Rumsfeld Urges Speedy Approval of Supplemental Budget
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May. 9, 2006 Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld urged Congress today to quickly approve President Bush's 2006 supplemental budget request, telling Pentagon reporters delays will hamper military operations and slow down progress in Iraq.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, right, and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm. Edmund Giambastiani address questions at a May 9 Pentagon news conference. Photo by Staff Sgt. D. Myles Cullen, USAF
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The $72.4 billion supplemental request contains funds for the ongoing military, diplomatic and intelligence operations in the global war on terrorism. It designates $3.7 billion for the Iraqi Security Forces Fund and $2.2 billion for the Afghan Security Forces Fund.
Cuts in the request and delays in approving it will hamper what Rumsfeld called "truly significant process in turning over greater responsibility and territory to Iraq's army and police."
Navy Adm. Edmund Giambastiani, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, joined Rumsfeld at the podium today to note advances among Iraq's security forces. To date, 254,000 Iraqi soldiers and police and 58 Iraqi army battalions now oversee "vast areas of Iraq," he said.
Giambastiani cited two recent events that show continued progress. Iraq's 1st Brigade, 8th Division, took control of an area around Najaf that's about the size of Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island combined on April 25. And on May 6, the Iraqi army opened a joint operations center to exercise countrywide command control over the country's ground forces.
"I think you'll agree the progress of the Iraqi security forces has been significant," he said.
Interfering with this progress will slow down the timetable for U.S. troop reductions, Rumsfeld told reporters. "A slowdown in training and equipping the Iraqi security forces will have the unacceptable harmful effort of postponing the day when our men and women in uniform can return home with the honor and appreciation they deserve," Rumsfeld said.
Rumsfeld cited solid political progress taking place in Iraq, with the establishment of a permanent new government under a constitution ratified by the Iraqi people. Rumsfeld called recent steps toward assembling Iraq's new Cabinet "a welcome development after some months of difficult negotiations."
These developments "make it all the more important" that Congress move forward in approving the supplemental budget request, he said.
Failure to move quickly in approving the request puts critical accounts at risk. This forces the military services to move needed funds around from other parts of their budgets, particularly their operations, maintenance and training accounts, Rumsfeld said. "The Army and Marine Corps have already been forced to defer contract obligations due to impending budget shortfalls," he said.
Rumsfeld also urged Congress to resist adding extra, non-emergency items to the supplemental legislation. This "would have the effect of forcing tradeoffs between support for our troops in the field" and other priorities, he said.
"Our nation's defense should not be a bill payer for other parts of the budget at a time when our country is at war," he said.