The Pentagon is asking for a $705 billion budget. Here is what it wants to spend that money on

As the Pentagon unveils its latest wish list, listen and you can hear the entire defense industry singing, 'Hey big spender, spend a little time with me.'

As the Pentagon unveils its latest wish list, listen and you can hear the entire defense industry singing, “Hey big spender, spend a little time with me.”

The Defense Department is asking for a total of $705.4 billion for fiscal 2021, slightly less than the $713 billion that Congress appropriated to the U.S. military for this fiscal year. President Donald Trump's entire national security budget request for next fiscal year is $740 billion.

  • U.S. service members and Defense Department civilians would receive a 3% pay raise under the proposed budget, compared with the 3.1% raise in the current fiscal year. “If Congress approves a proposed 3.0 % increase in military basic pay, the basic pay for an E-3 under two years of service would increase by $735 per year,” said Pentagon spokeswoman Jessica Maxwell. “The basic pay for an E-4 with over three years of service would increase by $902 per year. The basic pay for an E-5 with over four years of service would increase by $1,041 per year.”
  • About $69 billion of the proposed defense spending would be part of the Pentagon's Overseas Contingency Operations budget, but only $20.5 billion would fund “direct war requirements.” Another $32.5 billion would pay for overseas bases and other “enduring costs” once combat operations end, and $16 billion would fund “OCO for base requirements,” an ill-defined category that has allowed the Pentagon to get around budget caps in previous years.
  • The proposed budget does not include “emergency funding” for border wall construction and to repair damage to bases from natural disasters. Congress approved $8 billion in emergency funding for this fiscal year.
  • The Marine Corps is expected to cut its active-duty end strength from 186,200 to 184,100. “The institutional changes and divestment decisions are based on a long-term view and on where we want the Marine Corps to be within the next five to fifteen years,” Navy Department budget documents say.
  • The Army is expected to finally evaluate prototypes of the the Next Generation Squad Weapon and field the Integrated Visual Augmentation System in fiscal 2021.
  • The Navy plans to buy one Virginia Class submarine and two Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. That is one less submarine and one less destroyer than the service had planned to buy, budget documents show. The Navy wants to have a total of 355 ships by 2030.
  • The Air Force wants to buy 12 F-15EX fighters as it retires its older F-15C and F-15D fighters and makes “targeted reductions” to its fleet of B-1 bombers and MQ-9 Reapers, budget documents say. Meanwhile, the Air Force wants to modernize the A-10 fleet so it can keep flying missions.
  • The Pentagon also wants to transfer $15.4 billion from the Air Force to the newly created Space Force. Of that money, nearly $10 billion would fund personnel costs. Another $1 billion would go toward building the Space Force's headquarters and field centers, which are expected to accommodate roughly 1,800 personnel by the end of fiscal 2021.
  • For the nuclear triad, the Defense Department' budget request includes $1.5 billion to develop new intercontinental ballistic missiles to replace the Minuteman III nuclear missiles and another $2.3 billion on new early warning satellites.

Task & Purpose reporter Haley Britzky contributed to this story.

Jeff Schogol
Jeff Schogol

is the senior Pentagon reporter for Task & Purpose. He has covered the military for 15 years. You can email him at, direct message @JeffSchogol on Twitter, or reach him on WhatsApp and Signal at 703-909-6488. Contact the author here.

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