"Blame it on 2MRC, the nation's primary military sizing mechanism," explains TIME Pentagon correspondent Mark Thompson. "2MRC is the requirement that calls for the military to be prepared to fight two wars at the same time." The doctrine has stayed in place, Cold War or not, and it is one of the major reasons why the military budget -- now targeted at $1.4 trillion over the next five years -- remains so massive. 2MRC requires maintaining a certain level of equipment and personnel -- all of which costs more and more each year. Until the basic doctrine is reassessed -- and "President Clinton is not about to jettison 2MRC," says Thompson -- expect the Pentagon to keep holding out its tin cup.
Hey brother, can you spare an additional $120 billion over the next five years? Despite these lean budgetary times, that's been the military's refrain of late, voiced again Tuesday by Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon. It's a tune that may be hard for some pols and citizens to hum during this period of relative peace, but the Pentagon isn't likely to stop singing it soon.