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President’s Fiscal 2019 Defense Budget Request Calls for $686.1 Billion

WASHINGTON --

The president’s fiscal year 2019 defense budget request calls for $686.1 billion in spending and will reverse years of military erosion, defense officials said here today.

The budget also calls for a 2.6 percent raise for service members. There is no raise in the budget for civilian employees.

The base budget is set for $617 billion and the overseas contingency operations fund is set for $69 billion. Overall, the request is 3.1 percent of gross domestic product -- a figure near historic lows, Defense Department Comptroller and Chief Financial Officer David Norquist said.

The budget builds on the bipartisan budget act passed last week. “We are appreciative of Congress raising the caps and ending the destructive effects of sequestration-level funding,” Norquist said during a Pentagon news conference. “And we are committed to the reforms necessary to be good stewards of taxpayers' money.”

The budget is a strategy-driven document that stresses the nation’s primary goals: to defend the homeland, make the military more lethal, and to strengthen old alliances and build new ones.

Derived From Strategy

The budget is the child of the White House National Security Strategy and the National Defense Strategy that shifts DoD’s focus. “Great power competition, not terrorism, has emerged as the central challenge to U.S. security and prosperity,” Norquist said. “It is increasingly apparent that China and Russia want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian values, and in the process, replace the free and open order that has enabled global security and prosperity since World War II.”

The United States will seek areas of cooperation with any competitors, but must do it from a position of strength. “We recognize that, if unaddressed, the eroding U.S. military advantage versus China and Russia could undermine our ability to deter aggression and coercion in key strategic regions,” the comptroller said.

The budget funds Defense Secretary James N, Mattis’ three lines of effort: building a more lethal, resilient, agile and ready joint force; strengthening alliances and attracting new partners; and reforming the department's business practices for greater performance and affordability.

Overall, the budget calls for an increase of 25,900 military personnel by the end of fiscal year 2019. End strength for the department would be set at 1,338,000 active-duty personnel and 817,700 reserve component personnel.

“This allows us to fill in units and provide key skills related to recruiting pilots, maintainers and cybersecurity experts,” Norquist said. “It also allows us to add units related to reinforcing the National Defense Strategy.”

Funding Levels

The Army will receive $143,314,452, the Navy will get $179,065,809, the Air Force will receive $169,767,948 and DoD agencies will receive $104,925,839.

Improving military readiness is crucial and the operations and maintenance funds will receive a major boost. Departmentwide operations and maintenance will receive $15.3 billion more than in fiscal 2018.

Procurement gets the biggest increase with a $24 billion plus-up to $131.1 billion and with research and development funds increasing by $18 billion to $90.6 billion. The research and development funds will examine new technologies including hypersonic technology, cyber-integrated defense, making space assets more resilient, directed energy weapons and artificial intelligence.

Military personnel funds will receive $12.2 billion more and are pegged at $148.2 billion.

The budget follows strategy on the ground as well. Some of the key enhancements with regard to Asia involve “continued investment in air and space superiority; procurement of additional weapons systems, including the Virginia payload module for Navy submarines; procurement of additional P-8As, … and work to increase naval presence appropriately as this strategy is implemented in the Pacific, to include infrastructure investments,” said Army Lt. Gen. Anthony Ierardi, the director of force structure, resources and assessment at the Joint Staff.

“In Europe, we continue robust increases in our investments to enhance Army pre-positioning stocks and responsiveness, including the enhancement of a second armored brigade combat team's worth of equipment in an Army pre-positioned set; replenishment of wartime stocks, including preferred and advanced munitions and increased lethality of each; and expansion and enhancement of air bases to support our operations, as appropriate,” the general said.

Among the new equipment coming into the military are 77 new F-35 Lightning II’s to the Air Force and Navy, 60 new AH-64 Apache helicopters, 15 new KC-46 Pegasus tanker aircraft, 10 new P-8 Poseidon aircraft, 10 new ships added to the fleet and a myriad of space and cyber capabilities.

The military will buy 5,113 new joint light tactical vehicles, refurbish and modernize 135 M-1 Abrams tanks, 30 amphibious combat vehicles and 197 armored multi-purpose vehicles.

The budget begins the process of modernizing the nuclear triad with $2.3 billion dedicated to the Air Force’s B-21 bomber, $3.7 billion to the Columbia-class submarine and $300 million to the ground-based strategic deterrent.

(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)

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