Defense Leaders: Budget Proposal Helps Ensure National Security
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 6, 2006 Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld today urged people to think of the fiscal 2007 defense budget request not in terms of winners and losers, but rather in terms of the defense it will provide the American people.
Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld brief Pentagon reporters Feb. 6 on the Defense Department's $493.3 billion budget request for fiscal 2007. Photo by Tech. Sgt. Sean P. Houlihan, USAF
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The president's 2007 budget request represents a critical investment in U.S. security, Rumsfeld told Pentagon reporters. "We have to look out at the world and say that the single most precious thing we have here that protects our freedom and the prosperity of the American people is their security," the secretary said. "And that does require investment."
At $439.3 billion, the fiscal 2007 request is a big one, Rumsfeld acknowledged, but he said it's relatively small as a percentage of the country's gross domestic product. During the Eisenhower-Kennedy years in the early 1960s, the country was spending 10 percent of its GDP on defense, the secretary said. Thirty years ago, when he served his first stint as defense secretary, Rumsfeld said it was down to 5 percent of GDP. Today, it's less than 4 percent.
"So it is a relatively modest portion of every dollar," he said. "But it is something that underpin(s) the freedom and the opportunity and the prosperity that exists for the American people."
Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called the budget, along with the Quadrennial Defense Review that DoD rolled out Feb. 3, the result of "an extraordinary year of collaboration and cooperation" among DoD's senior civilian and military leaders.
These documents ensure DoD's ability "to prosecute the war on terror (and) enhance joint warfighting capabilities, as well as be able to accelerate transformation and provide a proper quality of life for our servicemembers and their families," Pace said.
Rumsfeld praised the collaboration that went into the budget request and QDR and said they reflect the country's national defense priorities. They help defend the United States, its people and their interests, give flexibility to commanders and prepare for both conventional and unconventional or irregular warfare, he said.
They also enable the U.S. military to help partner nations develop their own capabilities to defeat terrorists within their borders and to work as partners against the global terrorist threat, he said.
While bolstering capabilities to defend against irregular or so-called asymmetric threats, the budget also ensures the military continues to maintain its conventional superiority, the secretary said.
"We recognize the reality that we have been very successful in deterring the threat from large armies, navies and air forces," Rumsfeld said. "On the other hand, those threats haven't disappeared."
The capabilities needed to continue deterring those threats can't be easily switched on and off at will and demand long-term investment, Rumsfeld told reporters. "They take years to plan, to develop, to initiate, and finally, to manufacture, produce, deploy, train and outfit units capable of using those capabilities," he said.
Tina Jonas, DoD comptroller, declared the budget proposal solid, particularly with its increases in procurement, research and development and science and technology. "I think we've got a pretty healthy budget here," despite cuts in some defense programs, she said.
Navy Vice Adm. Evan Chanik, the Joint Staff's director of force structure, resources and assessment, said the budget request, along with the QDR, address DoD's short- and long-term challenges with a strong focus on joint warfighters' needs.
"From the warfighter's perspective, this is a budget that supports our armed forces across the spectrum of capabilities and threats," Chanik told reporters. At the same time, Chanik said, the request "ensures our servicemembers and families are the best-trained, best-equipped and best-supported fighting force in the world," he said.