The Pentagon may need more budget funding to help Ukraine

The Pentagon says it may have to go back to Congress for extra money to support the war in Ukraine to defeat Russia’s aggression.

WASHINGTON – The Pentagon may have to ask Congress for extra money to support Ukraine’s fight against Russian aggression, including replenishing U.S. arsenals for weapons sent to Kiev, officials said Monday.

Rolling out the Department of Defense’s $ 773 billion request for 2023, Pentagon leaders said the budget was finalized before the attack so there was no specific funding for the war. Congress approved a $ 13.5 billion emergency funding package in early March.

The leaders said how quickly the Ukrainian forces would use the weapons and ammunition already supplied and how much the United States would need to replace what it would send to Ukraine, such as Stinger and Javelin missiles or body armor and others. Equipment

“We need to see it again, perhaps in the summer, to be prepared for some more difficult options,” said Pentagon spokesman Michael McCord. “In the early stages, at least, obviously we’re going through that drawdown at a fairly high rate. So, if this is going to continue, yes, we will probably have to solve it again in the future. “

“We do not feel that what is happening today has changed the picture that China is the number one issue to keep an eye on,” he said. “Of course, you can make your own decisions about Russia’s performance on the battlefield.”

As the war enters its second month, the United States is sending troops, aircraft and other weapons to the east of NATO, where countries fear they could be Russia’s next target. The Pentagon says the budget acknowledges that Russia is a “grave threat” and includes a total of more than $ 5 billion in aid to European allies and to increase America’s ability to work with them.

The budget also invests heavily in the high-tech weapons and capabilities needed to deal with China, Russia and other adversaries. Programs range from hypersonic missiles and artificial intelligence to cyber warfare and space-based missile warning and defense systems.

The 2023 budget plan includes a 4.6% pay rise for military and defense personnel – the largest increase in 20 years. And it provides $ 479 million to expand sexual harassment prevention, treatment, and judicial activities, including hiring about 2,000 staff, including counselors and prosecutors.

The department is also seeking $ 1 billion to continue efforts to shut down Hawaii’s Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility, which leaked petroleum to tap water at Pearl Harbor. The money is in addition to the $ 1 billion already allocated, and will help pay for the site’s remediation, the ongoing needs of the affected families, the cost of litigation, and the development of alternative fuel locations for the U.S. military in the region.

About 6,000 people, mostly residents of military bases near Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hikam, fell ill for treatment for nausea, headaches, rashes and other ailments. And 4,000 military families have been forced out of their homes.

The budget includes $ 34.4 billion to accelerate the modernization of the country’s nuclear arsenal, which was originally set by the Obama administration and continued by former President Donald Trump.

One of the few changes was the Biden administration’s decision to scrap plans for a nuclear cruise missile launched from the sea. That program, which was started by Trump and criticized by many Democrats as overkill, was in its infancy.

The budget proposes other cuts, including the decommissioning of several ships, a reduction in the number of F-35 fighter jets purchased in 2023 compared to previous plans, and an effort to phase out Air Force A-10 attack aircraft. Congress has repeatedly rejected attempts to cut the A-10 in the past.

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Robert Burns, an Associated Press writer in Washington, contributed to this report.

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