2021 Defense Budget

Updated: January 26, 2024
In this Article

    The Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act has been approved which sets spending for military pay and benefits, defense operations and national-security programs for the 2021 fiscal year.

    See the latest update on the 2024 Defense Budget and the impact on 2024 military pay.

    President Donald Trump sent a proposed FY2021 budget request on Feb. 10, 2020. The request included $740.5 billion for National Security, allocating $705.4 billion for the Department of Defense. The budget supports the National Defense Strategy with an emphasis on four key goals: Improving military readiness through modernization and growing a more lethal military force, strengthening alliances and making new partners, reforming the Department of Defense for effectiveness and accountability, and increasing support for military members and their families.

    Path to Defense Bill

    • 1/1/2021: On Jan. 1, the Senate voted 81-13 to override the President’s veto of the NDAA. The bill passed in the Senate with a “veto proof” majority of 84-13 earlier this month, and the House has already voted to override the President’s veto. The bill now becomes law.
    • 12/30/2020: The Senate is expected to also override the presidential veto sometime this weekend and before the new session of Congress begins on Jan. 3.
    • 12/28/2020: The House voted 322-87 to override the President’s veto. The bill now becomes law if the Senate votes to override Trump.
    • 12/27/2020: President Trump vetoed the defense bill on Dec. 23 and now Congress is working to line up the votes to override the veto. The House is preparing to vote on Dec. 28 with the Senate preparing to vote on Dec. 29, if the House vote is successful. Two-thirds majorities are needed in the House and Senate to overturn the president’s veto and enact the bill into law.
    • 12/11/2020: The bill has been sent to President Trump who may veto the bill because it does not repeal section 230 which protects social media companies from liability for what their users post. However, there appears to be bi-partisan veto-proof support in Congress to pass the Defense Bill if President Trump vetoes it.
    • 12/11/2020: The Senate voted overwhelmingly to approve the defense bill with a veto-proof majority.  The vote was 84-13.
    • 12/7/2020: The House passed a bipartisan veto-proof majority defense bill. The vote was 335-78.

    Highlights of the proposed 2021 Defense Budget

    • Pay Raise: Increases the pay of all members of the armed forces by 3%, plus increases in housing and subsistence allowances.
    • BAH (Basic Allowance for Housing): The BAH rates increased 2.9%.
    • BAS (BAS Allowance for Subsistence): The BAS rate increased 3.70% for the Air Force, Army, Marines, Navy and Space Force. Enlisted members will  receive $386.50 per month (an increase of $13.79) and officers will receive $266.18 per month (an increase of $9.50).
    • Hazard Pay: Hazard pay increased from $250 a month to $275 a month. That would not apply to troops receiving combat pay, who get an extra $450 a month.
    • Specialty Bonuses: Reauthorizations specialty bonuses for pilots and other in-demand military jobs.
    • Military Family Support: The DOD is requesting $8 billion for family support programs, professional and educational programs for service members and spouses, child care, and youth and teen programs.
    • Paid Parental Leave: Supports expansion of paid parental leave for DoD civilians.
    • Survivor Benefit Plan/Dependency and Indemnity Compensation: Funds repeal of the previously enacted offset.
    • Military Housing Privatization Initiative (MHPI): The FY 2021 budget request includes a $54.6 million (82%) increase for Military Housing Privatization Support compared to the FY 2020 budget request.
    • RDT&E Budget: The 2021 budget request includes the largest RDT&E request in history at $106.6 billion. DoD emphasis is on development of emerging technologies and the high end fight through ACE investments including hypersonics, microelectronics, autonomy, and Artificial Intelligence.
    • Maximizing Readiness: The FY2021 budget aims to maximize readiness across the board with $30.9 billion for Army readiness, $47.5 billion for Navy & Marine Corps Readiness, $37.1 billion for Air Force Readiness, and $9.5 billion for Special Operations Command readiness. Goals to increase military end strength include an additional 5,600 over FY2020 projected levels. 2020 Projections were as follows: 


      • Army: 480,000 Soldiers
      • Air Force: 332,800 Airmen
      • Navy: 340,500 Sailors
      • Marine Corps: 186,200 Marines
    • Cyberspace Protections & Investments: The 2021 Budget requests $9.8 billion for cyberspace enhancements in the area of cyber security, operations, cyberspace science & technology, and funding for Cloud and Artificial Intelligence investments.
    • Investments in the Air: Earmarks $56.9 billion for military aircraft including F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, KC-46 Tanker Replacements, F/A-18 E/F Super Hornets, AH-64E Attack Helicopters, VH-92 Presidential Helicopters, P-8A Aircraft, CH-53K King Stallion, and F-15 EX.
    • Investments in Space: Earmarks $15.4 billion for US Space Force to include National Security Space Launch and other projects. Plus $249 million for US Space Command and $337 million for the Space Development Agency.
    • Investments on Land: $13 billion is requested to invest in 4,000+ Joint Light Tactical Vehicles, M-1 Abrams Tank Modifications and upgrades, amphibious combat vehicles, and armored multi-purpose vehicles.
    • Maritime Investments: $32.3 Billion for towing salvage and rescue ships, Unmanned Surface Vessels, Fleet Replenishment Oiler, Landing Platform Dock Ship, Frigate, DDG-51 Arleigh Burke Destroyers, Virgina Class Submarine, CVN-78 FORD Class Aircraft Carrier and COLUMBIA Class Ballistic Missile Submarine.
    • Missile Defeat & Defense Investments: The DOD requests just over $20 billion to enhance defense capabilities. Monies are earmarked for sea-based interceptors, AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defense System, Homeland Defense & Next Generation Interceptors, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, and Patriot Advanced Capability Missile Segment Enhancement.
    • Nuclear Modernization: Request for $7 billion for nuclear command, control & communications, $2.8 billion for B-21 Long Range Strike Bomber, $4.4 for COLUMBIA class ballistic missile submarine, $474 million for long range stand-off missile, and $1.5 billion for Ground Based strategic deterrent.  
    • China and Russia: Increases funding for DOD to develop a “lethal, resilient, agile, and ready force” to defend against growing threats by investing in innovations and supplies that will better equip our military.
    • Military Bases with Confederate Names: Gives the Pentagon three years to rename Army bases and other military property that honor Confederate leaders.

    Defense Budget Approximate Approval Timeline:

    Feb. 10, 2020 – DoD Releases FY2021 Budget Proposal

    Spring/Summer 2020 – Congressional Review

    Summer/Fall 2020– House & Senate Armed Appropriations Committees work on the FY2020 defense bill.

    Summer/Fall 2020– House of Representatives and Senate pass their versions of the defense bill and negotiate differences.

    November/December 2020 – The House of Representatives and Senate seek to pass the final version of the defense bill.

    December – The defense bill is typically signed into law.

    For more detailed information on the 2020 Defense Budget proposal, visit the DoD Defense Budget Request site.

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    Written by Veteran.com Team