- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 9, 2002

As history has repeatedly confirmed, defending freedom is not cheap. Nearly six months after U.S. military operations officially commenced in Afghanistan, President Bush sent Congress his second request for emergency war-fighting, homeland-security and disaster-relief funding for fiscal 2002. The request for $27.1 billion follows the $40 billion in emergency funds that Congress approved shortly after the September 11 terrorist attacks on America. And in between the emergency spending requests, the president submitted his fiscal 2003 budget, which called for a $45 billion increase in defense spending. As it should, Congress is expected to approve the latest emergency funding request.

With funding available for Afghan operations expected to run out by the end of April, at the top of the president's list is a request for $14 billion to continue conducting the war on terror, which has been costing the Pentagon more than $2 billion per month. Included in this $14 billion is $4.1 billion to pay for the 80,000 reserve and National Guard troops who have been activated since September and $1.2 billion to assist coalition members, including Jordan, Pakistan and Turkey. To enhance homeland security, the president has requested $5.2 billion, $4.7 billion of which will be allocated to the Department of Transportation to pay for desperately needed security measures at airports and elsewhere. Fulfilling his post-September 11 commitment to provide New York City with $20 billion in assistance, the president has requested $5.5 billion to pay for clean-up costs and to rebuild city infrastructure and utility lines.

However, in one very important respect the acceleration of the production of the highly successful Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) the additional funds requested may not be adequate for the tasks facing the military. Having inherited from the previous administration an utterly, and inexplicably, inadequate inventory of JDAMs, which had earlier performed so well over Kosovo, Navy and Air Force warplanes last year were dropping JDAMs faster than they could be resupplied. Operation Anaconda exacerbated the problem.

At the same time, the increasingly problematic JDAM inventory situation has been adversely affecting the timing and planning of the expected campaign against Iraq. To ameliorate this problem, the administration is requesting nearly $400 million. That would permit the monthly production rate of JDAMs to increase from 1,500 to 2,800 by August 2003 rather than by July 2004, which was the goal projected in the 2003 budget.

War with Iraq looms on the horizon. JDAMs have become so flexible that they now can be launched from the Air Force's strategic bombers and the Navy's fighter jets, both of which will play integral roles in any Iraqi campaign. Potential shortages of such an indispensable weapon would be indefensible.

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