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Budget Will Recapitalize, Modernize U.S. Forces

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 29, 2007 – The proposed defense budget will modernize and recapitalize the armed forces, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee today.

Gates said the proposed budget and the emergency supplemental request will exceed $700 billion. The military needs this money to sustain the force, modernize weapons systems, train forces and build defense capabilities.

Marine Gen. Peter Pace told the representatives that the heavy demand on U.S. forces is unlikely to dissipate in the near future. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff specifically asked the representatives to look hard at the military’s increased need for mid-level officers and NCOs.

Pace said embedded training teams in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere help those nations provide for their own security.

“The training that we do with other armed forces rests on the shoulders of our mid-grade soldiers and mid-grade officers,” Pace said. “We are peeling off some of those officers and enlisted from operational units. An increase in mid-grades would help us enormously with what lies ahead.”

Gates said the budget and concurrent increase of soldiers and Marines will sustain the military by reducing stress on the force and improving quality of life for U.S. troops and their families. The budget also funds ongoing operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the campaign against violent jihadist networks around the globe, he said.

Gates told the representatives to put the budget request in historical context. The request translates to about 4 percent of U.S. gross domestic product. He said it is a significantly smaller percentage of GDP than when the United States was involved in the Vietnam War or the Korean War.

Gates said this amount of money may give people “sticker shock,” but it must be viewed in the light of different threats.

“In addition to fighting the war on terror, we face the dangers posed by Iran’s and North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and the threat they pose to not only their neighbors, but globally, due to their records of proliferation,” he said.

He said the United States must be ready to counter the uncertain paths of China and Russia – both pursuing sophisticated military modernization programs. And, he said, there is a range of other challenges, flashpoints and threats in the world.

“In this strategic environment, the resources we devote to defense at this critical time should be at a level to meet those challenges,” Gates said. “The costs of defending the nation are high. The only thing costlier would be to fail to commit the resources necessary to defend our interests around the world, and to fail to prepare for the inevitable threats of the future.”

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Robert M. Gates
Gen. Peter Pace, USMC

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