Slow and Steady: Analysis of the 2022 Defense Budget Request

In May 2021, the Pentagon presented its first budget request to the Biden Administration, proposing a $715 billion topline for Fiscal Year 2022, representing a 0.2 percent real decrease relative to the previous fiscal year. In a shift from previous budgets, the request also included contingency operations costs within DoD's base budget, eliminating the separate Other Contingency Operations (OCO) account that has supplemented the Defense Department's budget for two decades. 

In Slow and Steady, CSBA Fellow and Director of Defense Budget Studies Travis Sharp analyzes the FY 2022 Defense Department Budget Request with a focus not only on comparisons with the previous administration's defense budgets but also on the insights into the current and future strategic priorities for the Biden Administration. As Sharp assesses, the request is "slow" – released at a later date than any new administration's first budget in almost a century – and "steady" in terms of its topline and respective outlays to individual services. Continuity does not necessarily presage future stagnation, however. Drawing upon historical budget patterns and fiscal policy, Sharp forecasts areas in which future resource shifts may occur, as well as what this year’s budget may indicate for future allocations. This report is 36th in a series of annual budget analyses published by CSBA and its predecessor organization.

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