Military Officers Boost Funding Requests

By Scarborough, Rowan | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), September 28, 2000 | Go to article overview

Military Officers Boost Funding Requests


Scarborough, Rowan, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


The nation's top military officers yesterday raised their requests for increased defense spending, saying a busy 10 years of wars and peacekeeping have required billions of added dollars to replace worn-out weapons.

At a Senate hearing on the military's readiness problems, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said "first to fight" troops overseas are in good shape, but their reinforcement units back home still suffer a lack of training, spare parts and equipment.

Gen. Henry Shelton, Joint Chiefs chairman, said a once-coveted target of $60 billion annually to buy new weapons and equipment is no longer adequate.

"One thing I think is obvious, and that is that $60 billion will not be enough to get the job done given our current strategy and force structure," Gen. Shelton told the Senate Armed Services Committee. "My message to you today is that you must accelerate the pace of replacing our rapidly deteriorating ships, aircraft, weapons and other essential military equipment."

The four-star officer said three-quarters of increased dollars for operations and maintenance - the readiness account - actually funded current operations instead of buying spare parts and repairing equipment.

Adm. Vern Clark, chief of naval operations, said his fleet of aircraft is the oldest in Navy history. He said he needs to buy about 180 planes a year to sustain the current force but has only enough money for 128. The fleet requires nine new ships a year to maintain a 300-plus ship Navy, but procures fewer than seven.

The chiefs declined to say how much more money they will seek. Defense Secretary William S. Cohen said Tuesday that the Pentagon already is slated to receive $180 billion in increases over five years through combined White House proposals and congressional add-ons.

The precise request, the chiefs said, will not be known until the Pentagon completes its Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) next year. The study sets the number of ships, fighter wings and other force structures needed to carry out the national military strategy of fighting two regional conflicts nearly simultaneously. …

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