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ARLINGTON, Va. — President Bush has asked for about $624.6 billion in Defense spending for fiscal 2008, to include a 3 percent pay raise for all servicemembers, the Defense Department announced Monday.

The Defense Department portion of the president’s $2.9 trillion spending plan is $481.4 billion for fiscal 2008, according to a Defense Department news release.

An additional $141.7 billion will be needed for fiscal 2008 to fight the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the news release says. The wars are funded through supplemental requests on top of the base Defense budget.

Additionally, the administration is seeking $93.4 billion for the rest of fiscal 2007 to fight those wars.

An additional $1.5 billion dollars in discretionary spending is mentioned in White House documents, without details.

To date, Congress has approved nearly $427 billion in supplemental budget funds for combat operations in those countries.

Of the funds for the rest of this fiscal year, $10.4 billion would go toward force protection, such as improved vehicle and body armor, and $2.4 billion would go for countermeasures to roadside bombs, according to a summary of the proposed Defense spending.

The president has asked for $15.2 billion next fiscal year for force protection and defeating roadside bombs, including $4 billion that would go directly to roadside bomb countermeasures, the summary says.

To fix or replace gear damaged in combat, the president has asked for $13.9 billion this fiscal year and $37.6 billion in fiscal 2008, the summary says.

Other proposed Defense spending would go toward increasing the size of the Army and Marine Corps over the next five years.

The president has asked for $1.7 billion this fiscal year to go toward the Army’s plan to increase from 507,000 to 547,000 soldiers by fiscal 2012, and the Corps’ plans to grow from about 180,000 to 202,000 Marines by fiscal 2011.

For next fiscal year, the president has asked for $1.6 billion to sustain two additional Army brigade combat teams and three Marine battalions, the summary says.

Democrats expressed concern that the 3 percent pay raise does not exceed the employment cost index, meaning it won’t close the gap between military pay and private-sector wages. Currently, that difference is 4 percent.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton, D-Mo., said his committee will review the issue to make sure the 3 percent raise is “adequate” for troops and their families.

Steven Kosiak, an analyst with the private Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said the president’s proposed increases bring the Defense Department budget back up to where it was during the 1980s, a peak period for Pentagon spending, when calculated in today’s dollars.

“An 11.3 percent increase is the kind of increase we had right after 9-11 and in the four or five years of the [President] Reagan buildup,” Kosiak said. “So by historical perspectives, it’s a pretty big jump.”

The Associated Press and Stripes’ Leo Shane III contributed to this report.


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