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What a Half Trillion Dollars Will Buy: The Defense Department's $515.4 billion baseline budget proposal for Fiscal 2009 is $35.9 billion greater, or 7.5 percent more, than the Pentagon’s enacted appropriations in Fiscal 2008. That’s 5.5 percent growth in real terms, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said on Feb. 4. This half trillion dollars will maintain “the highly trained fighting force” of 2.2 million airmen, marines, sailors, and soldiers, DOD says. It will also recruit, train, and equip the new soldiers and marines being added under the five-year expansion of the Army and Marine Corps (see below). DOD expects to buy $45.6 billion worth of aircraft under strategic modernization accounts, $16.9 billion in shipbuilding activities and maritime systems, and $16.4 billion in C4I capabilities. It would also fund $11.5 billion in science and technology initiatives, $11 billion in munitions and missiles, $10.7 billion in space-based and related systems (see above), $10.5 billion in missiles defenses, and $9.2 billion in ground vehicles. And, DOD intends to spend $389 million in Fiscal 2009 to establish the new US Africa Command and $750 million to strengthen the military and security capabilities of global partners.