The budget for the United States Army which was sent to Congress on February 4 is 9% higher than current-year Army funding, but it does not include operational funds for the wars in iraq and Afghanistan and some procurement, recruiting and retention programs needed to maintain the readiness of combat forces. The Bush administration asks Congress to fund one budget, but that budget is really not THE budget. For example, the Army’s base budget for 2008 is $129 billion, but at least another $128 billion in war funding wll be added to that total for an overall expenditure in 2008 of $257 billion. The US Army request constitutes about 27% of the Defense Department request for $515 billion.
Currently th ere are 523,000 soldiers in the Regular Army, even though the Army’s base budget calls for 489,000. the additional soldiers, and the recruiting and retention incentives needed to maintain the large force have so far been funded from war supplement money. The Bush method of funding its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is never clear since additional money is usually hidden in budgets of other areas of the government like the State Department or in reseach funds. One result is an inability of the American people to actually know the true cost of fighting in far off lands.
Hopefully, a new administration will be more honest with the American people and present a true military budget that includes all cost.