Obama's Warfighting Supplemental
April 10, 2009
Asking the American people for $83.4 billion more for defense in the middle of a massive financial crisis is not the news most want to hear. In fairness, however, President Obama has no choice other than to ask Congress for yet another supplemental to fight the Iraq and Afghan-Pakistan Wars.
The Bush administration had failed to draft a comprehensive defense budget, just as it had failed to draft a meaningful strategy for Afghanistan or update its strategy toward Iraq. Something had to be done, although such a request does again defer any real effort to decide on a stable pattern of defense spending and shape an effective defense strategy tied to clear force plans, procurement plans, and progress budgets.
As the president states in the letter he sent to Speaker Pelosi announcing his request, “We face a security situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan that demands urgent attention. The Taliban is resurgent and al Qaeda threatens America from its safe haven along the Afghan-Pakistan border.” This level of expenditure will be especially necessary if—as the president intends—“Nearly 95 percent of these funds will be used to support our men and women in uniform as they help the people of Iraq to take responsibility for their own future—and work to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan.”