The Pentagon unveiled its new $291.1 billion budget on 7 Feb. Assuming it is approved, it adds $4.8 billion to last year's budget, although all of this increase and more goes to pay for higher fuel costs ($1.4 billion) and the expensive Balkans peacekeeping operations. Some key features:
@ the budget fully funds the National Missile Defense system. Part of this funding comes from a $639 million cut in the Airborne Laser project, a cut Congress has promised to reverse.
@ the budget finally meets the military's demand for $60 billion in weapons procurement, although it did so three years later than the military said would be necessary.
@ pay raises (3.5% after this year's 4.8% raise) and a larger housing allowance were included to raise military morale. More health and retirement benefits are included.
@ Peacekeeping and peace enforcement missions are budget for $4.7 billion. Another $2.2 billion is programmed for operations in Kosovo and East Timor, and to train Colombian Army units as anti-drug battalions.
@ lessons from the Kosovo War are reflected by money for another squadron of EA-6B jammer planes, accelerated production of Joint Direct Attack Munitions (satellite-guided bombs), and the Global Hawk recon drone.
@ the Army gets $4.5 billion to fund new "medium brigades" but gives up the Wolverine and Grizzly engineer vehicles and half of the expected Crusader artillery systems (buying 480 instead of 900).
@ the Pentagon wants to close more bases in 2003 and 2005, something Congress is unlikely to approve.
@ the Navy gets $4 billion to work on the CVN-77, last of the Nimitz-class carriers. The Navy will buy one new submarine per year for five years. The budget includes the 58th and last DDG-51 Destroyer (to be ready in 2005) to keep both shipyards (Bath Iron Works and Ingalls) in business until the DD-21 enters production.
@ the Air Force will buy four C-130J transports it doesn't really need in order to keep the assembly lines open until it does need them. The Air Force will also buy large stocks of precision-guided weapons and ten F-22 Raptor fighters.--Stephen V Cole