The Department of Defense announced its supplemental request for $30 billion in additional appropriations for fiscal year 2017 on Thursday, which includes $24.9 billion in base budget funding and $5.1 billion for overseas contingency operations. The Pentagon is asking lawmakers to attach the additional funding as an amendment to the FY17 appropriations bill now making its way through Congress. Pentagon comptroller John Roth said “passing a full up appropriations bill” is necessary to avoid a full-year continuing resolution, which he said would be “extremely harmful” to US military readiness. The supplemental requests money to fund a previously authorized elevation of end strength across the military, including an increase in the number of active duty airmen from 317,000 to 321,000. It also funds an unexpectedly high pay raise for military members that Congress has authorized but that the department would have to pay for with money from other accounts without the additional appropriations.
The supplemental also asks for $596 million for five more F-35As, $500 million for five more H/MC-130s, and funds for continued F-16 and C-130 modernization programs—programs highlighted by acting Secretary Lisa Disbrow at AWS2017. Roth said these procurement funds would free up readiness money. “We’ve used the F-35 as a bit of a bill-payer,” he said, and as a result, “we’re behind the procurement rate.” The five new F-35As will bring the USAF total buy for FY17 to 48, well short of the service’s stated goal of 60 per year. The increase in OCO funds is aimed at “acceleration of the defeat of ISIS,” said Army Lt. Gen. Anthony Ierardi, director of force structure, resources and assessment, for the joint staff. While the plans for President Trump’s new strategy for the war against ISIS “have not been finalized,” Ierardi said, the OCO increase was intended to meet “the baseline of capability” that the new strategy will require. Roth said the FY17 budget, with the proposed supplemental funding, would be a “down payment” toward restoring military readiness, but that the Department needs “a pattern of sustained growth” to climb out of the deficits it now faces.