Christopher B. Shaw is a retired U.S. Marine Corps colonel. In the following article, Chris Shaw explains that in the ever-changing landscape of global security, the military budget remains a critical point of focus and contention. As nations grapple with complex geopolitical challenges and strive to bolster their defense capabilities, the allocation of resources becomes a subject of intense political scrutiny. In the United States, often that scrutiny not only focus on the external geopolitical realities, it also contemplates domestic political maneuvering.
In order for a nation to become and remain strong, it must decide whether how to allocate scares resources. Should the nation buy more plows or swords, beans or bullets, or semiconductor or missiles. These questions become even more complex when one contemplates the need for military force to protect plows, beans, and semiconductors from adversaries while also needing nonmilitary goods to create swords, bullets, and missiles. In the United States these questions become contentiously political because the US. Constitution establishes the President as the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces while granting the U.S. Congress authority to regulate the organization, conduct and budget of the armed forces.
Below, a discussion of the latest developments and news surrounding military budgets, breakthrough technologies and strategic investments to debates on expenditure priorities. According to 2022 figures from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the United States spends more on defense than the next 10 countries combined, equivalent to 40% of global military expenditure. One of the reason why the US military expenditures are so large relative to other nations is because the United States maintains a global military presence while all other nations maintain at most a regional presence.
Colonel Chris Shaw USMC (Ret) says that to gain more insight on what the U.S. spends its defense budget on, here are some excerpts regarding U.S. military proposed budget spending:
Colonel Chris Shaw on the FY 2024 National Defense Authorization Act
The House recently passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY 2024, with a budget of $874 billion. However, the vote was a close one, mainly due to numerous amendments that would shape domestic policies that involve the military.
Chris Shaw says that these amendments aim to overturn the Pentagon’s abortion leave policy, restrict medical care for transgender troops, eliminate military diversity initiatives, and halt the implementation of President Biden’s climate change initiatives within the military.
The inclusion of these amendments can be attributed to the efforts of the Republican leaders of the House of Representatives seeking support from the House Freedom Caucus, a group consisting of the most conservative Republican members. As a result, the bill is now set for a potential clash with the Democratic led Senate over mainly social issues involving the military.
Chris Shaw a former Marine explains that the Senate bill, on the other hand, has yet to undergo a final passage vote. According to a summary from the Senate Armed Services Committee, their bill allocates $886 billion for national defense, reinforcing the nation’s commitment to safeguarding its interests. Additionally, it suggests a 5.2% pay raise for service members, recognizing their daily sacrifices to our Nation.
Before the bill becomes law, both the Senate and the House must engage in negotiations to reconcile their differing versions of the bill, finding compromises that all hope best serve the interests of our Nation and its defense priorities.
Notable Provisions in the NDAA
Beyond the controversial amendments, the FY 2024 NDAA includes several crucial provisions aimed at bolstering national defense and addressing key security challenges.
Cybersecurity Cooperation with Taiwan
Christopher B. Shaw explains that the bill mandates the Defense Department to collaborate with Taiwan on cybersecurity, fostering joint efforts to combat cyber threats effectively.
Procurement of Nine Battle Force Ships
The bill authorizes the procurement of various ships, including submarines, destroyers, frigates, an oiler, and an amphibious transport dock ship.
Support for Amphibious Fleet
It also supports the Marines’ request for an amphibious transport dock ship, maintaining the requirement for a 31-ship amphibious fleet.
Ukraine Security Assistance
Additionally, the bill allocates funds for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, directing $80 billion toward providing Kyiv with long-range Army Tactical Missile Systems.
Sea-Launched Cruise Missile Nuclear Program
Another focus is the nearly $196 million in research and development for the sea-launched cruise missile nuclear program.
Aircraft and Ships Retirement
Colonel Chris Shaw Marine also states that the bill permits the retirement of 42 attack planes, while redirecting the Navy’s plans to retire three amphibious ships and two cruisers.
Nuclear Upgrades: A $117B Investment in the Coming Decade
Christopher B. Shaw says that the U.S. Department of Defense is preparing to allot $117 billion over the next ten years for nuclear command, control, and communications (NC3) systems. This is a notable increase of $23 billion compared to the previous estimate in 2021.
The rise in costs is attributed to intensified nuclear modernization efforts, including the replacement of aircraft and the addition of new budgetary items. The Biden presidency has underlined the importance of fortifying NC3 and protecting it against cyber and electromagnetic attacks.
$113M Taiwan Aid Cause House-Senate Friction
The Senate plans to provide Taiwan with $113 million in grants for purchasing additional U.S. military equipment, aiming to discourage potential Chinese aggression against the island. However, the House of Representatives has allocated $500 million for Taiwan, causing a clash between the two chambers over the aid amount and overall foreign aid budget.
Christopher B. Shaw also notes that the Biden presidency plans to employ presidential drawdown authority to send weapons from U.S. stocks to Taiwan, necessitating additional funds approval from Congress. A backlog in U.S. weapon deliveries to Taiwan has prompted the transfer of American arms from existing stockpiles to expedite capabilities.
The conflict between House and Senate and the need for supplemental funding for drawdown authority lays the groundwork for broader government funding discussions later this year.