President Donald Trump’s administration has requested $166.1 billion for the Army in its proposed budget for fiscal year 2018, which if passed would represent the second consecutive year of increased funding to the service to restore forces and equipment used in operations against the Islamic State and to ramp up U.S. presence in Europe.
Maj. Gen. Thomas Horlander, the Army’s budget director, made the case Tuesday for a rise in spending across the board to combat ISIS, deter Russian aggression and modernize the force for conflicts to come.
“We need predictable, consistent funding year to year” to fund a host of projects and invest in new weapons, vehicles and base construction, he said during a budget overview at the Pentagon.
The Army has “mortgaged long-term investments” for near-term objectives because of recent budget constraints, Horlander said.
The proposed budget includes $137.1 billion in the base budget and $28.9 billion in a wartime fund, known as the Overseas Contingency Operations account.
“Today, over 80 percent of U.S. military forces in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan are U.S. Army soldiers,” the Army said in the budget.
That wartime account includes Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq and Syria and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel in Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa, along with the European Reassurance Initiative, the $3.2 billion program to fund rotational armor and aviation brigades on the continent, according to briefing materials.
The budget maintains an Army end strength of 1,018,000 soldiers, including 476,000 active-duty soldiers, 343,000 in the Army National Guard and 199,000 in the Army Reserve.
The total proposal is $8 billion more than the $158 billion funded the Army in fiscal year 2017.
The major increases in weapons buying for the Army are centered on improving its land forces readiness and upgrading heavily used large artillery and vehicles that are still providing offensive fire support in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.
The budget proposes $772 million to buy 71 Paladin mobile artillery systems to eventually replace artillery systems that have been used in support of Iraqi forces in the fight for Mosul and $804 million to begin production of 2,110 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles, which are planned to replace the Army Humvee.
Horlander said other modernization priorities include increased cyberwarfare capabilities, outfitting combat units with more lethal weapons and development of electronic warfare-capable vehicles for brigades.
The budget also calls $718 million to upgrade 56 M1A1 Abrams tanks with new computer systems and night vision capabilities, a signal from the Pentagon that conventional armor, which was used less during counterinsurgency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, will be emphasized as Russia and China rapidly modernize their militaries.
The Army has about 71,000 soldiers in the Pacific, and 33,000 soldiers committed to the defense of Europe.
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