By Ken Miller, AOC Director of Advocacy and Outreach.
On March 9, President Biden formally submitted his budget to Congress, marking the official beginning of the congressional defense budget process. Of course, in keeping with tradition, the President’s Budget was declared “Dead on Arrival,” especially by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. Now its time to grab some popcorn and watch the budget process unfold with no clear consensus on an endgame. Another Continuing Resolution is likely to start the new 2024 Fiscal Year on October 1, and December has seemingly become the new September as deadlines are kicked down the road for political leverage.
|FY 2024||March 9, 2023||Biden|
|FY 2023||March 28, 2022||Biden|
|FY 2022||May 28, 2021||Biden|
|FY 2021||February 10, 2020||Trump|
|FY 2020||March 22,2019||Trump|
|FY 2019||February 12, 2018||Trump|
|FY 2018||May 22, 2017||Trump|
|FY 2017||February 9, 2016||Obama|
|FY 2016||February 2, 2015||Obama|
All cynicism aside, there is no congressional will for a shutdown and a final budget will likely be signed into law by the end of the calendar year to make the 2024 Presidential Election year as free of legislative distraction as possible (just don’t expect much to be done next fiscal year). That said, the President’s budget is a fairly strong document, especially on defense spending with growth in topline levels, investment in innovative technologies and policy statements that should resonate with the Electromagnetic Spectrum Operations (EMSO) community. There is plenty in the President’s budget that should excite the global AOC community looking for real, substantive investment in capability areas critical to our mission. Once again, the AOC should find itself on the cusp of an opportunity to make a difference in support of our warfighters.
The President’s Budget Request, the earliest delivered budget during Biden’s administration, includes $1.7 trillion. This represents a 4.8% increase over what was appropriated for Fiscal Year (FY) 2023. Total defense spending in the President’s Budget Request is $886.3 billion. Of this, $842 billion is dedicated to the Department of Defense (DoD). The Administration makes clear that they recognize China as a “key strategic competitor” and Russia as an “acute threat to the US and allies.” As such, the budget request continues the trend of strong investment in innovative technologies, and it contains the largest combined procurement and research and development (R&D) budget ever at a combined $315 billion.
Specifically, the budget request includes $170 billion for procurement and $145 billion for R&D. It’s important to note that over the past four years, three of which have been under the Biden Administration, R&D spending has increased by more than $39 billion, exceeding 26% growth.
|Combined Procurement and R&D Spending (in billions)|
|Category||FY 2021*||FY 2022*||FY 2023**||FY 2024***|
|Research & Development||$105,909||$119,081||$139,856||$144,980|
|* Actual total
** Enacted total
*** Requested total
For EW and related capabilities, there is a lot to keep track of through the congressional defense budget process. First, in clearly advancing DoD’s Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) vision, the budget states that (emphasis added), “In order to provide advantage for the joint force in highly contested environments the Department must operate at the intersection of cyberspace, electronic warfare, spectrum operations, sensing, and communications…The Department must modernize non-kinetic options across cyberspace, electromagnetic warfare (EW), and communications by leveraging opportunities across programs of records, industry, and advancements in the technology space for use both left of launch and in kinetic options. Mission success in the modern battlespace demands integration of platforms, sensors, and effects at the speed and scale of relevance.”
Additional highlights in the budget include:
- Air power funding for “multiple EW capabilities to improve platform survivability, including EA-18G Growler capability modifications, Next Generation Jammer, survivability improvements in the F-15 Eagle Passive Active Warning and Survivability System (EPAWSS), the Integrated Defense Electronic Countermeasures System for the F/A-18 aircraft, and production of the Common Infrared Countermeasures (IRCM) system.
- Seapower funding priorities including the implementation of survivability improvements to the U.S. maritime defensive capabilities, which consist of the Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program (SEWIP) Block 3 electronic attack capability (pacing the advanced threats) and the Advanced Off-board Electronic Warfare Program, consisting of long duration, off- board decoys to address identified electronic warfare gaps.
- Provides $17.8 billion to science and technology (S&T) for maturing artificial intelligence (AI) and Future G/5G networks. Below is list of Critical Technology Areas that the President’s Budget directs increased investment across federal agencies.
Critical Technology Areas
Seed Areas of Emerging Opportunity
Effective Adoption Areas
· Quantum Science
· Future Generation Wireless Technology
· Advanced Materials
|· Trusted AI and Autonomy
· Integrated Network Systems-of-Systems
· Space Technology
· Renewable Energy Generation and Storage
· Advanced Computing and Software
· Human-Machine Interfaces
|· Directed Energy
· Integrated Sensing and Cyber
- Provides $423.9 million to secure DoD equities in microelectronics by ensuring State of the Practice (SOTP) components and establish a robust domestic microelectronics ecosystem for secure packaging and printed circuit boards, and $16.0 million to expand sub-tier suppliers for radio frequency (RF) microelectronics.
- Directs $2.6 billion to fund microelectronics initiatives such RAMP-C, SHIP 2.0, DARPA’s ERI 2.0 effort, the tech transition of prototypes, and radiation hardening, and legacy system sustainment, which are all microelectronics efforts crucial to our long-term national security.
- To strengthen the supply chain, The budget states the DoD has prioritized the following five focus areas in which vulnerabilities pose the most pressing threat to national securities:
- Kinetic capabilities (which include directed energy weapons)
- Energy storage and batteries
- Castings and forgings
- Critical and strategic minerals and materials
- To improve training and readiness of our joint forces, DoD’s Strategic Management Plan for FY 2022-2026 (Objective 3.1) states, “shape training and education for emerging skillsets. Military Training Executive Steering Group (MTESG) focus areas include live, virtual, and constructive environments; advanced air combat training; electromagnetic warfare and electromagnetic spectrum training; cyber and information operations training; training communications modernization; joint interoperability training; and training in a competitive space environment.
- Finally, $14.5 billion is dedicated to C4I Systems (see below), including modernizing the Army’s Tactical Network, providing “voice and data communications to the tactical edge and the expeditionary Warfighter,” and improving cyber resiliency for mission success in contested cyberspace environments.
As Congress begins posture hearings and more extensive oversight of the President’s budget request, we will learn more about how the Administration, and DoD specifically, is positioning itself for an achievable and sustainable advantage in the electromagnetic operating environment. In the meantime, this is a very good first step that indicates the AOC community in the US and around the world are catching the attention of senior leaders who have the authority and resources to make a difference.