President Joe Biden’s budget for the fiscal year 2022 calls for a slight increase in defense spending to $715 billion and identifies combatting China as the “top challenge” for the U.S. as a whole.
The defense spending in Biden’s first budget request reflects the Pentagon’s ongoing efforts to pivot the U.S. military toward readiness to combat near-peer powers after decades of lopsided conflict in the Middle East. The defense spending represents an increase of 1.6% over 2020, but is less of an increase than planned under former President Donald Trump.
“The discretionary request prioritizes the need to counter the threat from China as the Department’s top challenge. The Department would also seek to deter destabilizing behavior by Russia,” the request reads. (RELATED: Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Vows ‘Legitimate And Necessary Response’ To Reported US Visit To Taiwan)
The Department of Defense (DOD) plans to “divest legacy systems and programs to redirect resources from low- to high-priority programs, platforms, and systems. Some legacy force structure is too costly to maintain and operate, and no longer provides the capabilities needed to address national security challenges,” the request continues.
After countering China, the defense budget prioritizes research and development of new weapon systems as well as the manufacturing of new naval vessels. China recently claimed the title of having the largest navy in the world and continues to expert pressure on Taiwan and U.S. forces in the South China Sea.
Despite Biden and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s recent comments about increasing diversity and teaching critical race theory in the military, the budget request makes no mention of programs supporting such initiatives. The budget does, however, mention combating climate change as a tail-end priority for the U.S. military.
Biden and Austin ordered a new task force to conduct a review of U.S. force posture as it relates to China in early February. Biden has identified the communist nation as America’s chief threat, framing the conflict as one that will decide whether democracy or autocracy will lead the world into the future.