WASHINGTON, March 12 (Xinhua) — The U.S. Department of Defense on Tuesday rolled out its 718.3-billion-U.S.-dollar budget request for fiscal year 2020, with a substantial hike in war funding aimed at circumventing budget gap.
“This strategy-driven budget makes necessary investments in next-generation technology, space, missiles, and cyber capabilities,” acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said in a statement Tuesday. “The operations and capabilities supported by this budget will strongly position the U.S. military for great power competition for decades to come.”
The budget request will pay for a 3.1-percent military pay raise, 78 F-35 joint strike fighters, the Columbia class ballistic missile submarine program, one Ford class aircraft carrier, three Virginia class submarines and three Arleigh Burke destroyers, among other hard and software, according to a breakdown provided by the Pentagon.
Most notable change to the budget request from the previous year was an 84-percent hike in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), a fund originally set up to finance U.S. military interventions in the Middle East but has since become a “slush fund” for the Pentagon.
The Pentagon said it needed about 165 billion dollars in OCO fund, 25.4 billion dollars for direct war requirements, 41.3 billion dollars for enduring requirements, and further 97.9 billion dollars to compensate for limits set for the base budget.
The Pentagon detailed the budget request one day after the White House unveiled its budget request for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1 this year. Together with defense spending allocated to other agencies, the White House budget proposal asked for 750 billion dollars in total for defense spending.
The number is expected to kick up fierce debate in Congress when both chambers draw up their respective budget bills, as lawmakers are questioning the practice of stashing spending in the OCO fund to skirt around a budget cap and whether any of the defense fund will be directed to building a border wall promised by U.S. President Donald Trump.
U.S. defense spending have seen strong growth in recent years, especially since Trump began pushing for pro-military policies. The U.S. Congress approved 716 billion dollars in defense spending for fiscal year 2019, and about 700 billion dollars for fiscal year 2018.