Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said President Bush's proposal for a massive increase in defense spending is well-justified and will ultimately save both money and lives.
Mr. Rumsfeld appears to be taking a pre-emptive shot aimed at minimizing criticism of the President's proposal.
Mr. Bush wants $48 billion more for defense spending, the biggest increase in military expenditures in two decades.
Mr. Rumsfeld said it is a wise investment that could save money and lives. "If one thinks about the cost in dollars and lives of a conflict," he said, "there is no question but that investment before the fact is much cheaper."
The money, on top of the current $331 billion budget, would go to fund the war on terrorism, transforming the military into a 21st century fighting force, and giving soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines a pay raise.
Mr. Rumsfeld said the additional funds will help thwart new threats. "Our enemies," he said, "are learning from our successes and their mistakes and certainly they'll continue to seek new ways to threaten us. The budget will provide resources for precision-guided munitions as well as funds for defenses against missiles and other asymmetric threats, for unmanned vehicles and for advanced equipment for soldiers on the ground."
Precision-guided munitions have been used to great success in the war in Afghanistan as have unmanned spy planes.
But the Bush administration's plans for deploying expensive missile defenses remain controversial. Russia, China and some U.S. allies in Europe have criticized the plans even though the Pentagon says the anti-missile defenses would be aimed primarily against rogue states like Iran, Iraq and North Korea.