Armed Forces News

Active-duty and reserve-component service members and Defense Department employees would get a 2.7-percent increase in basic pay next Jan. 1, under the Biden administration’s proposed $752.9 billion defense-spending bill for fiscal year 2022. The measure also calls for $8.6 billion to support programs relating to military families and professional development. (The budget also proposes the same pay increase across the federal civilian workforce.)

Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen H. Hicks told reporters in a Pentagon briefing that the budget – which would fund operations from Oct. 1, 2021 to Sept. 30, 2022 – addresses changing priorities. She specifically cited the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the plan to withdraw troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11.

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“The budget … documents some of the tough choices we had to make, as we lessen our reliance on vulnerable systems that are no longer suited for today’s advanced threat environment or are too costly to sustain,” Hicks said. “The request also looks to build an increasingly resilient force, one that recognizes and embraces its diversity as a strength.”

End strength would become slightly smaller for each service but the Space Force. The proposal calls for 2,145,900 service members – down from the 2,150,375 authorized for fiscal 2021. Space Force strength would increase to 8,400 Guardians, up from 6,434 in 2021.

Other highlights include:

· $10 billion for military construction and family housing, and $15 billion for restoration, sustainment and modernization of facilities. Funds President Trump had diverted to build the wall along the border with Mexico would be returned to the construction budget.
· Some legacy programs, including the Air Force’s A-10 Thunderbolt II and Navy’s littoral combat ship (LCS), would be reduced.
· As activity in Afghanistan comes to an end, more emphasis will be placed on confronting emergent threats from China and Russia.
· $20.4 billion for missile defense.
· $6.6 billion for development and fielding of long-range fires.
· $52.4 billion for development of fourth- and fifth-generation fighters.
· $34.6 billion to develop a hybrid fleet of manned and unmanned platforms for the Navy.
· $12.3 billion for ground force weapons and next-generation combat vehicles.
· $20.6 billion for space capabilities.
· $10.4 billion for cyberspace efforts.
· $122.1 billion to provide training, installation support and other support for allies and partners.

“This budget provides us the ability to create the right mix of capabilities to defend this nation and to deter any aggressors. It adequately allows us to prepare for the next fight,” Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III told members of the House Appropriations Committee during a May 27 hearing.

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