Congress is continuing to focus on the 2023 budget this week with the Senate focusing on a number of their hearings for both the DoD and VA. 

Last week, the House Appropriations Committees (HASC) decided to hold individual mark-up meetings between June 22 and 30. The DoD and VA were announced in those individual mark up meetings. According to the HASC Chairman Rep Adam Smith D-WA, he is planning for June 22 for the full mark-up day of the annual defense authorization bill with hopes to get it passed a few weeks after that. Currently, the Senate has not announced their plans.

Size of the Army isn’t What it Used to Be

One of the most controversial, but also inevitable parts of the bill is the drawdown of troops. In April 2021, Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville said, “This is the same size Army that we had on 9/11, and when I take a look at what the requirements are, when I take a look at what historically we needed, and now that we’re in a time of great power competition, I’m very concerned about the size of the Army,” 

And now the numbers are dropping even lower. But budget reductions are not drawing the drop in force requirements. The decision to shrink the service came down to the recruiting market, according to comptroller Michael McCord. 

Even though the Army was authorized to go up to 485,000 in 2022, the 2023 budget request is only 473,000. But since the Army’s size is currently only 476,000 and recruiters are struggling to bring in more recruits, the Pentagon has decided to focus on doing more with the troops they have rather than trying to push resources to bring in more members. Overall, the Air Force, Army, and Navy all are projected to decrease, with the Space Force and Marine Corps set to rise. None of the services have announced force shaping to meet their new end strength goals. Only the Air Force has offered early retirement to a few of its members. 

Budget Meetings This Week

Yesterday the Senate Armed Services had a hearing for the Air Force’s budget and Cyberservices, Senate Appropriations focused on the Defense budget, and the Senate Veteran Affairs had a hearing on the VA workforce.

Today, the Senate Appropriations will hear department officials testify on the VA budget. And the Senate Armed Services will hear from Defense and Energy officials on the Nuclear Weapons Council and current U.S. nuclear stockpiles. 

And on Thursday, Army Secretary Christine Wormuth and Army Chief of Staff Gen James McConville will testify on the Army budget requirements. 

It will be interesting to keep watching how the budget moves forward with both reduction in forces and trying to prepare the military to meet their demands while also planning for inflation. 

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Amanda is a military spouse and veteran who served in the Air Force for six years as a Civil Engineer including a deployment to Afghanistan. She traded in her combat boots for a diaper bag to stay home with her two boys and follow her husband’s military career. She published her first book in 2019 titled Women of the Military, sharing the stories of 28 military women. In 2019 she also launched her podcast also titled Women of the Military. In 2020, she was published as a collaborative author in Brave Women Strong Faith. And in 2021, she launched a YouTube channel to help young women answer their questions about military life, Girl’s Guide to the Military. You can learn more about Amanda at her blog Airman to Mom.