USA announces its largest defence budget request in years

world_mapSummary: President Obama’s $4 trillion Budget request to Congress includes the largest base defence budget for the US since before the global recession in 2009.

US defence budget

The Budget request amounts to a total of $620.9bn for overall defence. This breaks down to $585.3bn for the Department of Defense, which includes a £534.3bn ‘base budget’, for day to day running, procurement and maintenance costs of the Department of Defense, up from the 2015 figure of $496.1bn and equating to a massive 7.7% rise.

Added to this is $50.9bn for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), including operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, slightly down on the 2015 total as forces continue to be removed from these areas as conflict dies down.

However, the Budget also makes allowances for ‘national defence’, amounting to $35.6bn. This includes the Energy Department’s nuclear programme and related defence budgets in other departments. This brings the overall budget to $620.9bn, with a base budget at its highest level since 2007.

The increased total Budget, despite a 21% reduction in funding for OCO, reflects the changing mood of the global defence industry. It continues a move away from traditional military personnel and occupying forces and towards drone-based combat, long-range weapons equipment and cyber defence operations.

The budget proposes investments in the modernisation of key capability areas, including nuclear deterrence, space, missile defence, cyber security, and power projection. The budget also continues previous pledges to further improvements to business operations, force structure modifications, base infrastructure, strengthening sexual assault prevention and response programs, and providing for service members and their families.

Investing in capabilities and equipment

The Budget also demonstrates a Defense Department that remains determined to invest in ambitious next-generation capabilities and big-ticket items, including ships, submarines, and bombers and other aircraft. The Pentagon is also seeking funding for more F-35 fighter jets, built by the Lockheed Martin Corp.

The message is clear: that even though conflicts are ending in Iraq and Afghanistan, the USA will remain the world’s dominant defence superpower.

A press release from the Pentagon announcing the Budget said: The geopolitical events of the past year only reinforce the need to resource DoD at the president’s requested funding level as opposed to current law. As the budget makes clear, a return to sequester-level funding would be irresponsible and dangerous, resulting in a force too small and ill equipped to respond to the full range of potential threats to the nation.”

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