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Ukraine aid opened the floodgates for more Pentagon spending as US eyes Russia, China

America’s aid campaign for Ukraine has opened the doors for a surge in domestic defense spending, both to refill stockpiles of weapons sent overseas and to bolster U.S. readiness against near-peer rivals.

President Biden requested $813 for the Pentagon for 2023, but Congress appears poised to pass an $858 billion budget plan. If passed, the money will go toward purchasing missiles for the Army, new weapons systems for the Navy and expanding ammunition plants, among other things, the New York Times reported Sunday.

The traditional measure of U.S. military readiness has been its capacity to supply and carry out two major conflicts in separate areas of the globe. White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan argued last week that U.S. support for Ukraine has revealed weaknesses in that readiness.

“We went through six years of Stingers in 10 months,” Raytheon CEO Greg Hayes told NYT. “So it will take us multiple years to restock and replenish.”

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China’s recent aggression toward Taiwan has also contributed to calls for more spending. Aid to the self-governed island has already been delayed, thanks in large part to the flow of weapons to Ukraine.

The U.S. has sent nearly $20 billion in military aid to Ukraine since February, so much that President Biden’s administration is struggling to keep track of how the aid is being used. The volume of U.S. aid to the country has given rise to some skeptics within the Republican Party, who are calling for greater accountability.

Nevertheless, funding conflicts with near-peer rivals is far more expensive than the asymmetric warfare the U.S. military has largely engaged in this century.

The potential $858 billion budget would represent a 4.3% annual increase over the past two years, according to NYT.

And the U.S. isn’t the only one. Allies like Japan have also announced ramped-up military spending in the face of growing Chinese aggression. Sullivan congratulated Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on his administration’s new Defense Buildup Program on Friday.

“Today, Japan has taken a bold and historic step to strengthen and defend the free and open Indo-Pacific,” Sullivan wrote in a statement. “The new strategy reinforces Prime Minister Kishida’s deep commitment to international peace and nuclear nonproliferation and sets the stage for Japan’s leadership in 2023.”

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