The Pentagon has proposed a $585.3 billion defense budget for fiscal year 2016, which begins Oct. 1, but Congress had capped military spending
at $499 billion under sequestration.
The budget reflects the defense establishment's priorities, calling for more spending in areas such as drones, planes, and missiles, while mostly holding the line on the Army and personnel costs overall, The Wall Street Journal
Base funding for the military would be $534.3 billion, with $50.9 billion more to fund counterterrorism and conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, according to Stars and Stripes
Publication of the Pentagon's budget is the opening salvo in a process by which the executive and congressional branches hammer out the nation's security priorities.
"I don't think it's likely DOD gets anything close to what they're planning right now," Todd Harrison of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments told Defense News
Because the defense budget exceeds the spending cap Congress imposed in the 2011 Budget Control Act, it risks kicking in sequestration, a process that automatically trims all programs across the board until the cap limit is reached, Defense News reported.
Republicans were disappointed with the budget presented.
"Like the president's previous budgets, this plan never balances — ever," said House Speaker John Boehner. "While the president's budget is about the past, our budget will be about the future. We will address our government's spending problem and protect our national security," according to Stars and Stripes.
A "broad consensus" exists between Congress and the White House that more needs to be spent on defense, according to Kathleen Hicks of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. There would, though, need to be "tradeoffs between defense and nondefense discretionary spending" to increase spending above the sequester limits, Stars and Stripes reported.
A Pentagon statement maintained that adhering to the sequester-level limits "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," according to The Daily Caller
The plan foresees an active-duty Army force of 475,000 troops
, a decrease of 15,000 troops, Stars and Stripes reported.
The budget would limit the growth in personnel costs by targeting military pay and benefits
. There would be a modest pay rise of 1.3 percent in fiscal year 2016, while service members would cover 4 percent more of their basic housing allowance. Subsidies in commissaries would be reduced from $1.3 billion to $1.2 billion, according to Stars and Stripes.
"These proposals will further erode service members' pay and benefits that are fundamental to sustaining the quality of the all-volunteer force," retired Vice Adm. Norbert Ryan, president of the Military Officers Association of America, told the Caller.
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