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Bush Sends Supplemental Budget Request to Congress

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 15, 2005 – President Bush requested almost $90 billion from Congress to pay for the on-going war on terrorism and other emergency measures.

The White House submitted the request to Congress Feb. 14.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said it is important to view the supplemental request and the fiscal 2006 Defense Budget Request together. The supplemental funds the force for current combat. The 2006 request allows military officials to plan for the long-term capabilities of the U.S. military.

A total of $74.9 billion is earmarked for the Defense Department. "The majority of this request will ensure that our troops continue to get what they need to protect themselves and complete their mission," Bush said in a written statement.

The request is in addition to the $25 billion Congress has already approved. At current operation levels, the money will see the department through the end of fiscal 2005.

The supplemental funding request will cover the basic costs of the war, the Army's modularity program and training Iraqi and Afghan security forces. It also funds other emergencies such as relief to the countries affected by the tsunami and war-torn Sudan.

Overall, the request budgets $36.3 billion for combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. That funding covers food, water, spare parts, transportation and other logistics support.

An important part of the supplemental will refill the commander's emergency response program coffers. The request will give unit commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan an additional $354 million to spend on projects in those countries that will help local people.

For the first time, a supplemental will address the wear and tear on military equipment being used in Iraq and Afghanistan. DoD has budgeted about $5.4 billion for the process.

For example, the average piece of equipment is experiencing 4.5 years of wear during a single year, officials said. Bradley fighting vehicles normally put on 800 miles in a year. In Iraq, soldiers are driving Bradley vehicles about 4,000 miles a year. Added to this are environmental factors dust and sand mostly in Iraq and Afghanistan. Plus, damage caused by simple use and enemy actions add up.

The request also includes about $2 billion to help coalition partners fighting alongside U.S. troops. This includes aid to the Pakistani military chasing down al Qaeda terrorists on the border with Afghanistan.

Roughly $3.3 billion is slated for force-protection measures. This includes money for adding armor to all convoy trucks, more armored security vehicles, night-vision equipment and protection for helicopters.

Almost $7 billion will go to training for Iraqi and Afghan security forces, a priority for the coalition. U.S. officials said the number of coalition forces in Iraq is directly tied to Iraqis and Afghans being able to shoulder the security burden. The plan calls for $5.7 billion to go to Iraq and $1.3 billion for Afghanistan.

The request budgets $5 billion for the Army modularity program. This will reorganize the Army from a "division-centric" organization to emphasize brigades as the basic fighting units. Further, the new brigades will be more lethal and more agile and have more capabilities inherent to the unit.

The modularity program will mean 10 new brigades in the active duty Army, raising the total to 43. The supplemental will provide the three brigades being stood up this year with the needed equipment and training and personnel.

Questions from Congress have arisen on why funding for modularity wouldn't be better as part of the fiscal 2006 budget request. DoD officials stress that the Army is moving ahead already with the conversion and getting the funds as part of the 2005 supplemental allows the service to speed up the transition. Army officials said that future funding for the program will be included in the fiscal defense budget requests.

The supplemental will also fund increases in the death benefit paid to survivors of those killed in combat. The bill will authorize a payment of $100,000. This would be retroactive for all servicemembers killed in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Other portions of the supplemental allocate some $600 million more for tsunami relief and reconstruction. This brings the total U.S. government contribution up to $950 million.

The request also sets aside $100 million for Sudan to put in place the peace treaty recently signed by both sides in the civil war. The money can also go to help the people of Darfur.

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