Budget Request Highlights Army Equipment, Training, Quality of Life
A Soldier watches for enemy action as fellow Soldiers board a U.S. Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter following a cordon and search operation in Tall Aswad, Iraq, Jan. 12, 2007. The Soldiers are from Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment. Part of President Bush's 2008 budget request calls for the purchase of 42 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters.

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Feb. 6, 2007) - A 3-percent pay raise for servicemembers, an increase in ground forces and continued funding of the war on terror are on the table now that President Bush delivered his fiscal 2008 defense budget request and 2007 emergency supplemental request to Congress yesterday.

The total DoD 2008 budget request is pegged at $481.4 billion, an 11.3-percent increase over fiscal 2007. The request will improve readiness through additional training and maintenance and by resetting forces following overseas deployments, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said yesterday at a Pentagon news conference.

"We will transform our military to meet the new threats of the 21st century and provide the brave men and women on the front lines with resources they need to be successful in this decisive ideological struggle," President Bush said in his letter delivering the budget to Congress.

The President's emergency supplemental request for fiscal 2007 is set at $93.4 billion, with $39.3 billion going to warfighting, supplies, support and maintenance. It also provides $10.4 billion to defeat IEDs.

The requests must be passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate, both of which may make changes in the requests.

Pentagon Comptroller Tina W. Jonas told reporters that DoD has delivered more than 38,000 pages of explanation to members of Congress and their staffs to justify the issues in the defense budget request.

The 2008 "base budget" invests in four primary areas, Jonas said: readiness and support at $146.5 billion, strategic modernization at $176.8 billion, military pay and health care at $137 billion and family housing and facilities at $21.1 billion.

Jonas broke the military pay and benefits portion of the budget down further. The department's request provides a 3 percent pay raise for 2.1 million active-duty and reserve-component personnel. It provides $15 billion for the basic allowance for housing and $4.3 billion for the basic allowance for subsistence. It also provides $38.7 billion for military health care.

<b>Growing the Army</b>
Under the proposal, the active-duty Army will grow to 547,400 Soldiers by the end of fiscal 2012. It now has 484,400 Soldiers. The increase will allow the Army to field 48 brigades - up from 42 - and give Soldiers two years at their home stations for every year deployed.

If the budget is enacted as submitted, the Army will also receive $130.1 billion in fiscal 2008, for an increase of more than 20 percent.

The Army's Future Combat System will receive $3.7 billion in research and development funds. Unmanned aerial and ground vehicles, non-line-of-sight launch systems, and command and control systems are highlighted in the program.

The Army is asking for just more than $24 billion in procurement dollars. About $4 billion will go toward aircraft purchases, including 37 armed reconnaissance, 44 light utility helicopters, 42 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and 29 CH-47 Chinook helicopters. The remaining funds are earmarked for aircraft modifications to current aircraft inventory.

Another $3 billion will go toward Army combat and support vehicles, with the largest slice going for 127 Stryker combat vehicles and 180 armored security vehicles. The Army will spend another $1 billion on weapons and other combat vehicles, including $97.6 million for nearly 70,000 M-4 carbine rifles and $35.3 million for more than 8,300 M-249 squad automatic weapons.

More than $4.6 billion is earmarked for tactical and support vehicles. Communications and electronics equipment rings in at more than $5.7 billion, and other support equipment tops out at roughly $2.3 billion.

The budget request highlights the importance of space-based systems for today's military. The request calls for $6 billion for command and control, navigation, strategic/tactical communications and weather satellites. This includes the next generation NAVSTAR Global Positioning System satellite constellation.

The request also asks for $2 billion to train and equip Iraqi security forces and $2.7 billion for Afghan security forces. The request provides $1.7 billion for coalition support efforts and $1 billion to replenish the Commander's Emergency Response Program, which allows commanders down to brigade level to fund projects in neighborhoods that benefit the community and put unemployed Iraqis and Afghans to work.

(This article is combined from Armed Forces Press Release stories by Jim Garamone and Fred W. Baker III.)

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