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Thursday, 17 October, 2002, 11:33 GMT 12:33 UK
US Senate approves defence increase
USS Enterprise, one of ship involved in attacks against Afghanistan
The total annual defence budget rises to $355bn
The United States Senate has given final approval to the biggest increase of military spending in two decades.

The $355.1bn military spending bill - an increase of $37.5bn from last year - comes as the US prepares for war against Iraq.

President George W Bush had asked lawmakers for the extra funding to pay for his ongoing war on terror.


It [the bill] also sends an important signal that we are committed to defending freedom and defeating terror

President Bush
The US already spends more on defence than any nation in history.

Its military budget exceeds the combined spending of its nine closest competitors, says the BBC's Steven Kingstone.

The vote came as President Bush signed into law the Congressional resolution passed last week to authorise the use of force against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein over his alleged weapons of mass destruction.

Overwhelming

The Democratic-led Senate voted 93-1 to approve the largest-ever defence budget bill, which was endorsed by the House of Representatives last week.

    The defence allowance will enable the US:

  • to buy more transport planes needed to move troops to any part of the world, as well as new fast-deploying tanks, fighter aircraft, and intelligence-gathering systems.

  • about $770m will be spent on satellite-guided precision weapons.

  • another $247m will go to buy Tomahawk cruise missiles.

  • the theatre missile defence programme will get $7.4bn.

  • $9bn goes to shipbuilding - $842 million more than Mr Bush sought - including $2.3bn for two AEGIS destroyers.

The bill also funds a 4.1% pay rise for all US military personnel.

Despite the increase, the spending bill is $1.6bn less than Mr Bush wanted.

And, in the only dissenting note, Congress has withheld a $10bn wartime contingency fund, which Mr Bush would control.

US leaders before Mr Bush signs into law resolution on Iraq
Observers say the US is heading to war in Iraq
Senators said that could be included in a supplemental measure that Congress would have to approve if the US is to go to war in Iraq. This, in itself, is estimated to cost at least $100bn, Reuters news agency reported.

In a written statement, Mr Bush said he looked forward to signing the bill, which "will provide our troops with the best pay, the best equipment and the best possible training".

"It [the bill] also sends an important signal that we are committed to defending freedom and defeating terror," Mr Bush said.

Signing the Congressional resolution on Wednesday, Mr Bush issued another warning to Saddam Hussein.

"Either the Iraqi regime will give up its weapons of mass destruction or, for the sake of peace, the United States will lead a global coalition to disarm that regime," he said.


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24 Jan 02 | Americas
11 Oct 02 | Americas
11 Oct 02 | Americas
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