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Supplemental Calls for $62.6 Billion for Defense

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 24, 2003 – The defense portion of the fiscal 2003 emergency supplemental budget request is set at $62.6 billion.

The money makes up for shortfalls the department would experience due to the costs of the war to disarm Iraq and other expenses associated with the global war on terrorism.

The total supplemental request is set at $75 billion and includes funds for the departments of Homeland Security and State. The request will go to Capitol Hill tomorrow. If Congress does not act quickly on the request, some agencies within DoD could begin to run out of money to operate in May.

"We can't fund our regular operations if we don't get this money," said a senior defense official who spoke on background.

The three largest portions of the DoD portion will go to military operations support, $37.8 billion; personnel and personnel support, $15.6 billion; and procurement and research and development, $6.5 billion.

DoD has separated the money into categories. The largest is one they call "coercive diplomacy." That was the buildup phase. Troops and equipment flowed to the region even as U.S. officials tried to get Saddam Hussein to disarm his weapons of mass destruction programs peacefully. Officials estimate that amount at $30.3 billion. That amount also includes the money needed to get the troops and equipment home.

The major conflict phase is estimated to cost $13.1 billion. The official said this anticipates a "short- duration, high-intensity conflict.

Officials estimate the transitional and stability phase will cost roughly $12 billion and will start rebuilding Iraq. This money includes humanitarian supplies, the official said.

The reconstitution category is set at $7.2 billion and continues the task of rebuilding Iraq.

Officials asked that the funds be flexible. To that end, they asked Congress to place them in the Defense Emergency Response Fund. The fund, formed after the Sept. 11 attacks, was used to pay for some aspects of Operation Enduring Freedom. It allows DoD officials to shift funds where they are needed. If, for example, they find the cost of the major conflict phase is higher than expected and the transition phase is lower, then officials can shift the money to where it is needed.

The official said he would like to see the supplemental pass before Congress takes its Easter recess.

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