February 16, 2006
Washington - Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told members of Congress February 16 that the administration would submit a same-day request for $65.3 billion dollars in supplemental funding to support the ongoing war against terrorism.
Rumsfeld said that most of the new money is needed to finance military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, including training and equipping security forces in both countries; repairing or replacing the equipment experiencing heavy use by the U.S. military; and developing technologies to defeat the deadly, improvised bombs that have killed and maimed civilians and troops in the Middle East and South Asia.
Rumsfeld told the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee that the cost of fuel, meeting payroll expenses, inflation and buying new equipment all contribute to the need for supplemental funds. Military operations in Iraq are costing the United States around $5.9 billion a month and another $1.9 billion for Afghanistan, he said. But, he said, the money being spent to establish Iraqi and Afghan security forces is "a good investment."
Testifying in support of the Defense Department's 2007 fiscal year budget request of $439.3 billion, Rumsfeld said U.S. military commanders have balanced the requirement to meet both unconventional and traditional military threats. "We can afford whatever we need as a country," he said.
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Peter Pace, who testified with Rumsfeld, assured members of the committee that the new budget request is sufficient to meet every element of the president's national military strategy.
IRAQIS HAVE TO BUILD THEIR OWN NATION
Rumsfeld, Pace and Army Chief of Staff General Peter Schoomaker, who also testified on the budget, spent much of the hearing responding to congressional questions or comments about Iraq. The defense secretary emphasized that the United States does not want its forces based permanently in Iraq. "We have no plans or discussions under way to have permanent bases there," he said.
The United States is not in Iraq for its oil or to create any kind of dependent relationship, the secretary said.
Nor is the U.S. military is in Iraq to carry out nation building. That task must be done by Iraq itself to be successful, he said.
The secretary said 227,000 Iraqi security forces have been trained and equipped. Every week, he said, those Iraqi forces are assuming greater responsibilities and taking over control of more geographic areas from coalition forces, he added.
As the Iraqi security forces become more experienced, Rumsfeld said, the number of U.S. troops in Iraq would decline. "It's up to the Iraqis to start seizing control of their country," Rumsfeld said. "It's their country and they're going to have to do it," he added.
Pace pointed out that by the end of 2005 more independent military operations were being conducted by the Iraqi military than by U.S. forces. With U.S. support, the Marine general said, their progress will continue.
Rumsfeld said the insurgency in Iraq "will be defeated by Iraqis."
MISSILE DEFENSE PROGRAM IS GOING WELL
The secretary also was asked about U.S. efforts to develop missile defenses for which the administration is seeking more than $10 billion in the fiscal year 2007 budget. He said the program is going well, although he indicated that the effort to develop leading-edge missile defense technologies can be "a tough business."
The United States is developing better technologies to track missiles that might be launched by a rogue nation, the secretary said, and it is making good progress in discussions with other countries that might join in cooperative missile defense efforts.
Asked about the state of play between the United States and Canada on the issue, Rumsfeld would say only that "we are not uncomfortable where we are right now." He also said the Canadians would benefit from missile defense cooperation.
TORTURE BY U.S. FORCES PROHIBITED, RUMSFELD REITERATES
Rumsfeld also was asked to make a clear statement about the U.S. policy regarding torture of enemy combatants in military custody. Several additional photographs of alleged torture of detainees at Abu Ghraib several years ago surfaced in the media this week.
From the very beginning of the Iraq conflict, the Defense Department has had a policy prohibiting torture, the secretary said: "It is not permitted. People are trained to avoid it." Those who did engage in wrongful conduct have been punished, he added.
U.S. soldiers who were found guilty of unacceptable behavior, he said, were court-martialed and sent to prison or had their military ranks reduced.