San Diego Union-Tribune 

June 2, 2001 


Bush seeks $5.6 billion for military 


WASHINGTON -- President Bush asked Congress yesterday for an additional $5.6 billion for the military this year to cover rising costs for health care, pay, housing, flying and utilities and to "accelerate the transformation" of the armed forces. 

The president also proposed taking $505 million from spending already authorized for this fiscal year, including $475 million from the Osprey program. The money would be shifted to other accounts, providing a total of $6.2 billion for unexpected or unfunded expenses. 

The additional funding requested is well below the more than $10 billion the service chiefs have said they needed over the $296 billion Congress provided for defense programs this year. 

The president's decision on the Osprey reflects the recommendations of a blue-ribbon commission that studied the accident-marred program and called for slowing production while corrections are found for flight safety and maintenance problems. Two MV-22s crashed last year, killing 23 Marines. 

Bush proposed to cut five of the 16 MV-22s that would have been built for the Marines this year and all four of the CV-22s intended for the Air Force Special Operations Command. 

The Pentagon's $5.6 billion was the lion's share of a $6.5 billion request by Bush for supplemental funding for federal agencies, including the departments of Agriculture, Energy, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Transportation, the Treasury and Veterans Affairs, as well as international assistance programs and NASA. 

Bush asked Congress to consider the funding request swiftly and enact the measure before July 4. 

The largest single item in the military supplemental request is $1.8 billion to cover added training and operations expenses, much of which is for aircraft fuel. 

The second biggest amount is $1.4 billion for new health-care coverage approved last year but not funded and for unexpected growth in medical expenses. There also is $482 million for improved pay and housing allowances. 

Another $1.2 billion is to cover soaring prices for natural gas and electricity and unexpected contract growth for new weapons, including $222 million for four Navy ship and submarine programs. 

Bush also requested $763 million for overdue maintenance of ships, aircraft and buildings. That account includes $30 million to help the services reduce electricity use in California during the power crisis. 

Among other California-specific increases are $49 million to cover 
unexpected costs in C-17 troop transport aircraft, which are built at the Boeing plant in Long Beach, and $25 million to speed up development of the Global Hawk unmanned reconnaissance aircraft being built by the San Diego-based Northrop Grumman facility. 

In response to the terrorist bombing of the destroyer Cole, Bush asked for $33 million for the Navy and Marine Corps to bolster security. 

Although no locations are identified, it is likely the primary application would be in the Persian Gulf region. 

The request also includes an extra $44 million to repair the Cole, which was devastated by an explosives-loaded boat in Aden, Yemen. 

And it seeks $36 million to recover nine bodies in the wreckage of the 
Japanese fishing boat Ehime Maru, which was rammed and sunk off Hawaii 
by the submarine Greeneville. 

But only $188 million is targeted for "transformation" of the U.S. military from a heavy Cold War force designed to fight on the plains of central Europe into a mobile, high-tech force for the new century. 

Top military leaders and conservative members of Congress have expressed grave concerns that Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld are not carrying through with Bush's campaign promise last year that "help is on the way" to the military. 

White House and Pentagon officials have stressed that major defense 
spending increases and high-tech arms development planned for future years will rest on the results of current major studies by Rumsfeld into military strategy and arms. 

Pentagon Comptroller Dov Zakheim told reporters Thursday that Bush would increase and resubmit to Congress this summer the $310 billion 2002 defense budget he submitted earlier and that it would include "considerably more" funding for missile defense. 

Reuters contributed to this report.