Obama’s Defense Budget Aims Higher, and at Overseas Conflicts

February 3, 2015

New York Times:

WASHINGTON — President Obama is asking the new Republican Congress for a base defense budget of $534 billion in 2016, the Pentagon said on Monday in its annual budget release, exceeding by $35 billion the mandatory across-the-board reductions known as sequestration.

Separately, Mr. Obama is asking for an additional $51 billion to pay for operations in the conflicts in Iraq and Syria, as well as the continued American military presence in Afghanistan.

The administration said next year’s overall military spending was a continuation of efforts to take into account the fiscal reality of government austerity and the political reality of a president who pledged to end two costly and exhausting land wars. The result, administration officials say, will be a military that continues to be capable of defeating any adversary but is too small for protracted foreign occupations.

But the budget also demonstrates a Defense Department that remains determined to invest in ambitious next-generation capabilities and big-ticket items, including ships, submarines, bombers and other aircraft. The Pentagon is also seeking funding for more F-35 fighter jets, built byLockheed Martin Corp.

The 2016 budget is notable because for all of the talk about how the end of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would reduce spending on conflicts abroad, the Defense Department is still seeking more money to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Defense officials hope that the issues that emerged around the world in 2014 — including the Islamic State, Russia’s intervention in Ukraine and the Ebola virus in West Africa, all of which required some form of American military response — will lead to a broad acceptance that the United States must continue to invest heavily in defense unless it is going to retreat globally.

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