DOD supplement would boost radio, control systems

The House Appropriations Committee approved President Bush's 2005 Defense Department supplemental spending bill March 3 and added $332 million to fund an important Army tactical command and control system and Army and Marine Corps radios for use in Iraq.

Committee additions to the supplemental funding include $146 million for the Army's Force XXI Battle Command Brigade-and-Below system.

The bill also included $55 million to purchase Single Channel Ground-to-Air Radio System radios from ITT Industries to equip Army troops in Iraq. Army officials said last December they had initiated an emergency procurement for 20,000 system radios for soldiers in Iraq.

Committee members also added $28 million to Army accounts for AN/PRC-150 high frequency/very high frequency radios produced by Harris and AN/PRC-148 squad radios manufactured by Thales Communications. The bill added $103 million for radios for purchase of Marine Corps radios, including high data rate Enhanced Position Location Reporting System radios manufactured by Raytheon, AN/PRC-117 multiband radios from Harris and a communications vehicles equipped with high-frequency radios.

President Bush requested $81.9 billion for the DOD supplemental funding in 2005; the House committee approved $81.1 billion. Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.), committee chairman, said he hopes the supplemental bill will be ready for the president's signature by early April.

The committee added funding for two systems designed to counter improvised explosive devices, such as mines and roadside bombs, which have caused casualties in Iraq. The bill provides $50 million in funding for Warlock bomb jammers manufactured by EDO and $18.3 million for the Handheld Stand-off Mine Detection System, which uses ground penetrating radar to detect mines, manufactured by CyTerra. The supplemental bill would provide $156 million in research and development funds to counter improvised explosive devices and the Joint Deep Operations Coordination System, which provides a suite of tools for coordination of artillery and air support over battlefields.

While Bush portrayed the supplemental funds as necessary for operations and Iraq and Afghanistan, administration officials and committee members used the bill to fund projects in other agencies, including $250 million for the new Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

The money would cover construction of a new facility to house the intelligence director's office and other intelligence community elements. The FBI would get $40 million for expansion of its multiagency Terrorism Screening Center, an around-the-clock facility designed to coordinate intelligence on terrorist threats.

Tsunami warning and information systems would also benefit from Bush's supplemental budget request and additions by the appropriations committee. If the bill goes through, there would be $14.5 million for additional employees at tsunami warning centers operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Alaska and Hawaii and expansion of tsunami warning networks and systems. Committee members also used the supplemental bill to add another $14.5 million to NOAA's budget for 32 new tsunami detection buoys, which will be placed in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico.

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