Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin listens to a question as he speaks during a media briefing at the Pentagon, Feb. 19, 2021.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin listens to a question as he speaks during a media briefing at the Pentagon, Feb. 19, 2021. AP / Alex Brandon

Analysis: Here’s What to Look For in Biden’s First Pentagon Budget Request

DoD likely to face fight from Congress on plans to divest older weapons.

On Friday, 129 days after moving into the White House, President Joe Biden is expected to send a $6 trillion fiscal 2022 spending plan to Congress.

By the calendar, it will be the latest annual spending request submitted by a presidential administration in at least 100 years. 

While many of the details of the plan remain under wraps, at least for now, several major shifts have already leaked, and top Pentagon officials have been talking up major themes since early April, when the White House announced the Pentagon share of the budget totals $715 billion.

“I believe our budget request will help us match our resources to strategy, strategy to policy, and policy to the will of the American people,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told the House Appropriations Defense subcommittee Thursday. “Informed by the President's interim national security guidance and my own message to the force, it finds the right mix of capabilities that we need most to defend this nation now and in the future.”

An administration’s first budget proposal typically does not include major spending shifts; the plan sent to Congress was assembled largely by the prior administration. The Biden administration’s next budget request for fiscal 2023 is expected to be influenced by the Pentagon’s ongoing Global Posture Review. But the Trump administration in December released budget planning documents that laid out a plan to increase the size of the Navy while making significant cuts to the Army and Air Force, in an effort to counter China’s military growth. While Biden’s plan is expected to have some differences, countering China is expected to remain a top priority, along with an increased investment in game-changing technology.

“It invests in hypersonic weapons, artificial intelligence, micro electronics, 5G technology, cyber capabilities, shipbuilding, climate change resilience, and nuclear modern modernization to name a few,” Austin said.

Austin also singled out investments in cybersecurity to counter Russia, as well as missile defense funding to counter North Korea and Iran.

Biden’s Pentagon budget request totals $715 billion, which is $7 billion less than the $722 billion the Trump administration had been eying for its fiscal 2022 submissions. This year’s Pentagon budget is $704 billion, making Biden’s request a 1.4 percent increase, without accounting for inclinations.

Republicans already believe the topline is too low and want 3 to 5 percent annual increases above inflation, an bump championed by Trump administration officials even though their budget planning documents only showed a 2.6 percent increase before inflation.

“While it is a modest increase from the enacted FY21 budget, it is a significant commitment of treasure that the people of the United States have entrusted to us and we will work diligently to ensure it is spent prudently in the best interest of the nation,” Army Gen. Mark Milley, Joint Chiefs chairman, said at the same hearing. “This FY 2022 [budget] is the result of hard choices in a year in which the nation has suffered economic hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Some of Biden’s political appointees have previously backed the 3 to 5 percent annual increase. Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks and Mike McCord, whom the Senate is expected to confirm as the Pentagon comptroller, were both part of a bipartisan group that in 2018 endorsed an annual 3-to-5-percent increase to the Pentagon’s budget above inflation.

But a lot has happened since that commission was formed, including the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to trillions of dollars spent to prop up the U.S. economy. 

The Navy is expected to request funding for eight new warships, four fewer than Trump’s Pentagon eyed in fiscal 2022. Among the cuts, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer. With the focus on applying pressure on China, there will be a significant focus on ship numbers announced in Friday’s budget proposal. Recall the Trump administration wanted more than 400 crewed warships and more than 100 uncrewed ones.

Meanwhile, debate is expected over Pentagon proposals to retire older weapons to free up money for new ones.

The budget request “gives us the flexibility to divest ourselves of systems and platforms that do not adequately meet our needs, [including] older ships and aircraft and ISR platforms that demand more maintenance and upkeep and risk than we can afford,” Austin said.

Expect pushback in Congress.

“I have serious concerns regarding the DOD's plans to divest or decommission platforms that are in high demand or have much service life left in them,” Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Calif., the ranking member of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee said at Thursday’s hearing.

In the fiscal 2022 budget request, the Air Force is expected to propose cutting 428 old fighter jets, while asking to buy 304 new ones over a five-year period beginning in 2022, according to Air Force Magazine. The Air Force wants to cut planned F-35 stealth fighter buys by 10 percent over the next five years, the publication reports.

Calvert singled out planned cuts to the MQ-9 Reaper drones and the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship. 

“Congress has made our position clear that we do not accept hope as a viable replacement,” he said.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.