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'99 Budget Pegs Pay Raise at 3.1 Percent

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 2, 1998 – Service members will get a 3.1 percent pay raise and the DoD modernization program is on track if Congress approves the president's fiscal 1999 budget request.

The DoD budget, pegged at $257 billion for fiscal 1999, is consistent with the bipartisan balanced budget agreement negotiated last year.

The proposed budget also calls for two more rounds of base closures -- in fiscal 2001 and 2004. Senior defense officials said DoD will be unable to fund its modernization program without these new rounds.

Of the DoD budget, the Army receives $63.8 billion; the Navy and Marine Corps, $81.3 billion; and the Air Force, $76.7 billion. Defensewide spending is pegged at $35.4 billion.

Officials stressed military readiness remains the Clinton administration' top priority. DoD's spending total for military personnel is $70.8 billion.

Active military strength for fiscal 1999 is set at 1,396,000, down from 1,419,000 in fiscal 1998. Selected reserves will drop to 877,000 from 886,000, and DoD civilian strength will drop to 747,000 from 770,000. Officials stressed these figures are well within the range needed to meet Quadrennial Defense Review goals. The review's strength goals are 1,360,000 for active duty, 835,000 for selected reserves and 640,000 for DoD civilians by fiscal 2003.

On the active duty side, the Army goes to 480,000 from 488,000; the Navy to 373,000 from 387,000; the Air Force to 371,000 from 372,000; and the Marine Corps to 172,000 from 173,000.

Force structure remains essentially the same. In the Army the budget provides for 10 active duty and eight National Guard divisions. The Marine divisions remain at three active and one reserve.

The Navy maintains 12 aircraft carriers, but submarines drop to 57 from 65. Surface combatant ships drop to 116 from 117; carrier air wings remain at 10 active, one reserve.

The Air Force begins converting from 13 active and seven reserve fighter wings to 12 active and eight reserve. This is a Quadrennial Defense Review target.

The budget ensures the services have fully funded operations and maintenance accounts totalling $94.8 billion, officials said. Tank miles per crew jumps from 652 in fiscal 1998 to 800 in the proposed budget. Army flying hours remain the same at 14.5 per month for attack crews and 14 for "other."

Navy quarterly steaming days remain constant at 50.5 for the deployed fleet and 28 for the nondeployed fleet. Flying hours per crew per month rise to 23 from 22.6. Air Force flying hours rise to 19.1 per crew per month for fighters, but they drop to 17.9 from 19.3 for bombers.

Quality of life initiatives remain important in this budget, defense officials said. They pointed out the 3.1 percent pay raise for service members is roughly twice the rate of inflation. The future years defense plan calls for 3 percent pay raises through fiscal 2004.

Funding for the Defense Health Program rises to $10.1 billion from $9.6 billion. The program provides health care to 6 million beneficiaries. In addition, the budget request asks for a Medicare subvention pilot program allowing the services to recoup costs for treating beneficiaries covered by Medicare.

The proposed budget increases funding for the commissaries and sets up an interservice board of directors for the Defense Commissary Agency. Officials said this will make the agency more responsive to service needs.

Finally, the budget increases both money for family housing and DoD's reliance on the Military Housing Privatization Initiative. Officials said for every dollar spent under this program, private firms will invest three. DoD maintains 345,000 housing units worldwide; roughly a third are substandard. The DoD goal is to eliminate all substandard housing by 2010. This budget works toward that goal, officials said.

DoD modernization has been a problem in past budgets. Then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. John M. Shalikashvili said in 1996 that DoD would need $60 billion yearly to ensure U.S. forces are adequately equipped to deal with the myriad of missions confronting them. The Quadrennial Defense Review enshrined this number.

While DoD has consistently missed the procurement budget targets in past years, the president's fiscal 1999 budget request for $48.7 billion in procurements seeks to put modernization programs on track. The procurement request will rise to $54.1 billion in fiscal 2000 and $61.3 billion in fiscal 2001.

The total Army procurement budget is set at $9 billion. The Navy and Marine Corps budget is $20.1 billion, and the Air Force is set at $7.7 billion. Here are some highlights of the fiscal 1999 proposals:

  • Money added to push digitization of the first Army division to fiscal 2001 and the first corps to fiscal 2004.
  • Sets funding for the Ballistic Missile Defense Office at $3.6 billion.
  • Pushes up procurement of the last CVN-77 aircraft carrier to fiscal 2001.
  • Funds three DDG-51 destroyers and one LPD-17 assault ship.
  • Buys 30 F/A-18 E/F fighters.
  • Buys two next-generation F-22 fighters.
  • Puts $900 million toward the joint strike fighter.
  • Buys seven MV-22 tilt-rotor aircraft, 66 Apache Longbow helicopters and 26 H-60 Black Hawk choppers.
  • Buys 13 C-17 airlifters.
  • Funds 15 Predator unmanned aerial vehicles.
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