- The Washington Times - Friday, February 4, 2005

ASSOCIATED PRESS

President Bush will ask Congress for $419.3 billion for the Pentagon for next year, 4.8 percent more than this year’s spending, as the administration seeks to beef up and reshape the Army and Marine Corps for fighting terrorism.

The request will not include money for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Congress already has appropriated $25 billion for them this year, and the White House is planning to request another $80 billion soon.

The president plans to roll out his military spending proposal Monday as part of a roughly $2.5 trillion overall federal budget. But documents show that he will request $19.2 billion more for the Defense Department than its $400.1 billion budget this year.

The proposal will include restructuring and expanding the Army and adding more combat and support units for the Marine Corps. It reflects Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld’s efforts to transform The Cold War-style military into one that’s more rapidly deployable to fight terrorist groups.

Under Mr. Bush’s plan, defense spending would grow gradually, hitting $502.3 billion by 2011.

The proposal, according to one of the documents, supports the war on terrorism by “strengthening U.S. defense capabilities and keeping U.S. forces combat ready. It continues to implement lessons learned from ongoing operations in the war.”

Those include: “The need for flexible and adaptable joint military, strong special operations forces, highly responsive logistics and the best possible intelligence and communications capabilities.”

The plan calls for special operations forces, which the documents described as “critical to the fight against terrorism,” to add 1,200 troops and the forces would get $50 million to keep them from leaving the services.

The president also wants Congress to let him spend $750 million as he chooses to help Iraq, Afghanistan and U.S. allies opposing terrorism bolster their military and security forces. In the past, lawmakers have proven reluctant to give Mr. Bush unfettered control of such funds but have generally complied.

Overall, the proposal calls for the Navy, Marines and Air Force to receive extra funds next year, but the Army’s budget would take a $300 million reduction to $100 billion even though it’s bearing the brunt of the costs and fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, the $80 billion Mr. Bush plans to request for Iraq and Afghanistan is expected to be tilted heavily toward the Army.

The president plans to propose $1.6 billion to fight chemical and biological threats next year and $9.9 billion over the next five years. And, he would allocate $9.5 billion for homeland security activities next year and $147.8 billion for training, maintenance and other “readiness” programs.

Despite the overall military increase, the Pentagon’s account for purchasing new weapons would incur a $100 million cut next year to $78 billion. The proposal underscores how huge federal deficits are affecting even the Defense Department, long one of Mr. Bush’s top priorities.

More than half the total defense increase — $10.8 billion — would be for training, maintenance and other costs associated with keeping the military ready for action. Most of the rest would go for military salaries and construction of bases and housing.


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