The 2009 Defense Authorization Act, which included a host of improvements in military pay and benefits, capped by a 3.9 percent raise, and was signed into law by President Bush. The pay raise, which takes effect on Jan. 1, marks the eighth consecutive year in which pay for service members will exceed the average increase in private-sector wage growth. There is more to the defense bill than pay and benefits increases, however. It also includes $531.4 billion in budget authority for peacetime defense programs, including weapons research and purchases, operations and training, military construction and health care programs and other personnel costs. Also in the bill is permission for the Pentagon to spend $68.6 billion for ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan " enough for about six months at the current pace of expenses. The law includes $8.6 billion for the Army and $1.8 billion for the Marine Corps to repair or replace equipment, and $800 million for additional equipment for National Guard and reserve forces. The new law is called the Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act, named for the retiring California Republican who is a member of the House Armed Services Committee and a former chairman. Hunter is a Vietnam veteran who has served in Congress since 1980. His son, a Marine veteran, is running to succeed him. Hunter said there is much to like in the law, but it still has some shortfalls.