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Bush pushes military spending in radio address

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- In his last radio address before Independence Day, President Bush praised the nation's servicemen and women for defending liberty and promised military spending is one of his top priorities.

In his weekly address on Saturday, Bush said his amended budget request for the Department of Defense in 2002, announced this week, would improve the training, readiness and quality of life for U.S. servicemen. The proposal would raise overall defense spending by $18 billion -- with billions more for research and development of missile defense systems, as well as for military pay, housing, and medical care.

"The courage and patriotism of our servicemen and women are as sure and as strong as ever, and we owe them the same appreciation that we feel for the soldiers of Bunker Hill, Valley Forge and Yorktown," the president said. "We owe them fair salaries, first-class health benefits, and decent housing -- and what we owe, we will pay."

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Bush urged Congress to approve his defense requests promptly.

Other defense priorities, the president said, include an upcoming proposal for a new defense strategy "that recognizes the Cold War is over, but that threats to our security still remain." This will include a missile defense system now being discussed with U.S. allies and Russia, he added.

Although Bush said this is a time of "fresh thinking and rapid change" in national defense, the president added the quality and dedication of the nation's troops has not deviated over time.

"They give their best, they are the best, and they deserve the best," Bush said. "There is no greater honor for a president than to serve as commander-in-chief, and my budget priorities reflect the pride I feel in the outstanding people who serve and protect us all."

• White House
• U.S. Department of Defense
• U.S. Senate
• U.S. House of Representatives

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