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U.S. Comptroller: Surge Costs Don't Add Up
Defense News.com
January 15, 2007

The White House has said it will cost $5.6 billion to send 21,500 additional troops to Iraq, but that amount is much more than needed for the troops alone, the Comptroller General of the United States told the Senate Budget Committee.

"I have some serious concerns about the numbers," David Walker told the committee during a hearing Jan. 11.

While it will cost some money to ship the additional troops to Iraq, and more for combat pay, the extra cost will be nowhere near $5.6 billion, an aide to Walker said.

It is unclear what much of the $5.6 billion is to be spent on, Walker said. Walker and others have complained that tens of billions of dollars are spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan annually with little explanation of what the money is spent on.

The wars have been funded largely through emergency supplemental appropriations, but the requests provide Congress with scant detail on spending.

The Congressional Budget Office reports that $432 billion was allocated for the wars through Sept. 30, 2006. Since then, Congress has approved an additional $70 billion in emergency funds, and the White House is expected to request at least $99.7 billion more.

Walker told the Budget Committee that as much of the cost of the wars as possible should be included in the regular 2008 defense budget so legislators will receive more detail on how the money is being spent.

"The defense budget is a serious problem," Walker said in response to questions from Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. "There is tremendous waste going on."

Congress passed legislation last fall requiring war costs to be included in the regular defense budget after this year. But when President Bush signed the spending bill, he added a signing statement indicating he may or may not comply. •

E-mail: bmatthews@defensenews.com.

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