President Barack Obama will ask Congress this week to approve $3.2 billion in added Pentagon and intelligence spending to continue fighting Islamic State and possibly to retrain Iraq’s military forces, according to U.S. officials.
The amendment to the pending $58.6 billion war operations budget for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1 will include funds to replace munitions used in operations against Islamic State extremists in Iraq and Syria, according to the one of the officials. It also may provide at least $500 million to train and equip Iraqi and Kurdish forces fighting the Sunni militants, although another official said a final decision hasn’t been reached on that issue. The officials asked not to be identified before the request is made.
The request is likely to draw intense scrutiny, coming after Obama said today that he will seek congressional authorization for the fight already under way against the group that has seized a swath of Iraq and Syria.
Members of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee in September rejected the Pentagon’s request for $1.5 billion for this fiscal year to shift -- or reprogram -- money in order to buy new F-35 aircraft and AH-64 Apache helicopters. Lawmakers said war funds should be devoted to more pressing needs.
The new funding, if approved, would be used to pay for the 12 teams of U.S. military advisers that are working with Iraqi forces, replenish munitions, provide flying hours for intelligence and surveillance aircraft that are in the air almost around the clock and other logistical support costs, an official said.
Cost of Munitions
An information sheet on airstrikes in Iraq and Syria released last month by U.S. Central Command command put the rough cost of Navy munitions as of that date at $62 million, including $53 million for 47 Tomahawk cruise missiles made by Raytheon Co. that were launched at targets associated with the Khorasan group of extremists in Syria. That doesn’t include operations by the Air Force.
The cost of air operations through Oct. 26 averaged $7.6 billion a day, or $580 million since they began Aug. 8. The U.S. and allies through Nov. 3 have flown more than 8,000 missions, including combat strikes that have dropped or launched 2,178 munitions, according to Central Command.