07 February 2007

The US Defence Budget

The spooky thing about the US budget announced by George Bush ($2.9 trillion, which includes a defence budget of $481 billion, plus additional funding for Iraq and Afghanistan of $165 billion), is that the US military's top officers want even more of a slice of the pie.

Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the departing US Army chief of staff, says defense spending is 3.8% of GDP, a figure projected to drop over the next five years, to near the lowest levels since World War II, even though the U.S. is involved in a protracted war.

Navy Adm. Michael G. Mullen: "At 3.8 percent, it just isn't enough for the strategic appetite, and the strategic appetite is tied directly to the world we're living in."

But even at those levels, the service chiefs argue that the war's wear and tear on their equipment, along with the strategic planning that calls on them to check such global threats as a rapidly modernizing China, a nuclear-armed North Korea and an increasingly belligerent Iran, has begun to outstrip their ability to fund the Army brigades, Air Force wings and Navy strike groups needed to meet all contingencies.
It's a tough time, having an empire and the ability to project power anywhere on earth with 12 aircraft carrier groups.

You need to subsidise Lockheed Martin ($6.1 billion for the Joint Strike Fighter, $4.6 billion for 20 F-22A fighter jets), not to mention Northrop Grumman, Textron, Boeing (aerial refuelling contract's coming up for renewal) and European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co, and all the other hungry corporate kids.

You have to increase soldiers in the Army from the current 482,400 to 547,400 by 2012 and the Marines from 175,000 to 202,000 by 2011.

You need 170 Predator vehicles, $14.2 billion for Navy shipbuilding, and the CIA wants to expand by 50%.

It's leaving entire regions permanently dependent on US military spending (14000 procurement contracts and 14% of the regional GDP for the San Diego region alone).

Keep all these numbers in mind when Bush is only spending $1 billion for renewable power supplies or new power transmission technologies ... or $348 million to complete construction of a facility to destroy chemical weapons and provide security upgrades for storage of Russian nuclear warheads.

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