The Pentagon has submitted a request to Congress to reallocate some $4.7 billion toward higher priority programs aimed at making the American defense apparatus more capable and lethal in the shortest timeline possible. The funds would be drawn from programs deemed “lower priority” by Defense Department officials, and redistributed into programs that could offset growing capability gaps between the U.S. military and near-peer level competitors like Russia and China.
Despite having the largest, most powerful and most well-funded military in the world, nearly two decades of counterinsurgency warfare has left the American military in dire need of modernization and, in some case, restoration of equipment and capabilities. However, since America has maintained combat operations in multiple theaters, nations like Russia and China have been able to observe American tactics and strategies and then develop defense initiatives aimed at countering U.S. capabilities. As a result, American has found itself lagging behind its competitors in some technological fields, despite the comparatively paltry defense budgets employed by those nations.
One such technology has already been deployed by both Russia and China, while the United States remains (optimistically) two years out from even beginning testing: hypersonic missiles. China’s DF-21D, a hypersonic anti-ship missile with an operational range of nearly 1,000 miles has already forced the U.S. Navy to scramble to find ways to increase the range of carrier-based aircraft. Assuming China’s targeting apparatus is sound, their deployment of the DF-21D ensures American carriers, the nation’s most potent form of force projection, could not come close enough to Chinese shores to participate in kinetic operations if ever a war were to break out. Russia has also unveiled an aircraft-launched hypersonic missile platform. The massive speeds attained by these missiles (in excess of Mach 5) makes them extremely difficult to identify or intercept using America’s existing missile defense systems — meaning the U.S. cannot currently match or defend against these new platforms.
As such, an additional $20 million toward expediting the development of an American hypersonic missile platform has been requested as a part of this reallocation. The Pentagon has already invested more than a billion dollars in total toward the endeavor.
Another place the U.S. military finds itself lagging behind the competition is in artillery. Latest iterations of Russian artillery have operational ranges that just about double that of America’s M777 Howitzers, making them nearly useless in a conflict against Russian assets. The U.S. Deep Strike Cannon Artillery System program has found ways to match Russia’s range using M777ER Howitzers with longer barrels and specialized munitions, and $46 million worth of the re-allocation request is intended to expedite the development and production of these platforms.
Other programs that would see an influx of funding include $104.5 million for enhanced night vision goggles that can be used while actually aiming weapons, $291 million toward buying 91 additional Stryker infantry transport vehicles, $70 million toward a Joint Artificial Intelligence Center and $363 million for 100 more of the latest Patriot missiles from Lockheed Martin.
In order to move forward on this redistribution of defense funds, the “reprogramming request” will need to be approved by Congress.
Featured image: Soldiers fire missiles as they train on a multiple rocket system from Yankton, S.D., Aug. 2, 2015, during the South Dakota Army National Guard’s annual training on Camp Guernsey, Wyo., Aug. 2, 2015. The soldiers are assigned to Bravo Battery, 147th Field Artillery. The military uses multiple rocket launch system to engage enemy targets more than 175 miles away and move to different locations rapidly from enemy counter-fire. |
South Dakota National Guard photo by Air Force Senior Airman Duane Duimstra