Defense chief urges Hill action on supplemental by early spring

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday that he wants Congress to approve by early spring $33 billion in supplemental spending to cover military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan for the fiscal year.

Testifying before the Senate Appropriations Committee, Gates said the Defense Department needs the money soon to "prevent costly and counterproductive disruptions" to its operations.

Most of the $33 billion request would pay for the surge of 30,000 troops into Afghanistan and to accelerate training of Afghan security forces -- the major facets of President Obama's plan to stabilize the country and allow the withdrawal of U.S. forces.

During his testimony, Gates said there is reason for guarded optimism in Afghanistan but said "there will be many long and tough days ahead, and it may take several months to produce visible results."

He added that the military is on schedule to increase its troop presence there to 98,000 by the end of the fiscal year.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye applauded Obama's strategy in Afghanistan, adding that the war there had been "shortchanged" after the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.

"We have been at this war for almost a decade, and now we have our eye on the target," Inouye said.

The Defense secretary's mention of early spring as the time when supplemental funds must begin flowing to the military is earlier than the Memorial Day deadline Pentagon comptroller Robert Hale gave Congress in February. The $33 billion request comes on top of the $128.3 billion Congress has approved for war-related expenses in fiscal 2010.

With lawmakers departing for a two-week recess, it should be difficult for Congress to meet Gates' tight deadline.

Over the last several years, Congress has routinely approved war-related supplemental spending bills after the deadlines set by the Pentagon, requiring the department to spend fourth-quarter dollars to pay for urgent operational needs.

In addition to the $33 billion for the military, the State Department has requested $4.5 billion for civilian operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and aid to Pakistan.

Separately, the Obama administration has requested $2.8 billion for the humanitarian relief effort in Haiti, which was hit by an earthquake on Jan. 12. That request includes repaying the military $655 million for costs it incurred in response to the disaster.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.