WASHINGTON – The Army and Marine Corps need nearly $7 billion more than President Bush requested in next year's budget, a significant shortfall at a time when ground forces are carrying the brunt of combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to budget documents.
Service officials said the president's budget was adequate to meet their objectives. But they added that much more could be done — and faster — to improve the military's ability to fight if more money were provided.
"In a time of war and in an era of persistent conflict ... significant challenges remain," Gen. George Casey, the Army's chief of staff, wrote in a letter to lawmakers.
The Navy and Air Force also identified a multibillion dollar budget gap in what is known on Capitol Hill as service "wish lists."
An annual tradition, the services give Congress details on every widget and weapons program that they wish could have been included in the president's budget, but was denied because of financial constraints. The lawmakers, who request the lists, use them to craft spending legislation.
In his letter to lawmakers, Casey said the Army's $3.9 billion list focuses on equipment for its National Guard. Items include fire trucks, GPS technology, small arms, night-vision goggles and water purification systems.
"Accelerating funding for these items would help to ensure that Guard units continue to fulfill a critical role in supporting civil authorities in domestic disaster relief operations that occur during fires, hurricanes, floods and earthquakes," he wrote.
The Marine Corps' $3 billion list includes $1.7 billion for a new amphibious force ship. Other items include lightweight howitzers, armored vehicles and day care centers in Hawaii and North Carolina.