President Bush sends $379.9 billion DOD budget to Congress

Out of its proposed $379.9 billion fiscal 2004 budget, the Defense Department wants to spend $24.3 billion on overhauling the military to meet 21st century threats and rolling out joint systems that rely heavily on IT.

DOD's proposed budget calls for a $15.3 billion increase over this year's spending plan. The bulk of the funding would go toward a 4.1 percent pay raise for Defense workers, military health care, operations and maintenance, the procurement of new ships and aircraft, and the next phase of the ballistic missile defense program.

But Defense leaders said Bush also placed emphasis on the development of command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems and programs to revamp the way the military operates in both wartime and peacetime.

The budget outlines a five-year increase in programs dedicated to what DOD calls its transformation goals'from $24.3 billion next year to $239 billion in 2009. Funding plans for next year earmark $2.7 billion to expand current C4ISR systems, such as $478 million for the Joint Tactical Radio System.

The budget request also includes $200 million for information operations, $416 million for a cryptology modernization effort and $81 million for underwater sensor vehicles.

Bandwidth bonus

Defense is also asking for $1.2 billion for laser satellite communications systems to make better use of bandwidth.

'What that will do is expand bandwidth, which in English simply means allow more systems and more people to talk to one another simultaneously, allow greater loads of information to be transmitted back and forth at the same time,' Defense comptroller Zakheim said at a media briefing on the budget proposal.

Though there is a push to procure new weapons systems and technologies, Defense leaders proposed keeping funds for new science and technology research at a minimum, opting instead to push forward with development and deployment of systems already in the works.

The president requested $10.2 billion for science and technology, down from the $10.8 billion DOD expects to spend this year.

The administration did recommend a $5 billion increase in the department's general R&D budget.

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