President Trump’s FY18 budget includes defense spending boost, which could benefit Hampton Roads

WASHINGTON, D.C. - President Trump's first full budget proposal was rolled out Tuesday morning and it includes a moderate boost in defense spending which could benefit Hampton Roads.

The $4.1 trillion budget includes an additional $52 billion for the Department of Defense by lifting the defense budget cap under current law.

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 23: Stacks of President Donald Trump's FY2018 budget proposal are seen during a photo availability May 23, 2017 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. President Trump has sent his FY2018 budget proposal request to the Congress. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The White House says the budget increase in defense spending is the starting point for rebuilding the current force.

Retired Rear Admiral Craig Quigley, Executive Director of the Hampton Roads Military and Federal Facilities Alliance, says overall the defense budget should be good news for Hampton Roads.

"You I think can honestly assume that there would be some effect for Hampton Roads on perhaps shipbuilding, ship repair, perhaps real property maintenance that would move the needle of the Hampton Roads economy in that regard," Quigley told News 3 anchor Todd Corillo.

The $171.5 billion budgeted for the Navy would increase the Navy strength by 1,408 Sailors to 327,000.

In a Pentagon briefing Tuesday, the Department of Defense said the budget proposal helps fund Navy ship maintenance to improve timelines to meet future deployments.

A briefing by Rear Admiral Brian Luther, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Budget, said that includes 10 additional ship availabilities for a total of 71, meeting 100% of projected maintenance.

"These are good ships, perfectly usable ships that need maintenance now in order to recover from the hard pace which they have been used in recent years," Quigley explained.

It also funds deployed flying hours for the Navy while also investing in maintenance to increase the number of available aircraft available for training and deployments.

The $19.9 billion shipbuilding request is largely the same as last year, including $4.6 billion for the future USS Enterprise aircraft carrier, $5.5 billion for two Virginia-class submarines and $4 billion for two Arleigh Burke-class Aegis destroyers.

The future USS Enterprise (CVN-80) will be built at Newport News Shipbuilding, which also helps build the Virginia-class submarines.

 

The Department of Defense is also seeking authority for another round of military base closings in fiscal year 2021.

The Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process is being urged by the Pentagon to reduce excess capacity.

Pentagon leaders estimate there's about 20% excess capacity and a BRAC focused on making infrastructure more efficient could save $2 billion a year.

The last BRAC process was in 2005, at which time Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach was in danger of being closed. Efforts to rollback encroachment on the base by Virginia Beach leaders kept the East Coast Master Jet Base open.

The budget request also includes a 2.1% increase in pay for military members and a 1.9% increase for civilian employees.

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