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Barack Obama

US President Barack Obama has asked Congress to allocate $585.3bn in discretionary budget authority to fund base budget programmes and overseas contingency operations (OCO) in 2016.

The proposed 2016 Department of Defense (DoD) budget request includes a base budget of $534.3bn, which is a $38.2bn increase on the 2015 enacted budget of $496.1bn, and surpasses the sequestration cap of $498bn set under the Budget Control Act of 2011.

A majority is divided among military departments, with $161bn for the US Navy / Marine Corps, $152.9bn for the air force and $126.5bn for the army.

The remaining 17.6% aims to fund defence-wide programmes and activities, including the Defence Health Programme, Special Operations Command, the Missile Defense Agency and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, as well as other smaller DoD and intelligence agencies.

Approximately $19.5bn has been allocated for the acquisition of 57 F-35 Lightning II fighters, 16 P-8s and five E-2D Hawkeye aircraft, as well as the development of the KC-46 tanker and long-range strike capacity.

A further $11.6bn has been sought for the procurement of nine new ships, $1.4bn for the Ohio replacement strategic submarine development and $678m to refit the USS George Washington aircraft carrier.

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Additional funding involves investment in cyber security and missile defence ground based interceptor reliability, as well as army helicopter modernisation and MQ-9 Reaper procurement, among other programmes.

US Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work said: "We believe quite strongly that this budget is the best balance of ends, ways and means that we could possibly achieve, given the level of resources."

"The proposed budget helps ensure we can manage risk and meet near-term defence needs."

The budget request sets aside $50.9bn for OCOs to combat diverse terrorist groups, including the Islamic State (IS), by training and equipping Iraqi forces and moderate Syrian rebels, and to ensure a responsible transition in Afghanistan.

OCO funding is $13.3bn lower than the 2015 enacted level of $64.2bn, reflecting the end of the combat mission and the continued reduction of forces in Afghanistan.

The request proposes a reduction of 11,300 in total force military end strength, resulting in a final force structure of 1.3 million active duty soldiers, 811,000 reserve personnel and 773,000 civilian full-time equivalents.

US Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman army general Martin Dempsey said: "The proposed budget helps ensure we can manage risk and meet near-term defence needs while preparing for the future.

"It represents the minimum resource level necessary to remain a capable, ready and appropriately sized force able to meet our global commitments."

Image: US President Barack Obama. Photo: courtesy of Pete Souza, the Obama-Biden Transition Project.