Feb 27 2002

FISCAL YEAR 2003 DEFENSE BUDGET

STATEMENT OF SENATOR RICHARD SHELBY

WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Senator Richard C. Shelby (R-AL) today commented on the Department of Defense budget for Fiscal Year 2003:

"I want to applaud President Bush and our top defense officials for sending us a Fiscal Year 2003 defense budget that I think all of us should be encouraged about. While budget restraints necessitate that the push and pull continues for control of limited dollars to fund competing requirements such as recapitalization and transformation, I do believe that things are looking up at the Department of Defense. The past decade has been very difficult indeed. Without congressional action to add defense funding during those years, I would hate to see where the Department would be now."

"The Bush Administration's $379 billion request signals a firm commitment to winning the war on terrorism and to building a force that, through transformation, will become even more dominant across the full spectrum of military operations. After September 11, when we look both internally and abroad and assess the threats we face, it is increasingly clear that we must pass this defense budget and continue to work aggressively to build our defensive and offensive capabilities in future years. The devastating attacks in New York and against the Pentagon prove that we are vulnerable. It is sobering to realize just how vulnerable we are to the myriad of possible attacks we could suffer at the hands of terrorists. While the U.S. was the target of the attack on September 11, our allies are also vulnerable to attack. I am increasingly concerned when I look across the Atlantic and assess the military capabilities of our allies. I see our most important partners and friends whose militaries are falling further and further behind our own in funding and technology.

"I also hear increasingly harsh rhetoric focused on the Administration's prosecution of the war on terrorism and our willingness to act unilaterally. While we are stronger with our allies standing beside us and contributing to this war on terrorism, I do not believe that we should let the coalition dictate our interests. I look to the Bush Administration to explore the 'capabilities gap' that exists and continue to work closely with our allies to promote cooperation as we move to the next phase of the war on terrorism.

"I intend to do what I can to support and help President Bush, Secretary Rumsfeld, and Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz to win this war as well as rebuild our armed forces and shape them for the future. These efforts will continue to require a lot from our President and military officials. President Bush has provided outstanding leadership in these efforts and continues to communicate in very clear and precise terms with both the American people and with those abroad who would seek to do us harm.

"An honest budgetary assessment of the threats and the risks we face if we are not prepared is represented in the Fiscal Year 2003 defense request before us. We must invest in our men and women in uniform, in robust research and development programs, in new and technologically superior weapons, in airlift and naval assets that enable force projection, and in recapitalization of legacy systems that will form the bridge to our future objective forces. Each service has needs and we should work very hard to see that as many are met as possible.

"We face a delicate balancing act -- near and long term threats with limited dollars to buy what we need across the services to modernize our military. The Bush Administration has presented us with an encouraging defense request of $379 billion that is projected to top $400 billion over the next five years. The war we are waging and the changes we seek to make within our military will take time and will be expensive, but I am confident that we will be victorious on both fronts."



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