(LEAD) Biden requests 4.1 pct increase in DoD spending, citing challenges from China, N. Korea
(ATTN: UPDATES with remarks from U.S. Missile Defense Agency officials, additional information from para 8; ADDS photo)
By Byun Duk-kun
WASHINGTON, March 28 (Yonhap) -- The Joe Biden administration is seeking a 4.1 percent increase in defense spending, citing the U.S.' growing competition with China and threats from North Korea, its budget plan showed Monday.
The bill proposal, submitted to Congress, seeks US$813.3 billion in overall defense spending in fiscal year 2023 starting Oct. 1.
For the Department of Defense, the government is asking for a 4.1 percent or $30.7 billion increase to $733 billion, according to the department.
"This budget gives us the resources we need to deliver on that promise. Our budget reflects our National Defense Strategy and the focus of that strategy on the pacing challenge of China," Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a released statement.
"It preserves our readiness and deterrent posture against the threats we face today: the acute threat of an aggressive Russia and the constantly emerging threats posed by North Korea, Iran, and violent extremist organizations," he added.
North Korea has so far conducted 12 rounds of missile launches this year, including seven in January that marked the largest number of missile tests by the reclusive state in a single month.
Pyongyang also fired an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) last week, marking its first ICBM firing since November 2017.
Vice Adm. Jon Hill, director of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA), highlighted the need to enhance the country's defense capabilities against what he called evolving threats from North Korea and others.
"I would say that they were advancing and that's what you're seeing around the globe," he said when asked if North Korea may be advancing its capabilities.
"The evolving threat is coming from many axes, and it's coming in all forms -- whether it's air launched, submarine launched, ballistic launched, cruise missile launched, hypersonic -- that's what we're dealing with as a department along with our allies and partners," Hill added in a press briefing at the Pentagon.
Dee Dee Martinez, MDA comptroller, also underscored the need to further advance the U.S. missile defense system.
"Current forces are capable of defending Guam against today's North Korean ballistic missile threats. However, the regional threat to Guam, including from China, continues to rapidly evolve," she told the press briefing, adding the MDA is requesting $539 million in FY 2023 for the defense of Guam.
Gen. Glen VanHerck, commander of U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command, earlier said the North's evolving missile capabilities require the on-time or early delivery of U.S. interceptor missiles.
"I'm comfortable with where we are today based on the intelligence I have with the current capabilities and capacity of North Korea," VanHerck said in a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing last week.
"Going forward, I do believe that they could exceed my capacity and capabilities. That's why it's crucial to keep next generation interceptors on time or early."
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