Rumsfeld Gives Clues About Fiscal 2003 Defense Budget
By Sgt. 1st Class Kathleen T. Rhem, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 30, 2002 Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld used the daily Pentagon press briefing to give some details about President Bush's fiscal 2003 defense budget proposals, which the White House plans to release Feb. 4.
The budget will focus on winning the global war on terrorism, transforming the military, and streamlining the Defense Department, Rumsfeld told reporters this afternoon.
"The new budget is designed to strengthen the armed forces for today's global war on terror and to better prepare the armed forces for the wars that we may have to face in the period ahead," Rumsfeld said.
The secretary said the United States can't afford to wait to transform the military for the threats of the 21st century even as the country continues to wage war on terrorism.
"Compared with the costs in dollars and lives of a conflict, there's no question but that investment before the fact is much cheaper," Rumsfeld said. "Seeing that our country has the capability to contribute to peace and stability in the world is the wise and prudent and the cheapest way both in dollars and in human treasure."
Rumsfeld said the president has characterized this budget as the largest increase in defense spending since the 1980s. The budget proposal will include resources for precision-guided munitions, missile defense, unmanned vehicles, and "advanced equipment for soldiers on the ground," he said.
It also provides for programs to better manage the department's business practices. "It streamlines and retires a number of defense programs that do not fit with our strategy for the 21st century," Rumsfeld said.
The improvements called for in the 2003 budget were designed "to help us ensure that Americans will be able to live in peace and freedom in the 21st century," he said.
Rumsfeld also answered several questions about the president's intentions when, during his Jan. 29 State of the Union address, he referred to Iran, Iraq and North Korea as threats. The president called these countries grave dangers and said, "The price of indifference would be catastrophic.
"The United States will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most dangerous weapons," Bush said.
Rumsfeld said the leaders of those countries should take Bush at his word.
"I think if I were in Iran or North Korea or Iraq and I heard the president of the United States say what he said last night about weapons of mass destruction, and about terrorism, and about terrorist networks, and about nations that harbor terrorists, I don't think there'd be a lot of ambiguity as to the view he holds of those problems," Rumsfeld said.