The US Defense Budget Request for 2016: Sequestration, Cyberspace, and Railguns, Oh My!

Newly released on February 2, 2015, the White House’s defense budget for 2016 will be submitted for congressional approval later this week. Since grossly exceeding the $499 billion spending cap implemented by the 2011 Budget Control Act, the budget is expected to undergo much criticism and debate as it passes through Congress. The Act imposes automatic sequestration for any budget that exceeds the spending cap, and the realized defense budget for 2016 will likely be greatly reduced. Out of the total budget of approximately $535 billion dollars, the Air Force has requested $152.9 billion, the Navy requested $161 billion, and the Army requested $126.5 billion.

The budget’s “modernization account” areas (procurement and research & development) totaled $177.5 billion (33% of base spending). Procurement allocation alone saw an increase of 15% over last year. Long neglected systems such as tanks and other armored vehicles are being given new life with $368 million for General Dynamics’ M1 Abrams upgrades, $225 million for BAE Systems’ M2 Bradley upgrades, $230 million for development of a new Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle, $152 million for M109 Paladin howitzer upgrades, and $308 million for procuring 450 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (replacing the Humvee).

Additionally, the 2016 budget reflects some changing priorities in the national security arena. Instead of focusing on the Afghanistan and Iraq wartime necessities of previous years, the upcoming year’s budget sees increasing amounts of funds allocated towards more innovative and technological projects such as high-speed strike weapons, advanced aircraft, lasers, and railgun technology. Further, the budget requests $14 billion for information technology and cyberspace enhancements. The Department of Defense alone has asked for $5.5 billion for cybersecurity defense. These considerations demonstrate the government’s renewed emphasis on area dominance, whether in air-land-sea or cyberspace.


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