Pentagon claims the DOD budget is going up in 2024; that's before we figure-in inflation, the Ukraine war

March 27, 2023
Inflation isn't the only thing eating away at the 2024 DOD budget; consider the ever-more-expensive Ukraine war, which has no end in sight.

THE MIL & AERO COMMENTARY – U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) leaders are making a big deal of year-to-year increases in the proposed 2024 DOD budget compared to this year. DOD is asking Congress $842 billion next year -- an increase of $26 billion from this year. Sounds good, right? After all, that represents a 3.1 percent increase, so the Pentagon budget seems to be headed in the right direction ...

... that is, until you consider the latest U.S. monthly inflation rate, which is 6.04 percent. That's enough to eat-up that apparent increase, and them some. Factor in inflation, and the DOD budget actually is decreasing. So much for the rosy predictions we're hearing about.

Inflation isn't the only thing eating away at the DOD budget. Consider the yearlong Ukraine war, which has no end in sight. According to the latest estimates, the U.S. has sent more than $75 billion to Ukraine over the past year which includes humanitarian, financial, and military support. That's a big chunk of money, a portion of which might otherwise have been spent on U.S. military preparedness.

Don't get me wrong, military spending is a benefit to the U.S. defense industry. It helps keep weapons assembly lines humming, spurs technology insertion and upgrades, bolsters technology innovations that in the future might help U.S. military capabilities, and gets military leaders thinking outside the box on how to capitalize on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) technologies for future military use.

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I'm just a little concerned with how the Pentagon spending picture stacks up against the increasing danger that the U.S. military faces throughout the world. We have Russian jet fighters forcing down an unmanned U.S. reconnaissance aircraft over the black sea, increasing tension China in the South China Sea overlooking the world's busiest commercial shipping lanes, and a still-volatile Middle East -- all this with a functionally shrinking U.S. military budget.

The defense financial picture isn't all bleak, however. The proposed DOD budget next year is $842 billion; that's still a massive amount of money. The proposed 2024 DOD budget includes spending for air and missile defenses; hypersonic missiles; artificial intelligence (AI); unmanned systems; surface warships; and combat aircraft.

The budget includes $145 billion for research and development, as well as $170 billion for procurement -- including modernizing U.S. nuclear forces on land, sea, and in the air. The 2024 budget was released in March. Fiscal 2024 begins next October 1.

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Inside the budget is $61.1 billion for combat aircraft like the F-22, F-35, F-15EX; the B-21 bomber, KC-46A, and unmanned aircraft; construction of nine surface warships, as well as continued funding for Ford class nuclear powered aircraft carriers and Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines.

The budget has $13.9 billion for armored combat vehicles like the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle, Amphibious Combat Vehicle, and Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle.

It has $37.7 billion for the B-21 next-generation bomber program; the second Columbia ballistic missile submarine; the LGM-35A Sentinel intercontinental ballistic missile. Missile defense has $29.8 billion for the Next Generation Interceptor for Ground-Based Midcourse Defense; regional missile defense network with Patriot Missiles, a Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor, additional ShortRange Air Defense Battalions, and hypersonic weaponry and defenses.

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Funding is included for reconnaissance satellites; the THAAD missile defense system; cyber security; and 24 new hypersonic strike missiles. Other DOD budget priorities include wideband and narrowband secure and jam-resistant capabilities; and $300 million for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative.

The DOD research and development budget includes $1.8 billion for AI; $1.4 billion for Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2); $17.3 billion for tactical missiles; $7.3 billion for strategic missiles; and $600 million for technology development of the Naval Strike Missile, RIM-174 Standard Missile, Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile, Long Range Anti-Ship Missile, and Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile - Extended Range.

The DOD research budget also has $3.7 billion for cyber-secure microgrids with backup power, battery storage, and electrical transmission and distribution improvements; as well as $271 million for Army to modernize next-generation combat vehicles with silent watch and mobility, increased operational duration and more onboard electrical power.

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