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When President Clinton and Defense Secretary Les Aspin finally get around to filling second-tier jobs at the Pentagon, the appointees will be plunged into a raging internal battle over Star Wars. The big problem is that the $3.8 billion allocated for the Strategic Defense Initiative isn't enough to fund its big projects. The only major program that seems safe in the post-cold-war world is a tactical anti-missile system designed to protect troops from attack. This follow-on to Raytheon Co.'s Patriot system would be useful in regional conflicts like the Persian Gulf war. Left scrambling: funding for research into basic technologies, such as diamond films, and development of a system to protect the U.S. against strategic-missile attack. The Administration's preliminary budget hasn't made choices among these competing programs. "Until the new Clinton cadre gets in, we'll have internecine warfare," says one top Pentagon official.Edited by Stephen H. Wildstrom

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