Biden’s Defense Cuts

Biden’s Defense Cuts

The Biden Administration has submitted its defense budget for the coming fiscal year. It provides a 1.6% increase. Since the current rate of inflation is 4.2%, it is, in real terms, a decrease of 2.6%.  It totals $715 billion out of a $6 trillion total spending.

Contrary to popular belief, the Pentagon actually accounts for only 15% of the federal budget. Many had expected funding for the military to rise by approximately 5%, due to the dramatic increase in China’s armed forces, and the aggressive acts they continue to engage in.  Many had assumed as well that Putin’s strengthened military, and his threats to Ukraine, as well as the nuclear trends in Iran and North Korea, would inspire a significant hike.

Under Biden’s proposed budget, 4,600 troops would be cut. Support for new aircraft would be cut to $52.4 billion, down from Trumps’ request last year of $56.9 billion. Some aircraft in the U.S. arsenal are so old that the grandfathers of current pilots flew them seventy years ago.

Less money was also requested for ground weapons—$12.3 billion compared to $13 billion last year. There’s also a drop in the missile defense spending request, which comes in at $10.9 billion, down from $11.6 billion, and missiles and bombs, which drop to $20.3 billion, down from $21.3 billion.

Some defense experts prioritized spending on increasing the navy as a key need, but the Biden budget cuts sharply there, as well.  Rear Admiral John Gumbleton, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for budget, noted “We recognize that China and Russia posture themselves to project military power in the maritime domain. Both desire to change the world stage, bent to their interests rather than the rules-based order that has served the U.S. and world economies since the end of World War II.”

However, the White House budget cuts the Navy’s ability to buy new ships and aircraft. Beijing has the largest navy in the world, with an overall battle force of approximately 350 ships and submarines including over 130 major surface combatants. In comparison, the U.S. Navy’s battle force is approximately 293. Under current fiscal trends the PRC will increase their already significant numerical advantage at sea.

Portions of the Defense budget have raised considerably questions about whether the White House has politicized the military, by including spending on issues such as climate change and a variety of “woke” programs. One strange budget line would provide dollars to monitor the on-line correspondence of servicemembers.

In response to reports of political bias within the Department of Defense, U.S. Representative Mike Rogers (R-AL), the Ranking Member of the House Armed Services stated “I am greatly concerned by numerous press reports of conservative voices being silenced in the Department of Defense while Departmental leadership defends and protects left-leaning voices. The United States Armed Forces should be focused on preparing to face and win any battles against the threats posed by China and other foreign adversaries and not imposing political beliefs on those who chose to serve in uniform.”

Overall, Biden’s proposal greatly disappointed Republicans. In a statement, leading GOP Senators noted: “President Biden’s budget proposal cuts defense spending, sending a terrible signal not only to our adversaries in Beijing and Moscow, but also to our allies and partners. …President Biden’s own Pentagon leadership team acknowledges that the defense strategy they inherited is largely on the right track, and that resourcing the strategy requires significant real growth in the defense budget. Anything less than real growth will force the Department to choose between taking care of service members and ensuring they have the tools and training to meet new and growing threats…”

Frank Vernuccio serves as editor-in-chief of the New York Analysis of Policy and Government. 

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