Pentagon asks for major budget increase

Washington, Feb 13: Citing increasing threats from China and Russia, the Pentagon has asked for a major boost in military spending for 2019, requesting Congress to approve a budget of $686 billion, one of the largest in the country's history, the media reported.

Touting the proposal on Monday, President Donald Trump said the US military would be the strongest it has ever been, including "increasing arsenals of virtually every weapon", reports CNN.

The $686 billion budget is an increase of $80 billion from 2017 the Pentagon has said that it was primarily aimed at countering Russia and China.

"Great power competition, not terrorism, has emerged as the central challenge to US security and prosperity," Under Secretary Of Defence David L. Norquist told reporters Monday following the unveiling of the budget proposal.

"It is increasingly clear that China and Russia want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model-gaining veto authority over other nations' economic, diplomatic, and security decisions," the budget document said.

Beijing is "using predatory economics to intimidate its neighbours while militarizing features in the South China Sea", according to the document.

China "seeks Indo-Pacific regional hegemony in the near-term", but in the long term seeks to "achieve global pre-eminence" over the US, CNN quoted the document as saying.

"Russia has violated the borders of nearby nations and pursues veto power over the economic, diplomatic, and security decisions of its neighbours," it added.

The proposal would add 25,900 service members to the military and further grow the force by 56,600 by 2023, allowing the Defence Department to fill in units, and recruit pilots, maintainers and cyber-security experts, according to Norquist. 

Troops would also receive a 2.6 percent pay raise during the 2019 calendar year, in what would be the largest salary increase since 2010.

Source: IANS