Allocates Money For Expanding Army, USMC
While general aviation 'letter
groups' attacked the fiscal year 2009 budget plan presented by the
Bush administration Monday, officials with the Pentagon appeared
more-or-less content with the proposal... but noted they need
Congress to immediately free-up more money for current
The Washington Post reports the budget request allocates $515.4
billion for the Pentagon in FY09. That's a 7.5 percent increase
over last year's spending request, with the additional money
targeted towards expanding the US Army and Marine Corps, improving
readiness, and giving servicemembers a better quality of life --
including a 3.4 percent pay raise.
"The budget request provides the resources needed to prevail in
current conflicts, while preparing the department for a range of
challenges the nation may face in the years ahead," said Defense
Secretary Robert M. Gates.
The White House also requested an additional $70 billion in
short-term funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. That's
less than the administration's 2008 request for $190 billion for
war funding, of which Congress has parsed out $87 billion to the
Pentagon so far.
Defense officials made it clear Monday they need more money to
fight in Iraq and Afghanistan -- both from Congress and the White
House -- saying at current funding levels the Pentagon might be
unable to pay soldiers fighting overseas by June, with likely
operational issues soon to follow.
"Our ability to continue this level of effort there" would be
undermined, and "we'll have to stop operations about that time,"
said Vice Adm. P. Stephen Stanley, director for force structure,
resources and assessment on the Joint Staff, according to the
Notably, President Bush's funding request would also grant the
Pentagon just enough money to conduct operations in those two
countries through the end of his administration... leaving his
successor to make a decision on later funding, just days into their
first term. Analysts noted the significance of Bush's military
budget request -- which amounts to a nearly $36 billion increase
over last year.
Steven Kosiak, a budget expert at the Center for Strategic and
Budgetary Assessments, called Bush's request "a 'stay-the-course'
budget. The administration projects a plan showing the base budget
declining, and there's good reason to believe that there will be a
lot of pressure to restrain spending. It will be left to the next
administration how to sort this out.
"If they're going to abide by it, they will have to start
scaling back plans or will have to add more money," he added
Brookings Institution military analyst Michael O'Hanlon noted
the 2009 budget represents few -- if any -- sacrifices for the
military, and that he expects the Pentagon to spend even more money
on weapons procurement... hamstringing the next President's ability
to cut back funding.
"You give the services what they're requesting, and you see the
budget go up like this," O'Hanlon said. "It makes it very hard to
figure out how to cut. If a new president wants to make a
meaningful dent in the budget, how can they?"