- The Washington Times - Monday, February 10, 2020

Modernizing the nation’s nuclear weapons programs is the number one priority of the Department of Defense, Pentagon officials said in their fiscal year 2021 budget request sent to Congress.

With the FY 2021 national defense budget, the Trump Administration is asking for $740.5 billion for national defense with the lion’s share, just over $705 billion dedicated to Defense Department programs and $35.1 billion intended for the Department of Energy and other agencies.

“We have built an FY 2021 budget that addresses the challenges of today by first, sustaining readiness and keeping faith with our 2.1 million military members and their families and second, by preparing for the challenges of tomorrow,” Deputy Secretary of Defense David L. Norquist said Monday at the Pentagon.

Almost $50 billion of the defense budget is being directed toward nuclear modernization and homeland defense. The Pentagon is asking for $28.9 billion for weapon systems such as the B-21 bomber and the Columbia class submarine among others and $20.3 billion for missile defense, such as hypersonic defense systems and the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, known as THAAD.

The top line in the Pentagon budget is flat with no inflation growth. Mr. Norquist said that meant Defense Department officials had to make “tough choices” in order to free up money for the great power competition with near-peer countries like China and Russia.

That included establishing Cyber Command and the creation of a new branch of the military - the U.S. Space Force. Pentagon officials are committing almost $10 billion to cyberspace activities - increasing investments in both offensive and defensive cyberspace capabilities. The Defense Department is seeking $18 billion for the “space domain” that Pentagon officials believe will provide the U.S. with a “singular focus” to maintain a competitive advantage in space.

“The FY 2021 budget request is the next step in implementing the National Defense Strategy that focuses on all domain operation,” Mr. Norquiest said.

Pentagon officials said the new budget will allow them to offer a “competitive compensation package,” to new members, including a 3 percent military pay raise and $8 billion in family support initiatives, such as increasing child development programs and professional development and education opportunities for service members and their families.

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