Bush approves Cannon funds

Staff and wire reports

President Bush on Tuesday signed an increase in the Pentagon’s non-war budget that includes funding for the purchase of five CV-22 Ospreys destined for Cannon Air Force Base, according to Air Force Special Operations officials.

Authorized was $453.7 million for the Air Force purchase of V-22 Ospreys, and $238 million for Special Operations Forces to modify the Ospreys, according to a press release from the office of U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M.

Cannon will be able to acquire four CV-22s by 2010 with a fifth to follow later, AFSOC spokesperson Lt. Amy Cooper said.

“These four CV-22s will be the beginning of the fleet that will be fielded at Cannon Air Force Base,” Cooper said.

The new law also allocates $105.3 billion for military personnel, including a 3.5 percent basic pay raise for all service members, Domenici’s release said.

The president’s action was announced on Air Force One as Bush flew to New Albany, Ind., on the Ohio River across from Louisville, Ky., for a speech criticizing the Democratic-led Congress on its budget priorities.

The $471 billion defense budget gives the Pentagon a 9 percent, $40 billion budget increase. The measure only funds core department operations, omitting Bush’s $196 billion request for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, except for an almost $12 billion infusion for new troop vehicles that are resistant to roadside bombs.

Much of the increase in the defense bill is devoted to procuring new and expensive weapons systems, including $6.3 billion for the next-generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, $2.8 billion for the Navy’s DD(X) Destroyer and $3.1 billion for the new Virginia-class attack submarine.

Huge procurement costs are driving the Pentagon budget upward. Once war costs are added in, the total defense budget will be significantly higher than during the typical Cold War year, even after adjusting for inflation.

At a glance

The new budget authorization provides the following items of interest to New Mexico:

• $980 million for National Guard equipment nationwide.

• $20 million to continue the National Guard’s counter-drug programs, including $3 million specifically for the initiative in New Mexico.

• $984.8 million overall is provided for drug interdiction and counter-drug activities.

• $247 million to continue Operation Jump Start on the Southwest Border in 2008.

• $105.3 billion for military personnel, including a 3.5 percent basic pay raise for all service members.

• $3.1 billion in acquisition funding for 20 F-22A aircraft, the fighter jets that will be stationed at Holloman Air Force Base after the retirement of the F-117 fighter jets.

• $453.7 million for Air Force purchase of V-22s and $238 million for Special Operations Forces to modify CV-22s.

• Resources to support the Army’s research, development, and acquisition of Future Combat Systems equipment, which is tested at Ft. Bliss, Texas, and White Sands Missile Range.

Source: Office of U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M.