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Supplemental Request Funds Iraqi, Afghan Security Forces, Official Says

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 7, 2006 – The U.S. military's fiscal 2006 budget supplemental request contains funds that are important for the continued training and development of Iraqi and Afghan security forces, a senior DoD official said here today.

Training and equipping more Iraqi and Afghan soldiers and police "is vital to being able to hand over greater responsibilities" to those countries' security forces, DoD spokesman Bryan Whitman told Pentagon reporters.

The supplemental totals $72.4 billion for ongoing military, diplomatic and intelligence operations in the global war on terrorism, according to Office of Management and Budget documents. It designates $3.7 billion for the Iraqi Security Forces Fund and $2.2 billion for the Afghan Security Forces Fund.

"This funding is key to our strategy for victory in Iraq, turning over control of more territory to Iraqi forces, and ensuring democracy in Afghanistan," Office of Management and Budget documents stated.

Today, "more than 250,000 Iraqi soldiers and police have now been trained and equipped and are on the job providing security for the Iraqi people," Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told reporters at a Pentagon news conference yesterday.

At the time of the defense secretary's visit to Afghanistan in late December 2005, almost 27,000 Afghan National Army soldiers and nearly 55,000 Afghan police had been trained. There are about 19,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan and around 130,000 serving in Iraq.

Whitman said Congress is slated to scrutinize the supplemental request in about two weeks after it returns from spring recess.

There are potential negative financial ramifications for DoD, Whitman said, if passage of the supplemental is delayed on Capitol Hill.

"Then, of course, the department has to continue to do business. And that's when you start doing things that you don't want to do and shifting money in ways that might not make sense and potentially hurt other (defense) programs, too," Whitman said.

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