Money For Iraq Fight
Running Out

The Australian

(AFP) -- As the carnage in Iraq continued last night, US military chiefs warned they would run out of money for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq at the end of September unless President George W. Bush asked Congress for more funds.
Because the Bush administration's 2005 military budget contained no money for Iraq and Afghanistan, the armed services would be forced to pay for operations with funds that were supposed to be used for modernisation and other items, they said.
"I am concerned . . . how we bridge the gap between the end of this fiscal year and whenever we could get a supplemental (spending bill) in the next year," US Army Chief of Staff Peter Schoomaker told the Senate armed services committee yesterday. "And I don't have an answer for exactly how we would do that."
Marine Corps Commandant Michael Hagee and Air Force Chief of Staff John Jumper echoed General Schoomaker's concerns.
A suicide car bomb that killed 46 men queuing to join the Iraqi army in Baghdad yesterday was the second lethal suicide strike in 48 hours.
It came a day after the near-identical bombing of the Iskandariya police station south of the Iraqi capital that left 55 dead, mostly Iraqis, in an attack that bore the "fingerprints" of the al-Qa'ida network, US officials said.
The cost of keeping US troops in Iraq has been controversial. Before the war, US Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz predicted Iraq's vast oil wealth would finance its reconstruction soon after Saddam Hussein's overthrow.
But last year Congress approved two administration requests totalling almost $US166 billion ($213 billion) to finance the war and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Several US politicians have accused the administration of trying to hide the true cost of the Iraq war by not including operational money for Iraq in the 2005 budget. White House budget director Joshua Bolten told reporters last week that a supplemental spending bill for Iraq could run as high as $US50 billion.
Democrat senator Jack Reed called on US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to send a request to Congress as soon as possible. "The US military faces a severe funding problem," Senator Reed said.
Mr Rumsfeld said US military forces would use money from other programs to pay for the Iraq operations until the next supplemental spending bill was passed. General Schoomaker said the army was spending about $US3.7 billion a month for operations in Iraq and $US900 million a month for Afghanistan.
The military chiefs also told the Senate committee they were convinced Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when US forces were sent into battle last March.
However, US weapons inspector David Kay ñ who resigned after reporting Iraq had no WMD ñ said yesterday there was no point in continuing to hunt for arms that "really did not exist".
In Afghanistan, the deputy intelligence director of the troubled southeastern Khost province was killed yesterday in a suicide bomb attack by suspected Taliban forces.
The Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press news service said a lone attacker shot and killed Major Mohammed Isa Khan in his car and tried to flee. "The man was chased by guards and after some distance he blew himself up with a bomb strapped to his body," a witness said.
© The Australian



This Site Served by TheHostPros