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Obama Wants $33 Billion More for Wars

Comes on top of record $708 billion request for next year

by Anne Gearan and Anne Flaherty

The Obama administration plans to ask Congress for an additional $33 billion to fight unpopular wars in Afghanistan and Iraq on top of a record request for $708 billion for the Defense Department next year, The Associated Press has learned.

US soldiers, members of the protection squad of a Provincial Reconstruction team walk near Bargram Air Base, about 60 kms from Kabul on January 11. (AFP/File/Joel Saget) 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 its core missions will include both counterinsurgency and counterterror operations.

The administration's Quadrennial Defense Review, the main articulation of U.S. military doctrine, is due in Congress on Feb. 1. Top military commanders were briefed on the document at the Pentagon on Monday and Tuesday. They also received a preview of the administration's budget plans through 2015.

The four-year review outlines six crucial 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 a goal of speeding up the purchase of new Reaper drones and expansion of Predator and Reaper drone flights through 2013.

The extra $33 billion in 2010 would go mostly toward 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.

The request for that additional funding will be sent to Congress at the same time as the record spending request for next year, making financing the war an especially difficult pill for some of Obama's Democratic allies to swallow.

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.

U.S. officials outlined the coming requests on condition of anonymity because the budget request will not be sent to Congress until later this month.

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