Increased military spending is on the way because Congress will not tinker too much with the recommendations by President George W. Bush to beef up America's military.
Much of the proposed $379.3 billion he's asking for the Pentagon in fiscal 2003, which begins this Oct. 1, is for hardware. Lots of high-tech hardware. This is part of a $2.1 trillion total national budget.
We applaud the president's proposals for defense, which clearly are justified to make up for past deficiencies in military spending and to ensure financing of the continuing war on terrorism.
But we find the most satisfaction in his unequivocal call for an increase in pay for the men and women in uniform in all the branches of service.
They have been underpaid for much, much too long. They are given huge responsibilities and called upon to face deadly danger and to make endless sacrifices.
The young soldiers you see in Anchorage from Fort Richardson, the young airmen from Elmendorf Air Force Base who are so much a part of our community, and those in Navy, Marine and Coast Guard uniforms serving their country while stationed in Alaska, have too long been called upon to serve without adequate pay.
That they have done so is a tribute to their dedication, their patriotism and their commitment to doing jobs that involve nothing less than the safety of our country.
But we all have heard the horror stories of military families in the junior ranks having to rely on food stamps to get by month-to-month. We all know what it costs a family to raise children, to buy their clothes, to take care of their growing needs. And it has been hard -- and continues to be hard -- for some military families to get by.
The president's proposed pay increases will help.
From our view, whatever pay boosts come with the new fiscal year will be less than these soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guard folks deserve.
But we know the increased dollars, as inadequate as they may be, will be welcome.
These people deserve our support and praise for the sacrifices they make for us, and a grateful nation must ensure they continue to earn just compensation.
Service in uniform is a high calling.
We honor those who serve, more so than ever before since the tragic events of last Sept. 11.
We need to match that tribute with the dollars it takes to bring their pay more into line with the rest of the nation's economic scale of living.
There is no job in civilian life that equals what we expect of our men and women in uniform. Our freedom is in their hands. Thank goodness the president wants more equitable pay for these special neighbors of ours.
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