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Rumsfeld Supports Supplemental Spending Request

By K.L. Vantran
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 24, 2003 – Acknowledging that $87 billion is "a great deal" of money, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told the Senate Appropriations Committee here today that the cost would be "far greater" if the United States sends a message to terrorists that "we're not willing to spend what it takes" to win the global war on terror.

The Bush Administration wants Congress to pass an $87 billion supplemental spending bill to pay for U.S. efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan and other costs associated with the war on terrorism.

"I believe our nation can afford whatever it takes to defend our people, to defend our way of life and to defend our vital interests," Rumsfeld said.

"To defend freedom in the 21st century, we need to root out terrorists," he continued. "We need to take the battle to the terrorists, and we need to help the now-free people in Iraq and Afghanistan rebuild from the rubble of tyranny and claim their places as responsible members of the community of nations."

The secretary recently returned from trips to Iraq and Afghanistan, and said he is convinced that while dangers still exist, progress is under way.

In Afghanistan, the terrorist training camps are gone and al Qaeda is on the run, said Rumsfeld. The Afghan people have been liberated and the country is on a path to democracy, he said.

In less than five months, most major hospitals and universities in Iraq have reopened, he added. In addition, 56,000 Iraqis have been trained and are contributing to the security and defense of their nation. Another 14,000 are in training.

"Together, we've accomplished a great deal," said Rumsfeld. But, he added, a good deal remains.

Helping Iraqis provide their own security is a "critical element" of the coalition's exit strategy, said Rumsfeld. "The sooner Iraq can defend its own people, the sooner the United States and coalition forces can turn over the responsibility of security to the Iraqis."

Reaching this goal, however, requires restoring critical infrastructure and basic services necessary to start the economy.

Iraq cannot make those improvements without assistance from the United States and the international community, said the secretary.

A major portion of the $20 billion earmarked for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq is to help the Iraqis assume responsibility for the security of their country. This includes training of the Iraqi police force, Iraqi Army, and border guards.

The majority of the supplemental spending request, $66 billion -- $51 billion in Iraq and $11 billion for Afghanistan, the horn of African and other Operation Enduring Freedom missions -- will support ongoing military operations. This includes military pay, fuel, transportation, maintenance, weapons, equipment, lifesaving body armor and ammunition.

Thanks to the courage of men and women in uniform, Rumsfeld said, two "brutal regimes have been removed from power, two nations have been rescued from tyranny and thousands of terrorists have been captured."

In the course of the global war on terror, the secretary said, many have given their lives while others have suffered serious wounds. The secretary said he is grateful to the brave troops and civilians of the United States and coalition countries that serve in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the global war on terror.

Noting that 75 percent of the supplemental spending request will support the troops, Rumsfeld said, "They need it, and they will need it soon."

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