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Defense Department Update

Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Peter Pace and Commander of U.S. Central Command Gen. John Abizaid testified March 9 before the Senate Appropriations Committee regarding the president’s $91 billion supplemental appropriations request. Following are highlights of the Defense Department’s portion.

The bill proposes $65.3 billion to fund operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, including:

  • Ongoing deployments and operations by U.S. forces in the Afghanistan and Iraq theaters ($34.7 billion).
  • Continuing to develop Afghan and Iraqi security forces ($5.9 billion).
    • Developing the capabilities of these forces will help them control more of their territory, reducing the need for U.S. forces. This saves Americans’ lives and treasure.
    • Secretary Rumsfeld testified it costs about $90,000 per year to sustain a U.S. servicemember in theater, compared with $11,000 to sustain an Afghan soldier and about $40,000 for an Iraqi soldier.
  • Countering the threat of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) ($1.9 billion).
    • Gen. Pace testified the request will help test and buy jammers and detection devices, plus train with them in the desert before troops deploy. He said there has been an increase in the number of IEDs found before they exploded, and a decrease in the numbers of casualties per explosion, showing that the work and resources allocated are having positive effects.
  • Continuing the Army’s transformation to a modular force built around brigade combat teams, allowing the Army to transform the same time it’s fighting in combat ($3.4 billion). 
  • Repairing or replacing damaged or destroyed equipment ($10.4 billion).
    • These funds will be used to replenish Humvees, Bradley fighting vehicles, trucks, helicopters and other equipment that is wearing out or being damaged, Gen. Pace testified. Equipment is  being replaced not just one for one, but in some cases being replaced with items that will better serve the armed forces further into the future, rather than just the next 10 to 15 years.
  • Troop force protection ($2.6 billion).
    • Gen. Pace testified that this request added to the $3.8 billion already allocated and spent through fiscal 2005 on items such as individual body armor and up-armored Humvees shows that enormous energy and resources have been applied to force protection.
      • Requesting the funds in a supplemental appropriation rather than DoD’s annual budget allows the department to put together requests closer to the time they will be used, allowing for more accurate cost estimates.
  •  The traditional budget can take a year to formulate, another eight to 12 months to pass Congress, and then another year to execute. The supplemental also allows quicker access of funds when they are needed and stops the department from having to reprogram money. (link)
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