- The Washington Times - Monday, February 4, 2008

DEFENSE DEPARTMENT — $588.3 billion

The $588.3 billion in Pentagon spending for 2009 that President Bush proposed to Congress yesterday includes only part of the cost of fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mr. Bush asked for $70 billion as an “emergency allowance” for war costs for the first part of the budget year, which begins Oct. 1, and the White House said, without citing a specific figure, that it would request more for 2009 “once the specific needs of our troops are better known.”

If the current rate of war spending is a guide, the additional request for 2009 is likely to exceed $100 billion.

Mr. Bush is awaiting recommendations from his top commanders and from Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates in April on how much to reduce U.S. troop levels in Iraq this year.

The $588.3 billion total requested falls in three main categories: $515.4 billion in Defense Department spending, $70 billion in initial war costs and $2.9 billion in certain fixed Pentagon costs.

The comparable figure for the current budget year is $670.5 billion, combining $479.5 billion in Defense Department spending, $189.1 billion in projected war costs and $1.9 billion in fixed costs. Of the $189.1 billion requested for war costs this year, the Pentagon has actually received $86.7 billion.

Of the $515.4 billion in the proposed Defense Department budget, $20.5 billion would be for increasing the size of the Army by 7,000 soldiers, to 532,400, and adding 5,000 Marines to expand the Corps to 194,000.

Also included is $49.1 billion to recruit, train, equip and sustain the National Guard and Reserve, and $17.3 billion to modernize the aircraft fleets of the Air Force, Navy, Marines and Army.

Mr. Bush also asked for $10.4 billion to continue the Pentagon’s effort to develop and deploy defenses against long-range missiles.

The budget proposal earmarks $750 million to help other countries improve their ability to fight terrorists “recognizing that threats to U.S. security exist beyond the war on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan,” according to a Pentagon statement obtained by the Associated Press. The statement did not mention specific countries that would receive such aid.

The president’s budget also proposes to spend $389 million to establish a new command focusing on U.S. interests in Africa. The command is headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany and is headed by Army Gen. William Ward.

Spending on special operations forces, such as the Army’s Green Berets and the Navy’s SEALs, would total $5.7 billion.

Members of the military would get a 3.4 percent pay raise, and the defense civilian work force would see its pay grow by 2.9 percent.

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