House OKs $5.5b more for DOD

House OKs $5.5b more for DOD


The House late last month approved $5.5 billion in fiscal 2001 supplemental funding sought by President Bush to make up for a budget shortfall at the Defense Department.

Only a small portion of the money is slated for Defense information technology programs, but that amount is expected to increase in the coming years.

The bulk of the supplement will cover a July 1 pay raise for midlevel noncommissioned and petty officers, new military health care requirements, the rising cost of fuel and out-of-pocket housing costs.

There is also $50 million set aside for research into information warfare, more than $300 million in classified programs, $63 million in contractor logistics support, $80 million for restructuring the Marine Corps' V-22 Osprey program and an undisclosed amount of money to help the Air Force improve recruiting and retention.

What was necessary

Donald H. Rumsfeld
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is doing a strategic review of DOD and defining its mission for the 21st century.
The supplemental funding is not as large as the service chiefs wanted, but Dov S. Zakheim, the newly appointed Defense comptroller, said that President Bush only requested what was necessary.

A spokesman for Sen. John W. Warner of Virginia, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, agreed.

Carter Cornick, Warner's press secretary, said the critical areas of health care and readiness had to be added to the budget because of recent initiatives that include funding military health care for the life of a military retiree.

At a press conference, Zakheim described the 2001 supplemental budget as unavoidable but said more funding is expected in the 2002 amendment to the proposed $310.5 billion Defense budget and the 2003 Defense budget that will deal with transforming the department.

Modernization and security

IT initiatives, such as systems modernization and security overhauls, are among the areas expected to receive a boost in the next two budgets, as well as funding for the National Missile Defense System.

President Bush has asked Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to complete a top-to-bottom strategic review of the department and define DOD's mission for the 21st century. Military officials have said they need a budget increase of more than $50 billion a year to modernize forces.

Bush has asked Rumsfeld to review:

  • Military strategy to determine needs for an updated national security approach

  • War deterrence requirements

  • Quality of life for military personnel.

Rumsfeld's staff expects to finish the review within the next two weeks, Defense officials said.

'I think there is a tremendous sense on both sides of the aisle that national defense has to be updated, transformed, modernized and that, most important of all, we have to treat our people decently,' Zakheim said.

The Senate is expected to vote shortly on the supplemental funding bill.


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