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Monday, 4 February, 2002, 21:06 GMT
Analysis: US defence bonanza
President Bush
Mr Bush wants a $48bn increase in defence spending
By Katty Kay in Washington

President Bush has announced a wartime budget promising the biggest build-up of the US military since the Cold War.

Mr Bush used the Afghan campaign as an excuse to set aside campaign goals of smaller government and fiscal restraint, proposing a $48bn increase in America's defence spending.

The American military machine will now be worth the same as the entire economy of Australia

"Whatever it costs to defend our country, we will pay," Mr Bush told Congress in his State of the Union address last Wednesday.

He has also asked for a further $38bn for improving homeland security.

With the extra spending, the American military machine will now be worth the same as the entire economy of Australia and the increase alone is as much as the whole budget of the next biggest defence spender, Japan.

Afghan experience

In Afghanistan, America bombed an under-developed country with weapons from the 21st century.

The campaign revealed both the Pentagon's strengths and its needs.

Mr Bush told Congress that his huge defence budget would expand America's military in many different areas, and the administration insists it needs the extra funding to guard against future attacks.

Bomb site in Kabul
The Afghans experienced America's military might
"Our challenge in this new century is a difficult one. It is really to prepare to defend our nation against the unknown, the uncertain and what we have to understand will be the unexpected."

In fact only a portion of the extra defence spending - just one fifth of the increase - is earmarked for the global war on terrorism.

The rest will go to finance projects already in the pipeline. Although Mr Bush campaigned on the promise that he would force the Pentagon to make "hard choices" in its weapons programme, it now seems he has given the military a blank cheque to have it all.

Hi-tech emphasis

There are pay rises for soldiers who had expected to have their numbers cut and some of their bases closed, as well as money for big ticket items like planes and tanks, which only recently seemed in danger of being phased out.

There is also a large component for hi-tech spending - including the controversial missile defence programme and money for unmanned aerial vehicles or spy planes.

World Trade Center
After 11 September, there is unlikely to be much domestic opposition
There is some concern, both here and abroad, that concentrating on hi-tech capacity will risk widening the gap between America and her allies and making it difficult for America to fight alongside other nations whose military capability is far less sophisticated.

One senior US state department official said it was a "nightmare" scenario in which America becomes the "spies in the skies" while other nations are left to provide the "boots on the ground."

The attacks on 11 September changed everything here, not least it seems, the future of the US military.

And with the war on terrorism so popular with the American public, Mr Bush's huge defence budget is unlikely to face much opposition.

See also:

04 Feb 02 | Business
Bush unveils 'war' budget
30 Jan 02 | Americas
Analysis: Bush policy uncertain
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