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Biden’s $715 billion defense budget is out – here are bullet points of what’s in it

President Joe Biden during his first official press conference, March 25, 2021, in the East Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)
May 28, 2021

President Joe Biden’s $715 billion Department of Defense budget for fiscal year 2022 released Friday and addresses what the administration considers critical national security threats, including climate change, COVID-19 and extremism, as well as “substantial challenges” from China and Russia.  

According to the budget breakdown, over $500 million is allocated for COVID-19 and pandemic preparedness and $617 million for “preparing for, adapting to and mitigating climate change.”

More than $5 billion is earmarked for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative, established to stand against China and facilitate U.S. preparedness in the Indo-Pacific by funding radars, satellites and missile systems.

Other budget items include:

  • $27.7 billion for Nuclear Modernization, including B-21 strike bombers, ballistic missile submarines, long-range missiles.
  • $52.4 billion or Lethal Air Forces, which include 85 F-35 fighter jets, 14 KC-46 aerial tankers, CH-53K helicopters, 12 F-15EX fighter jets, and 30 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters
  • $34.6 billion for Combat Effective Naval Forces, including a new ballistic missile submarine, aircraft carrier, as well as additional submarines, warships and support vessels.
  • $12.3 billion for Combat Effective Ground Forces, including 3,799 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles, 70 M-1 Abrams tank modifications and upgrades, and 92 Amphibious Combat Vehicles
  • $20.6 billion for Space and Space-Based Systems, including 5 launch vehicles, GPS system, and infrared systems.
  • $10.4 billion for Cyberspace Activities
  • $133.1 billion for force readiness
  • $2.8 billion for divestments, including Army night vision imaging system, missile launcher, electronic warfare; Navy decommissioned ships and divestment of F/A-18 fighter jets, RQ-21 drones; Air Force divestment of A-10 warplanes, F-15 and F-16 fighter jets, KC-135 and KC-10 tankers, C-130 transport planes, and RQ-4 drones.

Biden’s budget also includes a 2.7 percent pay raise for military and civilian personnel, and allocates $8.6 billion for “professional development and education opportunities for Service members and military spouses, quality, affordable child care for over 160,000 children, youth programs serving over 1 million family members, DOD Dependent Schools educating over 74,000 students and establishes the Defense Center of Excellence for Sexual Assault Prevention, Response, Education, and Training,” as well as strengthening the DOD’s ability to “identify and address extremism in the ranks.”

The budget proposal states that the Defense Department’s “most critical asset is its people” and will “ensure the U.S. military remains the preeminent force in the world” by taking care of service members, their families and the civilian workforce.

“As the Secretary of Defense, my chief priority is defending America from enemies foreign and domestic and ensuring our troops remain the world’s preeminent fighting force,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III wrote in a statement. “President Biden’s FY 2022 Defense Budget meets this commitment with critical investments to help us match resources to strategy, strategy to policy, and policy to the will of the American people.”

Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) and Chairman of the Armed Services Committee called the budget request “a starting point,” adding that in-depth, bipartisan hearings will be held to hash out the proposal’s details because “taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for programs or systems that are wasteful or ineffective.”

Reed also said the Biden administration acknowledging China as the “pacing threat” for the United States military is apt, but asserted that the U.S. needs to do more.

“This budget request appropriately recognizes China as the ‘pacing threat’ for our military.  However, our strategy toward China should not just be defined in defense dollars, but also by our engagement in the region with partners and allies, our economic policies, and other methods of influence to achieve the greatest comparative advantage,” Reed wrote.

“Amidst a global pandemic, climate change, economic uncertainty, and disruptive technologies in the hands of near-peer competitors, we must recognize the interconnected nature of the threats before us,” he added. “Congress must make thoughtful decisions about how we resource and transform our tools of national power.  Now that President Biden has issued his budget request, the Committee can begin our work of crafting an NDAA that meets America’s needs now and in the future.”

An extra $38 billion is allocated for programs at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Energy and other agencies, making the total national security budget $752.9 billion.