Washington, March 13 (IANS) The US Department of Defence has rolled out its $718 billion budget request for the fiscal 2020, with a substantial hike in war funding aimed at circumventing a budget gap.
"This strategy-driven budget makes necessary investments in next-generation technology, space, missiles and cyber capabilities," Acting Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan said in a statement on Tuesday.
"The operations and capabilities supported by this budget will strongly position the US military for great power competition for decades to come."
The budget request will pay for a 3.1 per cent military pay raise, 78 F-35 joint strike fighters, the Columbia class ballistic missile submarine programme, one Ford class aircraft carrier, three Virginia class submarines and three Arleigh Burke destroyers, among other hard and software, according to a breakdown provided by the Pentagon.
Most notable change to the budget request from the previous year was an 84 per cent hike in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), a fund originally set up to finance US military interventions in the Middle East but has since become a "slush fund" for the Pentagon, Xinhua news agency reported.
The Pentagon said it needed about $165 billion in OCO fund, $25 billion dollars for direct war requirements, $41 billion for enduring requirements and further $97 billion dollars to compensate for limits set for the base budget.
The Pentagon detailed the budget request a day after the White House unveiled its budget request for the fiscal year starting October 1 this year. Together with defence spending allocated to other agencies, the White House budget proposal asked for $750 billion in total for defence spending.
The number is expected to kick up fierce debate in Congress when both chambers draw up their respective budget bills, as lawmakers are questioning the practice of stashing spending in the OCO fund to skirt around a budget cap, and whether any of the defence fund will be directed to building a border wall promised by US President Donald Trump.
US defence spending has seen strong growth in recent years, especially since Trump began pushing for pro-military policies. The US Congress approved $716 billion in defence spending for fiscal 2019 and about $700 billion for 2018.