for research and development on future platforms.
However, the future is unlikely to prioritize the present over the present, even with some Capitol Hill Democrats hoping to return Pentagon dollars to bases, dry docks, shipyards and manufacturing facilities in their districts. The budget doesn't mention the much-touted Trump ship goal: Biden is calling for just $ 21 billion to build new ships this year, a sharp drop from Trump's plans to ask for $ 27 billion to build 82 new ships by 2026 . House Armed Services Seapower subcommittee chairman Joe Courtney has already described Biden's request for eight new ships as "pathetic" and is likely to spark a bidding war in Congress.
There are other small but significant changes that are likely to result in fighting on Capitol Hill. The Pentagon plans to reduce the number of F-35 fighter jets it buys to 85 – part of a nearly 10 percent haircut for Pentagon purchases of current-generation air force platforms – to keep Army numbers basically flat and four get rid of coastal combat ships and coast guard cutters. Some high-profile members, like Vice-Chair of the House Armed Services Committee, Elaine Luria, a Virginia Democrat and former Navy surface warfare officer, have pushed back the decommissioning of coastal combat ship platforms, arguing the Pentagon should not ships that are still in service give up for the future technologies that may not catch on.
The budget is unlikely to get quick support across the aisle either. Republican leaders in Congress, like Senator Jim Inhofe, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Forces Committee, expressed frustration that the $ 715 billion defense bill will not add spending beyond inflation, which would leave the United States less ready to take on China.
"It definitely does not offer the real growth of 3 to 5 percent that we really need to deal with the threats posed by our opponents like China," Inhofe said in a keynote address in April. The recently retired head of the Indo-Pacific Command, Adm. Phil Davidson, warned Congress in March that China could invade Taiwan within the next six years.
But lawmakers who have been pushing to move resources towards the Indo-Pacific since the Trump administration, such as Inhofe, will find things they like on Biden's wish list.
The Pentagon is calling for nearly $ 5.1 billion for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative, a fund that Congress created in the last budget cycle to halt the long-deadlocked US pivot to Asia with more defense spending. That's $ 400 million more than Davidson initially asked for, and nearly $ 120 million is being spent evaluating new missile defense systems and purchasing radar and other supplies for an Aegis Ashore missile defense battery. This will provide cover to U.S. forces stationed in Guam and support investments in missiles that exceed the limits of the Medium-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, a pact with Russia that the United States left in 2019.
However, the government, which does not provide a forecast of the defense budget for the coming year that usually comes with the request, is failing to respond to the nearly $ 23 billion that the Indo-Pacific Command will spend over the next six years to address the Chinese threat needed. Congress is still hoping for answers on what the review of the stance of China and the global armed forces will mean for the movement of US troops around the world, and the Pentagon has yet to crack the seal on either document.
And despite the recent flare-up in the Middle East and the dispatch of the United States by the Pentagon, Ronald Reagan, a porter strike group from Japan to the Persian Gulf to cover departing US troops, is hoping to weaken US military investments in the region and withdraw war funding who supported them. Biden hopes to abolish the so-called Overseas Contingency Operations account, which was paid for US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – long ridiculed by progressives as a slush fund – and cut the fund by 40 percent by adding the US – Training for Iraqis and Syrians has been cut against Islamic state forces. Another $ 800 million was cut from funding to counter Russia in Europe.
Even though the budget includes $ 500 million to fight COVID-19 and $ 617 million to improve the energy efficiency of U.S. bases and weapon systems, the progressives still shy away from the staggering price tag for the Pentagon's operations, which some hope will shift back to domestic priorities. In particular, the proposed $ 2.6 billion to modernize ICBMs in the US, almost double what it was last year, should raise the eyebrows of skeptics and arms control supporters in the Democratic caucus.
“With over $ 750 billion, the Biden administration has’The proposal for spending on the Pentagon and related work on nuclear weapons in the Department of Energy is both exaggerated and wrong, ”said William Hartung, director of the weapons and security initiative at the Center for International Policy, a deaf think tank.
"At a time when the greatest challenges to people's lives and livelihoods stem from threats like pandemics and climate change, keeping the Pentagon spending over three quarters of a trillion dollars a year is both poor budgeting and poor security policy "said Hartung.