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For the Biden administration, the US Department of Defense must begin moving away from outdated weapon systems and vulnerable platforms in order to keep up with the advancement of the Chinese military in military technology.
This emerges from the Pentagon’s $ 715 billion budget proposal, published Friday, calling for the Army’s budget to be reduced and the purchase of existing fighter jets, tanks and ships while developing unmanned ships and extensively modernizing the U.S. nuclear arsenal becomes.
“You will see significant investment in our naval forces, long-range fire and possibly the largest technology development RDT&E ever called for,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told lawmakers Thursday, using an acronym to describe the Pentagon’s research and development efforts.
With a slight preference for the future over the present, as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley noted yesterday in the same budget projection hearing before Congress, President Joe Biden’s first budget is also a notable departure from the former US President Donald Trump‘s Guidelines calling for a US Navy of 355 ships and forecasting a long-term decline for research and development of future platforms.
But prioritizing the future over the present is unlikely to be popular, even with some Democrats on Capitol Hill hoping to bring Pentagon dollars back to bases, dry docks, shipyards, and manufacturing facilities in their districts. The budget doesn’t mention the much-touted Trump ship target: Biden is calling for just $ 21 billion to build new ships this year, a significant 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 motion for eight new ships as “pathetic” and there will likely be a fight to add money in Congress.
There are other small but significant changes that are likely to lead to fighting on Capitol Hill. The Pentagon wants to reduce the number of F-35 fighter jets it buys to 85 – part of a nearly 10 percent cut off Pentagon purchases of current-generation Air Force platforms – in order to keep Army numbers essentially low hold and get rid of four 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 that the Pentagon does not have ships that are still in service should give up technologies that may not work.
The budget is unlikely to get quick support from across the aisle either. Republican leaders in Congress, such as Senator Jim Inhofe, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Forces Committee, have expressed frustration that the $ 715 billion total defense spending will not increase spending above the rate of inflation he said that they would leave the United States less willing 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 speech in April. The recently retired head of the Indo-Pacific Command, Admiral 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 to the Indo-Pacific since the Trump administration, like 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 created by Congress during the last fiscal cycle to support the long-stalled US swing to Asia with increased defense spending. That’s $ 400 million more than Davidson originally asked for, and includes spending nearly $ 120 million on evaluating new missile defense and purchasing radar and other supplies for an Aegis Ashore missile defense battery. This will provide cover for U.S. forces stationed in Guam and support investment in missiles that breach the limits of the medium-range nuclear missile treaty, a pact with Russia that the United States left in 2019.
But the government, failing to provide a forecast for the future defense budget year normally associated with the request, is not responding to the nearly $ 23 billion Indo-Pacific command needed over the next six years to address the threat China are needed. Congress is still hoping for answers on what the review of the government’s stance in China and the world will mean for the movement of US forces around the world, and the Pentagon has yet to crack the seal on both documents.
And despite the recent flare-up in the Middle East and the Pentagon’s dispatch of the USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Assault Group from Japan to the Persian Gulf to cover departing U.S. forces, Biden hopes to thin out U.S. military investments in the region and provide war funding who supported it. 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 bribe fund – and the fund by cutting US training for Iraqis and Syrians by 40 Percent to be able to cut forces against the Islamic State. Another $ 800 million was also cut from funding to counter Russia in Europe.
Yet even though the budget includes $ 500 million to fight COVID-19 and $ 617 million to make U.S. bases and weapon systems more energy efficient, progressives are still reluctant to pay the eye-catching price of the operations Pentagons some hope to be pushed back to domestic priorities. In particular, the proposed $ 2.6 billion to modernize US ICBMs, almost double what was spent last year, should raise the eyebrows of skeptics and arms control supporters in the Democratic Group.
“With over $ 750 billion, the Biden administration has‘“s proposal for Pentagon spending and related work on nuclear weapons in the Department of Energy is both exaggerated and misguided,” 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 life and livelihood challenges stem from threats such as pandemics and climate change, keeping the Pentagon spending over three quarters of a trillion dollars a year is both poor financial management and poor security policies,” said Hartung.