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Monday, February 7, 1994 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Armed Services Would Hold Line On Spending -- $263.7 Billion Called `Bottom Line'

AP

WASHINGTON - President Clinton today proposed a 1995 defense budget that holds the line on overall spending, cuts some weapons, slackens the pace of troop cuts and targets more money for training and support.

The budget is designed for a military force and defense strategy that the Pentagon under former Defense Secretary Les Aspin re-examined last year from the bottom up to account for changed post-Cold War security threats.

National defense spending would rise to $263.7 billion in the budget year beginning Oct. 1, from $260.9 billion this fiscal year. That works out to a 0.9 percent decline when the effects of projected inflation are included. The administration's five-year spending plan calls for a 5.9 percent real drop for 1996.

Of the total, the Pentagon would get $252.2 billion in budget authority; nuclear weapons spending by the Energy Department would be $10.6 billion, and an additional $900 million would be spent elsewhere in the government on defense-related activities.

Active-duty troop levels would fall by 86,000 in the coming budget year, to 1.52 million. This would follow a 94,000 reduction planned by the end of this fiscal year.

Clinton proposed a one-year reduction for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 of 181,000 in Defense Department uniformed and civilian personnel.

Defense Secretary William Perry, who took over from Aspin last Friday, said in a statement accompanying the budget that it is the "bottom line" for the nation's security, although aides acknowledged some in Congress will want bigger cuts.

A senior Defense Department official, who briefed reporters on details of the 1995 budget, said Congress is likely to challenge the administration's plan to continue spending billions on the new Air Force F-22 stealth fighter, a new attack submarine and the new Comanche attack helicopter for the Army - all projects started by previous administrations.

The budget would eliminate spending for the F-16 fighter, the Navy's A/F-X developmental aircraft and the Air Force's proposed multi-role fighter for the 21st century.

The Pentagon also anticipates complaints from others that it is cutting the military too deeply and too quickly to maintain a top-flight fighting force.

As a preemptive strike against charges of too-drastic cuts, the Pentagon is building the case for its 1995 budget on the central theme of "readiness" - the extent to which the nation's soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines are prepared and motivated to fight and win wars anywhere in the world.

Spending on readiness would increase by $1.7 billion, after accounting for inflation, over the 1994 level, and about three-quarters of the increase would go to the Army, which last year did not meet its training goals because of budget limits.

The budget includes a 1.6 percent pay raise for all uniformed and civilian defense employees.

The Army: This would remain the largest service, in terms of people in uniform, although it would shrink to 510,000 after dropping 32,000 people this year. The number of active-duty divisions would remain at 12.

The Navy: This would shed 29,000 people to reach 442,000, after dropping 39,000 last year. The number of ships would drop to 373 from 387 and aircraft carriers would remain at 12, although one would be moved from active to reserve status.

The Marine Corps: This would slip to 174,000 people from 177,000 at the end of this budget year. It will still operate three active divisions and one reserve.

The Air Force: This would go from 425,700 people this year to 400,000 next year. It had 444,000 in 1993. It would have the equivalent of 13.0 active fighter wings by the end of 1995, compared with 13.4 wings this year and 16.1 wings last year.

Although the administration is proposing to continue cutting troops, the pace of the reductions is slackening and would slow even more in the next four years. But cuts in civilian defense workers would greatly increase.

The Pentagon's net loss of active-duty military people in 1994 is 7,800 per month. That would lessen to 7,100 per month under the Clinton plan for 1995.

Civilian losses, however, would jump from 1,165 a month this year to 4,100 a month next year.

The 1995 budget includes $2.8 billion for the closing of military bases as required by Congress; $5.7 billion for environmental cleanup and pollution prevention at military installations, $5 billion for military construction and $3.3 billion for military housing.

Copyright (c) 1994 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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