With an eye on China & Russia, Trump proposes USD 740 billion as the defence budget

Washington: President Donald Trump on Monday proposed USD 740 billion as the country’s national security budget for 2021, with an eye on China and Russia that are on a military modernisation programme that poses a challenge to the United States.

A key aspect of his defence budget proposals are a massive nuclear modernisation worth USD 28.9 billion, missile defeat and defence budget USD20.3 billion. He has also proposed USD 18 billion for the space sector, USD 9.8 billion for the cyber sector and USD 56.9 billion in the air domain.

In his budget proposals, as released by the White House and by the Pentagon, the Trump administration has underscored the threat posed by its two main adversaries, Russia and China, which it alleges are on a military modernisation spree and coercing its neighbours.

“While the American people still face dangers posed by Islamist terrorists and transnational criminals, America also faces challenges by resurgent rival nation-states, including China and Russia. The Budget reflects the need for a new American posture to match the realities faced in this new era,” says the budget proposal sent by the White House to the Congress.

Unlike India, where the Union finance minister tables the budgetary proposals and delivers a speech in the Parliament, the US president sends his annual budgetary suggestions in document format to the Congress, which, over the next few months, debates, deliberates and votes on it.

“The Budget prioritizes funding for programs that would deliver warfighting advantages against China and Russia and sustains efforts over the last three years to focus defence investments in modernization, lethality, and innovation that provides the Nation’s troops with a competitive advantage over all adversaries,” the White House said.

Underpinned by the 2018 National Defense Strategy, the budget sustains and builds on efforts over the last three years to prioritise investments in modernisation, lethality, and innovation.

The budget continues the administration’s work to rebuild the military and improve readiness while balancing the need for reform, efficiency, and accountability at every level, the White House said.

The Pentagon, in its budget proposal, said the security environment continued to change in dangerous ways, China and Russia continue to employ aggressive tactics to coerce neighbours, suppress dissent and undermine freedom.

“They present existential challenges to United States interests and global norms,” it said, adding that Iran and North Korea continued to pursue weapons of mass destruction.

According to the Pentagon, China possesses one of the largest militaries in the world and is becoming increasingly comfortable portraying itself as a counter to the United States. Russia has also upgraded conventional forces while investing heavily in cyber, space, electronic warfare, and hybrid warfare capabilities.

Beijing continues to violate the sovereignty of Indo-Pacific nations and expand its control abroad under the pretence of Belt and Road infrastructure investments, it said.

Meanwhile, it is pursuing advantages in emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence and 5G, while exploiting other nations’ intellectual property for its own gain, the Department of Defense said.

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