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Senate mark-up of US FY2022 budget focuses on China

28th October 2021 - 17:00 GMT | by Noemi Distefano in Manchester

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Senate Appropriations Committee proposes its version of the President FY22 defence budget (Photo: DVIDS)

The US Senate Appropriations Committee is proposing a significant top-up of the Biden administration's defence budget proposal for FY2022.

In its mark-up of FY2022 defence spending proposals from the Biden administration, the Senate Appropriations Committee has proposed $726.8 billion for the DoD, with an emphasis on strategic competition with China plus investment in AI and cyber.

The original proposal from the Biden administration described four traditional areas for investment: military personnel, operation and maintenance (O&M), defence procurement, and R&D (including test and evaluation – T&E).

While the focus on those four areas persists in the Senate Appropriations Committee Bill, a few differences are noticeable.

The government proposal called for a substantial increase in personnel investment in 2022, allocating $1.7 billion (+6.2% compared to 2021), but the Committee on 18 October recommended a 5.8% cut.

The other apparent discrepancy occurs when looking at the data concerning defence procurement — while the White House proposal calls for a 2.9% spending cut in 2022, the Senate wants to see a 7.6% ($1.4 billion) increase.

As for the remaining two areas (O&M and R&D/T&E), the Committee notes remain consistent, asking for a 4% increase in both instances.

As mentioned above, the Committee stretches the importance of investments towards the strategic competition with China and asks for roughly $2.2 billion more than the $66 billion included in the President’s budget request.

The proposed $2.2 billion increase to deal with peer adversaries includes $750 million to accelerate a missile-tracking demonstration effort for US Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) and $793 million to speed up implementation of the USMC Force Design 2030 Initiative.

Meanwhile, a potential $3.3 billion would be saved by removing funding for the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund after the US withdrawal from that country in August 2021.

Elsewhere, across the various US military branches, senators called for funding increases for the USN, USAF and (partially) the US Army.

The Committee authorised an extra $1.7 billion for a previously unfunded Arleigh Burke-class destroyer for the USN.

In addition, the bill seems committed to delivering a higher number of aircraft for the USN. Examples include an additional nine CMV-22 Osprey medium-lift tiltrotors and three MQ-4 Triton UASs.

For the USAF, the mark-up document results in a $2.3 billion increase suggestion but the picture is more mixed for the US Army.

On the one hand, the Committee called for $4.2 billion to be spent on weapons and tracked combat vehicles compared with $3.9 billion in the presidential budget request.

But for other platforms used by US ground forces (including wheeled vehicles), the Senate proposed a 4.4% funding cut.

Army aviation suffered in the Senate mark-up, with almost $19 million worth of cuts affecting rotary-wing platforms such as AH-64 Apache Block IIIA and the CH-47 Chinook helicopter.

The Senate proposal also increases novel fields such as AI, microelectronics, cyber, US Space Force and DARPA-only programmes.

In this video, Shephard has collated the key figures from the Senate Appropriation Committee Bill.

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