A Pentagon budget like none before: $700 billion


The requests, part of the Pentagon's total $686 billion budget proposal released Monday, come on the heels of the administration's Nuclear Posture Review and ahead of the release of the Ballistic Missile Defense Review.

The Pentagon had requested $597 billion for its annual budget, plus $89 billion to fund ongoing conflicts.

"Great power competition, not terrorism, has emerged as the central challenge to USA security and prosperity", said David Norquist, the Defense Department comptroller.

The request aligns perfectly with a two-year budget deal that Congress struck and the president signed last week that clears the way for the $716 billion for national defense spending.

The Nuclear Posture Review, released last month, reaffirmed support for plans started by the Obama administration to modernize all three legs of the triad to deter competitors Russian Federation and China. Todd Harrison, a defense budget specialist at the Center for Security and International Studies, says military funding has been near the inflation-adjusted peak levels of the armed forces buildup during the 1980s under President Ronald Reagan.

"The Department of Defense has expended more munitions than planned over the last few years, primarily to defeat Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), leading to higher demand to replenish munition inventories", according to budget documents. Aging equipment was stacking up, troops were not getting enough training and the uncertain budget outlook was clouding America's future.

The growth of China's air force - on Friday, Beijing said its new J-20 stealth fighters, seen as a challenge to US F-22 and F-35 stealth jets, were now combat-ready - is consistent with broader efforts to enhance its military capabilities. Even with the spending caps of recent years, the defense budget has been robust by historical standards.

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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.

Trump said Monday that he wanted to reform the way the Pentagon buys weapons, joking that he wanted "twice as many planes for half the price".

It takes years to recruit and train new forces, and although Pentagon officials want to refocus on preparing for war against other major powers, US forces are still deployed in substantial numbers in Afghanistan, Iraq and other hot spots fighting insurgents and other unconventional foes.

Missile-defense batteries at Fort Greely, Alaska, and at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California would gain up to 44 more interceptor missiles, a move that comes in response to North Korea's development of ballistic missiles with the range to strike the continental United States.

Trump had requested a 2018 military budget of $603 billion for basic functions and $65 billion for war missions.

It's not officially funded and the Department of Defense is not on board to build it. Trump has added several thousand troops in Afghanistan.

The Pentagon would spend $48.9 billion in Afghanistan, almost $2 billion more than last year, while the fight against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria would receive $15.3 billion, an increase of $2.3 billion over last year.