Rice, Rumsfeld Make Their Cases for Supplemental Request
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 9, 2006 In a rare joint appearance before Congress, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice today urged the Senate Appropriations Committee to quickly pass a $91 billion supplemental spending bill.
The bill proposes $65.3 billion to fund operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as about $20 billion needed for Hurricane Katrina reconstruction. The two cabinet members appeared with Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Army Gen. John Abizaid, commander of U.S. Central Command.
Rumsfeld said the supplemental includes $34.7 billion for on-going deployments and operations by U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. The request also includes $5.9 billion to continue training and equipping Iraqi and Afghan security forces and almost $2 billion to counter the threat of improvised explosive devices.
The request continues Army transformation to a modular force built around brigade combat teams. The bottom line for this is $3.4 billion.
Pace said the $10.4 billion request for repairing or replacing damaged or destroyed equipment is being spent wisely. He said the services are using their experiences to buy not the same old equipment, but rather items that have proven themselves in combat.
Finally, the supplemental request asks for $60 million as reimbursement for the cost of the military response to the earthquake in Pakistan.
Rice asked for funding to help the Afghan and Iraqi governments continue their political growth and to shore up democracy in the region. She said these long-range programs will help turn people away from extremism.
Even though the extremists are under constant pressure and on the defensive, they still seek to bring terror to American shores and cities and to all who oppose their views, Rumsfeld said. "These enemies cannot win a single conventional battle, so they challenge us through nontraditional asymmetric means with terror as their weapon of choice," he said. "Their current priority is to prevent the successful emergence of a democratic government in Iraq and Afghanistan."
The terrorists want to force the United States and its coalition partners to abandon Iraq and Afghanistan before these nations are fully able to defend themselves, Rumsfeld said.
The terrorists also are skillful at manipulating the media. "One of their principal goals is to make our cause look hopeless," he said.
But the cause is not hopeless, Rumsfeld said. Terrorists in Iraq tried to disrupt three elections in Iraq, but failed, he said. The Feb. 22 attack on the Golden Mosque in Samarra was aimed at stopping the formation of a permanent Iraqi government, "and thus far (terrorists) are failing at that as well," he said.
Developing capabilities in allies is just as important as deploying American forces. Often terrorists work within the borders of countries that are allies of the United States, Rumsfeld said. The governments of these countries do not have the capabilities to fight the extremists, who are drawn to ungoverned spaces in these countries. Relatively small investments, such as train-and-equip programs with the Philippines and the Republic of Georgia, are cost-effective ways of allowing allies to confront and end terrorism, he said.
"When allies control their own territory it is less likely American forces will be needed," he said. This saves Americans from having to go in harm's way and is also cheaper. He said it costs about $90,000 a year to sustain an American servicemember overseas. This is compared to $11,000 to sustain an Afghan soldier or about $40,000 for an Iraqi, he said.
"I am concerned about the House Appropriations Committee decision to cut $1 billion out of the $5.9 billion request for sustaining and supporting Iraqi and Afghan security forces," Rumsfeld said. "In my view, that is clearly an enormously important thing for our country to be doing and it unquestionably is cost-effective."
Both Rice and Rumsfeld addressed questions about why the administration did not fund on-going operations through the regular budget request. Rice said enemy action does not follow the American budget cycle. Rumsfeld said the supplemental request allows the department to be more detailed and stops the department from having to reprogram money.
Senate officials expect the chamber to act on the emergency supplemental measure in April.