BUSH SEEKS 8,200 MORE TROOPS FOR WARS
In addition to the 21,500 troop build-up
By DEB RIECHMANN, Associated Press Writer March
MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay –
Bush asked Congress on Saturday for $3.2
billion to pay for 8,200 more U.S. troops needed in Afghanistan and Iraq
on top of the 21,500-troop buildup he announced in January.
Bush wants Congress to fund
3,500 new U.S. troops to expand training of local police and army units
in Afghanistan. The money also would pay
for the estimated 3,500 existing U.S. troops he already announced would
be staying longer in the region to counter an anticipated Taliban offensive in Afghanistan
most of the additional troops would help with the latest Baghdad
security plan, which is getting under way in the capital. The money would pay for 2,400 combat support troops, 2,200 military
police forces and 129 troops for reconstruction teams.
The budget revisions come
as many lawmakers opposed to the buildup in Iraq
are debating funding for the war. But in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Bush proposed canceling $3.2 billion in low-priority
defense items to offset the extra money needed to support the additional troops.
Cutting the programs, he
said, would eliminate the need to increase the overall $93.4 billion in additional defense money he's already requested to
finance this year's war operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"This revised request would
better align resources based on the assessment of military commanders to achieve the goal of establishing Iraq and Afghanistan
as democratic and secure nations that are free of terrorism," Bush wrote in his letter to lawmakers.
Bush signed the letter on
his flight Friday from Brazil to Uruguay,
part of his five-nation tour of Latin America that continues on Sunday in Colombia.
The White House released the letter Saturday in Montevideo, Uruguay.
Gen. David Petraeus, the
top U.S. commander in Iraq,
recently hinted of the need to bolster the U.S. troop presence in Iraq.
"Gen. Petraeus expects under
the Baghdad security plan as well as other parts of Iraq, that the number of people going into detention will increase and so these
military police forces will be for that," said Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for the National Security Council.