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DoD Official Frames Upcoming Budget Strategies

Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 26, 2002 -- DoD's wish list for fiscal 2004 is only a couple of months from delivery. A senior defense department official recently previewed the department's strategy for the '04 budget: a focus on readiness and modernization -- investing in newer technologies, while divesting Cold-War era weapons systems.

The Office of Management and Budget probably was "within days" of finishing its "chop" on the upcoming budget, the official revealed at a Dec. 19 Pentagon briefing under a condition of anonymity.

"The emphasis between things like investment in remodeling existing equipment or trying to decrease the level of investment in existing equipment to put into new equipment - those are things which we have been driving through the strategy that we have adopted," he said.

"Although Congress has yet to put the check in mail to fund the Pentagon's new investment strategy, the services have taken the transformation upon themselves, diverting some of current year's funding to pay for readiness and future modernizations."

The official added that the each of the services had moved a "significant fraction" of their investment resources over the future years defense program, to include in fiscal 2004, from older and existing programs into newer programs.

"This is a lot of money that they are taking from what we have been doing and trying to begin to make the investments against where we think we want to go," he said. "That is work that was driven by the services as they went through their own budget bill process during the course of the year.

"It means that tanks and armored personnel vehicles won't be upgraded at the rate that they might have been. It means that ships will be retired. It means that aircraft will be retired," the official pointed out, "some before really it's necessary to do so, but as a way of freeing up those resources to invest in other capabilities."

He listed several program shifts that the services are - or will be - working on, among them:

Conversion of four Trident Submarines from carrying strategic ballistic missiles to cruise missiles: "That began in (fiscal) '03 and will continue through '06," he noted.

Confirmation that the Navy would start building the CVN-21 aircraft carrier (formerly the CVNX-class) in 2007. This next-generation carrier would contain about 80 percent of capabilities that had been planned for the second CVNX in 2011, to include up to an 800-person crew reduction, a new nuclear power plant boosting three times the current electrical output and a new flight-deck arrangement.

More competition among airframes for conducting air warfare. The official mentioned current programs with the Navy's F-18 fighter/attack aircraft, the Air Force's F-22 fighter and the multi- service Joint Strike Fighter and unmanned combat aerial vehicles.

Examining how the Army and Marine Corps are organized and equipped and what their relationship with the naval and air forces is in shaping future warfare.

In the end, DoD wants to be certain that there's a force that, "once the president decides it needs to be engaged, can move swiftly to that engagement, and once engaged, bring the conflict to a quick conclusion," the official said. If DoD can do this, "I think we will have succeeded in that transforming process that the secretary has been talking very much about."

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