Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Charles Brown Jr. has claimed that the funding for U.S. troops will be at risk if American lawmakers persist in depending on temporary funding measures instead of approving a fresh Pentagon budget.
Brown delivered his cautionary message in a letter addressed to members of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday.
In the letter, he emphasized that the military is on track to encounter a $5.8 billion deficit in personnel funding unless Congress approves a comprehensive spending bill for the entire year.
Similar to the rest of the federal government, the Pentagon has been functioning under a “CR,” or continuing resolution, since the start of its fiscal year on October 1, due to the inability of U.S. lawmakers to reach a consensus on budget legislation.
A continuing resolution (CR) essentially postpones the financial decisions, maintaining funding at the previous year’s level and preventing the initiation of new programs.
According to reports, U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson intends to advance a CR that will sustain government operations with stopgap funding for the entire fiscal year if lawmakers are unable to unite and pass a budget.
Brown warned that a full-year continuing resolution (CR) would hinder the Pentagon from initiating new construction projects and advancing critical initiatives, such as the modernization of U.S. nuclear forces and the increased production of artillery shells and other munitions.
Funding for new warships would face significant cuts, and maintenance delays would compromise the readiness of the U.S. Navy.
He further noted that the recruitment of new troops would need to be slowed, and the transfers of service members to their new duty stations would experience delays.
The Department of Defense intends to raise service members’ pay by 5.2% in the ongoing fiscal year. However, due to the freeze in spending at the last fiscal year’s level, it will be compelled to reduce other personnel expenses, such as recruiting, to offset the shortfall.
Military spending in the United States is expected to increase by 3.6% in the fiscal year 2024, reaching approximately $830 billion.
The Pentagon currently surpasses the combined defense budgets of the world’s nine largest nations. Moreover, President Joe Biden has requested congressional approval for an additional $106 billion in supplemental national security funding, which includes $61.4 billion earmarked for extra military aid to Ukraine.
“We owe our service members the tools they need to be successful,” Brown said in his letter.
“We have asked them to modernize and accelerate the future capabilities they need to continue to deter and project credible combat power. We need full appropriations to stay ahead of pacing, acute, and unforeseen challenges.”
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