By Debbie Gregory.
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter submitted a proposed $583 billion Defense Department budget for 2017 that focuses more on high-tech future conflicts and less on counterterrorism operations against militants such as the Islamic State group. But the budget does include a significant increase in funding for the fight against Islamic State, also known as IS, ISIS, or ISIL.
“The [fiscal year 2017] budget reflects recent strategic threats that have taken place in Asia, the Middle East, and Europe,” the Pentagon said in a statement accompanying the budget documents released on February 9th.
The budget request includes a quadrupling of the funds to support NATO’s effort to counter Russian aggression in Eastern Europe, raising the current amount of $789 million to $3.4 billion. This increase will allow for the rotation of more U.S. units in Europe, additional training, and the pre-positioning of gear.
“All of this together by the end of 2017 will let us rapidly form a highly-capable combined arms ground force that can respond theater-wide if necessary,” Carter said.
Fiscal year 2017 begins on October 1, 2016.
Carter called Russia, along with China, “our most stressing competitors,” which “reflect a return to a great power competition.”
With Russia’s seizing of Crimea from the Ukraine and China’s claims on disputed islands in the South China Sea, Carter said “we cannot blind ourselves to the actions they appear to choose to pursue.”
The Defense Department budget will shift in focus away from one potential enemy to multiple threats.
“We don’t have the luxury of just one opponent, or the choice between current fights and future fights — we have to do both. And that’s what our budget is designed to do,” Carter said.