Bush seeks billions of dollars for Army technology

Under the Bush administration's fiscal 2008 budget released Monday, the Defense Department would receive $3.7 billion for an Army modernization program that involves developing and integrating new technology systems into traditional warfare practices.

The figure would mark a $300 million increase over the amount expected to be appropriated in fiscal 2007 for the Army's Future Combat System, which entered the development phase in 2003, according to a Defense Department summary. Major areas of the investment include unmanned aerial vehicles, manned and unmanned ground vehicles, and battlefield command-and-communications systems.

In the past, Congress has regularly trimmed hundreds of millions of dollars from the Pentagon's funding requests for the Future Combat System. About $400 million was slashed from the fiscal 2007 budget request. To gain more support on Capitol Hill, government officials have encouraged congressional staffers to visit Army testing sites to learn more about the systems.

The Government Accountability Office has further criticized the program in studies that have questioned the Army's ability to successfully deploy the project.

The budget also requests $1.6 billion for research, development and procurement focused on protecting military forces that could be exposed to chemical or biological warfare agents, and the budget would support improved early attack warnings.

Overall, Bush requested roughly $481.4 billion for the Defense Department for fiscal 2008 -- an 11.3 percent increase over the fiscal 2007 allocation. For that year, the president asked Congress for $435.4 billion.

Bush also requested an additional $141.7 billion to be used for the "global war on terror" in fiscal 2008 and $93.4 billion in emergency supplemental funding to cover war equipment and operation costs for the remainder of fiscal 2007.

The administration said the budget would support improved sharing of intelligence information through a government-wide effort to share terrorist data among interested parties in federal, state and local governments.

"Policymakers, military commanders and law enforcement personnel need timely, accurate information regarding the capabilities and intentions of foreign powers, terrorists and other international actors," according to the budget.

Additionally, the fiscal 2008 budget calls for a 50 percent increase in the number of CIA case officers and analysts.

The United States needs to support improved technology to enable troops to meet future threats successfully, according to the budget. Within the document, Bush touted the success of the Defense Department's global electronic health record system which is expected to eventually serve more than 9 million service members and affiliated parties.

In 2008, the system will be active in 60 percent of military hospitals, the budget stated.

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