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16 February 2005

Rumsfeld Outlines Defense Budget Request for Congress

Testifies to Armed Services committees February 16

Washington -- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld presented a defense budget request of approximately $420 billion for fiscal year 2006 to Congress February 16.

Testifying along with Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Richard Myers to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, Rumsfeld submitted a detailed written request for $419.3 billion in defense spending, which represents a 4.8 percent increase over the current budget, and a 41 percent increase over fiscal year 2001. 

Defense spending, Rumsfeld said in written testimony, now represents 16.5 percent of total federal spending, and 3.3 percent of U.S. gross domestic product.  "But more important than the raw numbers are the choices we have made and the priorities the President has set to fulfill his oath to protect this and future generations of Americans," he said.

Time and again Rumsfeld mentioned the changed nature of today's threats and the corresponding need to change U.S. military capabilities to confront and neutralize those threats.  Americans, he said, need to "recognize we are engaged in a war and yet still functioning under peacetime constraints, regulations and requirements, against an enemy unconstrained by laws or bureaucracies."

In transforming the armed forces to meet 21st century threats, Rumsfeld said inefficiency is "always unfortunate, but in the Department of Defense, it can be deadly."  He explained that "an idea ignored may be the next threat overlooked.  A person performing a redundant task is not contributing to our defense. A dollar wasted is a dollar not invested in the war-fighter."

Regarding the global War on Terror, Rumsfeld noted that the U.S. and coalition effort in Iraq has recently borne fruit with the successful January 30 elections.  Now, he said, the "government the terrorists seek to undermine and overthrow is not foreign or even a provisional government appointed by the United Nations.  Rather, it is an Iraqi government, elected by the Iraqi people, to serve the Iraqi people."  Meanwhile, he said, because of the development of technical countermeasures, U.S. forces are now discovering and destroying more than one third of improvised explosive devices before they can detonate, he said.

The 2006 defense budget request contains up to $750 million to build partner-nation security capacity.  The money would go to military or security forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and other friendly nations to fight terror and to meet common threats.

The Army, Rumsfeld said, will expand to almost 512,000 soldiers by September 30 -- nearly 30,000 troops more than its end strength four years ago.

As for the Navy, along with its transformational new Fleet Response Plan, it now has "the capability to surge five- or six-carrier strike groups in 30 days, with the ability to deploy two more in 90 days -- a significant improvement over previous capabilities," Rumsfeld said.  Moreover, aircraft carriers are much more capable than previously.  In 1997, the carrier aircraft could engage about 200 targets per day, he said.  In Operation Iraqi Freedom, this capability rose to over 600.

As for the Air Force, a single B-2 bomber can now successfully attack as many as 80 different targets with 80 precision munitions on one sortie, he said.

Rumsfeld's written submission is available on the Internet at: Testimony