Request for $25 Billion to Cover Near-Term Expenses, Wolfowitz Says
By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May. 13, 2004 President Bush's request for a $25 billion emergency fund is not to be confused with a full fiscal 2005 supplemental funding request planned for early next year, the DoD's second-ranking civilian leader said on Capitol Hill today.
Rather, it is meant to ensure commanders have what they need in the meantime to cover near-term but unpredictable expenses in the global war on terror, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
"The reserve fund that we are requesting will provide an insurance plan so that the Defense Department has adequate resources for both its core defense activities and its operations in Iraq and Afghanistan," Wolfowitz said. "It is critical so that we can avoid any disruption in funding for our military forces."
Wolfowitz said the plan had been to "cash-flow" operations until submitting a more precisely calculated supplemental budget request in early 2005 for the balance of the fiscal year. But higher projected troop levels, he added, have created the possibility that beyond February or March, not enough money would be available in certain funding accounts, especially Army operations and maintenance. "This reserve fund will eliminate that risk and provide a margin of safety," he said.
Uncertainty over how upcoming elections in Afghanistan and the turnover of sovereignty in Iraq will play out makes it impossible to calculate now what a full fiscal 2005 supplemental funding request would need to be, Wolfowitz said. "Depending on the circumstances, we could face the need for either more troops or fewer troops, (or) for either more intensive operations or less intensive operations," he explained.
The contingency funding, Wolfowitz pointed out, would help fuel the coalition's three-part strategy in Iraq: building capable Iraqi security forces, nurturing Iraq's capacity for representative self-government, and restoring the country's infrastructure and essential services.
"We've encountered intense armed resistance in recent weeks, but that does not invalidate these three basic elements of the strategy," he said. "In fact, what the enemy fears most is that Iraqis will be in charge of their own country, and then the enemy will face what that key terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi called 'suffocation.'"
Surviving hard-core elements of Saddam Hussein's regime "have everything to lose" in being held accountable for their crimes by the government of a free and sovereign Iraq, Wolfowitz said.
"They and the terrorists and foreign fighters with whom they make common cause are tough and ruthless killers. But they have no positive vision to offer Iraq only fear and death and destruction. They are trying to destabilize the country before it has a chance to stand on its own feet."