President George W. Bush wants to put in place the most significant increase in defense spending since the first Reagan administration: $379 billion for fiscal year (FY) 2003, a $48 billion increase. Considerable sums will go to prosecute the war against global terrorism, meet routine and emergency commitments, and bolster homeland-security needs. And there looks to be a funding component for future readiness and research and development (R&D) to usher in military transformation, a key plank in the President's campaign. But if the past proves to be prologue, much of the proposed budget will be chimerical.
The President's budget for FY 2003 increases funding for all the services. However, the Navy's budget increases are less than those of the others, especially in procurement. This bodes ill for tomorrow's fleet and brings into doubt the administration's understanding of the enduring value of naval forces in the 21st century—a quality that has been underscored dramatically by operations in Afghanistan.