Published: Thu, February 15, 2018
Research | By Derrick Holloway

New US missile defense review on way

New US missile defense review on way

The request sets aside $716 billion for national defense programs, including $617 billion in base Pentagon spending and $69 billion for overseas contingency, or war, accounts, totaling $686 billion for the Defense Department.

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.

In fact, the U.S. spends more on national defense than China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, the United Kingdom, India, France and Japan combined.

U.S. President Donald Trump's $686 billion budget proposal for the Pentagon lifted spending but fell short of campaign promises for a rebuilding of the Navy and an "historic" increase in military spending.

Another $30 billion would go to the National Nuclear Security Administration, the Energy Department agency that oversees nuclear weapons research.

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He also said Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, a retired Marine general, was surprised by the size of the military budget.

Defense Secretary James Mattis lauded the proposed budget saying it is needed to reshape and improve the military's lackluster combat readiness while shifting its focus away from terrorism. "If the Department of Defense does not continue to reform and make smart cuts even when the budget is growing, it will just get fatter not stronger".

In 2017, the past year of the previous USA administration, the department spent $55.6 billion, so if Congress - which is working on a joint budget for 2018 and 2019 - had approved the 2018 request, it would have meant a more than 30 per cent cut. "The Budget builds a more lethal, ready, and larger joint force that, combined with a robust system of allies and partners, would sustain American influence and preserve stable regional balances of power that have proven conducive to peace and prosperity".

Last week, Congress finally moved past a string of continuing resolutions and partial government shutdowns to pass a two-year budget deal that gave the DoD $700 billion for fiscal 2018 and $716 billion for fiscal 2019.

It marks the second request under Trump, far surpassing the $639.1 billion his administration asked for past year, which drew criticism from Capitol Hill defense hawks who called for higher military spending.

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The budget would also jump-start the Pentagon's rebuild of its nuclear infrastructure, which it committed to do in the Nuclear Posture Review released this month.

"While this is not a record increase, it comes on top of a budget that was already higher than the peak of the Reagan buildup when adjusted for inflation", Harrison said. "It's a strategy issue", Harrison said. The overall spending levels were worked out, however, in an ambitious two-year budget deal reached last Friday with congressional leaders from both parties.

"Modernizing the nation's nuclear delivery systems is the department's number one priority, and these programs are fully funded in the [fiscal] 2019 budget", the Pentagon's budget proposal reads.

While the Pentagon is looking to procure additional aircraft, ships, ballistic missiles, tanks and satellites, a large portion of spending is also earmarked for vague "mission support activities" at a cost of $66.8 billion - an increase of more than $16.9 billion from the current fiscal year.

The policy bill included money for as many as 28 additional Ground-Based Interceptors - anti-missile missiles that would be launched from underground silos in Alaska in the event the US made a decision to try to shoot down a North Korean missile heading toward the United States. The Pentagon also plans to spend $2 billion for 24 F-18 Super Hornet jets, up from 14 in 2018.

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Funds for the maintenance of the United States nuclear arsenal also increased.

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