DOD budget makes modernization a priority

The House yesterday approved a $368.2 billion Defense budget for 2004 that pushes modernizing military forces.

The Senate is expected to vote on the spending plan today, and then President Bush would sign it before the start of fiscal 2004 on Oct. 1.

The House measure, passed by a 407-15 margin, increases spending for procurement, operation and maintenance, and research, development, testing and evaluation by a combined $11.2 billion over this year's funding.

It also eliminates funding for the Pentagon's controversial data mining tool known as the Terrorism Information Awareness program. The computerized terrorist tracking project was intended to collect and correlate information in disparate databases, ranging from financial to health information, to help the government track down potential terrorists.

The Bush administration had asked for $20 million to continue development of TIA, but the House passed a version of the 2004 Defense appropriations bill that eliminates funding for the program.

The approved bill includes nearly $100 billion for pay and personnel, $61 billion for R&D, $133 billion for operations and maintenance, and $75 billion for procurement.

A breakdown of the budget includes:

  • $74.7 billion to buy fighter aircraft, helicopters, cruise missiles and Joint Direct Attack Munitions and high-tech equipment for the National Guard and Reserves

  • $9.1 billion for procurement, research, development, testing and evaluation funding for Ballistic Missile Defense, an increase of $1.4 billion over fiscal 2003

  • $1.4 billion for procurement and continued development of unmanned aerial vehicles

  • $364 million for the Air Force's Multi-Sensor Command and Control constellation

  • $339 million for Advanced Wideband Satellite laser communications

  • $174 million for Space-Based Radar.

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