Thursday, February 09, 2006

Pentagon asks for 439.3 billion dollar budget

Pentagon asks for 439.3 billion dollar budget

Mon Feb 6, 5:17 PM ET

The US administration requested 439.3 billion dollars
for defense spending in 2007, a seven percent boost
that it justified by the need to stave off
conventional rivals while fighting the "war on

The proposed 2007 budget includes funding for more
Predator surveillance drones, more special operations
forces and making the army fit for "irregular" wars
requiring fast deployments.

But the administration also wants money for
state-of-the-art fighter aircraft and other costly
Cold War-era weapons.

The 2007 budget boosts weapons procurement to 84.2
billion dollars, an eight percent hike over 2006, and
weapons research and development to 73.2 billion
dollars, a slight increase.

"We have been very successful in deterring the threat
from large armies, navies and air forces," Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told reporters. "On the
other hand, those threats haven't disappeared."

"We also are faced with a variety of challenges that
are considered to be assymetric or irregular, and ...
as an institution we have to not simply stop doing
what we we're doing and start doing something new."

The White House estimates total defense outlays in
2007 at more than 504 billion dollars.

It keeps much of the cost of military operations in
Iraq and Afghanistan out of the annual defense budget,
seeking separate funding for that through emergency
spending bills.

The White House said it is asking for 50 billion
dollars as a down payment for the military operations
in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2007.

But it plans to go back to Congress to cover remaining
costs, including the training and equipping of Iraqi
security forces.

Tina Jonas, the Pentagon's comptroller, estimated the
monthly cost of US military operations in Iraq and
Afghanistan at 6.8 billion dollars a month.

Among the big ticket items in 2007 is 6.6 billion
dollars to convert army divisions into smaller,
rapidly deployable and more self-sufficient combat

The overhaul, which eventually will increase the
number of army brigades from 48 to 70, is projected to
cost another 34 billion dollars between 2008-2011.

Equipment for the new brigades, including artillery,
armored Humvees and body armor, will take 5.9 billion
dollars of the 2007 budget, the White House said.

The Defense Department also is investing 3.7 billion
dollars to develop the army's Future Combat System,
digitally-connected combat vehicles. The program is
expected to cost 22.4 billion dollars through 2011.

The Pentagon wants 2.6 billion dollars to begin
construction of two next generation DD(X) destroyers,
and 957 million dollars for two Littoral Combat Ships,
a fast, small ship designed for coastal warfare.

Aviation programs were virtually unscathed despite
speculation that cuts would be made in costly fighter
programs to pay for army modernization.

The budget provides 10.4 billion dollars in 2007 to
buy F-22 and F/A-18 E/F fighters, and the development
and procurement of the Joint Strike Fighter, the
Pentagon said.

In total, 15.1 billion dollars will go on new aircraft
next year, including combat helicopters and V-22
tilt-rotor aircraft.

Meanwhile, the shift toward unmanned aircraft

The budget includes 342 million dollars in 2007 to
expand the force of Predator surveillance drones.

The Pentagon said it plans to acquire 322 unmanned
aerial reconnaissance vehicles over five years,
costing an estimated 11.6 billion dollars.

The budget allocates 1.9 billion dollars to develop
and procure unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and
unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) in 2007.

The Pentagon plans to spend 5.1 billion dollars on US
special forces, increasing the size by 14,000 troops
to 64,000 by 2011. The budget over five years will be
28.7 billion dollars, it said.

Despite testing setbacks, missile defense continued to
get heavy support.

The budget provides 10.4 billion dollars to field
additional ground- and sea-based interceptor missiles
and to acquire two more forward-deployed mobile

Space-based early warning systems are slated to get
another four billion dollars over the next five years,
the White House said.

Plans to convert Trident missiles into conventionally
armed weapons for long range strike missions will get
384 million dollars in 2007 and 2.5 billion dollars
over five years, the Pentagon said.

The Defense Department also budgeted 9.3 billion
dollars over five years for a Transformational
Satellite that will increase the amount of data the
military can transmit by eight times.

Copyright (c) 2006 Agence France Presse.

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