U.S. Troop Levels in Iraq to Outpace Afghanistan Through Most of 2010CQ TODAY ONLINE NEWS – APPROPRIATIONS
June 9, 2009 – 12:26 p.m.
The United States will maintain an average of 100,000
troops in Iraq for fiscal 2010, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates testified
The estimate is part of the war funding section of the
administration’s fiscal 2010 budget request, as detailed in the written
testimony of Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff, before the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee.
35,000 and 50,000 troops will remain after August 31, 2010, Mullen wrote,
meaning force levels much higher than 100,000 will be present in Iraq for the
first half of 2010, in order for Gates’ average to bear out.
acknowledged that despite a renewed focus on Afghanistan, “our residual
footprint in Iraq will remain larger than in Afghanistan well into
“The drawdown in Iraq is weighted in 2010, with the bulk of the
combat brigades coming out after the Iraqi elections,” Mullen wrote.
average of 68,000 U.S. troops will be in Afghanistan next fiscal year, according
to the testimony. The increase reflects the implementation of Obama’s new
Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy, announced in March. More than 17,000 troops will
be deploying there as part of that plan.
The budget also reflects Obama’s
decision to draw down U.S. forces in Iraq to only six “advisory and assistance
brigades” by August 31, 2010, according to Gates. These are meant to be
distinguished from combat brigades, but their makeup and size remain
The United States has pledged to withdraw all troops from Iraq
by the end of 2011, under the bilateral status of forces agreement signed last
The administration requested in April $533.8 billion in defense
funding for fiscal 2010, along with $130 billion for ongoing operations in Iraq
Obama pledged to request regular defense funding and
supplemental war funding at the same time and fund the wars through the regular
budget process rather than through emergency supplemental requests.
presenting this budget together, we hope to give a more accurate picture of the
costs of the wars,” Gates wrote.
Among the other items to be found in the
war funding section are requests for $74.1 billion for operations and
maintenance in Iraq and Afghanistan, $17.6 billion to repair or replace worn out
equipment, $10 billion for purchasing and upgrading mine resistant ground
vehicles, and $7.5 billion to train and build Afghan security
Defense Would Manage Funds
The fiscal 2010 war funding
request also asks for $700 million to boost Pakistan’s counterinsurgency
Many lawmakers said such funding should go through the
State Department and an effort was made to move that funding in fiscal
Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton agreed that the
Defense Department would be the best place to manage such funds for fiscal 2009,
but had pledged to switch that funding back to the State Department in fiscal
But Gates still thinks the Defense Department should be the
destination for the money.
“We are asking for this authority for the
unique and urgent circumstances we face in Pakistan — for dealing with a
challenge that simultaneously requires military and civilian capabilities,”
Gates wrote, adding, “This is a vital element of the president’s new