The Bush administration’s will announce a request for $716 billion from Congress for “defense and the global war on terror” for fiscal 2008 next week, Bloomberg News reported Friday.[1]  --  (Based on a U.S. population of 300 million, this amounts to $2,387 from every man, woman, and child in the United States.)  --  Reporter Tony Capaccio noted that this amount is “greater than the annual gross domestic product of all but 14 countries.”  --  If passed, U.S. “defense” spending would be “more than we have spent, in real, inflation-adjusted dollars, in any year since the height of the Korean war and about $140 billion more in today's dollars than we spent at the height of the Vietnam War," according to a defense analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment in Washington.  --  “The fiscal 2008 request will represent the 10th consecutive year of growth in the defense budget after a post-Cold War low point in 1998.”  --  Fiscal 2008 is the first year in which the administration is oblited to “break out the war funding request in its annual budget proposal.” ...

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BUSH TO SEEK RECORD $716 BILLION FOR DEFENSE SPENDING
By Tony Capaccio

Bloomberg News
February 2, 2007

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aYAHsF_5QM1k

President George W. Bush's record request for defense funding for 2008 may set up a fight with the Democratic Congress, keen to examine the budget for questionable spending.

Bush will request $716 billion for defense and the global war on terror when he submits his fiscal 2008 budget next week, according to a Pentagon document. The military funding request is greater than the annual gross domestic product of all but 14 countries.

The request to Congress includes $93.4 billion in additional money for fiscal 2007 to cover costs of the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. The remaining $622.6 billion would cover the year ending Sept. 30, 2008 and include $141.7 billion for the wars.

Congress has already promised increased scrutiny of the additional funding request for 2007, wary that it will include items that should be funded in the annual budget, such as $389 million requested to buy two Lockheed Martin Corp. Joint Strike Fighters that won't be operational until 2012 to replace F-16 fighters lost in Iraq.

There's been “less justification” for the funding than there should be, House Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt of South Carolina said in an Jan. 30 interview. Spratt said he and other lawmakers are concerned that the requests contained items not of an “emergency” nature.

INCREASING THE FORCE

Bush proposes to add $7.7 billion over this year's budget to increase the Army by 65,000 troops and add $4.4 billion to increase the Marine Corps by 27,000 people by 2012. The budget also would add $700 million to increase U.S. special operations forces by 5,575 on the way to a total force of 54,367 Army, Air Force, and Navy commandos, an overall increase of almost 10,000 since fiscal 2005, according to the document.

“The budget provides the resources needed to organize, man, train and equip our military forces,” said the two-page summary prepared by the Pentagon comptroller. “The budget provides increases to substantially increase Army and Marine Corps capability and improve overall readiness,” the summary said.

Fiscal 2007 defense spending will total about $622 billion if Congress approves the second half of the emergency wartime funding requested next week.

“That is more than we have spent, in real, inflation-adjusted dollars, in any year since the height of the Korean war and about $140 billion more in today's dollars than we spent at the height of the Vietnam War,'' Steven Kosiak, a defense analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment in Washington, said in an e-mailed statement.

TEN YEARS OF GROWTH

The fiscal 2008 request will represent the 10th consecutive year of growth in the defense budget after a post-Cold War low point in 1998.

The basic peacetime budget for fiscal 2008 is $481.4 billion, or about 10.6 percent more than Congress approved for this year. It includes $101.7 billion for weapons and $75.1 billion for research and development.

The cost of the wars in fiscal 2007 would rise to $163.4 billion, $45.4 billion more than was approved in fiscal 2006 for wartime spending, if Congress approves the additional $93.4 billion. That figure is about $6.3 billion less than the $99.7 billion that the Pentagon estimated in December that it would need.

Previous emergency wartime requests have been readily approved because Congress was eager to support U.S. troops at war. Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England got lawmakers' attention in October with a memo encouraging service chiefs to include in the new request any items related to the “global war on terror,” not strictly Iraq and Afghanistan.

Congress in the law authorizing defense spending this year required that the Pentagon, starting with fiscal 2008, break out the war funding request in its annual budget proposal.

ARMY’S REQUEST

Bush is asking $128.6 billion in fiscal 2008 to begin the Army's effort to increase its current authorized force of 482,000 by 65,000 troops, including personnel expenses, and equipment, according to Pentagon documents to be released along with the budget Feb. 5.

The cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, as well as the billions of dollars needed to repair and replace equipment, is being paid from the emergency war funding.

The Army wants $46.2 billion for personnel expenses, up from $42.6 billion this year. The number would jump to $51.3 billion in fiscal 2009. The request provides for a 3 percent across-the-service pay increase in fiscal 2008, increasing to 3.4 percent in 2009, the document said.

MACHINE GUNS, RADIOS

Money to buy vehicles, machine guns, ammunition, radios, and other gear increases to $23.8 billion from $16.8 billion this year to accommodate a larger Army. This account would increase to $26.2 billion in fiscal 2009. That's nearly a 145 percent increase from fiscal 2002, according to the documents.

The Army's military construction budget would grow to $4.6 billion in fiscal 2008 from $2.7 billion this year.

The budget requests $37.7 billion to pay for training, unit deployments, and weapons-systems maintenance -- up from $32 billion this year. That amount would increases to $40.4 billion in fiscal 2009. Army officials have said the overall increase in this category will cost about $70 billion through 2012, $18 billion of that for equipment.

--To contact the reporter on this story: Tony Capaccio at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.