Bush Budget Sets Aside $27 Billion for War on Terrorism
WASHINGTON – Seven cents of every dollar in the Pentagon's proposed $379 billion budget is for the war on terrorism, including more than $1 billion to continue flying fighter aircraft over parts of the United States as a precaution against a repeat of the Sept. 11 attacks.
The defense budget President Bush submitted to Congress on Monday would add $48 billion in budget authority to the Pentagon's current spending, roughly a 14 percent increase — the biggest boost for the military in two decades. Bush would add more each succeeding year, reaching $451 billion for 2007.
The spending blueprint for the 2003 budget year that begins Oct. 1 reflects other administration priorities besides fighting terrorism: a 4.1 percent pay raise for troops; defenses against missile attack; accelerated development of pilotless planes for surveillance and attack; and billions more for a new generation of stealthy jet fighters and Navy warships.
It reflects three main Pentagon goals:
—Win the war on terrorism.
—Maintain troops' morale and ensure they are ready to fight more conventional conflicts.
—Transform the military to a more agile, versatile force with 21st century communications.
Bush proposes to do this without expanding the active-duty force beyond the 1.4 million now in uniform. Some of the services had argued for more troops, saying they are overextended now.
The weapons-buying account would rise from $61 billion this year to about $70 billion, including money that would actually be spent in later years.
The total earmarked for combating terrorism next year is $27 billion, of which $10 billion is considered a war reserve. Another $8 billion would be used to protect U.S. troops abroad and at home and $9 billion would pay for long-term bills already created by the 4-month-old war in Afghanistan.
The $27 billion compares with $4.6 billion in anti-terrorism spending in the 2000 defense budget. Last year, that category of spending was $5.2 billion, although it was boosted by $13.7 billion shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks. This year's budget has $10.5 billion in this category.
The Pentagon says it has spent about $7 billion so far on the war in Afghanistan, which began Oct. 7. The costs have grown so rapidly, officials say, that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld already has decided he must ask Congress for more money as early as March.
Rumsfeld and Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are to appear before the Senate and House Armed Services committees this week to promote Bush's budget proposal.
All three military departments would get substantial increases:
—Army, up 10 percent to $91 billion.
—Navy, up 9.5 percent to $108 billion. The Navy Department includes the Marine Corps.
—Air Force, up nearly 13 percent to $107 billion.
Missile defense would get $7.8 billion, the same as this year.
Bush also wants about $1 billion more for pilotless aircraft such as the Predator surveillance plane used extensively in Afghanistan. He is asking for $158 million to buy 22 new Predators and to upgrade and arm the existing fleet. He also wants $170 million to buy three more Global Hawk high-altitude surveillance planes that are operated from computer terminals on the ground. An additional $306 million would be used to accelerate development of improvements to the Global Hawk.
One of the biggest winners in Bush's proposed defense budget would be the Air Force's F-22 Raptor stealth fighter. Though some critics question the need, Bush is seeking $4.6 billion to build 23 F-22s and begin work on 27 more.
Other major weapons programs that just last summer were thought to be in danger of cancellation or reductions also would come out winners if Congress approves Bush's plan:
—The Joint Strike Fighter, still in the development stage, would get $3.5 billion. It is intended to replace the Air Force's fleet of F-16s, the Navy's F-14s and F/A-18s and the Marine Corps' F/A-18s.
—The Navy's Super Hornet version of the F/A-18 would get $3.1 billion to build 44 planes.
—The Marine Corps' V-22 Osprey, the hybrid airplane/helicopter grounded last year after two deadly crashes raised questions about its design, would get $2 billion, including nearly $500 million to correct technical problems and to conduct a new round of flight tests.
Among the relatively few losers in the proposed budget is Navy shipbuilding. The Pentagon is asking for money to build five new warships, down from six in the current budget. Also, spending on military construction would drop from $6.5 billion to $4.8 billion.