Tony Capaccio
February 20, 2009

The Pentagon needs at least $83 billion more for combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan through the end of this fiscal year, Pentagon officials told the White House.

This figure includes $7.3 billion to pay for adding troops in Afghanistan, Pentagon officials wrote to the Office of Management and Budget on Feb. 3. The U.S. will add about 17,000 to its force of 38,000, President Barack Obama announced this week.

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The $83 billion is $13.3 billion more than Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in late December was needed. That estimate of $69.7 billion didn’t include the cost of sending more troops to Afghanistan, he said then.

Congress already has approved $65.9 billion in emergency wartime spending for fiscal 2009, which ends Sept. 30. The latest request would bring the amount to about $149 billion.

That is less than the $176 billion Congress approved for fiscal 2008 and the $171 billion for fiscal 2007, according to the Congress Research Service.

The Pentagon, in its letter, told OMB it “believes that $130 billion to $140 billion will be required in fiscal 2010.”

“Final decisions on these numbers require greater clarity on the pace of force flows into Afghanistan and out of Iraq,” it said.

The U.S. commander in Iraq, Army General David McKiernan, said Feb. 18 that the 17,000 extra soldiers and Marines “will get us what we need” through the summer months and the Afghan elections now scheduled for Aug. 20.

That number will give him “roughly two-thirds” of the additional 30,000 troops he requested to beat back a renewed Taliban insurgency, he told reporters at the Pentagon.

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