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Budget Must Wait on Defense Review

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 9, 2001 – Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld believes the defense budget must go up, but any decisions must wait until after he conducts a review of defense programs, Pentagon officials said Feb. 8.

President Bush's formal tasking for the review will come to the Pentagon in a few days, Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. Craig Quigley said. Since Jan. 21, Rumsfeld has been holding meetings to gauge the scope of the review and how it should be conducted.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said the president has directed Rumsfeld to review force structure to "help determine what the shape of future spending decisions will be. The president believes we need to rebuild our military, and the force structure review is a part of doing that."

Whatever fiscal 2002 DoD budget the president submits will honor his campaign promises to increase military pay, as well as to improve military housing, Fleischer said. "And that will be an increase above and beyond what was spent previously," he added.

DoD officials said Rumsfeld would lead the review, with help from a number of Pentagon offices, including the Office of Net Assessment led by Andrew Marshall.

The review will look at a wide range of defense issues. "In a general sense, I think you're looking at quality of life -- which the president and Secretary Rumsfeld are absolutely in agreement ... is critical," Quigley said. "The best equipment in the world doesn't mean much without the people to run it." The review will look at recruiting, retention and other quality of life issues, such as housing and military health care.

In addition, the review will cover strategy and acquisition policy. "What is it the United States military needs to do?" Quigley said. "And then, if you start there, then what sorts of systems does the United States military need to operate to carry out those sorts of missions?"

There is no timetable for the review, but Rumsfeld believes it is urgent. "This could have a direct impact on the 2002 budget and will certainly have an impact on the Quadrennial Defense Review as we approach the late fall workings and preparation of the '03 budget to be submitted next January- February," the admiral said.

Fleischer was also questioned on the need for a fiscal 2001 DoD budget supplement. He said President Bush has said he supports no immediate supplemental requests, but did not rule out asking Congress for additional money later this year.

Quigley said Secretary Rumsfeld will continue to monitor the situation and may recommend DoD request more money.

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