The Pentagon’s 2024 Budget Proposal, In Short
The spending plan includes $315 billion to develop and buy new weapons.
The Biden administration sent Congress what defense officials are calling the “largest, nominal-dollar peacetime budget ever” for the Pentagon.
The Pentagon’s share of the fiscal 2024 budget request sent to lawmakers Monday totals $842 billion—a defense-spending figure that jumps past $886 billion with the Energy Department’s nuclear weapons work and other federal projects.
It includes the largest-ever requests for procurement of weapons; research-and-development spending; and space-related activities, according to a senior defense official who characterized the spending plan as a continuation of the Biden administration’s China-focused defense strategy unveiled last year.
“This is a budget about continuity and deepening our implementation of the strategy, not going off in new directions,” the official told reporters on the condition of anonymity to speak about the administration’s budget request in advance of Monday’s formal roll out.
Here are some overarching themes and highlights from each branch of the military:
- The request is $25 billion more—roughly 3 percent higher, not counting inflation—than the $816 billion Congress appropriated for 2023.
- The $170 billion procurement request is the largest ever, the official said. Part of the reason for the high number is the simultaneous purchase of new bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles, and ballistic missile submarines that make up the nuclear triad. “We're trying to modernize the triad, not at the expense of other capabilities,” the official said.
- The Pentagon is seeking lawmakers’ approval to sign multiyear procurement deals for five types of missiles: Naval Strike Missile, SM-6, AMRAAM, JASSM-ER, and LRASM.
- The request includes $145 billion for research-and-development projects, the most ever.
- The budget request includes $29.8 billion for missile defense; $11 billion for hypersonic weapons and other long-range missiles; $13.5 billion for cyber activities; $1.8 billion for artificial intelligence-related efforts; and $1.4 billion joint all-domain command-and-control projects.
- Aside from $300 million in security assistance, there is no money or weapons for Ukraine. “If [Ukraine] is still an ongoing issue in ’24, we would expect to handle that by contingency or supplemental funding,” the senior defense official said, noting a lot can happen before this budget is passed.
- A 5.2 percent pay raise for uniformed military and civil servants.
- The 2024 budget envisions 452,000 active duty soldiers, 325,000 in the Army National Guard, and 174,800 in the reserve. This is a further reduction from last year’s budget of 473,000 active soldiers. The Army fell 25 percent short of its 60,000-person recruiting goal last year.
- The Precision Strike Missile is budgeted at $273 million in research and development.
- Planned procurement for the Next Generation Squad Weapon includes 17,112 rifles, 1,419 automatic rifles, and 14,932 fire control systems.
Navy & Marine Corps
- The Navy wants to buy nine ships: one Columbia-class submarine; two Virginia-class subs; two Arleigh Burke-class destroyers; two Constellation-class frigates, a submarine tender replacement ship; and a John Lewis class fleet oiler. It has not requested funding for any amphibious ships.
- It wants to decommission several ships earlier than planned, including ships that Congress previously refused to let the Navy retire: guided missile cruisers, three dock landing ships, and two littoral combat ships.
- It has requested 35 F-35s for the Navy and Marine Corps.
Air Force and Space Force
- Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall announced last week that the service’s 2024 budget request would aim to speed up planned aircraft purchases. It asks for 96 aircraft, including 72 fighter jets
- The service wants to retire more than 300 aircraft to free up funds for newer planes.
- The Air Force’s research-and-development budget tops its procurement request.
- It also plans to launch an effort to develop a new refueling tanker that can fly in more contested airspace as well as a different effort to buy 1,000 drone wingmen.
- The largest-ever space budget request of $33.3 billion, according to the defense official.
Audrey Decker, Caitlin M. Kenney, and Sam Skove contributed to this report.