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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 23, February 1998

Details of US FY99 Defence Budget

On 2 February, President Clinton announced his Fiscal Year (FY) 1999 Defense Budget request: $270.6 billion - up on the $267.7 billion budget agreed for FY 1998 - of which $13.3 billion is allocated for the Department of Energy's nuclear-weapons programmes, $4 billion for ballistic missile defence (BMD) programmes, $484 million for Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) programmes in the former Soviet Union, and $48.7 billion for high-technology weapons and ($375 million) defences against biological and chemical weapons (CBW). $300 million of the planned BMD expenditure would be dedicated to the development - by Boeing and Lockheed-Martin - of an Airborne Laser interceptor. Referring to this dimension of the budget request, a 2 February Pentagon press release noted:

"Our greatest emphasis [in current BMD programmes] is on theater missile defense - aimed at meeting today's regional threats. The primary goal is to develop, procure, and deploy systems that can protect forward-deployed US forces. To defeat shorter range missiles, our key lower-tier systems include the Patriot PAC-3 and Navy Area systems. Key upper-tier programs are the THAAD [Theater High-Altitude Area Defense] and Navy Theater Wide systems. To defeat theater-range missiles during their boost phase, we are stressing our Airborne Laser development program.

Also a high priority is our National Missile Defense (NMD) program. The priority mission of our US NMD system would be to defeat a limited strategic ballistic missile attack such as could be posed by a rogue nation. The NMD program will develop and test elements that could be deployed when such a strategic threat begins to emerge."

Referring to the planned expenditure on CBW defences, Air Force Secretary Whitten Peters noted on 27 February: "One of the most formidable threats faced by our deployed troops...is the spectre of chemical or biological attack... In 1999 we will spend about $225 million in passive chemical-biological defensive measures and nearly $150 million in active defensive measures.

" The 2 February press release gave more specifics: "It [the request] adds about $1 billion in spending through FY 2003 to bolster existing US capabilities... Much of the increase is for improved protective suits and masks, as well as better detection and decontamination systems. The remainder of it will enhance our capabilities to destroy or neutralize NBC weapons and materials."

Reports: Excerpts - Summary of Fiscal Year 1999 Defense Budget Proposal, United States Information Service, 2 February; Clinton budget seeks more for defense, Reuters, 2 February; FY99 budget shows hike in procurement, Defense Daily, 3 February; US plans spending on biological defenses, Reuters, 27 February.

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

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