Army Gets $7 Billion Budget Boost
The Army would get a $7 billion increase in its base budget for 2016 under the Obama administration plan unveiled Monday.
The increase primarily goes to operations, maintenance and weapons modernization programs.
The administration requests $147 billion for the Army in fiscal 2016, $2 billion less than the current budget in a reduction resulting from reduced funding for contingency operations.
For fiscal year 2015, the Army received $121 billion in the base budget and $28 billion in operating contingency funds. For fiscal 2016, the administration proposes boosting the base budget to $127 billion while cutting the contingency budget to $21 billion.
The 2016 budget was announced Feb. 2, at a time when the Army has 140,000 soldiers serving in 150 foreign countries, and with nine of the Army’s 10 active divisions having headquarters actively engaged in ongoing operations.
The modest boost for the Army is part of a decision by the administration to ask Congress for a 2016 defense budget that is $38 billion over spending caps set in the Budget Control Act, something that will require consent from lawmakers. While the Army would receive $7 billion more than current spending, the budget would provide a $16 billion increase for the Air Force and an almost $12 billion increase for the Navy, according to Defense Department briefing charts.
Forty-five percent of the Army’s base budget goes for personnel costs, with 36 percent for operations and maintenance and 18 percent for weapons programs. Spending on personnel is flat, even though the Army expects to be smaller in 2016, a result covering the cost of modest increases in pay and benefits. The budget includes a 1.3 percent basic pay hike, an average 1.2 percent increase in housing allowance and a 3.4 percent increase in subsistence allowance.
Active-duty personnel levels would drop from 490,000 today to 475,000 by Oct. 1, 2016, under the plan. Army National Guard strength, now 350,200, would drop to 342,000. Army Reserve strength would remain at 198,000.
There is $16.1 billion allocated to Army weapons procurement in the budget request, up from $13.9 billion in 2015. Increases are spread over aircraft, missiles, track vehicle and ammunition programs, but Army officials said a top priority is modernizing Apache, Black Hawk and Chinook helicopter fleets in support of the Aviation Restructuring Initiative, a controversial topic where an independent commission could end up deciding details and timing.
Ninety-four Black Hawks, 64 Apaches and 39 Chinooks would be purchased in 2016, an increase from the 87 Black Hawks, 35 Apaches and 32 Chinooks funded in 2015. Money also is included to buy 450 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles and upgrades for 87 Strykers.