Obama wants record $708 billion to fight wars

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama will ask Congress for an additional $33 billion to fight unpopular wars in Afghanistan and Iraq on top of a record $708 billion for the Defence Department next year, The Associated Press has learned – a request that could be an especially hard sell to some of the administration’s Democratic allies.

The extra $33 billion in 2010 would mostly go toward the expansion of the war in Afghanistan. Obama ordered an extra 30,000 troops for that war as part of an overhaul of the war strategy late last year.

Military officials have suggested that the 2011 request would top $700 billion for the first time, but the precise figure has not been made public.

The administration also plans to tell Congress next month that its central military objectives for the next four years will include winning the current wars while preventing new ones and that its core missions will include both counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations.

The administration’s Quadrennial Defence Review, the main articulation of U.S. military doctrine, is due to Congress on 1 February.

The four-year review outlines six key mission areas and spells out capabilities and goals the Pentagon wants to develop. The pilotless drones used for surveillance and attack missions in Afghanistan and Pakistan are a priority, with the goals of speeding up the purchase of new Reaper drones and expanding Predator and Reaper drone flights through 2013.

Obama’s request for more war spending is likely to receive support on Capitol Hill, where Republicans will join moderate Democrats to pass the bill.

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