The Trump administration sent Congress a set of Defense Department Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 budget amendments on Monday to increase funding for missile defense, repair damaged Navy ships, and increase Afghanistan troop levels.
The letter introducing the request covers about $4 billion in additional efforts to defend against the threat of North Korean missiles through “enhancements” as well as almost $700 million in costs needed to repair the damaged USS John S McCain (DDG-56) and USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62).
Both ships were involved in deadly collisions over the summer. Recent Navy reports found numerous causes for the crashes at the level of the ships and larger regional leadership level.
Last week, Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. John Richardson said in a press briefing that preliminary repair costs for both ships were about $600 million, but that the Navy would learn more about the total McCain damage cost once it reaches Yokosuka, Japan (Defense Daily, Nov. 2).
The McCain left Changi Naval base in Singapore early last month and will be repaired at the Navy’s Naval Ship Repair Facility-Japan Regional Maintenance Center in Yokosuka while the Fitzgerald will be fixed at Huntington Ingalls Industries’ [HII] facility in Pascagoula, Miss. (Defense Daily, Oct. 5).
The White House letter notes this funding supports additional efforts to detect, defeat, and defend against North Korean use of ballistic missiles against the U.S., its forces, allies, or partners. It also highlighted the McCain and Fitzgerald provide “additional ballistic missile defense capabilities in the Asia-Pacific theater.”
The request includes $2.1 billion to build one additional Ground-Based Interceptor (GBI) field at Fort Greely, Alaska with associated equipment; initial procurement funding for 20 new GBIs; procure 15 Standard Missile-3 Block IIA interceptors; procure 50 new Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptors; and “other discrimination and shooter capabilities.”
The new missile field is set to cost $200 million to build Missile Field No. 4 under a defense-wide construction account.
Other missile defense requests include $839 million for combined missiles detection, disruption/defeat, and defense to include procuring 147 Missile Segment Enhancements (MSE) missiles and a variety of multi-role capacities; $116 million for missile disruption and defeat including long-range strike capabilities; and $743 million for “other associated missile defeat and defense activities.”
The administration requested this funding be designated as an emergency requirement under the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985.
The amendments also include $1.2 billion to deploy an additional 3,500 troops to Afghanistan as part of the administration’s South Asia strategy. The letter said the extra resources include funding for “urgent needs and special operations forces capabilities.” The White House requested the Afghanistan money be designated under Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) accounts.
The letter also asks Congress to act on the administration’s FY 2018 budget request for the Mexican border wall of $1.6 billion within the Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Procurement, Construction, and Improvements account.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), chairmen of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, jointly welcomed this set of amendments.
They said they “look forward to giving it the serious consideration it deserves” and that it underscores the threat posed by North Korea and the need to boost American missile defense capabilities to meet it.
“In fact, the House and Senate Armed Services Committees have already authorized many of these missile defense programs in our respective defense bills,” the chairmen said.
They noted the timing of the amendment request means the House-Senate conference committee for the fiscal year 2018 defense authorization bill will be able to consider it in time to incorporate extra funding into the final agreement.
Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, also welcomed the request.
“I hope the Senate and House will act expeditiously on this request to ensure resources are in place to protect our national security interests,” he said in a statement.
“Providing additional funding for missile defense programs would reinforce the United States’ commitment to defend itself and its allies,” Cochran added.
Late last month, leaders of the conference committee said they believed they would quickly complete negotiations on a final version of the bill in a short amount of time (Defense Daily, Oct. 25).