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Proposed Pay Jump: The Obama Administration’s proposed $533.7 billion budget for the Department of Defense in Fiscal 2010 includes a 2.9 percent pay increase for US service personnel. The figure, somewhat lower than pay raises requested in the past two years, reflects the "constrained economic environment," but is “not all that different” from them, said Defense Secretary Robert Gates, while briefing reporters Feb. 26. Gates noted that Congress has been inclined to bump up the DOD’s proposed pay hikes. "Two years ago, we went to the Hill with about the same request; it was 3 percent," he said, continuing, "And last year, we went with a request for 3.5 percent. In both cases, the Congress added to it." The White House issued its Fiscal 2010 budget summary Feb. 26, including the $533.7 billion defense topline, which is about $20 billion, or nearly four percent more than the $513 billion appropriated for DOD in Fiscal 2009. The details of the new budget will be submitted to Congress next month. (AFPS report by John Kruzel)