SUPPORTING THE WORLD'S STRONGEST MILITARY FORCE
Our military serves as the backbone of our national security strategy, and the President is committed to maintain a strong and capable military that protects our freedoms and our global leadership role as we approach the 21st Century. In an effort to achieve these goals, the budget proposes a long-term sustained average annual real increase of about 1 percent in defense funding to enhance the military's readiness and operations, build for the future with weapons system modernization, and take care of military troops and their families by enhancing quality of life, thereby increasing recruitment and retention. More specifically, the budget includes the following:
· Enhancing Military Readiness and Operations: American forces must be ready and able to respond and deploy rapidly to the full spectrum of crises -- major theater wars, smaller scale contingency missions, or counter terrorism operations. This budget increases funding for readiness programs to ensure that the military sustains a high level of preparedness to carry out all of its missions and that flying hour programs, recruiting efforts, manning levels, and unit training programs are fully funded.
· Operations and Support Programs: Maintaining high levels of readiness is our top defense priority. The budget provides increased funding for key operations and support programs, including unit operations and training activities, spare parts, recruiting and retention programs, joint exercises, equipment maintenance, and base operations. These increases address readiness problems identified in a review directed by the President following discussions with our military leaders. The budget provides an increase of about $4 billion in 2000 and over $20 billion over the next five years for selected readiness programs.
· Contingency Operations: The budget proposes funding for ongoing contingency operations in Southwest Asia and Bosnia. For 2000, this amount is $ 2.9 billion. This funding will allow DOD to avoid redirecting funds from standard operations and maintenance programs to contingency operations, thereby helping to maintain the readiness of our force.
· Weapons System Modernization: The U.S. military must be the best equipped in the world--it must have leading edge technologies and well-maintained equipment in sufficient numbers to meet mission goals. The budget proposes $53 billion for weapon systems modernization programs, an increase of $4 billion over 1999.
· Modernizing Ground Forces: The budget provides funds to equip Army forces with new technologies to ensure that timely, accurate battlefield information can be transferred rapidly between units -- a key priority of the Army. The budget also funds upgrades and life extensions to improve the capabilities of the Abrams tank, Bradley Fighting Vehicle and Apache Longbow helicopter, and continues funding for the Marine Corps' V-22 tilt-rotor aircraft.
· Modernizing Naval Forces: The budget supports procurement of three DDG-51 destroyers and two LPD-17 Amphibious ships. The budget also funds the first ship of a new class of combat logistics ships, as well as advanced procurement for the next aircraft carrier -- CVN-77 -- and attack submarine.
· Modernizing Air Forces: The budget supports three new tactical aircraft programs -- the Navy's F/A-18E/F Super Hornet attack fighter ($2.9 billion), the Air Force's F-22 Raptor air superiority fighter ($1.9 billion), and the Joint Strike Fighter ($477 million), which will replace about 3,000 aging aircraft in the Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps starting in 2005.
·Taking Care of Military Personnel and their Families: The budget requests $73.7 billion, which is $2.8 billion over the 1999 level, to cover the pay and allowances of 1,385,000 active duty and 865,000 reserve military personnel. Over the five year period starting in 2000, the budget will increase by $20 billion over previously planned levels to help ensure that personnel readiness is sustained. Included in this increase is funding for the following:
· A 4.4 percent pay raise in 2000 and 3.9 percent in each year thereafter;
· A pay raise for select personnel effective July 1, 2000 to provide greater rewards for military promotions; and
· Military retirement reforms to reduce disparities in retirement benefits among military members.