Trump budget proposal includes pay raise for military, increased defense spending

Trump budget proposal includes pay raise for military, increased defense spending

President Trump has requested a $574.5 billion defense budget, with $64.6 billion request for overseas contingency operations. The proposal would include a 2.1 percent pay raise for military personnel and a 1.9 percent pay raise for civilians working for the Department of Defense. (U.S. Army photo by Kristen Wong)

By Rindi White

President Donald Trump has proposed a 2.1 percent pay raise for military personnel in fiscal year 2018, along with a $52.4 billion increase in Department of Defense spending, according to DoD News. Civilians working for the DoD would get a 1.9 percent pay raise.

With the average military salary at about $30,000, the increase would mean about an extra $50 a month. The raise is required by law to keep pace with private-sector pay raises. But that law is not always adhered to; President Barack Obama ordered the increases to be smaller than outlined in law five years running.

The president requested a $574.5 billion defense budget, with $64.6 billion request for overseas contingency operations. According to DOD News, the budget would reverse cuts to the number of active-duty troops and would begin an effort to grow the U.S. military by 56,000 members.

Congress must still pass the proposal. The budget is far from a sure thing — as proposed, it is $52 billion over a cap set by the Budget Control Act of 2011, and dealing with the overage will require additional Congressional action.

According to DOD News, the president’s budget seeks to balance troop training with the needs of a future force. The goal is to have just over 1.3 million active-duty personnel, with the Army keeping its force about 476,000; the Navy increasing by about 1,400 to 327,00; Marines growing by 574 to 185,000; and the Air Force seeing the most growth: 3,975 new airmen, bringing the total force to 325,100. Reserves will also grow by 2,085, to a total of 815,900, bringing total military strength to 2,129,900 active and reserve troops.

The proposed budget seeks to restore cuts made previously under the Budget Control Act of 2011 to address service readiness, training, spare parts and other budget lines. It proposes 19 training rotations for Army units in their “high end” collective training sites, according to DOD News, increases money spent on ship maintenance and increases flight hours for naval aviators. Air Force funding is directed at offsetting the pilot and aircraft maintenance shortage, and funding weapons sustainment programs. Marine Corps funding would direct a portion of the money to forward-deployed, special-purpose Marine air-ground task forces, as well as boosting maintenance and modernization programs.

Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capacity would all see a boost in funding through the U.S. Special Forces Command.

Modernized equipment plays a big part in the proposed budget. The budget lays out funding for 70 F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighters for $10.8 billion and would allow the Air Force to replace parts of its aerial refueling fleet with 15 new KC-46 Pegasus tankers, for $3.1 billion, and a $2 billion B-21 Raider long-range bomber. The Army would purchase 61 Apache helicopters at $1.4 billion and 48 Black Hawk helicopters at $1.1 billion, according to DOD News. The Navy has requested $5.5 billion for two Virginia-class submarines, $4 billion for two Burke-class Aegis destroyers, $1.2 billion for a littoral combat ship and $4.6 billion for a Ford-class aircraft carrier. A request for $1.1 billion to purchase 2,775 joint light tactical vehicles is also included.

The budget carries the threat of a darker future — included in the wording is authority to convene a new round of base closures in 2021.

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