13 March 2007

Defense Spending Shifts To Ground

The last Department of Defense budget proposed by Rumsfield was a singularly uninspired status quo budget. Now, with Secretary Gates in place, the military is bowing to the reality that non-war related expenditures must be cut to pay for war related expenditures in a supplemental appropriations request:

To free up $3.1 billion to fund the “surge” boost – about 4,700 for Iraq and 3,500 for Afghanistan – the White House sent Congress amendments to the fiscal 2007 Wartime Supplemental request March 9.

The amendments cut:

5 F/A-18G Growler electronic warfare planes (-$375 million)
5 C-130Js (-$388 million)
2 F-35 Lightening II JSFs (-$389 million)
1 CV-22 Osprey (-$146 million)

The list also includes a decrease of over $800 million in Navy operations and maintenance funds that would have gone to pay for “naval forces supporting combat forces in Iraq" . . . .

Among other additions, the White House asked for:

$1.2 billion for Army urgent needs gear, including up-armor kits and MRAP vehicles
$250 million for Marine Corps MRAP purchases
$27 million for small arms and other equipment for Afghan army training teams

What is an MRAP by the way? It is a mine resistant ambush protected vehicle. In other words, it is a next generation replacement for the armored humvee's patrol duties that is purpose built for the job. There are actually three kinds:

The trucks come in three categories, from the small - a 7-ton truck that holds six passengers - to the colossal - a 22 1/2-ton mammoth that carries 12 passengers. By comparison, General Motors' Hummer H3 weighs about 3 tons and a military tank around 71 tons.

The model made by one contractor costs about $1 million each.

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