Pentagon plans huge war investment

1/4 of the $50 billion down payment to replace damaged weapons and equipment.

usa american flag 298 (photo credit: AP)
usa american flag 298
(photo credit: AP)
President George W. Bush would spend a quarter of the $50 billion down payment he wants for next year's Iraq and Afghanistan war costs to replace damaged weapons and equipment, while an additional $3 billion would go to train and equip Iraqi and Afghan forces. A document detailing the plan, obtained by The Associated Press, proposes spending $2.3 billion for new armor for troops and vehicles and efforts aimed at thwarting missiles. Another $2.1 billion would go to protect troops from roadside bombs. The summary provides a detailed look at how the Defense Department envisions distributing the $50 billion Bush has requested for the initial months of the government's 2007 budget year, which starts October 1st. When Bush asked Congress for the money in February, the military provided few details on how it would be spent. The money is expected to tide over the military until another war-spending request can be delivered to Congress, probably around February. Costs for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars since 2001 are approaching half a trillion dollars. The document, not yet released by the Pentagon, was intended as informal guidance to congressional committees as they prepare next year's budget, said Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Brian Maka. According to the summary, $13 billion is needed to repair and replace equipment worn by battle and harsh desert conditions. About $9 billion would go toward buying new equipment, including two V-22 Osprey hybrid helicopter-airplane aircraft; four C-130J cargo planes; one C-17 cargo plane; seven UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters; and 11 CH-47 Chinook helicopters. The V-22 Osprey aircraft can fly like a plane and land like a helicopter. The Ospreys are needed to replace older aircraft destroyed in combat that are no longer in production, the Pentagon says. "Without sufficient funding, the department would be forced to strip combat units in the United States and in other locations for equipment and munitions, thus making these units ill equipped," the summary said. Almost half the money, $24.3 billion, would be to provide food, water and medical support for troops, purchase parts and fuel for equipment and maintain military facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan. Stating that more than 50 Iraqi battalions are controlling significant parts of Iraq, the document requests $1.7 billion to aid those forces "so the coalition can continue to hand over control of even more territory to Iraqi forces." About $1.5 billion would go toward training and equipping Afghan forces. According to the document, 59,000 Afghan soldiers and police have been trained. The House of Representatives on June 20 passed a fiscal 2007 defense spending bill that included the $50 billion war fund. The Senate, which has not taken up its version of the bill, is expected to approve the money later this year.