President Biden has requested a massive $813 billion military budget for the 2023 fiscal year, but it isn’t enough for Congress. Lawmakers have been combing the budget to find ways to increase the spending, and one area of concern is the Pentagon’s budget request for US Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM).
According to a report from Defense One, the Pentagon’s request to fund INDOPACOM’s Pacific Deterrence Initiative (PDI) is less than what the command wants. The PDI is a plan to build up the US military forces in the region and is seen in Washington as vital to countering China, which the Pentagon recently identified as the top “threat” in its new National Defense Strategy.
The Pentagon’s budget request asked for $6.1 billion for the PDI, but the command wants $9.1 billion. Over a dozen House lawmakers sent a letter to the leaders of the House Appropriations Committee asking to give INDOPACOM the amount it wants for the PDI. “The crisis in Ukraine underscores the need to act with urgency when it comes to defending Taiwan,’ said Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), who led the letter.
Gallagher said INDOPACOM chief Adm. John Aquilino made it clear the amount of money he wants to deter Chinese “aggression in the Indo-Pacific, and any attempt to shortchange his request will not only undermine our ability to defend Taiwan, but will also be met with strong, bipartisan opposition in Congress.”
In March, INDOPACOM published a report on the PDI that said it wanted $9.1 billion for 2023 and almost $67 billion between 2024 and 2027. INDOPACOM is expected to ultimately get what it wants as the PDI has strong bipartisan support in Congress and China is often invoked to justify massive military spending.
INDOPACOM said the funding is needed to “implement the Nation Defense Strategy in the Indo-Pacific region, to maintain or restore the comparative military advantage of the United States with respect to the People’s Republic of China.”
Congress is likely to significantly increase Biden’s $813 billion request as it did for the 2022 budget. For 2022, the president asked for $753 billion, which was increased to $782 billion.