Bush: “A two-front war”

Bush: “A two-front war”

Peterson, Gordon I


Defense and Homeland Security Top Budget Priorities

Saying the nation has entered a “difficult phase in our first theater in the war against terror,” President Bush has proposed major fiscal year 2003 spending increases of $48 billion for the Department of Defense and a new total of $38 billion for homeland-security programs.

The proposals, announced by the president in late January in advance of his State of the Union Address, are included in the administration’s proposed federal budget for FY 2003, scheduled to be sent to Congress on 4 February.

“The most basic commitment of our government will be the security of our country,” Bush told the Reserve Officers Association (ROA) at its mid-winter meeting in Washington, D.C., on 23 January. “Our first priority is the military. The highest calling to protect the people is to strengthen our military.”

The increase would bring the Bush administration’s proposed defense budget for the next fiscal year to $379 billion-one of the largest single increases in U.S. defense spending in 20 years. Bush called on those in the U.S. government who review the budget proposal to remember that much is being asked of the men in women in uniform during the war on terrorism.

“In return,” Bush said, “they deserve every resource, every weapon needed to achieve the final and full victory.” At its winter meeting, ROA presented Bush its “2002 Minute Man of the Year” award-almost 11 years after presenting the same award to the president’s father.

Tools of Modern Warfare

In addition to another substantial military pay raise, Bush has proposed greater investments in precision-guided munitions, ballistic-missile defense, unmanned aerial vehicles, and other high– technology programs. “The tools of modern warfare are effective,” Bush said, “They are expensive. But in order to win this war against terror, they are essential.”

The president said his proposed funding increases may “put a strain on the budget,” but he would not “cut comers” when faced with decisions relating to the defense of the United States.

At a Pentagon press briefing on 24 January, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld said that the proposed increases in Department of Defense (DOD) spending would be applied primarily to weapons procurement, infrastructure, military pay and health-care programs, and research and development.

Saying that a “procurement holiday” lasted too long after the end of the Cold War, Rumsfeld said it is time to replace older aircraft and other systems that require excessive upkeep and maintenance. “You end up trying to take a 1934 Oldsmobile and prop it up for another five or six years, and there’s a point beyond which that doesn’t make good sense,” he said.

Major Increase Also Planned For Coast Guard Programs

Bush announced his proposed funding increases for homeland security in a meeting with U.S. mayors and county officials in the White House on 24 January. The total of $38 billion in funding proposed for homeland-security measures during the next fiscal year would, if approved by Congress, double the amount provided for such programs in the FY 2002 federal budget.

“The second priority of our government, a priority which will be reflected in my budget, is making sure we protect the people at home-homeland defense,” Bush said, reminding his audience that the United States is today fighting a “two-front war.”

“It’s the beginning of a homeland– defense initiative which is going to last throughout my administration,” Bush said.

A portion of the planned increase, $3.5 billion, would provide for substantial funding increases for so-called “first-responder” programs involving local police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical teams-described by Bush as the “frontline soldiers” in responding to terrorism attacks on U.S. territory.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will administer the president’s “First Responder Initiative.” White House officials said the flow of resources to individual states and localities would be expedited through new “streamlined mechanisms.”

According to the White House, the planned homeland-security spending increase also provides for substantial funding hikes to improve U.S. border-security programs, combat bioterrorism, strengthen intelligence-sharing, improve transportation security, and support other national– defense-related initiatives.

During a 25 January visit to Portland, Maine, and the U.S. Coast Guard cutter USCGC Tahoma, Bush said that the United States homeland is now “on guard.” He praised the Coast Guard for its multimission accomplishments in the United States and around the world, and pledged that needed funding would be provided to improve Coast Guard capabilities across the board.

“… The budget that I send to the United States Congress will have the largest increase in spending for the Coast Guard in our nation’s history,” Bush said. “The Coast Guard has a vital and significant mission.” Additional funding is needed, Bush said, to provide the Coast Guard with a modern fleet of vessels, cover costs of the service’s extended missions and operations, provide for port security, and ensure its personnel are adequately compensated.

“I saw how the Coast Guard has responded after 9/11,” Bush said, “and I know how important the Coast Guard is for the safety, security, and well-being of our American citizens.”

“The Coast Guard is very pleased over the support the president has given us,” said a Coast Guard spokesman. “Any additional funding we receive will allow us to improve the readiness of our cutter fleet, help with our Deepwater program, pay the large number of reservists on active duty, cover increased recruiting costs, and provide needed pay raises for our men and women.”

Proposals also are in motion to revise the DOD Unified Command Plan governing the roles and missions of U.S. combatant commands to create a new domestic joint military command with oversight responsibilities for critical homeland-security matters and the military’s responses to domestic terrorist attacks.

Continuing Pursuit

At the time the president announced his plans to improve U.S. capabilities on the home front in the war on terrorism, U.S. military forces in Afghanistan and the Northern Arabian Gulf continued to strike against the forces of that country’s former Taliban government and the al Qaeda terrorist network.

In late January, U.S. Special Operations Forces raided a site sheltering Taliban officials in the mountains north of Kandahar, killing an undisclosed number of enemy personnel and detaining 27 individuals. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard B. Myers, speaking at a Pentagon press briefing on 24 January, confirmed that 455 detainees were then under U.S. control, with 297 held in Afghanistan and 158 detained at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba.

“We are finding them from time to time,” Rumsfeld said at the same briefing, “and as we find them, we’re engaging in direct action, either alone or with coalition or with Afghan forces.” Rumsfeld said that he expects such operations to continue for “some period of time.”

The search for Taliban and al Qaeda fugitives continued even as U.S. Army soldiers from the 101 st Airborne Division deployed to Kandahar in January to relieve U.S. Marines of their expeditionary missions, allowing the 15th and 26th Marine Expeditionary Units (Special Operations Capable) to redeploy to their amphibious ready groups at sea.

Myers also reported that U.S. and coalition aircraft operating in support of Operation Southern Watch were fired upon in late January while flying in the southern no-fly zone over Iraq. In response to the attacks, Myers said, coalition aircraft dropped precision-guided munitions on Iraqi anti-aircraft artillery and surface-to-surface missile sites that threatened the U.S. and coalition patrolling aircraft.


Senior Editor

Copyright Navy League of the United States Feb 2002

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