WASHINGTON (AFP) — The White House will ask Congress next week to approve another massive spending measure for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan totaling nearly 200 billion dollars, The Los Angeles Times reported on its website late Saturday.
Citing unnamed Pentagon officials, the newspaper said if President George W. Bush's spending request is approved, 2008 will be the most expensive year of the Iraq war.
US war costs have continued to grow because of the additional combat forces sent to Iraq this year and because of efforts to quickly ramp up production of new equipment, such as mine-resistant trucks, the report said.
The new trucks can cost three to six times as much as an armored Humvee, according to the paper.
The Bush administration said earlier this year that it probably would need 147.5 billion dollars for fiscal 2008, but Pentagon officials now say that and 47 billion dollars more will be required, The Times said.
That would spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan at about 195 billion in fiscal 2008, which begins in October 1, an increase of around 12 percent from the 173 billion dollars spent this year.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and other officials are to formally present the full request at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing Wednesday, the report said.
When costs of CIA operations and embassy expenses are added, the war in Iraq currently costs taxpayers about 12 billion dollars a month, said Winslow Wheeler, a former Republican congressional budget aide who is a senior fellow at the Center for Defense Information in Washington.
"Everybody predicts declines, but they haven't occurred, and 2008 will be higher than 2007," the paper quotes Wheeler as saying. "It all depends on what happens in Iraq, but thus far it has continued to get bloodier and more expensive."
In 2004, the two conflicts together cost 94 billion dollars; in 2005, they cost 108 billion; in 2006, 122 billion, the paper said.
The new spending request is likely to push the cumulative cost of the war in Iraq alone through 2008 past the 600-billion-dollar mark -- more than the Korean War and nearly as much as the Vietnam War, based on estimates by government budget officials, The Times said.
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