United States service members could expect a 4.6% increase in salary if Congress approves the White House’s 2023 federal budget plan released on Monday.

The pay raise will serve as the largest increase in military personnel’s salary in almost two decades. It is part of the Biden administration’s $813.3 billion national defense budget proposal for the 2023 fiscal year, which includes $733 billion specifically for the Pentagon. This is reportedly a 4% increase in the overall annual defense budget compared to last year.

The massive defense funding proposal comes on the backdrop of Russia’s escalating aggression in Europe and the looming threat of China in the Pacific, which military and political analysts saw to be observing how the world would react to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as Beijing deals with its own dispute with Taiwan.

“I’m calling for one of the largest investments in our national security in history, with the funds needed to ensure that our military remains the best-prepared, best-trained, best-equipped military in the world,” Biden said in a White House statement. “In addition, I’m calling for continued investment to forcefully respond to Putin’s aggression against Ukraine with US support for Ukraine’s economic, humanitarian, and security needs,” he added.

President Biden and Vice President Harris (The White House, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons). Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:President_Joe_Biden_and_Vice_President_Kamala_Harris_delivered_remarks_at_the_Capitol_on_the_anniversary_of_a_violent_insurrection.jpg
President Biden and Vice President Harris (The White House, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Military families have enjoyed a consistent increase in salary over the last years, with annual raises of at least 2.5% since 2018. The last time military wages grew by 4% was in 2013. However, rising inflation over the past year led to a hike in civilian salaries, which then carried over to military wages.

Annual pay raise is based on the Employment Cost Index from the federal government. It works by tracking salaries from the private sector and proposes a baseline rate for the year. This rate can be made higher or lower depending on the discussion of lawmakers.

“We are also asking that Congress support our efforts to take care of our most critical asset, our people… our 4.6% pay raise for our military and civilian personnel helps ensure they receive the pay they deserve and need, particularly in light of the challenging current economic realities,” said Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III in a statement from the Pentagon.

If the proposed defense budget gets approved by Congress, junior troops would see a $1,300 annual salary increase, with senior enlisted and junior officers receiving $2,500 more; and O-4 with 12 years of service would possibly obtain an additional $4,500 with the 4.6% salary increase.