Carter Presents a Budget plan for World War III

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter delivered a speech to the Economic Club of Washington, this morning, in which he previewed the administration’s defense budget request for 2017. It could be characterized as a budget for World War III, for, while he said he wanted to avoid conflict with Russia and China, the top priorities in the budget are preparation for war with Russia and China.

In the speech (according to the text provided by the Pentagon), Carter lists Russia and China as the top two challenges, followed by North Korea, Iran, and then ISIS.

“Key to our approach is being able to deter our most advanced competitors,” he said. Therefore, “We will be prepared for a high-end enemy…,” meaning Russia and China, which he called “our most stressing competitors.” The Defense Department, therefore, “has elevated their importance in our defense planning and budgeting.”

To counter Russia, the administration will be requesting $3.4 billion for the so-called European Reassurance Initiative, way up from $789 million, to fund more rotational forces in Europe, more training and exercises, more pre-positioned equipment, all of which, “by the end of 2017 will let us rapidly form a highly capable combined-arms ground force that can respond theater-wide if necessary.”

For the war on ISIS, the budget will ask for $7.5 billion, 50 percent more than in 2016. Part of this will go to buying 45,000 more guided bombs and rockets to replace those that have already been expended.

Not mentioned by Carter but nonetheless a crucial part of the budget is the nuclear enterprise. The plan calls for $13 billion for a new ballistic missile submarine over the next five years, to replace the current fleet of Ohio-class submarines. Of that amount, $4 billion will be spent on research and development, and the rest on procurement of long-lead items so that construction of the first new boats can begin in 2021.

The Pentagon’s plan will also underscore the need to fund all three legs of the U.S. strategic deterrent “triad” — not only the new submarines but also new nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles and a new bomber for the Air Force, an unnamed source told Reuters.

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