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ARLINGTON, Va. — The Bush administration is asking Congress for $401.7 billion to fund defense programs in fiscal 2005 — a 7 percent increase over the $375.3 billion request for 2004.

The budget includes a 3.5 percent pay raise for servicemembers and the elimination of all out-of-pocket housing costs, but nothing is earmarked for operations in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Pentagon officials said they will come back to Congress to request supplemental funds for Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom — but not until 2005, a senior defense official told Pentagon reporters Friday.

The official denied that the Bush administration intended the delayed supplemental request to downplay the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars before the November elections.

Instead, with sovereignty due to be handed back to the Iraqis in July, “there is just no way of knowing” how many troops will be there in 2005, or what operations will look like, the official said.

Reflecting a wartime environment, Pentagon officials chose to increase the operations and maintenance account by $13 billion, from $127.6 billion to $140.6 billion. This account includes money for pilots, tankers, and ship operators to train.

Space-based missile defense, a longer-term initiative dear to the Bush administration’s heart, was boosted from $7.7 billion to $9.2 billion, despite delays in the program.

Among the services, the Air Force was the clear winner in terms of budget increases, with a $9.6 billion increase, from $110.9 billion to $120.5 billion.

The Navy/Marine Corps, whose budgets are submitted together, went from $115.1 billion to $119.3 billion, an increased of $4.2 billion.

The Army, meanwhile, trailed with a $1.8 billion increase, from $95.4 billion to $97.2 billion.


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