US FY 2019 Budget Detailed

Department of Defense Releases Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Proposal

On 12 February 2018, United States President Donald J. Trump sent US congress a proposed Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 budget request of $716 billion for national security, $686 billion of which is for the Department of Defense (DoD). 

The National Defense Strategy, which aligns with the National Security Strategy, connects strategy to the FY 2019 budget priorities, enabling the DoD to compete, deter and win. This establishes a foundation for rebuilding the US military into a more capable, lethal, and ready joint force, according to the department.

The objectives of the DoD are, “to be prepared to defend the homeland, remain the preeminent military power in the world, ensure the balances of power remain in our favor, and advance an international order that is most conducive to our security and prosperity.” The FY 2019 budget has been developed to meet these specific objectives.

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis recently said: “In a world awash in change, with increasing threats, there is no room for complacency. Failure to implement or fund the 2018 National Defense Strategy will leave us with a force that could dominate the last war, yet be irrelevant to tomorrow’s security. For too long we have asked our military to carry on stoically with a success-at-any-cost attitude. We are grateful to Congress and the American people for the recently-enacted Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, which lifts the caps so our military can be resourced at a funding level commensurate with our mission.”

The National Security Strategy states that the US, “must reverse recent decisions to reduce the size of the Joint Force and grow the force while modernising and ensuring readiness.” The FY 2019 budget increases end strength by 25,900 (24,100 in the active components and 1,800 in the reserve components) over the FY 2018 budget. Each military service has a distinctive readiness recovery plan and the increases are targeted to advance these plans to improve readiness and increase lethality.
As the National Defense Strategy notes, “investments will prioritise ground, air, sea and space forces that can deploy, survive, operate, maneuver and regenerate in all domains while under attack.”

This budget’s major investments include:

  • Aircraft: 77 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters – $10.7 billion, 15 KC-46 Tanker Replacements – $3.0 billion, 24 F/A-18s – $2.0 billion, 60 AH-64E Attack Helicopters – $1.3 billion, six VH-92 Presidential Helicopters – $0.9 billion, 10 P-8A Aircraft – $2.2 billion and eight CH-53K King STALLION – $1.6 billion.
  • Shipbuilding: Two VIRGINIA-class Submarines – $7.4 billion, three DDG-51 ARLEIGH BURGE Destroyers – $6.0 billion, one Littoral Combat Ship – $1.3 billion, CVN-78 Class Aircraft Carrier – $1.8 billion, two Fleet Replenishment Oilers (T-AO) – $1.1 billion and one Expeditionary Sea Base – $0.7 billion.  
  • Ground Systems: 5,113 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JLTV) – $2.0 billion, 135 M-1 ABRAMS Tank Modifications – $2.7 billion, 30 Amphibious Combat Vehicles (ACV) – $0.3 billion and 197 Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicles (AMPV) – $0.8 billion.
  • The National Defense Strategy also notes the importance of prioritising, “investments in resilience, reconstitution, and operations to assure our space capabilities.” Space investments include: Five Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles – $2.0 billion, Global Positioning System – $1.5 billion and the Space Based Infrared System – $0.8 billion.
  • Highlighting the importance of missile defence programmes, the National Defense Strategy calls for investments that will, “focus on layered missile defenses and disruptive capabilities for both theater missile threats and North Korean ballistic missile threats.” Those investments for FY 2019 include: 43 AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defense (SM-3) – $1.7 billion, Ground Based Midcourse Defense – $2.1 billion, 82 THAAD Ballistic Missile Defense – $1.1 billion and 240 PATRIOT Advanced Capability (PAC-3) Missile Segment Enhancements – $1.1 billion. 
  • In addition, the National Defense Strategy calls for a Joint Force that, “must be able to strike diverse targets inside adversary air and missile defense networks to destroy mobile power-projection platforms.” To help accomplish that goal, the FY 2019 budget includes the following preferred munitions: 43,594 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) – $1.2 billion, 9,733 Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) – $1.2 billion, 6,826 Small Diameter Bomb I – $0.3 billion, 1,260 Small Diameter Bomb II – $0.4 billion, 7,045 HELLFIRE Missiles – $0.6 billion, 360 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range (JASSM-ER) – $0.6 billion and 1,121 Joint Air-to-Ground Missiles (JAGM) – $0.3 billion. 
  • The budget implements the commitment in the National Defense Strategy to, “modernise the nuclear triad – including nuclear command, control, and communications, and supporting infrastructure.” FY 2019 investments in nuclear deterrence include: B-21 Long Range Strike Bomber – $2.3 billion, Columbia Class Submarine – $3.7 billion, Long-Range Stand-Off Missile – $0.6 billion and Ground Based Strategic Deterrent – $0.3 billon.

President Trump’s National Security Strategy articulates that, “a growing and innovative economy allows the US to maintain the world’s most powerful military and protect our homeland.” This budget request invests $13.7 billion in science and technology to further innovation and new and advanced capabilities including hypersonics technology, cyber space, space, directed energy, electronic warfare, unmanned systems and artificial intelligence.

The budget balances investment in infrastructure across DoD priorities and includes:

  • Operational and training facilities (including airfield improvements, training ranges,) to increase readiness
  • Maintenance and production facilities (maintenance hangars, missile assembly building, and high explosives magazine) to improve readiness
  • Recapitalisation of facilities in poor and failing condition
  • Improved Quality-of-Life for service members and their families (including schools, barracks, and medical facilities) 

The FY 2019 budget continues to implement the Administration’s commitment to reform DoD business practices for greater performance and affordability. Highlighting this commitment, the National Defense Strategy cautions that “we must transition to a culture of performance where results and accountability matter.” Secretary Mattis has directed Deputy Secretary Shanahan to reform DoD’s business operations and reapply those savings to improve readiness and to increase the lethality and capacity of the military. The FY 2019 Budget also reflects continued savings from ongoing reforms such as defense travel modernisation and the 25% management headquarters reduction. 

Recent DoD reforms include:

  • Reorganizing the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics into two new Under Secretaries of Defense: one focused on Research and Engineering to advance technology and innovation, and one focused on Acquisition and Sustainment to deliver and sustain timely, cost-effective capabilities for the armed forces and DoD
  • Appointing a Chief Management Officer to manage business operations
  • Elevating Cyber Command

The OCO budget for FY 2019 supports Operation FREEDOM’S SENTINEL in Afghanistan, and Operation INHERENT RESOLVE in Iraq and Syria.


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