Tags: Defense | Budget: | Afghan | War | Costs | $1.8 | Billion

Defense Budget: Afghan War Costs $1.8 Billion a Month

Monday, 04 February 2002 12:00 AM

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will also ask Congress for a supplement to this year's budget to pay for the war in Afghanistan, an official said. He declined to specify how much the Pentagon would seek. "We're running out faster than we ever thought we'd be running out," he said.

The war began Oct. 7 and increased in December, with the taking of hundreds of prisoners and the deployment of the Army to Kandahar to relieve 3,000 Marines.

As the budget is written, the Pentagon will pay about $20 billion in 2003 for terrorism costs: the $10 billion contingency fund, plus $9.4 billion for added force protection, new technologies and other items demanded by the war, senior defense officials said.

"This is the best estimate of war-related costs," a senior defense official said Friday when the Pentagon unveiled its $379 billion budget request in a private briefing. "If the war ended today, we would still need $9.4 billion."

The defense budget request is the largest since the height of the buildup under President Ronald Reagan in 1985 and represents a $48 billion increase over the amount requested for 2002. The budget is anticipated to grow to $451 billion by 2007, according to Pentagon budget documents.

The budget request is $30 billion more than was expected for the year and a larger boost in one year than candidate George W. Bush promised to increase over a decade. It comes during a recession and when the nation is running its first deficit in four years. But the Pentagon insists that after all the accounting is stripped away, it represents $9 billion in additional spending that was not already planned.

The numbers are complicated. According to the Pentagon, $6.7 billion of the $48 billion increase is attributable to inflation. More than $11 billion is associated with military and civilian health care and retirement increases already written into law.

An additional $10 billion is set aside for future war operations. Almost $4 billion is put into the budget simply to hedge for programs the Pentagon has already begun but not put aside enough money for because of unrealistic estimations of costs. The administration had planned to boost spending by $13 billion and made just more than $9 billion in cuts to last year's spending plan.

The "new" money, therefore, is the $9.8 billion already earmarked for the war.

The budget has something for nearly everyone, including a boost for satellite-guided bombs and special operations weapons that were instrumental in the swift routing of the Taliban from Afghanistan.

The Navy and the Air Force will spend $830 million on 35,000 Joint Direct Attack Munition bombs, the weapon of choice in the Afghan conflict for its relatively low cost, high accuracy rate and long range.

The bomb, manufactured by Boeing, is a wing kit and navigation system that attaches to conventional, so-called dumb bombs, giving them the ability to hit targets using the Global Positioning System, rather than just falling toward their target as they were originally designed to do. The Navy will buy 106 Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles for $145 million, three times the number bought in 2002. Tomahawks are highly accurate and stealthy, following close to the terrain as they make their way to their target.

A volley of nearly 75 Tomahawks were used against Osama bin Laden's training camp Zawar Kili in 1998. The camp was largely empty when the bombs arrived. It was this weapon that Bush referred to last year when he said that (unlike Bill Clinton) he would not send $1 million missiles into Afghanistan to bomb a $10 tent "and hit a camel in the butt."

The budget, however, does not provide more money for the shipbuilding industry, which hoped to see an increase in the number of vessels produced.

The Pentagon plans to buy fewer ships than this year, putting the Navy on track to dip below a 300-ship force unless the trend is quickly reversed.

The Navy will build four ships in 2003: two DDG-51 Aegis Destroyers, a Virginia-class attack submarine, a $1.1 billon LPD-17 amphibious transport ship - one fewer than expected - and a Lewis and Clark class cargo ship.

The Pentagon canceled the new DD-21 destroyer program last year, replacing it with a single-ship technology demonstrator known as DDX.

One big winner in the 2003 budget is unmanned aerial vehicles, generally used for surveillance in areas too dangerous to risk a pilot, or require pilots to be in the air for too long. After a troubled but promising showing in Afghanistan, UAVs will get around $1 billion in the 2003 request, a $300 million increase over the 2002 budget.

The Air Force is increasing production of the Predator medium-altitude UAV to two a month. It bought about 60 but has lost nearly 25, many of them to Iraqi enemy fire but others to malfunctions that led to crashes. It will spend $154 million buying 22 Predator air vehicles in 2003.

An unspecified sum will go toward mounting Hellfire anti-armor missiles on the pilotless drones, an innovation borrowed from the CIA in Afghanistan. The Predator is built by General Atomics.

The Air Force also will buy three of the experimental high-altitude Global Hawk UAVs, built by Northrop Grumman, for $171 million. The sole Global Hawk sent to Afghanistan crashed last month.

Missile defense, the administration's top priority until the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, is in line to receive $7.7 billion, spending that includes the program formerly known as national missile defense, shorter-range intercept systems such as THAAD, Patriot and MEADS, and futuristic laser boost-phase intercept programs.

The NMD portion of the account, now known as Ground-based Midcourse, is getting $1.06 billion in the budget request, more than $200 million above the 2002 budget, in part due to its third successful deep-space intercept test late last year.

The Air Force will continue to buy C-17s as it moves toward a fleet of 180 of the massive, long-range cargo planes. It will buy 12 in 2003 for nearly $4 billion from Boeing. That is more money for 12 in 2003 than the Pentagon spent on 15 in 2002, an accounting curiosity the Pentagon attributes to the fact the aircraft are bought under a multi-year contract, with an amount set in advance for each year. The stable funding allows Boeing to plan for efficient production.

The Air Force will also buy 23 F-22 Raptor air-to-air fighters for $4.6 billion, a windfall for Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor on the aircraft. It is meant to replace the F-15.

The Air Force and the Navy will pony up a total of $3.5 billion for the continued development of the Joint Strike Fighter, a replacement for the F-16, which will begin to retire in large numbers around 2005.

The Air Force is also starting research and design work on a new Space-Based Radar satellite to complement the infrared and imagery satellites already in orbit, with $91 million dedicated in the 2003 budget. It will be launched in 2010 and will begin operations in 2013.

The Navy will buy 44 "Super Hornet" F/A-18E/F for $3.2 billion and 15 MH-60 cargo and personnel carrier helicopters.

The Marine Corps will buy 11 controversial V-22s for $1.5 billion. It will spend an additional $500 million in development as it tries to correct the problems that brought down two of the aircraft in 2000, fatal accidents that killed 23.

The Army failed to get its active-force manpower increase approved and will remain at 480,000 soldiers. It sought money to pay for an additional 40,000 to 50,000 personnel, people it says it needs not just to expand its missions but to cover positions that are already empty.

The Army is buying 332 Interim Armored Vehicles, a new class of vehicles intended to make it lighter, more independent and faster to deploy than traditional tanks and armor. Together with research money, the Army will spend $936 million on the wheeled vehicles.

The Army is buying 12 Black Hawk utility helicopters for $180 million and just over $900 million on the continued development of the Comanche helicopter, an armed reconnaissance aircraft.

It is also buying 74 Longbow radar kits for upgraded Apache helicopters for $895 million, giving the attack aircraft the ability to shoot the Hellfire anti-tank missile in a "fire and forget" mode, allowing the missile to find its own way to the target and letting the Apache engage other targets or leave the area.

Despite a public commitment to improving the military's crumbling buildings and facilities around the globe, the Pentagon took money out of military construction. Instead it will spend money sustaining the worst of the worst buildings, in the hopes that Congress will approve a round of base closures prior to 2005.

The Pentagon wanted a round of "BRAC" in 2003 but was rebuffed by the defense committees on Capitol Hill. Base closings are politically unpopular and cause tumult in communities that depend on a military base to sustain their economy.

The Pentagon maintains there are 25 percent too many bases in the United States and wants swift authority to close them. Which bases are on the target list is a well-guarded secret as officially all bases are fair game until a civilian commission assesses them and makes its recommendations to the president.

In the meantime, law requires the Defense Department to treat all bases and facilities equally when it comes to improvements and repairs. Rather than spend money at bases it wants to close, the Pentagon will do only the minimum that is required to all bases to make them livable.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will also ask Congress for a supplement to this year's budget to pay for the war in Afghanistan, an official said. He declined to specify how much the Pentagon would seek. We're running out faster than we ever thought we'd be running...
Monday, 04 February 2002 12:00 AM
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