The Biden administration’s fiscal year 2023 budget request calls for a $773 billion Pentagon topline, a four percent increase over the current spending level, as the department plans its largest ever investment in technology development and procurement efforts to modernize for future strategic competition.

The total defense spending figure in the president’s budget request is $813.3 billion, when also factoring in $29.7 billion for atomic energy defense activities and $10.6 billion for defense-related activities, and arrives as the administration briefed Congress on Monday of its new classified National Defense Strategy, which is set to place China as the department’s “pacing challenge.”

Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen H. Hicks and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Navy Adm. Christopher W. Grady deliver opening remarks on the President’s Fiscal Year 2023 Defense Budget, the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., March 28, 2022. (DoD photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Brittany A. Chase)

“Based on the depth of work undertaking over the past year, across the department, President Biden’s FY 2023 defense budget of $773 billion, a roughly 8.1 percent increase over our FY 2022 request, makes the investments necessary to implement this National Defense Strategy,” Kathleen Hicks, the deputy secretary of defense, told reporters during a briefing.

Republicans lawmakers are likely to scrutinize the requested topline figure, after it falls below GOP members of the Armed Services Committees’ recent call for a five percent increase in defense spending over inflation (Defense Daily, March 23). 

“President Biden’s defense budget reflects the world he wishes for — but not the world as it is,” Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in  a statement on Monday. “Most problematic is that this budget neglects to sufficiently account for historic inflation. The Pentagon’s inflation assumptions for 2023 are almost certainly low, nor does the budget make up for current record inflation rates. I am particularly concerned about service members losing buying power, just like all American families.”

Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), the chair of SASC, called the request an “outline and starting point,” in a statement, while adding he “commends the Biden Administration’s proposed investments in research and development for emerging technologies, particularly hypersonics, microelectronics, artificial intelligence, and 5G, which will be critical to the modernization of our national security.”

The $773 billion for the Pentagon, an increase of $30 billion above the FY ‘22 enacted level, is split between $177.3 billion for the Army, $230.9 billion for the Navy, $234.1 billion for the Air Force and $130.7 billion for defense-wide programs.

The budget request includes $276 billion for research and development and procurement programs, which officials noted is, once again, the “largest in the history of the department.”

The investment boost includes $56.5 billion to “advance air power,” $40.8 billion covering the build of nine new ships and continued funding for the Ford-class nuclear powered aircraft carriers and two Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines and $12.6 billion for advancing new combat vehicle programs such as the Army’s Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle and Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle and the Marine Corps’ Amphibious Combat Vehicle.

On research and development efforts, specifically, the request calls for $130.1 billion, which would represent a 9.5 percent increase over the FY ‘22 enacted level. 

For nuclear modernization, the request covers $34.4 billion and supports efforts to ramp up production for the B-21 program and fully funds the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent and Long-Range Standoff Weapon programs.

The request includes $24.7 billion for missile defense, funding continued development of programs such as Next-Generation Interceptor, and $27.6 billion for space-based capabilities to include $4.7 billion for new resilient missile warning and missile tracking architectures.

The budget request also seeks $7.2 billion for long-range fires development, such furthering movement on hypersonic weapons programs and $11.2 billion for cyber activities, to include operationalizing zero-trust architectures across the department. 

The relatively new Pacific Deterrence Initiative receives $6.1 billion in the budget request covering  “integrated fires, new missile warning and tracking architecture, construction to enable enhanced posture, funding for defense of Guam and multinational information sharing, training and experimentation.”

In support of defense industrial based efforts, the Pentagon noted its request has prioritized five key focus areas in which critical vulnerabilities pose the most pressing threat to national security,” seeking $3.3 billion for microelectronics production, $48 million for casting and forging, $43 million for batteries and energy storage, $605 million for kinetic capabilities aimed at developing and expanding the industrial base for areas such as hypersonics and directed energy and $253 million for strategic and critical materials.