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Obama requests $83.4 billion more for war spending

Defense Secretary Gates argues that the additional money is needed to prevent abrupt troop withdrawals. The administration says it's 'the last supplemental for Iraq and Afghanistan.'

April 10, 2009|Julian E. Barnes

WASHINGTON — President Obama is seeking an additional $83.4 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, a request that will drive the cost of the two wars to nearly $1 trillion since 2001.

The budget request, to cover operations for the remainder of 2009, comes on top of $67.2 billion approved last fall as a down payment for the year. However, the annual total, about $150 billion, is lower than the amount spent in 2008, after the conclusion of the U.S. troop "surge" in Iraq.

Obama has criticized the use of such emergency funding measures, called supplemental appropriations, to pay for the war. The president's first budget, for 2010, will move more of the wars' costs into the main Pentagon spending plan.

"This will be the last supplemental for Iraq and Afghanistan," said Robert Gibbs, the White House spokesman. "The process by which this has been funded . . . will change."

The U.S. has spent $859 billion on military operations and foreign assistance in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the Congressional Research Service.

The additional money will raise the total to $942 billion.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said that without the funding, the U.S. would be forced to make sudden withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan.

"And I don't know anybody who thinks that's a good idea," he said.

The $83.4-billion request includes $75.8 billion for military operations. An additional $7.1 billion will go to diplomatic efforts and foreign aid, including $1.6 billion for Afghanistan, $1.4 billion for Pakistan and $700 million for Iraq.

In February, the Obama administration estimated that it would need $75.5 billion. The extra money will be used in part for $400 million to increase security on the U.S.-Mexico border.

The proposal also includes an additional $3.6 billion for Afghanistan's forces and $400 million to help fund counterinsurgency efforts in Pakistan.

The supplemental request will have $600 million for four additional F-22 fighter jets, the last the Pentagon plans to purchase as it switches to other planes. However, the switch is controversial, and Congress could require the Pentagon to continue adding F-22s to the fleet.

The supplemental includes $8.8 billion to replace equipment damaged or lost during combat, including a range of new attack and transport helicopters.

The Pentagon is also seeking $3.8 billion for military intelligence, including equipment for counter-terrorism teams and additional airborne surveillance.

julian.barnes@latimes.com

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

The price of war

Iraq and Afghan wars in current dollars; others in 2008 dollars.

American Revolution: $1.8 billion

War of 1812: $1.2 billion

Mexican War: $1.8 billion

Civil War -- Union: $45 billion

Civil War -- Confederacy: $15 billion

Spanish-American War: $6.8 billion

World War I: $253 billion

World War II: $4.1 trillion

Korean War: $320 billion

Vietnam War: $686 billion

Persian Gulf War: $96 billion

Iraq and Afghan wars: $942 billion

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Sources: Congressional Research Service, Pentagon, Office of Management and Budget

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