US cuts European defence funding in FY2021 budget request

Harry Lye 11 February 2020 (Last Updated February 11th, 2020 12:04)

The US Department of Defence (DoD) has requested $4.5bn for the European Deterrence Initiative (EDI) in its FY2021 budget request. This represents a £1.5bn cut compared with the enacted FY2020 budget and a $2bn drop from the enacted FY2019 budget of £6.5bn.

US cuts European defence funding in FY2021 budget request
Personnel measure the length, width, and height of the entire SLT-2 70T tank transporter to ensure it meets German road regulations. Credits: US Army photo by Pvt. Katelyn Myers.

The US Department of Defence (DoD) has requested $4.5bn for the European Deterrence Initiative (EDI) in its FY2021 budget request. This represents a £1.5bn cut compared with the enacted FY2020 budget and a $2bn drop from the enacted FY2019 budget of £6.5bn.

The EDI, funded through the US DoD’s Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) budget, was set up in the wake of the Russian annexation of Crimea by the White House to bolster US presence on the European continent and deter further Russian aggression.

Previous funding for the EDI had been used by the US to pay for sections of the border wall with Mexico.

The fund supports the deployment of US personnel in Europe, several international exercises, and operations in Eastern European nations designed to counter Russia. The funding also provides defence equipment to the Armed Forces of the Ukraine as part of the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI).

In the budget request, the DoD is looking to set aside $250m for the USAI. Budget documents say this funding will be used “to provide assistance and support to the military and national security forces of Ukraine, and for replacement of any weapons or defensive articles provided to the Government of Ukraine from the inventory of the United States.”

US Military funding to Ukraine has been in the spotlight in recent months with US support to Ukraine becoming a central topic during the impeachment of President Donald Trump.

The cut follows a wider downturn in the amount of the DoD budget set aside for OCO, from the enacted FY2020 budget of $71.3bn down to a requested $69bn for FY2021.

The requested budget will see funding for classified programmes, the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund (ASFF), the Counter-ISIS Train and Equip Fund (CTEF), the Counter and Deter Threat Network / DTRA among others decrease.

According to the budget documents, the US is still committed to achieving the EDI objectives of increasing the presence of the US military in Europe, conducting additional exercises and training with European allies, the ‘enhanced prepositioning of US equipment in Europe, developing military infrastructure on the continent, and ‘building allied and partner capacity’.