President Joe Biden released his official fiscal 2025 defense budget request in March, and in the document, his administration’s misguided priorities are on full display.

While paying lip service to the concept of China as the primary challenge for the United States, the official request fails to align spending with strategy.

Most egregiously, the request fails to procure the ships, aircraft, and munitions the military needs to deter China in the Indo-Pacific.

It is, in a word, insufficient to keep the American people safe.

In response, The Heritage Foundation has produced an alternative “Conservative Defense Budget for Fiscal Year 2025,” which details what a fiscally conservative and strategically focused conservative defense budget would look like.

>>>Read more: “A Conservative Defense Budget for Fiscal Year 2025

By contrast, to account for the historically high inflation levels throughout this administration’s tenure and to provide a real increase in military capacity, the fiscal 2025 conservative budget calls for a roughly 3% overall increase over the official fiscal 2024 request (as opposed to the 1% increase called for in the president’s fiscal 2025 request) with procurement accounting for the majority of new funding.

It also calls for procurement in addition to that new spending, to be funded by shifts from elsewhere within the defense budget.

Ships, aircraft, and munitions are the basis of real military capacity that potential adversaries are prioritizing and need to be similarly prioritized within the U.S. defense budget. When faced with budget constraints, the services invariably cut procurement.

In the official fiscal 2025 request, for example, the Navy chose to cut a Virginia-class submarine and the Air Force opted to cut its procurement of F-35 fighter jets. Meanwhile, the Air Force increased its Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation (RDT&E) budget, and the Navy proposed to hire an additional 2,000 civilian employees.

But procurement of critical capabilities, such as ships and aircraft, should be the last place the Pentagon chooses to cut when faced with budget constraints, particularly given the near-term challenge posed by China’s dramatic military buildup.

Within RDT&E, the Defense Department must focus spending on the projects that are most likely to produce real military capacity, such as the Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) platform.

Generalized RDT&E projects, RDT&E projects of secondary importance, and all nondefense RDT&E projects must be cut and reallocated to the procurement of ships, planes, and munitions.

The conservative defense budget supports the troops by endorsing the requested 4.5% pay raise, reallocating $400 million toward family housing to improve the lives of service members, and advocating for the end of the politicized, woke policies negatively affecting readiness and recruiting.

In terms of strategy, the conservative defense budget endorses a strategy of denial in the Indo-Pacific. The strategy of denial’s primary objective is to deny Chinese hegemony in the Indo-Pacific even as U.S. forces defend the U.S. homeland and work closely with allies and partners to counter other threats.

The United States faces an increasingly dangerous world, and it has limited resources with which to confront all the threats to the nation—a reality that Biden’s defense budget request regrettably does not recognize.

As a result, it’s increasingly vital for the United States—and the Defense Department in particular—to prioritize the Indo-Pacific.

That means focusing U.S. forces first and foremost on defending the U.S. homeland and denying China’s imperial ambitions while supporting U.S. allies and partners to lead efforts to defend against other threats. In doing so, the United States can protect Americans’ security, freedom, and prosperity, while also strengthening America’s alliances and partnerships around the world so that they, too, can live without fear.

To resource this strategy of denial, U.S. defense spending will have to focus on the procurement of ships, planes, and munitions relevant to the Indo-Pacific. The conservative defense budget contains detailed recommendations for munitions procurement, and advocates for the Navy to purchase two Virginia-class submarines and two Constellation-class frigates in fiscal 2025.

Defense spending should flow from strategy and should be focused on military capacity and lethality. Nondefense spending, politicized initiatives within the Pentagon, and unfocused spending all distract from the military’s core mission of defending the American people.

Given the dramatic expansion of Chinese military capabilities in recent years, U.S. defense spending must focus on capabilities that are relevant to deterring China in the Indo-Pacific.

The Pentagon has neglected the procurement of new ships, planes, and munitions for decades. The recommendations in this special report go a long way toward reversing those negative trends and ensuring that the U.S. military is capable and ready to carry out its mission.