US defence budget accidentally published

The United States military wants to spend less next year on new weapons systems and more to maintain and upgrade helicopters, tanks and aircraft worn down by heavy duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to documents posted accidentally on the Internet tonight.

The US Defence Department documents outline President George W Bush’s budget proposals.

The $401.7bn (€322bn) budget request that Bush will send to Congress next week does not include money for ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Defence Department got an $87bn (€69.7bn) supplemental appropriation for those operations last fall and is expected to ask for another multi-billion-dollar supplemental later this year.

Details of the Pentagon budget, normally closely held until the president sends his request to Congress, were inadvertently posted briefly on the Internet, and then withdrawn, defence officials said.

The president’s formal budget presentation is Monday.

The overall Pentagon request for the fiscal year that begins in October is 7% higher than for this year.

According to the Pentagon documents, the proposal will include a decline for buying aircraft – from $2.1bn (€1.7bn) to $1.8bn (1.4bn).

The Pentagon will, however, request an increase for the MC-130H Combat Talon planes that are used to ferry special operations troops in and out of missions: $82.1m (€65.8m) compared with $8.8m (€7.1m) this year.

The budget proposal also includes more money for spare parts for Army vehicles such as tanks, armoured personnel carriers and Humvees: $20.1m (€16.1m) instead of $17.9m (€14.3m).

Soldiers have complained that using the vehicles so heavily in the harsh environment of Iraq has caused them to break down more frequently.

There is also a slight increase for ammunition.

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