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Budget Request to Include Funds for Iraq, Afghanistan Operations

By Steven Donald Smith
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 3, 2006 – A $70 billion supplemental fund for ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan will be part of the administration's fiscal 2007 budget request set to be delivered to Congress Feb. 6, officials said yesterday.

"The president has committed to ensuring that our military forces have not only what they need, but they have it in the quantities that they need to be successful in prosecuting the military components of the war on terror," Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Bryan Whitman said during a teleconference. Joel Kaplan, deputy director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, also took part in the call.

The supplement "is essential for our military forces to be able to continue their operations, to continue to carry out the strategy in Iraq ... to train and equip the security forces that will allow them to continue to take over greater and greater responsibility, and for us to, as we hand over responsibility, take more of a supporting role, a training role, and eventually be able to reduce our numbers," Whitman said.

The $70 billion is in addition to the $50 billion supplemental spending authority contained in the defense bill passed in December, bringing the total fiscal 2006 expenditure for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan to $120 billion, Kaplan said.

The $70 billion is an estimate, not a final number, Whitman said. "We'll have better granularity at the time that (the budget) gets transmitted to the Congress," he said.

The officials also estimated another $50 billion emergency allowance will be needed to cover operational expenses in Iraq and Afghanistan during the first part of fiscal 2007.

"This is in anticipation of a bridge fund like the Congress provided in the fiscal year 2006 DoD appropriations bill," Kaplan said. "That's essentially a plug number to make sure, again, that we're reflecting ongoing costs." He promised to send forward a detailed request on that allowance later this spring.

Kaplan said the total cost of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan to date has been about $320 billion.

He explained that there are three distinct parts to the $70 billion supplemental.

"The first ... is for military operations and intelligence," he said. "Those costs constitute the major portion of the supplemental request and cover such items as pay and benefits for reservists, war-related benefits for the active-duty military, fuel, spare parts, logistics -- all of the normal operations elements."

The second component will be for repairing and replacing equipment, and to fund "new resources to protect our troops against roadside bombs and makeshift improvised explosive devices that have been a major source of casualties," Kaplan said.

The final portion will go toward "stabilization support and embassy operations in Iraq and Afghanistan," he said. "The supplemental will include ... funds to operate the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, as well as programs critical to combating the insurgency and sustaining the transition to Iraqi political, economic and security self-reliance."

The supplemental funds also will be used for more training of the Iraqi and Afghan security forces, Kaplan added.

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