Obama Request Includes Four Raptors

By Michael Bruno

The Obama administration’s first off-book supplemental appropriations request includes $11.6 billion to refurbish or replace war-torn equipment, as well as $600 million to buy four F-22 Raptors to replace four legacy fighters lost due to combat operations.

Another $9.8 billion is requested “to improve the protection of our forces with lightweight body armor, armored vehicles, safe and secure operating bases, identity management for access control, and persistent surveillance capabilities,” according to the White House. Likewise, $1.5 billion is sought for counter-improvised explosive device efforts.

President Barack Obama’s Office of Management and Budget outlined the combined $83.4 billion government-wide request late April 9. Reaction from Capitol Hill appeared universally equivocal as lawmakers received news of a necessary but denounced vestige of the Bush administration. Obama’s request appears to follow his efforts to draw down in Iraq and shift military resources to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“Timely consideration of the supplemental is especially important to our men and women in uniform, who depend on it for the resources they need to do their jobs,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said. His party had railed against the use of supplementals under President Bush.

“Republicans want to work with the President to pass a clean troop funding bill, and it’s my hope that both parties can work together to pass a bill without any strings attached that would tie the hands of our commanders on the ground as well as any unnecessary or extraneous spending,” said John Boehner (R-Ohio), leader of the House’s minority party.

“The President’s decision to continue Gen. Petraeus’ successful strategy in Iraq and implement a surge strategy in Afghanistan is a good one, but it will require a significant commitment from this Congress,” said Boehner’s Senate counterpart, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). “In the consideration of this year’s security supplemental bill, it is imperative that this Democrat-led Congress resist the temptation to use this must-pass bill to leverage additional and extraneous spending and focus instead on committing resources strictly for the defense of our nation.”

OMB declared its intention to do just that — in the future. “This is the last planned war supplemental,” the White House office asserted. “Moving forward, the president is committed to honest budgeting and fiscal discipline in which these costs are accounted for in the budget — and are clear for all to see. After seven years of war, the American people deserve an honest accounting of the cost of our involvement in our ongoing military operations.”

Other national security spending for the rest of this fiscal year would include:

• $3.6 billion for Afghan security forces;

• $1.4 billion for coalition partners who have backed U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq;

• $400 million to build Pakistani counterinsurgency capabilities.

Also, Obama seeks $3.1 billion for classified “counterterrorism” activities in support of ongoing operations. “These activities include support to military operations, intelligence collection and analysis, and overseas law enforcement efforts,” OMB said.

The White House also said it wanted $350 million for “other defense activities,” which it described as “defense costs for other security related defense activities.” A total $3.7 billion in requests there supposedly would be offset by $2.9 billion in fuel savings and $500 million in procurement reductions.

Photo: DoD

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