WASHINGTON — The Pentagon may have to ask Congress for additional funds to support Ukraine’s battle against the Russian invasion, including to replenish the US arsenal of weapons sent to kyiv, officials said Monday.
Rolling out the Department of Defense’s $773 billion request for fiscal year 2023, Pentagon leaders said the budget was finalized before the invasion, so it had no specific money for it. the war. Congress approved a $13.5 billion emergency funding package in early March.
Leaders said it was too early to predict how quickly Ukrainian forces will use the weapons and ammunition already provided, and how much the US will need to replace what it is sending to Ukraine, such as missiles Stinger and Javelin or body armor and such. equipment.
“We’ll have to revisit that, probably this summer, to prepare for some of the tougher options,” Pentagon Comptroller Michael McCord said. “In the initial stages, at least, obviously we went through this pullback at a fairly high rate. So if this were to continue, yes, we would probably need to address it again in the future.”
Despite the war in Europe, McCord said the United States still sees China as America’s main challenge.
“We don’t feel like what’s happening today has changed the picture that China is the No. 1 issue to keep an eye on,” he said. “Obviously you can draw your own conclusions about Russia’s performance on the battlefield.”
As the war enters its second month, the United States is sending troops, planes and other weapons to NATO’s eastern flank, where nations fear they may be Russia’s next targets. The Pentagon said the budget recognizes Russia as an “acute threat” and the totals include more than $5 billion to provide support to European allies and increase America’s ability to work with them.
The budget also invests heavily in the high-tech weapons and capabilities needed to counter China, Russia and other adversaries. Programs range from hypersonic missiles and artificial intelligence to cyber warfare and space-based missile warning and defense systems.
The 2023 budget plan includes a 4.6% salary increase for Defense Department military and civilians – the biggest increase in 20 years. And it is providing $479 million to expand justice, sexual assault prevention and treatment programs, including hiring about 2,000 people, including counselors and prosecutors.
The department is also seeking $1 billion to continue efforts to shut down the Red Hill bulk fuel storage facility in Hawaii that leaked oil into Pearl Harbor’s tap water. The money is in addition to the $1 billion already allocated and will help pay for site remediation, the ongoing needs of affected families, legal costs, and the development of alternative fuel locations for the U.S. military in the region. .
Nearly 6,000 people, mostly those who lived in military housing at or near Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, have been sick, seeking treatment for nausea, headaches, rashes and other ailments. And 4,000 military families have been driven from their homes.
The budget includes $34.4 billion to accelerate the modernization of the nation’s nuclear weapons arsenal, largely following the path set by the Obama administration and continued by former President Donald Trump.
One of the few changes was the Biden administration’s decision to scrap plans for a sea-launched nuclear cruise missile. That program, launched by Trump and criticized by many Democrats as overkill, was in the early stages. of research and development.
Other reductions are proposed in the budget, including the decommissioning of several ships, a reduction in the number of F-35 fighter jets procured in 2023 compared to earlier plans, and an effort to phase out the A-attack aircraft. -10 from the army. Congress has repeatedly reversed efforts to cut the A-10 in the past.
Associated Press writer Robert Burns in Washington contributed to this report.