AS YOU WISH, SO IT SHALL BE: “The president proposes, Congress disposes,” is a saying popular on Capitol Hill. As we pore over President Trump’s $4.4 trillion budget plan for fiscal 2019, including $716 billion for defense and national security, it’s important to keep in mind that the president's budget request is merely a wish list, an outline of the president’s priorities, and is sent to Congress with the hope that it will be taken into account as lawmakers do the real budget-making.
In the past, Congress has shown a penchant for adding some programs the Pentagon doesn’t want, while trimming in areas it says are risking readiness. This year is different, largely because of the president’s pledge to rebuild the “depleted” military, and the historic bipartisan budget agreement that has already pre-approved the $716 billion top line for next year, (a requested spending level that the Pentagon conveniently shared with Congress so it could be factored into the deal.)
GOOD TIMES: The result is a budget plan, that while no doubt will be tweaked on the Hill, and has the Pentagon and all the military services basking in the glow of wish fulfilment. Near the end of yesterday’s Pentagon budget briefing, veteran Bloomberg reporter Tony Capaccio asked in all seriousness, “Were any programs terminated in this ‘let the good times roll’ budget?” To which Pentagon Comptroller David Norquist replied, “I don't know that we have a major termination to announce. That wasn't, you know, part of the strategy.” Fellow briefer Lt. Gen. Anthony Ierardi did note an Air Force proposal to terminate the recapitalization of JSTARS. So there’s that.
Norquist said he believes Congress is likely to act “consistent with the legislation that they just passed last week.” But he was quick to add, “Of course they are free to make their own independent decisions of the different programs. They do so every year.” That means first finalizing $700 billion in the overdue defense appropriations for this year and then the $716 billion for 2019.
THE FY 2019 NUMBERS:
OVER TO THE HILL: Now it’s in Congress’ hands. After its coming out party, Trump’s $716 billion defense budget was delivered to Capitol Hill yesterday, along with the rest of his 2019 request for the federal government. “Today marks the beginning of the fiscal year 2019 budget process,” said Rep. Steve Womack, the House Budget Committee chairman. The president’s request hikes defense spending by 12 percent over 2017, which was the last time Congress passed a full-year spending bill. It’s just what Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says he needs to begin modernizing and rebuilding the armed forces. Lawmakers will now weigh the proposal as they hold hearings and begin to write the new National Defense Authorization Act and defense appropriations legislation for the coming year.
WHAT’S IN THE REQUEST: Trump’s first budget last year was largely based on the previous budget of the Obama administration. But since then leaders have completed the National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy, which Norquist said formed the basis of the request unveiled Monday. “This is a strategy-based budget. The strategy determined what we looked at. It determined the choices that the department made, and it determined the level of funding requested and required,” Norquist said. Here are some of the highlights:
Ships — The Navy would get a total of 10 new ships, including three destroyers, one littoral combat ship, and two Virginia-class submarines. Last year, the Pentagon requested nine ships and Congress ultimately authorized 13 as part of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, which set levels for ships, aircraft and troops. Congress hopes to wrap up appropriations to fund those ships and the rest of the current defense budget by March 23.
Aircraft — The Pentagon said the request aims to increase production of Lockheed Martin F-35 joint strike fighters and Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jets, though proposed purchases for 2019 fall below or at this year’s purchases authorized by the NDAA. The services would buy 77 F-35s: 48 for the Air Force, 20 for the Marine Corps and nine for the Navy. The NDAA authorizes 90 of the aircraft for this year. Meanwhile, the Pentagon proposes to buy a total of two dozen Super Hornets, which is the same number authorized for this year.
Troops — The total size of the military would grow by 15,600 troops in 2019 over what was authorized in the NDAA for 2018. The Navy is poised to see the lion’s share of that growth. It would get 7,500 more sailors as it struggles to meet demands on its crews and ships in the Western Pacific and around the world. Both the Air Force and Army would each see their troop strength increase by 4,000. But Army Guard and Army Reserve forces would not grow over the authorized 2018 levels. Last year, the Trump administration proposed zero growth for the Army but Congress instead authorized 7,500 more soldiers this year.
Pay — Military pay and benefits funding grows by more than $6.1 billion over the fiscal 2018 request. This increase includes funding for a 2.6 percent military pay raise, the largest in nine years.
Missile defense — The Missile Defense Agency is asking for $9.9 billion to improve the ability of the United States to shoot down enemy missiles as the threat from North Korea becomes more acute. The request includes funds for 20 additional ground-based interceptors to be based at Fort Greely, Alaska. That will bring the number of interceptor missiles in Alaska to 64 by 2023.
DEFENSE BUDGET ROUNDUP: Here is some of the other coverage of the Pentagon’s 2019 budget rollout on Monday:
The massive military buildup of warships and combat aircraft promised by Trump on the campaign trail still hasn’t materialized. Instead, the budget proposal starts digging the military out a $406 billion hole. — Defense One
The Navy’s five-year plan calls for 31 more deployed ships and a fleet that is 46 ships larger. However, it is not clear how the Navy would support an average of 131 ships deployed with that sized fleet. — USNI News
Trump is requesting $5.3 billion for the U.S. State Department’s Foreign Military Financing program for 2019, a $1 billion cut from what Congress is expected to budget. — Defense News
The U.S. Navy shipbuilding budget request seems to make little headway toward a 355-ship fleet called for in a review last year. — Navy Times
The Air Force wants to add 4,700 airmen to its ranks, as well as purchase more F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, MQ-9 Reaper drones, the latest KC-46 tankers and a slew of weapons. — Military.com
The Army’s $182 billion fiscal 2019 budget request is a major funding boost over recent years and seeks to continue readiness recovery and fill capability gaps. — Military Times
BYE-BYE, BRAC: Military leaders have pleaded with Congress for years to allow the closure of tens of thousands of excess military bases around the world, a move that Mattis says could save the services $2 billion annually. But lawmakers had blocked shuttering any facilities under the Base Realignment and Closure program. On Monday, the Pentagon announced that it has given up on the effort for now and did not even mention BRAC in the request. “We did not ask for that in this budget. We’ve asked for it a number of times in the past without much success,” Norquist said. Instead, the Pentagon will be “working with Congress to find common areas where we can make reforms and changes that don’t create the same types of obstacles,” he said.
The conservative Heritage Foundation think tank estimated last year that about 19 percent of more than 438,000 properties the military owns around the world could be ripe for consideration under a new BRAC round, which would be triggered by Congress and include a long review process overseen by a special panel. “It is disappointing but not unexpected. It is very unlikely that Congress would vote or approve a new round of BRAC during an election year,” Frederico Bartels, a Heritage defense budget analyst, told us. But the Pentagon did not rule out requesting a BRAC round in the future after it completes a first-ever full financial audit. Bartels said he hopes the Pentagon will come back with a proposal for 2020 that will include reforms to entice skeptical lawmakers.
Good Tuesday morning and welcome to Jamie McIntyre’s Daily on Defense, compiled by Washington Examiner National Security Senior Writer Jamie McIntyre (@jamiejmcintyre), National Security Writer Travis J. Tritten (@travis_tritten) and Senior Editor David Brown (@dave_brown24). Email us here for tips, suggestions, calendar items and anything else. If a friend sent this to you and you’d like to sign up, click here. If signing up doesn’t work, shoot us an email and we’ll add you to our list. And be sure to follow us on Twitter @dailyondefense.
HAPPENING TODAY: Mattis is in the middle of a six-day European trip that will take him tomorrow to NATO headquarters in Brussels for a regularly scheduled defense ministerial. The two-day session begins with a meeting of the Nuclear Planning Group, in which Mattis will brief allies on America’s new nuclear doctrine and defense strategy. The NATO allies are also expected to approve a transition from combat support to training in Iraq now that the Islamic State has been defeated there. Today, almost all the territory once held by ISIS in Iraq and Syria has been retaken. “I expect that on Thursday, we will agree to start planning for a NATO training mission in Iraq, with the aim of launching the mission at our summit in July,” Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said this morning.
WORLDWIDE THREATS HEARING: The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence holds a rare open hearing at 9:30 a.m. on worldwide threats with a packed roster of intelligence officials. There will be testimony from Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats; CIA Director Mike Pompeo; National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers; FBI Director Christopher Wray; Defense Intelligence Agency Director Robert Ashley; and National Geospatial Intelligence Agency Director Robert Cardillo.
SOCOM BUDGET BRIEFING: Members of the Senate Armed Services Committee meet behind closed doors at 10 a.m. to examine the 2019 authorization and future years funding for U.S. Special Operations Command. They will be briefed by Owen West, the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, and Gen. Raymond Thomas, the SOCOM commander. The committee will regroup this afternoon at 2:30 to hear from experts about the Defense Department role in protecting national elections.
STATE TAKES A HIT: Trump's new budget plan would cut one quarter of the main U.S. diplomatic budget in fiscal year 2019, as part of a plan to offset increases in defense and infrastructure spending.
The State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development would receive a combined $39.3 billion in fiscal 2019 under the White House proposal. That money derives mostly from two accounts: $25.8 billion in base funding, which represents a “26-percent decrease from the 2017 enacted level,” the White House noted; the second is $12 billion for the overseas contingency operation fund used to finance U.S. operations in Afghanistan and against ISIS.
NOPE: Trump’s proposal to cut diplomatic funding sharply in fiscal 2019 drew a quick stiff-arm from a top House Republican. “A strong, bipartisan coalition in Congress has already acted once to stop deep cuts to the State Department and Agency for International Development that would have undermined our national security,” House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce said in response to the White House budget request. “This year, we will act again.”
THE B-52 ‘STRATOSAURUS’ IS KING: Call it survival of the fittest. The Cold War era B-52 Stratofortress will still be flying long after it’s higher tech rivals — the supersonic B-1 Lancer and the stealthy B-2 Spirit — have been confined to the boneyard. The Air Force said the long-term plan is to phase out the newer bombers once the next-generation B-21 Raider long-range stealth bomber starts rolling off the production line sometime in the 2030s, but to keep the venerable Cold War workhorse in the inventory based on its reliability and versatility. The B-52, equipped with a new rotary launcher, recently set a record in Afghanistan for the most number of bombs dropped in a single sortie. And while it’s not stealthy, it is seen as the best platform for the new nuclear air-launched cruise missile, which is designed to penetrate enemy air defenses.
The first B-52A flew Aug. 5, 1954, and the final version of the B-52H made its first flight March 6, 1961, and is still in service, according the Boeing website. “With an adequate sustainment and modernization focus, including new engines, the B-52 has a projected service life through 2050, remaining a key part of the bomber enterprise well into the future,” said Gen. Robin Rand, Air Force Global Strike Command chief, in a statement issued by the Air Force. Meaning some of the planes will be flying for close to 100 years.
BEWARE THE ‘OTTOMAN SLAP’: Reuters reports this morning that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is threatening a response if the U.S. continues to support Kurdish YPG elements in Syria as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson prepares to visit Turkey. “Our ally’s decision to give financial support to the YPG... will surely affect the decisions we will take,” Erdogan said in a speech to parliament.
In an apparent reference to comments made by Lt. Gen. Paul Funk during a visit to Manbij, Erdogan said “It is very clear that those who say ‘we will respond aggressively if you hit us’ have never experienced an Ottoman slap.”
Reuters: Trump budget cuts domestic programs, favors military and wall
New York Times: By Light of a Blood Moon, Life Returns to a Bombed-Out Syrian Landscape
NPR: White House Security Clearance Trouble Shines Light On 'High Risk' Backlog Problem
Washington Post: The White House says the media puts national security at risk by publishing leaks. Is that true?
Foreign Policy: Putin Isn’t a Genius. He’s Leonid Brezhnev.
Defense And Aerospace Report: Stavridis: ‘Bloody nose’ strike on North Korea would most likely lead to war
War on the Rocks: The National Defense Strategy: A Compelling Call for Defense Innovation
USA Today: South Korea's renaissance: From ruins of Korean War to hosting 'Peace Olympics'
Wall Street Journal: Tension Rises Between Israel and Iran After Syria Clash
Military.com: Troops Would Get Largest Pay Raise In 9 Years Under Proposed Trump Budget
TUESDAY | FEB. 13
7:30 a.m. 8028 Leesburg Pike. Thirty-First Annual Federal Networks Conference. telestrategies.com
9 a.m. 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. A Kennan for Our Times: Celebrating the Legacy of George F. Kennan. wilsoncenter.org
9:30 a.m. Hart 216. Open session worldwide threats hearing with Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats; CIA Director Mike Pompeo; National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers; FBI Director Christopher Wray; Defense Intelligence Agency Director Robert Ashley; and National Geospatial Intelligence Agency Director Robert Cardillo. intelligence.senate.gov
10 a.m. Senate Visitor Center 217. Closed hearing to examine the United States Special Operations Command in review of the Defense Authorization Request for fiscal year 2019 and the Future Years Defense Program with Owen West, assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, and Gen. Raymond Thomas, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command. Armed-services.senate.gov
11 a.m. Pentagon Briefing Room Air Force Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, commander, U.S. Air Forces Central Command, briefs the media live by video feed. Streamed live on www.defense.gov/live.
12 noon. 1030 15th St. NW. Iraq's Energy Potential: Opportunities and Challenges. atlanticcouncil.org
12:15 p.m. 1211 Connecticut Ave. NW. Secession and Security: How States Handle Separatists in South Asia and Beyond. stimson.org
12:30 p.m. 1777 F St. NW. Containing Russia: How to Respond to Moscow's Intervention in U.S. Democracy and Growing Geopolitical Challenge. cfr.org
2:30 p.m. Russell 222. Department of Defense’s role in Protecting Democratic Elections. armed-services.senate.gov
2:30 p.m. 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Changing Patterns of Extremism and Terrorism in Pakistan. Wilsoncenter.org
3 p.m. Pentagon Room 1D888. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein discuss the Air Force FY 2019 budget with reporters at the Air Force News Desk. No live stream.
6:30 p.m. 1301 K St. NW. Screening of the series “The Looming Tower” followed by a discussion with actors Jeff Daniels, Tahar Rahim, Peter Sarsgaard and Wrenn Schmidt; the show’s producers Dan Futterman and Alex Gibney; and “The Looming Tower” book author Lawrence Wright. washingtonpost.com
WEDNESDAY | FEB. 14
7 a.m. 2101 Wilson Blvd. Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Defense Roundtable Breakfast. ndia.org
8 a.m. 3111 Fairview Park Dr. AFCEA NOVA's 16th Annual Air, Space, and Cyber IT Day. nova.afceachapters.org
8:45 a.m. Senate Visitor Center 203-02. Budgeting for Biodefense: Are We Prepared? With Sen. Richard Burr and former Sen. Tom Daschle. bipartisanpolicy.org
9 a.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW. The Surface Warfare Challenge: A Retrospective on Culture, Readiness, Maintenance, and Standards. csis.org
10 a.m. Rayburn 2118. The Military and Security Challenges and Posture in the Indo-Pacific Region with Adm. Harry Harris, commander of U.S. Pacific Command. armedservices.house.gov
10:30 a.m. 1030 15th St. NW. Big Small Companies: How Size Matters in Defense Contracting. atlanticcouncil.org
1 p.m. 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. U.S. National Security and the Korean Peninsula: Perspectives from a Defector, a Russian, and an Analyst. wilsoncenter.org
1:30 p.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW. Book discussion of “Boko Haram: The History of an African Jihadist Movement” with author Alexander Thurston. csis.org
2:30 p.m. Russell 222. Subcommittee Hearing on Current Readiness of U.S. Forces with Gen. James McConville, Army Vice Chief Of Staff; Adm. Bill Moran, Vice Chief Of Naval Operations; Gen. Glenn Walters, Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps; and Gen. Stephen Wilson, Vice Chief Of Staff of the Air Force. armed-services.senate.gov
3 p.m. Russell 232-A. Military and Civilian Personnel Programs and Military Family Readiness with Robert Wilkie, Under Secretary Of Defense For Personnel And Readiness. armed-services.senate.gov
3:30 p.m. Rayburn 2212. Air Force Readiness Posture with Lt. Gen. Mark Nowland, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations; Lt. Gen. Scott Rice, Director of the Air National Guard; and Maj. Gen. Derek Rydholm, Deputy to the Chief of the Air Force Reserve. armedservices.house.gov
THURSDAY | FEB. 15
8 a.m. Rayburn 2168. Amphibious Warship Industrial Base Coalition hosts a congressional forum. amphibiouswarship.org
9:30 a.m. Dirksen G-50. United States Northern Command and United States Southern Command with Gen. Lori Robinson, commander of U.S. Northern Command, and Adm. Kurt Tidd, commander of U.S. Southern Command. armed-services.senate.gov
10 a.m. Rayburn 2118. Strategic Competition with China. armedservices.house.gov
10 a.m. Dirksen 419. Nominations hearing for Andrea Thompson to be undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, and others. foreign.senate.gov
2 p.m. Rayburn 2212. Evolution, Transformation, and Sustainment: A Review and Assessment of the Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Request for U.S. Special Operations Forces and Command with Gen. Raymond Thomas, Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, and Owen West, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations/Low-Intensity Conflict. armedservices.house.gov
FRIDAY | FEB. 16
8 a.m. Fort Lesley J. McNair. Half-day seminar on the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review with a keynote address by Gen. John Hyten, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, and comments by David Trachtenberg, deputy undersecretary of defense for policy. einvitations.efit.edu
8:30 a.m. 1777 F St. NW. The Russia Probe and U.S. National Security: A Conversation With Rep. Adam Schiff. cfr.org
9:30 a.m. 740 15th St. NW. Can Economic Interventions Reduce Violence? New Evidence from Kandahar. newamerica.org
9:30 a.m. 300 First St. SE. The Mitchell Space Breakfast Series Presents: Space as a Warfighting Domain, A Discussion with Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson. mitchellaerospacepower.org
TUESDAY | FEB. 20
9 a.m. Washington, D.C. Iran’s Missile Program in Perspective. atlanticcouncil.org
9:30 a.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW. Coping with Surprise in Great Power Conflicts. csis.org