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DOD's 2025 Budget Request Provides 4.5% Raise for Service Members

The Defense Department today laid out details of its $849.8 billion budget request, which is expected to fund operations during fiscal year 2025.

Integrated deterrence and campaigning are big parts of the fiscal 2025 budget request. Another focus is building upon the U.S. military's enduring advantages, including its most important advantage: its people.

"Our FY 25 budget request also upholds our commitment to our people, the service members, military families and civilians who work tirelessly to defend this nation day in and day out," said Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks during a briefing today at the Pentagon. "Our success in defending the nation and maintaining readiness is inextricably linked to their success." 

This budget request, Hicks said, includes a strong focus on the economic stability of service members, military families and civilians, as well as on military family support.

Two people speak from podiums.
Budget Talk
Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen H. Hicks and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Navy Adm. Christopher W. Grady provide opening remarks on the DOD FY2025 budget at the Pentagon, March 11, 2024.
Photo By: Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jackie Sanders
VIRIN: 240311-D-XI929-1010

"The budget funds must-pay items related to quality of life and quality of service, such as a 4.5% pay raise for our service members that builds on raises for the past three years in a row, including last year's 5.2% pay raise," she said. 

Going beyond base pay, Hicks said, this latest request increases the number of child development centers, for instance, and also increases the number of providers in those child development centers. 

Also, of concern is where service members and their families live, she said, including ships and barracks and creating healthy and resilient communities. 

"That's why the must-pay items in this budget also include basic housing allowance increases; facility investments in safe, quality family housing to enhance deterrence and improve critical operational infrastructure; making health care, healthy food and child care more accessible — including increasing pay for child care providers; and building a safer workplace — including efforts to combat sexual assault and to prevent suicide and eliminate barriers to care."

All of those things, she said, are "must-haves," which allow service members to focus on the mission of defending the nation. 

Another enduring advantage is the U.S. defense industrial base — the collection of tens of thousands of private sector companies that provide services and equipment to the Defense Department. The need to build up the industrial base has been one of the big lessons from Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and it's a focus of the FY 2025 budget request.

"Other key investments focus on strengthening our munitions and defense industrial base and improving the resilience of our supply chains so that we can deliver what our warfighters need when they need it," Hicks said. 

The FY 2025 request, for instance, makes "a historic investment" in the submarine industrial base to increase production and reduce backlogs, Hicks said. 

Defending the nation includes having the best equipment and being trained and ready to use that equipment to both deter conflict and ensure readiness to defend, if need be. 

This latest budget request also asks for $167 billion for procurement; $143 billion for research, development, testing and evaluation; and $339 billion for operations and maintenance — which includes the training activities that keep service members ready for a war fight. 

Integrated deterrence is a centerpiece of the 2022 National Defense Strategy, which was used to develop the FY 2025 budget request. 

"For integrated deterrence, the FY 2025 budget requests funds critical to investments in our national nuclear enterprise and missile defense, along with space capabilities, which will allow the joint force to address key modernization priorities," said Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm. Christopher Grady. 

The FY 2025 request also continues to invest in ways to enable the department to strengthen cyberspace and long-range fire capabilities, Grady said. 

This request, for instance, puts nearly $50 billion towards nuclear modernization, including both the Columbia-class submarine and the B-21 bomber. Over $28 billion is aimed at missile defeat and defense and more than $33 billion is directed at space capabilities. 

"To support campaigning, the department is investing in readiness initiatives for operations, training and maintenance, while also prioritizing exercises and experimentation that will allow the joint force to support our critical theaters, including Indo-Pacom and Europe." 

In campaigning, the FY 2025 budget directs nearly $10 billion at the Pacific Deterrence Initiative — and including for the defense of Guam — and $3.9 billion for the European Deterrence Initiative, to include support to NATO.

"We must continue to adapt, advance and innovate at speed and at scale across all domains, prioritizing China as the pacing challenge and Russia as an acute threat," Grady said. "Our strategy-driven budget does exactly that. It recognizes the need to invest in key areas to translate the National Defense Strategy, the National Military Strategy and the Joint Warfighting Concept into operational capabilities required to deter our strategic competitors." 

Budget Challenges 

While the budget request was announced today, the overall budgeting process remains in a state of flux. At the same time the FY 2025 request is being presented to Congress, Congress continues to wrestle with the fiscal 2024 budget request and the supplemental budget to fund Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan and more. 

The fiscal 2024 budget should have gone into effect on Oct. 1, 2023, but DOD has been funded under a continuing resolution since that date. A continuing resolution continues funding for departments at the level of the previous appropriations act. So, DOD is operating under the fiscal 2023 funding level. If there is no appropriation act and no continuing resolution, the government must shut down, something that has happened three times in the last decade.

The fiscal 2025 request is also affected by the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023. That law limits discretionary spending for defense and nondefense programs in exchange for lifting the debt ceiling. This is why, for example, the FY 2025 pay raise for civilians — set at 2% — does not match that of service members, which is at 4.5%. It is also why the defense request does not keep up with inflation. The $850 billion request is a 1% increase in spending, but inflation rose at about 3%.

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