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Budget Request Funds Current Readiness, Transformation

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 2, 2004 – The $401.7 billion defense budget request for fiscal 2005 fully funds current readiness while maintaining course for transforming the military, DoD officials said here today.

Under the proposal, service members would receive a 3.5 percent across-the- board pay raise. The request also would increase the basic allowance for housing to eliminate all out-of-pocket expenses for service members.

The budget priority is to win the war on terror, said a senior defense official briefing on background. "We are at war," he said. Readiness accounts operations and maintenance must be fully funded, he said. Army tank miles are set at 899, Army flying hours at 13.1 hours per crew per month, Navy flying hours are at 19.2 hours per crew per month and Air Force hours are set at 16.8 hours per crew per month. Navy steaming days are set at 51 days per quarter.

The budget also funds immediate acquisition needs such as humvees with enhanced armor, Stryker vehicles and unmanned aerial vehicles. The budget calls for more and better communications systems and better intelligence-sharing systems, the official said.

The budget request also asks for up to $500 million to train military and security forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and neighboring countries.

The request also funds $300 million for the Commanders' Emergency Response Program. This is the money available to local commanders for humanitarian and reconstruction needs in Iraq and Afghanistan. The official called it the most successful program of its type.

The budget request also moves toward managing the demands on the military. "Notice I didn't say alleviating the stress on the force," the official said. He said the U.S. military is large enough to handle the rotation into and out of Afghanistan and Iraq. "With numbers like that, we don't have a stress problem, we have a management problem."

The budget would expand military capabilities, begin the process of rebalancing the active and reserve components, give DoD the flexibility to retain high- demand skills and continue the conversion of many military slots to civilian workers.

The budget is complicated by the base realignment and closure process that begins in fiscal 2005, and also by the department's global posture review, the official said. The first steps in this process begin this year, but the DoD recommendations, the commission's conclusions and congressional actions will take place in 2005.

Under the fiscal 2005 budget proposal, the Army would receive $97.2 billion; the Navy and Marines Corps, $119.3 billion; the Air Force would receive $120.5 billion; and defense agencies $64.7 billion.

It would fund operations and maintenance at $140.6 billion, military personnel accounts at $104.8 billion, procurement at $74.9 billion and research-and- development accounts at $68.9 billion.

Overall, Air Force aircraft procurement is budgeted for $13.2 billion in fiscal 2005; the Navy, $8.7 billion; and the Army, $1.8 billion. The money will pay for 16 Black Hawk helicopters, 42 F/A-18E/F Hornets, 11 V-22 tilt-rotor Ospreys, nine UH-1Y helicopters, two E-2C Hawkeye aircraft, eight T-45 Goshawk trainers, 15 C-130J airlifters, 24 F-22 Raptor stealth aircraft and 14 C-17 airlifters.

The Army will receive $1.2 billion for the RAH-66 Comanche helicopter system. The Joint Strike Fighter is budgeted at $4.5 billion in fiscal 2005.

Unmanned aerial vehicles continue to receive a great deal of budgetary attention. The Air Force plans to buy four Global Hawk aircraft at $359.7 million. In addition, the service will put $336.2 million into continued Global Hawk research.

The Air Force would buy nine Predator UAV systems for $146.5 million, and the Army would procure four Shadow UAV systems for $42 million.

The unmanned combat aerial vehicle a joint program with the Air Force, Navy and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency will receive $710.4 million in research and development monies. Overall unmanned vehicle research will receive almost $2 billion under the proposal.

Experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq pointed to the need for a small-diameter bomb. The 2005 budget proposal procures 158 of the weapons at $29.3 million. Research and development funds are pegged at $86.5 million.

In shipbuilding, the carrier replacement program comes in at almost $1 billion in advance procurement and research and development. Construction of the Navy's transformational CVN-21 carrier is set to begin in fiscal 2007.

Research and development for the DDX destroyer program is set at $1.4 billion; construction on the first DDX is set for 2005.

The Navy wants $3.4 billion for three DDG-51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. The service also budgeted $352.1 million for one littoral combat ship and for research and development.

The budget calls for one LPD-17 San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock at a price tag of $1 billion. The ship is used to transport Marines, their equipment and their aircraft. The Navy expects these ships to remain in service through 2050.

Finally, the 2005 budget calls for one Virginia-class attack submarine at $2.6 billion.

Army procurement is dominated by the Future Combat Systems. The service has budgeted $3.2 billion in research and development funds for the system. The system is an amalgam of manned and unmanned ground and air combat systems that represent the way the Army will fight future wars.

The service is budgeting close to $1 billion for the Stryker family of armored vehicles. The eight-wheeled vehicle is the heart of the new Stryker brigades. The vehicle will be produced in a number of variants including reconnaissance, guided missile, medical evacuation, mortars, engineers, command and fire support. Ultimately, the service plans to field five Stryker brigades. One already is operating in Iraq.

However, the service is not ignoring the systems that "'brung' them to the dance," said one official. The service is upgrading the M- 1A2 Abrams tank to the tune of $308.3 million. The upgrade will improve the main battle tank's armor, a 120 mm main gun, a commander's independent thermal viewer, digitized communications and better nuclear, biological and chemical protection.

The Army will also spend $71.4 million on improvements to the Bradley fighting vehicle.

Experiences in Iraq pointed to the need for more heavily armored humvees. The Army plans to buy 818 of the fortified high-mobility vehicles for $163 million and 1,613 regular humvees for $140 million.

Ballistic missile defense comes in at $9.2 billion, with an initial operating capability set by the end of 2004. By the end of fiscal 2005, defense officials said, the system should have 20 ground-based interceptors and up to 10 sea- based interceptors.

Military construction is down slightly from years past. The total for fiscal 2005 is $9.7 billion. It was just over $10 billion for fiscal 2004.

The construction budget continues to fund the family housing privatization program. Under this, private contractors build government housing using their own money. DoD officials estimate that for every dollar the government puts into the program, it gets $8 in actual construction. After a slow start, the program is expected to fix the department's backlog of substandard housing by fiscal 2007, officials said.

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