Pentagon Asks for Extra $99 Billion in War Funding

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Pentagon wants the White House to seek another $99.7 billion to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to information provided to The Associated Press.

The military's request, if embraced by President Bush and approved by Congress, would boost this year's budget for the wars to about $170 billion.

Military planners put the proposal together at a time when Bush is considering new strategies for the conflict in Iraq, including plans to quickly send thousands of additional troops to the war-ravaged country. Pentagon planners assembled the blueprint before Bush said he was considering that option.

Overall, the war in Iraq has so far cost about $350 billion. Combined with the conflict in Afghanistan and operations against terrorism elsewhere around the world, the cost to taxpayers has exceeded $500 billion, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.

The additional funds, if approved, would push this year's cost of the war in Iraq about $50 billion over the record set last year. In September, Congress approved an initial $70 billion for the current budget year.

A description of the Pentagon request was provided by a person familiar with the proposal who asked for anonymity because the person was not authorized to release the information.

The cost of the war has risen dramatically as the security situation has deteriorated and more equipment is destroyed or worn out in harsh conditions. The Army, which has borne the brunt of the fighting, would receive about half of the request, a reflection of the wear and tear the war has had on soldiers and their equipment.

Another $9.8 billion is being sought for training and equipping Iraq's and Afghanistan's security forces.

The administration's request for more Iraq money will be submitted along with Bush's February budget for the 2008 budget year, which starts next Oct. 1. The White House can add or subtract from the Pentagon request as it sees fit, and the total could grow if money is added for reconstruction costs.

In a memo several weeks ago, Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England encouraged the services to include in their budget requests projects connected to the broader fight against terrorism, as opposed to costs strictly limited to Iraq and Afghanistan. Critics have said that could be interpreted to cover almost anything.

© 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


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