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DoD's 2007 Budget Reflects Hard Choices, Official Says

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 13, 2006 – The Defense Department's proposed fiscal 2007 budget reflects difficult decisions made by senior leaders as they seek to balance today's military needs with those anticipated for tomorrow, a senior official said here Feb. 10.

"There were a series of (hard) choices in the budget," Kenneth J. Krieg, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, told reporters at a Pentagon news conference.

For example, Krieg said, senior officials decided to reduce the number of Navy aircraft carriers from 12 to 11, and to stop production of the Air Force's C-17 cargo plane.

"Not everyone is going to love those (decisions)," Krieg said, "and so we'll go through the process" with Congress.

President Bush sent DoD's $439.3 billion fiscal 2007 budget request to Congress Feb. 6. That budget proposal, which includes recommendations of the recently completed Quadrennial Defense Review, represents a 7 percent increase over the fiscal 2006 DoD budget.

The QDR, conducted every four years, looks at U.S. military needs as far as 20 years into the future. This year's QDR is the first to be conducted during wartime. The two prior ones were conducted in 1997 and in early 2001.

The Defense Department's budget has increased since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States and the ensuing global war against terrorism. Combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq have been financially sustained by supplemental funding provided by Congress.

The 2007 defense budget also proposes spending billions to acquire new high-tech equipment such as V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft and two DD(X) naval destroyers, Krieg said. Legacy ships like the World War II-era battleships USS Iowa and Wisconsin that have been in "mothballed" status pending possible re-commissioning may be permanently retired due to defense modernization needs, he said.

"I think the department's been pretty adamant in saying it doesn't have any interest in bringing the battleships out of retirement," Krieg said, "or even continuing to fund their caretaker status to hold that option."

The 2007 budget decisions would have been even more difficult if less money were available, Krieg said. The U.S., he said, historically has agonized over the right amount of money required for defense spending.

"As a nation we've had a hard time making hard (defense budget) choices," Krieg said. "If we're going to change the funding profile over time and turn it downward, there will be even more hard choices."

Such anticipated decisions would be "tough for us to do," he acknowledged.

"But it's important that you make those choices and balance them with the funds you have, if you're going to deliver the kind of range of capabilities that warfighters need," Krieg said.

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Related Sites:
2007 Defense Budget Request
Quadrennial Defense Review

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