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Pentagon and Homeland Security Chiefs Talk Money With Congress

By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 27, 2003 – Justifying the president's request for $75 billion in emergency funding for the cost of war in Iraq and the global war on terrorism, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told House and Senate Appropriations Committees today that "whatever the cost, it is worth it."

"We can't tell how long the effort in Iraq is going to last and we certainly can't tell what it's going to cost, but we do know that whatever it ends up costing it will be small compared to the cost in lives and treasure of another attack like the one we experienced on Sept. 11 or a weapons of mass destruction attack that could be far worse," Rumsfeld said.

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers joined Rumsfeld on Capitol Hill and helped explain the Pentagon's portion of the president's request, $62.6 billion.

Earlier today before the Senate, Homeland Security director Tom Ridge said his department needs about $33 billion for additional spending.

Myers told the House committee that protecting America has generated significant costs and that the military cannot absorb them. But he assured them that the money would be well spent.

"There is no doubt we will succeed in disarming Iraq," he said. "We will remove their WMDs, we will remove their thuggish leader, and we will lift the people of Iraq from under the boot of their oppressor."

Myers added that while "we have troops in combat the importance of support from home cannot be overstated. It's up to us to show them that our words are reflected in our actions."

The supplemental funds will go toward covering the cost of ammunition, food, water and transportation for thousands of military personnel serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, as well as beefing up Ridge's department.

Citing a study by the Milken Institute, an independent economic think tank in California, on the effects of the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. economy, Rumsfeld told the committee that metropolitan areas throughout the United States sustained losses of about $191 billion and 1.6 million jobs.

"That, not to mention the cost of lives and the pain and suffering of so many who lost husbands, wife, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters, sister and brothers," he said.

Rumsfeld added that the United States mission in the war on terror is to do everything in its power to prevent a chemical, biological or nuclear attack that would make Sept. 11 seem modest by comparison.

"Yes, $74 billion is a lot of money, but the cost of not investing that $74 billion is far greater," he said. "We need the funds and we need the flexibility as to how they are spent so we can adapt to the unknowable circumstances that will unfold in the weeks and months ahead."

Rumsfeld cautioned both houses of Congress that the war in Iraq is far from over. "The campaign could well grow more dangerous in the coming days and weeks as the coalition forces close in on Baghdad," he said. "The only thing that remains unclear is precisely how long it will take."

During the Senate meeting, Rumsfeld outlined the Pentagon expenses in detail, among them:

o $7.1 billion for transporting forces to and from the theater of operations.

o $13.1 billion to provide fuel, supplies, maintenance and spare parts, and operational support.

o $15.6 billion for personnel costs, such as special pay and compensation for mobilized reservists.

o $7.2 billion for replenishing forces with smart bombs, cruise missiles and other key munitions.

o $12 billion for stability and humanitarian operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

o $1.5 billion for support for the global war on terrorism.

o $1.3 billion to reimburse Pakistan and other key nations assisting in Afghanistan.

o $165 million for the training of the Afghan national army.

Rumsfeld said the Pentagon is meeting its obligations in the war by borrowing money from other programs, however, he cautioned that those funds are about to run dry.

"We've had to borrow from other programs because the war on terror wasn't funded. We have to recognize that that pattern cannot last much longer," he said. "If this continues, we'll run out of funds by late spring or early summer." If that were to happen, he said, the military would have to curtail training and other critical activities.

Meanwhile, Ridge outlined his agency's $33 billion request to secure the nation's homeland. He's seeking $3.5 billion for Operation Liberty Shield. That money, he said would go toward preventing the threat of terrorism by "providing money at the state and local level for first responders."

Among other Department of Homeland Security initiatives, $2 billion are marked for terrorism preparedness and prevention efforts and $1.5 billion would be spent on investigating and responding to unexpected threats of terrorism during the current heightened alert.

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