Biden’s FY23 defense budget request preview: 5 things to expect – Breaking Defensive Breaking Defensive

Air Force photo

Will the Air Force try to say goodbye to the A-10 again? (DVIDS)

With the Fiscal Year 2022 budget saga looking like it will be finalized in March, everyone is now moving on to the Fiscal Year 23 defense budget and what it might look like. Amid Russian aggression, inflation, and congressional support for increased defense spending, it remains unclear how high the Pentagon’s budget will be. But as AEI’s Mackenzie Eaglen notes, there are plenty of indications of what shape the budget might take.

While the White House has delayed sending its next federal budget to Congress, a fair number of policymakers are already aware of the upcoming 2023 fiscal year request. Reports suggest that the White House return guidance would set the FY23 defense budget for the Department of Defense somewhere. at or above $770 billion. That sounds high, but it can’t account for the military’s loss of purchasing power due to record-breaking inflation this year and possibly the next, along with nearly half a year. spending is frozen.

Thanks to public comments, we can also round up five key budget trends under the headline — whenever it’s official.

The defense budget will once again present record levels of R&D investment as the preferred approach to competing with China.. Heidi Shyu, Defense Minister for Research and Engineering, told reporters in January that she believes the Pentagon’s fiscal year 23 research and development budget requirements will again be at an all-time high. But that will simply activate déjà vu for the National Assembly and show a lack of imagination. A budget stuck in cruise control by continuing the well-trodden trails laid down by the two previous administrations will not satisfy Congress.

Expect the focus on funding R&D efforts to be almost in place. Comments from top leaders indicate that the budget will prioritize R&D and science and technology programs that are ready to move into production and procurement, rather than those that go further. Army Secretary Christine Worthuth recently said key modernization programs are being scrutinized for cuts. The ones that will survive are prototypes that are affordable and ready to scale. If they are not ready for this, they will be vulnerable in the 2023 budget request.

That was repeated when Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall said recently that there is no shortage of innovation or technology at the Pentagon. The implication, of course, is the lack of projects, products, and weapons in the field. Kendall notes how R&D projects are piling up without a clear path to getting them into the hands of the warlords. But this is an issue that Congress has been pushing the Pentagon to tackle for years. Fifteen months ago, a report by the House Future of Defense task force said the Pentagon must identify innovative capabilities and “make substantial investments to acquire them at the scale needed.” Such programs “should then be fast-tracked” rather than not “becoming successfully funded programmes”, the report states.

This is a much-needed and long overdue effort to bridge the gap between the so-called valley of death; Too many programs languish into the equivalent of a science experiment and shut down before they have a chance to bear fruit, on a massive scale. Without clear and substantial progress in moving a large number of programs to procurement in the FY23 defense budget requirement, it would not be possible to meet it now.

RELATED: Hey OMB – Defense Needs $816 Billion for FY23

Trying to divest to invest – again. Biden’s next budget will also continue the trend, dating back to the Obama administration, of “divesting” old weapons to “invest” in new technologies of the future. While this sounds clever and novel, the problem is that this strategy lacks nuance.

Regular Approach unilaterally cutting capacity at a time when the armed forces are as busy as ever globally. And because the process is bottom-up oriented, it often derails evolving legacy programs toward new capabilities. And, let’s be frank: the results often lead to divestments with no real money to invest. Unfortunately, this trend will accelerate with raging inflation affecting every defense and priority account.

Furthermore, Congress tends to approve divestments in smaller phases than services typically suggest, or moves to protect the nation’s interests in such a way that the cuts become neutral. about costs. So while sheriffs are making clear progress in persuading lawmakers who sometimes cross local interests to retire bombers, tankers and drones, then the half-baked method leads to what Kendall calls “the death of a thousand cuts”fail in real savings. ”

Steal the willingness first to cover up unwanted budget holes. The cost of doing business as usual is increasing across the business thanks to COVID-19, prolonged supply chain disruptions, continued labor shortages, and now inflation. As a result, there will be efforts to move money to cover unplanned cost increases.

Similar to how the Pentagon has responded to natural disasters at various bases in recent years, the first bill payer will undoubtedly be military readiness. That’s because the operations and maintenance accounts have what are known as performance year dollars. Here, as senior leaders note“worth a lot more than dollars in years in the future” when you need to do a financial analysis the hard way.

But expect widespread effects; no preference will be omitted except military and civilian pay and compensation, although they will also feel poorer immediately, as the seemingly generous 4.6 per cent will increase in fiscal year 23, based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Costs Index, will still not be enough to keep up with inflation. Add to that the expired children’s tax credit disappears and military pocket books are inferior to wear.

Red-hot inflation will also hamper any eventual strength growth across services and could cause a slight decline in active duty. With the overall situation most likely not to keep up with overall inflation at or above 7%, the Department of Defense will struggle to meet a 4.6% pay increase for its 1.4 million uniformed employees. and about 800,000 civilian employees.

Marine Corps leaders have End durability cut preview to help the fund modernize. Calls active duty cuts “the most logical lever to pull, based on facts [the Corps] has grown so large that [it] is unsustainable,” the rest of the services are about to reach the same difficulty perception.

Unfortunately, Commandant is likely to get less Marines but no more dollars to invest in technology as he hopes due to inflation. It will cost more money this year than last year to keep a smaller force being paid.

Not only will military salaries be affected, but their quality of life programs will also be squeezed. For example, the Navy has scaled back its base operations services around the country.”due to budget constraints. This affects family preference programs, from gym and pool hours to the facility library, auto hobby shop, landscaping and other custodial services.

Cutting endurance amid growing global demand will add to the readiness woes. That’s because, as Secretary of the Navy Carlos del Toro said recently“The threat hasn’t changed much just because inflation is picking up.”

The road is still looming. Ultimately, the Pentagon will continue to grapple with “Terrible 20’s“The usual challenge of strategic funding and modernization in the same decade with barely enough funding to do so. Discussing the challenge of trying to fund three service modernizations from within an existing budget – as opposed to taking in new money – Air Force leaders made it clear that this approach would be overwhelming. over other equally important investments.

Lt Gen Clint Hinote, Air Force Undersecretary for Strategy, Integration and Requirements, said conversations are ongoing with stakeholders about whether strategic and conventional modernization is “either/or” or “both / and”. He notes that “there is no free money” and so “it has to come from somewhere.”

The problem is too big to come from somewhere, so instead it will have to come from everywhere – including nuclear modernization – with a budget that can’t keep up with inflation.

If the administration continues to arm its underperforming defense by not interfering with the very real division of record inflation and overdue modernization efforts, it will inevitably force military personnel to pay the price by stretching them further. Like last year, the White House will pass the future of the US military to Congress. Lawmakers should clear this year’s books and prepare to force defense spending higher again.

Mackenzie Eaglen is a defense expert at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and a member of the Breakthrough Defense Contributors Council. Biden’s FY23 defense budget request preview: 5 things to expect – Breaking Defensive Breaking Defensive

Jake Nichol

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