MILITARY | TRAINING
Defense spending proposals announced by Defense Secretary Robert Gates include an increase of $500 million to the Army’s budget for helicopter crews and maintenance personnel, an acknowledgement of the key role rotorcraft are playing in the war in Afghanistan.
"Everywhere I go, I hear about the need for more helicopters," Gates said at a Pentagon news conference. Helicopters are "a capability that is in urgent demand in Afghanistan," he added, and was a priority in the defense budget.
If Congress approves the proposal, "virtually all of this money, or most of it, is going to go to accelerate the training of helicopter crews and pilots," Gates said. "Today the primary limitation on helicopter capacity is not airframes but shortages of maintenance crews and pilots, so our focus will be on recruiting and training more Army helicopter crews." — By Richard Whittle