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Clinton Pledges Defense Spending Increase

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 5, 1999 – President Clinton pledged Jan. 2 in his weekly radio address to increase defense spending $12 billion in fiscal 2000.

Clinton said his proposal is the start of a six-year effort to increase defense spending. The president will submit his fiscal 2000 budget request to Congress Feb. 1.

"When we give our servicemen and women a mission, there is a principle we must keep in mind," Clinton said in his radio address. "We should never ask them to do what they are not equipped to do, and we should always equip them to do what we ask. The more we ask, the greater our responsibility to give our troops the support and training and equipment they need."

The president's fiscal 2000 defense request will include a 4.4 percent across-the-board pay raise on Jan. 1, 2000. It will also fund a targeted pay raise to mid-range officers and NCOs and raise retirement benefits for those retiring after 20 years of military service from 40 percent of base pay to 50 percent.

The budget proposal is also aimed at addressing other quality of life concerns. "It will help us do right by our troops by upgrading and replacing aging equipment, barracks and family housing," Clinton said.

The budget proposal represents the first long-term sustained increase in defense spending in a decade, Clinton said. He said the additional funding will keep military readiness razor sharp.

The budget increase will enable DoD to beef up training and maintenance and procure additional spare parts. The increase will also benefit DoD modernization. "We want our forces to remain the best equipped in the world into the next century, and that is what this effort will assure, by paying for the next generation of ships, planes and weapon systems," Clinton said. The additional funding will help DoD achieve its procurement goal of $60 billion billion per year by fiscal 2001. Current procurement is around $45 billion.

Some modernization programs that will benefit include DoD buying cutting-edge computer technology and integrating it into battlefield systems. The budget request will also support key aircraft systems such as the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, the F-22 Raptor and the Joint Strike Fighter program. Also the budget will allow for the continued procurement of several ship classes including DDG-51 Aegis destroyers, LPD-17 amphibious assault ships, attack submarines and the next nuclear aircraft carrier.

Clinton said the additional funding will enable the military to play its part in meeting emerging threats to our security such as terrorism and proliferation. Money will also go to theater and strategic ballistic missile defense.

"We must undertake this effort today so that our nation will remain strong and secure tomorrow," Clinton said. "We must do it as well because we have the most sacred obligation to those who accept dangers and hardships on our behalf.

"They are our sons and daughters, husbands and wives, friends and neighbors, from cities and towns all over America," he continued. "We must give them the support they need to keep doing their jobs well and to keep coming home to America, safe and sound."

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