Obama to request $14.2 billion to train, equip Afghan forces

President Obama is preparing to ask Congress for another $14.2 billion to grow, train and equip the Afghan National Security Forces for the remainder of this fiscal year and in fiscal 2011, according to a budget document obtained by CongressDaily.

The funding, outlined in a "pre-decisional" Pentagon budget document that still must receive the Office of Management and Budget's final approval, represents more than double the $6.6 billion already appropriated for fiscal 2010 for the Afghan army and police -- signifying the importance of training indigenous forces needed to permit an eventual U.S. military withdrawal.

According to the document, the Defense Department needs an additional $2.6 billion for the Afghan forces this year and $11.6 billion next year. The fiscal 2011 funding is needed to add 74,800 Afghan personnel beyond the current approved level of 230,800 and reach a force size of 305,600 by October 2011.

"This is the maximum growth rate that both ANSF and our U.S.-allied command can absorb," the document says. The funding, it says, is "essential to the president's new Afghanistan strategy and to ANSF's assumption of greater security responsibilities."

The Pentagon's spending plan, which will be released when the Obama administration rolls out its fiscal 2011 budget on Feb. 1, will include a fiscal 2010 wartime supplemental spending request, a war-related request for next year and a fiscal 2011 base budget request to pay for the Defense Department's day-to-day operations. As he did when he presented his last budget, Obama will combine the fiscal 2011 request for war funding with the Pentagon's base budget.

As expected, the Defense Department will try again to terminate Boeing Co.'s C-17 Globemaster III cargo plane and development of the General Electric/Rolls Royce alternate engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter - two programs that have thrived due to annual efforts by Congress to reverse Pentagon decisions to kill them.

Meanwhile, the fiscal 2011 base budget includes $10.7 billion to continue development of the F-35 and buy 42 of the Lockheed Martin fighters under a restructured program designed to stabilize its cost and schedule, according to the document.

The base budget also includes $14.1 billion to buy 10 ships including: two DDG-51 Arleigh-Burke class destroyers, two Virginia-class submarines, two Littoral Combat Ships, an Amphibious Assault Ship Replacement, a Mobile Landing Platform, and two Joint High Speed Vessels.

Besides the Afghan forces request, the Pentagon will ask for $1 billion to train and equip Iraqi forces in fiscal 2010 and another $2 billion in fiscal 2011. The funding, according to the document, "is key to the Iraq Security Forces achieving the minimum essential capability required to provide security prior to the end of a responsible U.S. drawdown."

As part of the supplemental, the Pentagon also plans to ask for $1.1 billion in fiscal 2010 for Oshkosh Corp.'s mine-resistant all-terrain vehicles, now being produced rapidly for operations in Afghanistan.

For fiscal 2011, the Pentagon wants $3.4 billion to sustain, upgrade, overhaul and test the thousands of mine-resistant vehicles that have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon wants $18.9 billion more in fiscal 2010 to pay for increased operations in Afghanistan and support an average troop level there of 84,000 U.S. troops, according to the document.

In fiscal 2011, $88.9 billion will be sought for operations to support average U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan of 102,000 and in Iraq of 43,000, the document says. The Afghanistan figure is 4,000 more than the level of reinforcements Obama announced last fall but it counts the "enablers" or support troops the military estimates it needs.

The Pentagon's fiscal 2011 war request is also expected to include $21.3 billion to repair and replace equipment that has been lost or damaged in combat, the document states. The items include helicopters, aircraft, trucks, Humvees and Stryker vehicles.

In addition, the Pentagon intends to ask for $1.3 billion in fiscal 2011 for the Commander's Emergency Response Fund, which gives military commanders money to address urgent local needs.

Aside from direct war costs, the Pentagon also wants the fiscal 2011 war budget to include a $350 million transfer fund that can be used to close the military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, open the planned detention facility in Thomson, Ill., and continue detainee operations at either site.

Last year, Congress rejected funding requests to begin closing the controversial Guantanamo Bay facility. The proposal hit a wall of Republican opposition and caused a rift between the White House and Democratic lawmakers who complained the administration did not yet have a plan for shuttering the prison.

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