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U.S. DEFENSE SPENDING SET TO RISE

06 Feb 07. President George W. Bush today sent to Congress his defense budget for fiscal 2008. The budget requests $481.4bn in discretionary authority for the Department of Defense base budget, an 11.3 percent increase over the projected enacted level for fiscal 2007, for real growth of 8.6 percent; and $141.7bn to continue the fight in the Global War on Terror (GWOT) in fiscal 2008.

The fiscal 2008 Defense base budget sustains the President’s commitment to ensure a high state of military readiness and ground force strength; to enhance the combat capabilities of the United States Armed Forces; to continue the development of capabilities that will maintain traditional U.S. superiority against potential threats; and to continue the Department’s strong support for service members and their families.

The fiscal 2008 Global War on Terror request funds urgent needs associated with Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom and other costs of the Global War on Terror; including the costs of repairing, replacing or replenishing equipment lost in combat by both the Active and Reserve Components.

The fiscal 2008 Global War on Terror request is consistent with the direction of Congress to include the cost of ongoing operations in the Global War on Terror with the fiscal 2008 Department of Defense Base Budget.

Accompanying the fiscal 2008 Defense base budget and the President’s GWOT request is a request for $93.4bn in emergency supplemental funding to cover equipment reconstitution and the cost of operations in the Global War on Terror for the remainder of fiscal 2007.

The Wall Street Journal reported that President Bush is asking for almost $625bn in defense spending in 2008, a big increase but one that may not be enough to cover the rapidly increasing costs of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, additional personnel and the military’s appetite for new weapons systems.

In a boon to defense contractors, weapons spending is set to rise even faster than the overall Pentagon budget. The administration is requesting $101.7bn for new weapons purchases, a $20bn increase over 2007. Including research and development, total weapons spending is set to grow to $176.8bn, and just about every major weapons system is set to get more funding than in the current fiscal year.

Rep. Ike Skelton, the Missouri Democrat who chairs the House Armed Services Committee, suggested the Democratic-led Congress may move to pare back the defense budget. “We cannot provide an adequate national defense on the cheap, but neither can we afford to simply ratify the president’s request without performing the due diligence and oversight our Constitution requires,” Rep. Skelton said.

Excluding war costs, the White House is submitting an annual Pentagon budget of $481.4bn, up 11% from enacted 2007 defense spending. But even if President Bush gets all the money he is asking for in the current budget, his plan to increase defense spending still leaves some big questions unanswered.

In virtually every other area of defense spending, ranging from personnel

The big increase in weapons and war spending suggests the administration is banking on continued economic strength to absorb the rising costs.Each of the services’ main weapons programs are to get increased funding in 2008, but the increase masks some longer-term cutbacks. For instance, the Army’s ground-forces modernization program, a Boeing Co.-led program called Future Combat Systems, is to get $3.7bn in 2008, up from $3.4bn this year, but the program has been pared to 14 manned and robotic vehicles, down from 18, and the program lost $3bn, or 10% of expected funding, between 2008 and 2012. The request for F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Aircraft, a Lockheed Martin Corp. fighter jet for the Air Force, Navy and Marines, jumps to $6.1bn in 2008 from $5bn this year. But ambivalent about the new stealth fighter, the Navy plans to scale back purchases of the plane over the fi

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