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Every Nickel Important in 2002 DoD Budget Request

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 6, 2001 – DoD "needs every nickel" to address and arrest the near decade-long decline in America's military, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense Sept. 5.

Rumsfeld asked the senators to approve DoD's fiscal 2002 budget request so the department can reverse the effects of a decade of "overuse and underfunding" and to fund the transformation of the military to combat the threats of the 21st century.

The 2002 request is the largest increase in defense spending since the mid-1980s. "This is an important first step to get the department out of a hole that the long period of underfunding has put us in," Rumsfeld said.

The request includes money for military quality of life programs, pay raises, housing improvements and TRICARE. In addition, the request bolsters readiness accounts.

Rumsfeld told the senators DoD's priorities in the budget. "As we prepare for the new challenges certainly U.S. homeland defense takes on an increasing importance," he said. Asymmetric threats are the more likely threats in the period ahead, he said. These threats include terrorism, attacks by cruise missiles, ballistic missile threats and cyberattacks, and DoD must address these issues.

"The proliferation of weapons with increasing range and power in the hands of multiple potential adversaries means that the coming years will see an expansion of the risks to U.S. population centers as well as our allies and friends," Rumsfeld said. "We will face new threats. Today we're vulnerable to missile attack. That's a fact. And as has been suggested by the chairman, weakness is provocative. It invites people into doing things that they otherwise would avoid."

He said the proposed budget begins funding the transformation of the military necessary to address these threats. "As we work to transform the armed forces, we're working at the same time to transform the way the Department of Defense functions," he said. DoD must encourage a "culture of greater innovation to turn waste into weapons, to show respect for the taxpayers' dollars and to speed the utilization of new technologies into the decades ahead."

Rumsfeld said that even though the world is at peace, it makes sense to increase funding for the American military. "If you think about it, the world economy is what enables the American people to go about their business and have economic opportunities and provide for their families," he said. "If we see an instability interjected into the world economy, because of war or conflict or the fear of war or conflict, the American people lose that.

"We have to remember that what underpins a prosperous economy is peace and stability," he continued. "And what provides peace and stability at this time in the history of the world is the United States of America's military capabilities."

He said the United States spends less than 3 percent of its gross national product on defense. When he first came to Washington in 1957, the country spent 10 percent of GNP on defense. "The idea that we can't afford 3 percent of the GNP to provide peace and stability that makes prosperity and economic opportunity across this globe possible is not debatable: We can," he said.

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