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Last Updated: Saturday, 31 January, 2004, 14:18 GMT
US defence bill to exceed $400bn
By Michael Buchanan
BBC correspondent, Washington

US soldiers pass by destroyed Humvees after an explosion in Mosul, northern Iraq
Iraq operations will continue to drain US resources
American defence spending is set to pass the $400bn mark next year.

President George W Bush is set to ask Congress for the funding in his 2005 budget request which he will formally submit on Monday.

The budget proposals, inadvertently posted on the Pentagon's website, also reflect the effects of recent wars.

The budget request represents a 7% increase on last year's total and the big winner appears to be the Pentagon's controversial missile defence system.

It is set to see an almost 20% increase in its budget.

This system, which is currently being built in Alaska, is designed to track and intercept long range missiles.

The Bush administration argues it is necessary to protect America from rogue nations that could fire missiles loaded with weapons of mass destruction.

But critics say the system is too expensive and relies on unproven technology.

'Not enough'

Funding increases are proposed to repair and replace tanks and armoured personnel carriers, many of which have been severely battered by the harsh Iraqi environment.

Unmanned aerial vehicles, which have been used extensively in Afghanistan - mainly for intelligence gathering, but sometimes carrying missiles - will also see budgetary rises.

But despite the budget's anticipated $401bn price tag, it is unlikely to be enough to cover what the defence department says it needs.

The Pentagon is expected to ask Congress for tens of billions of dollars more later this year, specifically to fund its operations in Iraq.

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