That’s the projected price of “defense” for 2004. Why so much higher than the $399 billion Pentagon budget request?

Many of the Pentagon’s new expenses are unplanned, indirect consequences of the continued fighting. The Army, for instance, is shipping home and reconditioning the tanks and combat vehicles that spearheaded last spring’s attack on Baghdad.

That unanticipated cost is $12 billion to $19 billion this year and each year on into the future as forces rotate through the combat zones, Army Gen. Paul Kern, who oversees the effort, said in an interview. …

[i]Among other upward cost pressures:

*Major new weapons systems are moving into production after years of less expensive research and development. These programs include the V-22 Osprey vertical-lift plane at $105 million each; the F-22 supersonic strike fighter program, $258 million each; and the Joint Strike Fighter at $81.2 million each, according to the Pentagon’s latest total program cost data.

*Unanticipated growth in these and other programs accounted for a $500 million charge to the Pentagon between June and September 2003. Separately, the Pentagon acknowledged a $5 billion cost increase in the Joint Strike Fighter program. The aircraft is designed to be the main fighter of the Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.

*Mobilization of National Guard and reserve personnel for the war on terrorism has committed the Pentagon to additional spending. Last fall the White House asked Congress for $22.2 billion for the mobilization and health care for these troops, as well as $1.1 billion for additional pay. The deployment of Guard and reserve troops to Iraq and Afghanistan is accelerating as regular troops rotate home.

*New payments to career servicemen, which Congress recently mandated, will add $84 million to the services’ personnel costs this year. But as the number of eligible veterans grows, this cost will total $2.4 billion over the 2004-2008 period, according to an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office. Moreover, combat in Afghanistan and Iraq is creating tens of thousands of new veterans with life-long claims for health care and other benefits.

*Pork projects added into the defense budget seem to be increasing. According to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), congressional “earmarks” for projects that neither the Pentagon nor the White House requested soared from $3.7 billion last year to $5.2 billion in the current year.

These projects include $500,000 to renovate an aircraft hangar at Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome, N.Y., which was closed in 1995, and $4 million for the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center in Emeryville, Calif., affiliated with the wine-making family, for research on the effects of alcohol on the brain.

Congress also directed the Pentagon to pay $318.5 million for non-defense medical research.[/i]