Bush Delivers Supplemental War Funding Request to Congress
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 22, 2007 President Bush has submitted to Congress a request for $42.3 billion in supplemental war funding.
The amendment places the total funding for the global war on terrorism at $189.3 billion for fiscal 2008.
“Parts of this war are complicated, but one part is not, and that is, America should do what it takes to support our troops and protect our people,” Bush said from the Roosevelt Room at the White House today. “And today I sent Congress an updated supplemental war funding request that will do just that.”
Most of the supplemental funding supports day-to-day military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, the president said. “The bill provides for basic needs, like bullets and body armor, protection against (improvised explosive devices), and mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles,” he said. “It also funds training missions, vital embassy programs, improvements in Iraqi security forces, and intelligence operations that protect our troops.”
The request will fund continued operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as in other areas of the fight against terror.
“These are urgent military necessities, and the supplemental was prepared in close consultation with our commanders on the ground,” Bush said. “This funding is what (Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, Multinational Force Iraq commander) and other military leaders say we need -- and Congress ought to give it to them.”
In Afghanistan, Bush said, U.S. troops, NATO allies and Afghan forces are making gains against the Taliban and al Qaeda. In Iraq, though the campaign to provide security for the Iraqi people has been “difficult and dangerous,” he said, it’s producing results.
“Al Qaeda and other extremists have been driven from strongholds in places like Anbar province and parts of Diyala province,” the president said. “In Baghdad, the number of Iraqi civilians murdered by terrorists and death squads is down sharply. Throughout Iraq, the number of American service members killed in September was the lowest since July 2006. And the level of violence during Ramadan was down significantly from last year.”
Bush noted that last month, Petraeus said he believes successes in Iraq mean U.S. forces can maintain the same level of security with fewer American forces. “I accepted this recommendation that we not replace about 2,200 Marines who left Anbar last month,” the president said. “We expect to bring home another 3,500 soldiers by Christmas. The funds in the supplemental are crucial to continuing this policy of ‘return on success.’ Every member of Congress who wants to see both success in Iraq and our troops begin to come home should strongly support this bill.”
The supplemental spending request also includes emergency funding for other critical national security needs, Bush said. “It includes money to improve medical care for our wounded warriors,” he noted. “It funds equipment repair, and upgrades the strategic readiness of the Army. It provides crucial relief for Iraqi refugees. It supports the peacekeeping mission of the United Nations in Darfur. It delivers vital assistance for our partners in Mexico and Central America, who are working to break up drug cartels, and fight organized crime, and stop human trafficking. All of these are urgent priorities of the United States, and the Congress should fund them without delay.”
The supplemental request breaks the funding into four major parts: continuing the fight, reconstituting the force, enhancing forces, and emergency requests.
Continuing the fight calls for $23.8 billion. This is on top of $101.9 billion the administration requested in February. The amendment includes $6.3 billion to fund operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the cost of the surge in Iraq.
“When we submitted the budget to Congress, it was based on the presumption of at least 15 (brigade combat teams in Iraq),” said a senior defense official, speaking on background. “Since then, obviously, we surged up an additional five (brigade combat teams). We funded that – the fiscal 2007 costs – through the emergency supplemental. This picks up from 1 October the current force structure, which is 20 (brigade combat teams), but also recognizes the fact that starting in December we will be reducing this force structure by five (brigade combat teams) by July.”
It also includes $14.2 billion for force protection and research and acquisition to defeat improvised explosive devices. In this account is $11 billion for mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles used by Marines and soldiers.
“This is the next increment for fiscal 2008,” the official said. “It represents the entire increment for the year. This is an additional 7,274 vehicles, which will then bring us to a total of 15,274.” The entire requirement for the vehicles in fiscal 2008 will be more than $16 billion.
The continuing-the-fight account also includes $1 billion for training and equipping Iraqi security forces, $200 million for commanders’ emergency response funds in Afghanistan, $1 billion for military construction, and $1 billion for military intelligence. The last includes the cost of 24 more Predator unmanned aerial vehicles.
The request also asks for $100 million for restarting Iraqi factories. “This will further reindustrialization of the Iraqi economy,” the official said. “Investing in textile factories and other commercial enterprises to try and get them up on their feet. We appropriated about $50 million for this in 2007, and it’s just a continuation of our efforts.”
The next largest bloc of money goes to reconstituting the force. The amendment asks for $8.8 billion on top of $37.6 billion. “This is largely to address the equipment that is lost or damaged in the theater,” the official said. “It’s also to deal with the wear and tear on a number of our platforms.”
These are mostly ground-combat systems, senior defense officials said. “In this amendment alone, we are requesting 383 Strykers, over 4,100 Humvees, over 11,000 of the family of trucks … and over 72,000 SINCGARS radios,” the official said. “This gives you a flavor of the kind of equipment we are talking about.”
Enhancing forces gets a big plus-up under the amendment, with $6.4 billion on top of $1.6 billion requested previously.
Another $1 billion goes to strengthening the Army Reserve and the Army National Guard. The money funds the 12-month reserve-component deployment policy and allows pre-deployment training at home station rather than at a mobilization station. “About three quarters of this funding is used to buy the training days that these troops will incur,” the official said.
A total of $5.4 billion goes to restoring the force. This initiative increases equipment that “next-to-deploy” forces receive and improves military readiness by allowing deploying forces to train at battalion and brigade levels earlier in their training cycles. This account also funds equipment shortfalls in combat vehicles, communications, logistics vehicles and weapons.
Finally, additional emergency funding requests are part of the amendment package. These total $2.5 billion for fiscal 2008. The amendment calls for $800 million to enhance servicemember and family support, with $700 million going to the Army and $100 million to the Marines. “This is to provide additional money for child care centers, additional money for youth programs and to set up Warrior Transition Units and also investing in additional family readiness support assistants,” he said.
It also calls for $500 million for programs for wounded, ill and injured troops. This money will improve trauma and rehabilitative care for wounded personnel, senior defense officials said. The money will pay for hiring more case workers, renovating existing facilities and building new facilities.
A total of $400 million accelerates construction of hospitals at Fort Belvoir, Va., and Bethesda, Md. The money also will speed the closure of Walter Reed Army Medical Center here by about nine months, the official said.
Finally, the request funds $800 million for fuel cost increases.
Senior defense officials urged Congress to act on the requests quickly. “The most critical things in here are for our force protection. Clearly, MRAPs are important, (as well as) the funding for additional reset items. If they delay action, that continues to reduce our readiness posture,” another senior defense official said. “We’re pushing for (Congress) to get as much done as possible.”