President Joe Biden's $773 billion fiscal year 2023 Defense Budget Request funds the department for today's security environment and positions DOD to maintain its competitive advantage in the years ahead, Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen H. Hicks said March 28
Hicks, along with Navy Adm. Christopher W. Grady, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, unveiled the budget that is built on the tenets of the new National Defense Strategy. That strategy recognizes Russia as a concern — especially since Russia's invasion of Ukraine — but still regards China as America's pacing threat.
The budget is roughly an 8.1 percent increase over fiscal year 2022. "These investments are as vital as ever, as we face a myriad of challenges," Hicks said at a Pentagon press conference.
Hicks said the people of Ukraine "are foremost on our minds" as they confront the Russian invasion of their country.
"Even as we confront Russia's malign activities, the defense strategy describes how the department will act urgently to sustain and strengthen deterrence with the [Peoples Republic of China] as our most consequential strategic competitor and pacing challenge. The PRC has the military, economic and technological potential to challenge the international system and our interests within it."
The strategy does not discount other threats and she specifically cited Iran, North Korea and threats from violent extremists.
The United States fights with a joint force that provides amazing combat effectiveness and lethality.
"With the joint warfighting concept and a new strategic approach to setting requirements, our joint force has set out to achieve expanded maneuvers in all domains, building new capabilities and leveraging technologies to achieve overmatch against any potential adversary," Grady said. "The American people can be confident that this year's budget request … ensures the joint force remains the most lethal and capable military on the planet. It will modernize, and it will transform the force needed to win in the 2030s and beyond."
Service members and civilians would receive a 4.6 percent pay raise if Congress approves this budget, Hicks said. This is the largest pay raise in 20 years. The budget also calls for investing in child care including fee assistance, new construction and sustainment. The request also calls for at least a $15 per hour minimum wage for everyone in the federal workforce. The majority of those affected by this last are in the child-care workforce.
The budget request also asks for $55.8 billion for military health care and $9.2 billion for family support — including commissaries, DOD Education Activity schools, youth programs and morale, welfare and recreation programs.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III has spoken at length about "integrated deterrence" being one of the key concepts of the new strategy. Two others are campaigning and building enduring advantages.
Integrated deterrence is essentially bringing to bear all aspects of defense and the larger U.S. government. It also calls for working closely with allies and partners around the world. The concept needs combat-credible forces and a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent.
The fiscal 2023 budget calls for $56.5 billion for airpower. The money is focused on F-35 fifth-generation joint strike fighters, F-15EX — a mix of fourth-generation aircraft with fifth-generation avionics, the B-21 Raider stealth bomber, more air mobility aircraft, KC-46 tankers and various unmanned aircraft systems.
The budget stressed integrated defense with $40.8 billion for construction of nine battle force fleet ships. The funding includes incremental funding for the construction of Ford-class aircraft carriers and two Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines.
A total of $12.6 billion is dedicated to modernization of Army and Marine Corps combat equipment including armored multi-purpose vehicles, the amphibious combat vehicle and the optionally manned fighting vehicle.
Another part of integrated deterrence is the recapitalization of the nuclear triad. The budget request is for $34.4 billion. This includes upgrades to weapons systems and the nuclear command, control and communications system.
Hypersonic weapons are scheduled to be fielded under this budget request with $7.2 billion across the services. This includes a hypersonic missile battery by fiscal 2023, hypersonic missiles aboard Navy ships by fiscal 2025 and hypersonic cruise missiles by fiscal 2027.
Another $24.7 billion goes to missile defeat and defense initiatives, including $892 million for the defense of Guam from Chinese missiles.
Cyberspace remains a contested domain and the budget contains $11.2 billion for cyberspace activities including adding five more Cyber Mission Force Teams and "operationalizing" the department's Zero Trust Architecture.
Space is the ultimate high ground and the budget calls for $27.6 billion for everything from detecting missile launches to global positioning satellites to "hardening" satellite communications.
Another concept in the strategy is called campaigning.
"Our competitors are increasingly undertaking activities designed to erode U.S. deterrence and advance their own interests via gray zone activities," Hicks said. "We, in turn, will operate forces, synchronize broader department efforts and gain advantage on our terms by tying together the breadth of U.S. and allied and partner defense activities through campaigning."
Central to campaigning is ensuring that the joint force is ready now, across the full battlespace competitors can present, she said.
DOD will be able to respond to threats anywhere in the world, but "the department will focus our campaigning efforts in the Indo-Pacific and Europe," Hicks said. The Pacific deterrence initiative along with other efforts are the basis for efforts in that region. DOD will invest in enhancing its comparative military advantage, promote the military posture, provide for resilient logistics and increased cooperation with regional allies and partners.
In Europe, the budget will support U.S. European Command "and deepen our ironclad commitment to NATO," she said. "We will optimize the responsiveness of the joint force, provide assistance to Kyiv through the Ukraine security assistance initiative, and bolster security cooperation programs."
The campaigning concept is tied to joint force readiness. Officials said the campaigning aspect receives $134.7 billion in the fiscal 2023 request. The Army would receive $29.4 billion under this request, the Navy $47.4 billion, the Air Force $35.5 billion, the Marine Corps $4.1 billion and the Space Force, $3 billion. U.S. Special Operations Command is slated to receive $9.7 billion of this pot of money and other joint requirements would consume $5.6 billion.
Building enduring advantages aspect of the National Defense Strategy comes down to people, Grady said. DOD must grow its talent. It must build resilience and force readiness and it must ensure accountable leadership. The 4.6 percent pay raise for both military and civilian members of DOD. It is the largest civilian pay raise in more than a decade.
"Building enduring advantages also means that the department must continue to innovate and modernize," Hicks said. "Of the roughly $130 billion that we are investing in [research, development, test and evaluation] — our largest request ever — $16.5 billion is dedicated to science and technology."
The strategic concept looks to address diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility. The budget includes $479 million to implement the recommendations of the Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault in the Military.
The budget also calls on Congress to allow the services to retire or discontinue programs no longer needed. In the Navy, this calls for the retirement of some cruisers, littoral combat ships and a landing ship dock. In the Air Force, this calls for retiring A-10s, E-3 Sentry aircraft, E-8 JSTARS, KC-135s and C-130H.
The end strength of the services remains essentially unchanged at 2,122,900 active, Guard and Reserve service members.
The Army is set at 998,500. This is down 3,000 on the active duty rolls from fiscal 2022. The Army National Guard is set at 336,000, and the Army Reserve at 189,500. The Navy is at 404,000, down incrementally from fiscal 2022 level of 406,135. The Navy Reserve is set at 57,700. The Marine Corps end strength goes up slightly from 209,606 to 210,000 with 33,000 in the Marine Corps Reserve. The Air Force — including the Space Force — stays at 510,400.
By percentage, the Air Force department receives 30.3 percent of the budget with the Navy receiving 29.9 percent. The Army receives 22.9 percent and defense-wide is pegged at 16.9 percent.