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Pentagon Asks For 439.3Bn Dollar Budget

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.
by Jim Mannion
Washington DC (AFP) Feb 06, 2006
The US administration on Monday 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 terror".

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 brigades.

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 continued.

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 radars.

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.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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