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Rumsfeld Proposes Defense Cuts

June 27, 2001 GMT

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Bush administration on Wednesday submitted to Congress a $329 billion defense budget for 2002 that proposes cutting the Air Force fleet of B-1B bombers, retiring all 50 Peacekeeper long-range nuclear missiles and planning an unspecified number of base closings in 2003.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said the administration’s amended 2002 defense budget is $18.4 billion more than President Bush had proposed in February and $33 billion more than the current defense budget.

``If we are to extend this period of peace and prosperity, we need to prepare now for the new and different threats we will face in the decades ahead and not wait until they finally emerge,″ Rumsfeld said.

Rumsfeld told a Pentagon news conference that the $18.4 billion increase is the biggest for any year since the mid-1980s.

Nonetheless Rumsfeld acknowledged that the increase does not meet all of the military service’s needs for 2002 and leaves some important areas of military operations on a trend line that is ``still negative.″

He blamed the Clinton administration for allowing spending in critical areas to slip year by year.

``The coasting went on too long,″ he said.