The Pentagon annual budget request unveiled Monday calls for a 4.6% pay hike for troops and civilians, significantly higher than the 2.7% increase in 2022 but still well below inflation.
The proposed $773 billion budget request from President Joe Biden's Pentagon also presents the opportunity to tackle sexual assault reforms and climate change initiatives in the second year of the administration. And, $97.3 billion will be injected into air and sea platforms, such as the B-21 Raider bomber and the Columbia-class submarines.
Kathleen Hicks, told reporters that it's the biggest pay raise in 20 years on the military and civilian side.
$479 million would be spent on reforms recommended last year by a Biden-ordered review panel. Besides raising child-care subsidies, military families could also get another $200 a month, and non-appropriated fund employees -- federal employees who work at restaurants, golf courses, and bowling alleys -- would get $15 an hour.
It's hard to tell what the final military pay increase will be because lawmakers could raise or lower it. However, the Pentagon seeks a higher pay increase than previous years.
In December, Biden signed the annual 2022 defense authorization bill, which raises troops' pay by 2.7%. That was a modest decrease from the previous year's 3% increase.
Military members are also facing the highest rate of inflation in decades - 7% this year -- which is raising the cost of living, what could mean pay increases aren't as substantial.
During the summer, Hicks said, "we will be vigilant about where the inflation lands and how inflation affects our service members.". However, we built the budget with the best information we had at the time.
The rank and file will also be affected by new efforts to end sexual assault and harassment in the military. After Bill Biden called for an independent investigation of sexual assault in the military, the panel recommended prosecutions be removed from the chain of command. When Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin expressed his support for the idea, the department for the first time got behind it after years of debate.
Congress, however, didn't pass an annual budget, so continuing resolutions were used to pay for stop gap spending.
Climate change, which Austin has called an existential threat and which Biden has made a top priority of his administration, will be the subject of some government funding of about $3.1 billion.
Military bases will get $2 billion to prepare for weather changes, like more bad storms and floods. The Department of Transportation will invest over $1 billion in science and technology, as well as program operations to reduce energy consumption and climate change, following Hicks' announcement last year.
In the budget, the DoD pledges to invest in child care across "all sectors", and their monthly fee assistance subsidy cap increases.
In essence, the subsidy is designed to bridging the gap between a service member's costs for child care on base -- fees determined according to their total family income -- and community-based child care.
Defense Department wants to raise maximum monthly rates from $1,500 to $1,700 in high-cost areas.
Meanwhile, the $773 billion defense budget proposal would surpass that provided to the Department of Defense in December. Senate lawmakers gave the department $742 billion in the 2022 budget, along with $6.5 billion for Ukraine assistance, $4.3 billion for Afghan refugees to come to the U.S. following military withdrawal, and $350 million to clean up water contamination from Hawaii's Red Hill fuel facility.
China is designated in the new budget plan as "our key strategic competitor and pacing challenge," while Russia is designated as a "threat to U.S. interests as acute." Putin shocked the U.S., NATO and the world when he invaded Ukraine in February, and the war between his forces and the Ukrainians has devolved into bloody battles between them and western-style missiles.
In its request for $276 billion of weapons system funds, the Pentagon called it the largest request ever.
There will be spending across all military domains. $57 billion of the budget would be devoted to air power, including purchases of 61 F-35 fighter jets and 21 F-15EX fighter jets; funding, during the development of B-21 fighter jets; and 15 KC-46A Pegasus aircraft to replace the Air Force's aging fleet of aerial tankers.
Those ships would be built along with Ford-class aircraft carriers and two Columbia-class submarines, costing $41 billion. It is anticipated that the Army and Marine Corps will split $12.6 billion for land combat equipment, which includes the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle, Amphibious Combat Vehicle, and Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle.
In the meantime, the services plan to go through old hardware. We anticipate retiring our fleet of A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft over the next six years, and our Navy intends to decommission 24 ships.
We're forecasting virtually flat end strength in the service branches over the next fiscal year. It has given up on plans to increase the number of soldiers to 485,000 and instead wishes to recruit 473,000 soldiers. There will be a 4,647 troop reduction for active duty and reserves.