17:44 GMT +319 June 2018
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    US Legislative Negotiators Agree on $619Bln Defense Budget Focused on Personnel

    © AFP 2018 / Jewel Samad
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    Negotiators in the US Congress have agreed on a $618.7 billion defense budget, which legislators must now vote on, that focuses largely on personnel rather than weapons, according to media reports.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – Spending outlined in the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2017 is intended to reverse plans by the Obama administration to draw down military forces while boosting funds for related operations that support the extra staffing, Defense News report.

    The budget legislation proposes increasing US Army personnel to 476,000, from 460,000 currently, in fiscal 2017, which began October 1. Marine Corps personnel would edge up to 185,000 from 182,000, with officer ranks to be cut by about 12 percent; the Navy would maintain active-duty levels at 324,000; and the Air Force would add 4,000, bringing its total to 321,000.

    Negotiators in the Senate and the House of Representatives, known as conferees, agreed not to buy additional F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, F/A-18E/F Super Hornets or AH-64 Apache helicopters, in line with President Barack Obama’s initial budget request.

    The F-35 Joint Program Office, the US Navy’s Ford-class carrier program, and the contract for the Air Force’s B-21 bomber remain intact.

    The defense-budget bill is set for a vote in the House on Friday with Senate action scheduled next week.


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