The previous Fiscal Year Defense Budget (in 2019) was approved by Congress and signed by President Trump in what was reported to be record time, marking the first time in over ten years that the Department of Defense was able to start a fiscal year without the need for a continuing resolution.
Now that there is a proposed 2020 Defense Budget, many are wondering if the same will happen again – a speedy approval with funding levels consistent with the prior year.
The Proposed 2020 Defense Budget
On March 11, 2019, the President sent Congress a proposed Fiscal Year 2020 Budget request including a total of $750 billion for national security, with just over $718 billion of that amount meant for the Department of Defense.
Of the $718 billion, more than $104 billion is set aside for research, development, test and evaluation programs, over $155 billion is headed for “military personnel accounts,” approximately $143 billion set aside for procurement costs with additional funds over $300 billion intended for operations, maintenance, military housing and similar areas.
Highlights of the proposed budget, which at the time of this writing has not been approved, include the following:
- The “largest ship building request in 20 years” according to the DoD official site
- The largest research and development request in 70 years
- A 3.1 percent military pay raise, which the DoD labels “the largest in a decade”
- $9.2 billion that will reportedly be used to pay back funds siphoned from military construction projects to pay for border wall costs along the United States border with Mexico
- More than $14 billion for Space Force type development including $72.4 million proposed for a Space Force Headquarters, and nearly $2 billion for space-based missile warning systems
FY 2020 Defense Budget Numbers And Military End Strength Goals
When creating a budget for each year’s military operations, military “end strength numbers” are one important area under review. The term “end strength” refers to how many people serve in each service and the overall goals for those numbers. Is the force meant to expand or downsize?
Depending on current military operations at the time any military budget is created, end strength numbers may have goals to increase or decrease. In the current level of military operations, DoD goals for each of the services including Reserve components includes expanding the number of troops and the funding to sustain those troops levels.
The proposed FY 2020 Defense Budget includes the following considerations in this area:
- Total end strength under the FY 2020 Defense Budget is slated to increase from the levels in FY 2019 by nearly 8,000.
- Active duty end strength would increase by more than six thousand troops, with the largest increase going to the Air Force.
- End strength for Reserve components is scheduled to increase by approximately 1,500-the largest increase would be for Army Guard and Reserve forces.
The Proposed 2020 Defense Budget Broken Down By Military Service
As part of each year’s Defense Budget, there are specific dollar amounts listed for each branch of military service. The proposed 2020 budgets for each branch of service are as follows:
- United States Navy: $205.6 billion (a nearly $10 billion increase from last year)
- United States Air Force: $204.8 billion (nearly $12 billion more than last year)
- United States Army: $191.4 billion (more than $12 billion above last year’s Army budget)
An additional $116.6 billion goes to pay for projects or activities DoD-wide, listed as a decrease of $930 million from the prior year.
Warfighting Funds And Budget Limits For Ongoing Missions
The proposed FY 2020 Defense Budget includes funding for overseas contingency operations, also known as OCO for short, “Direct War Requirements,” funds for overseas base operations, and the previously mentioned “emergency requirements” fund. 2020 Defense funding for these areas includes:
- Over $25 billion for Direct War Requirements to include combat and combat support expenses “not expected to continue once combat operations end.”
- More than $41 billion for overseas contingency operations (OCO) determined to be “enduring requirements” that will cost money even after combat operations are concluded.
- $97 billion for OCO for Base Requirements “in support of the National Defense Strategy, financed in the OCO budget due to the limits on base budget defense resources under the budget caps in current law.”
- $9.2 billion in Emergency Requirements to include funds for emergency-related military construction projects. “Emergency requirements” in this case would include funds for border security and natural disaster recovery.
Highlights Of The Proposed 2020 Defense Budget: Pay Raises, Family Support
According to the Department of Defense official site, the FY 2020 Defense Budget provides troops with the largest pay raise in a decade as well as “robust support” of military members and their families. That includes:
- A “competitive compensation package” including a 3.1% pay raise.
- More than $49 billion (slightly less than FY 2019) to further modernize and transform military health care.
- Nearly $8 billion for military family support programs such as child care, youth programs, DoD Dependent Schools, and Commissary operations at more than 200 locations.
Investing In High-End Warfare Technology In 2020
The FY 2020 budget invests nearly $4 billion in warfighting technologies including “autonomous warfare” and unmanned vehicles, and just short of a billion dollars for artificial intelligence programs to include the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) and Advanced Image Recognition Project Maven.
There is also roughly $2.6 billion set aside for hypersonic technology and more funds to test lasers, plus “research and development for scalable high-power density applications.”
At the time of this writing the FY 2020 Defense Budget is still in a proposal form and has not been signed into law. Changes to any or all of the items discussed here in the interim are possible and there is no guarantee that further adjustments or alterations won’t happen between now and the passage of the budget.