Leadership: July 23, 2001

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The Bush Administration plans to add $18.4 billion to the Defense Budget next year, but the Pentagon says this is not enough. At best, it is a down payment on eight years of maintenance backlog, the generals and admirals agree; they need another $20-$30 billion a year to buy new aircraft and ships (money that Congress warns is not available). The "procurement holiday" that resulted from the Clinton Administration's massive defense cuts has left the military with a vehicle fleet that is an average of six years older than it was eight years ago. (In effect, Clinton balanced his budget by forcing the next administration to double up on weapons purchases.) The Pentagon warns that it needs to return to pre-Clinton purchase rates just to keep the fleet at its current average age, and to better than that if it wants to actually improve the situation. Even more money is needed for infrastructure. The Clinton-era infrastructure accounts would replace each military building every 150 years. The Bush Administration pushed through its tax cuts to prove it was in control of the budget process, but has no "Soviet threat" to get the needed defense increases.--Stephen V Cole

 


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