Defense plans to spend big on IT for joint operations

The Defense Department wants to allot $24.3 billion of the $379.9 billion it has requested for fiscal 2004 to bolster training and systems for a joint military force that relies on IT to sustain its missions.

DOD on Friday unveiled the proposed budget, which calls for a $15.3 billion increase over this year's spending. The bulk of the funding would go toward procuring new ships, unmanned vehicles and aircraft and kicking off the next phase of the missile defense program.

But Defense leaders said President Bush, who included the proposal in the budget request sent to Capitol Hill today, also put an emphasis on the development of the latest command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems and programs.

The budget outlines a five-year increase in programs dedicated to what DOD calls transformation goals'from $24.3 billion next year to $239 billion in 2009. These funds include $2.7 billion to expand on current C4ISR systems, such as the Joint Tactical Radio System and other tactical joint command and control systems, a senior DOD official said.

'What you're getting here is an overarching, holistic strategy to change,' said the official at a media briefing at the Pentagon. 'This is the heart of transformation. The communications is key.'

At the same time, Defense leaders propose keeping funds for new science and technology research at a minimum, opting instead to push forward with development and deployment of technologies and systems already in the works. The president requested $10.2 billion for science and technology R&D, which is down from the $10.8 billion it expects to spend this year.

'We've moved from the research side to the development side in a much bigger way,' the DOD official said.

The budget request also includes:

  • $1.7 billion for the Army's Future Combat Systems program

  • $1.2 billion for satellite communications and systems

  • $200 million for space-based radar systems

  • $416 million for a cryptology modernization effort

  • $81 million for unmanned underwater sensor vehicles.

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