WASHINGTON – The Obama administration plans to ask Congress for an additional $33 billion to fight unpopular wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, on top of a record request for $708 billion for the Defense Department next year, the Associated Press has learned.
The administration also plans to tell Congress next month that its central military objectives for the next four years will include winning the current wars while preventing new ones and that its core missions will include both counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations.
The administration’s Quadrennial Defense Review, the main articulation of U.S. military doctrine, is due to Congress on Feb. 1. Top military commanders were briefed on the document at the Pentagon on Monday and Tuesday. They also received a preview of the administration’s budget plans through 2015.
The four-year review spells out capabilities and goals the Pentagon wants to develop. The pilotless drones used for surveillance and attack missions in Afghanistan and Pakistan are a priority, with a goal of speeding up the purchase of new Reaper drones and expansion of Predator and Reaper drone flights through 2013.
The extra $33 billion in 2010 would mostly go toward the expansion of the war in Afghanistan. Obama ordered an extra 30,000 troops for that war as part of an overhaul of the war strategy late last year.
The request for that additional funding will be sent to Congress at the same time as the record spending request for next year, making war funding an especially difficult pill for some of Obama’s Democratic allies.
Obama’s request for more war spending is likely to receive support on Capitol Hill, where Republicans will join moderate Democrats to pass the bill.
But the budget debate is also likely to expose a widening rift between Obama’s administration – it sees more troops and money as necessary to winning the war – and Democratic leaders, who have watched public opinion turn against the military campaign.
“The president’s going to have to make his case,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters last month.