WASHINGTON – Defense Secretary Robert Gates will ask Congress Wednesday to approve nearly $190 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2008, increasing initial projections by more than a third.
In remarks prepared for a Senate hearing, Gates says the extra money is necessary to buy vehicles that can protect troops against roadside bombs, refurbish equipment worn down by combat and consolidate U.S. bases in Iraq. A copy of the remarks was obtained by The Associated Press.
In that prepared testimony, Gates said, "I know that Iraq and other difficult choices America faces in the war on terror will continue to be a source of friction within the Congress, between the Congress and the president and in the wider public debate."
"Considering this, I would like to close with a word about something I know we can all agree on — the honor, courage and great sense of duty we have witnessed in our troops since September 11th," his testimony said.
In February, Bush requested $141.7 billion for the wars; officials said at the time the figure was only a rough estimate and could climb. In July, the Defense Department asked Congress for another $5.3 billion to buy 1,500 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles.
Gates says another $42 billion is needed to cover additional requirements. The extra money includes:
— $11 billion to field another 7,000 MRAP vehicles in addition to the 8,000 already planned;
— $9 billion to reconstitute equipment and technology;
— $6 billion for training and equipment of troops;
— $1 billion to improve U.S. facilities in the region and consolidate bases in Iraq; and
— $1 billion to train and equip Iraqi security forces.