Originally created 02/23/03

U.S. has spent $28 billion so far fighting terror, Pentagon says



WASHINGTON -- The costs of a war with Iraq would be on top of the $28 billion the U.S. military has already spent battling terrorists in Afghanistan and around the world since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Pentagon officials said Friday.

Excluding preparations for confronting Iraq, that is what the Pentagon had spent through last Sept. 30, said Defense Department spokesman Lt. Col. Gary Keck.

The global fight against terrorism is now averaging $1.6 billion monthly, including $750 million in Afghanistan, he said.

The antiterror spending compares with an overall defense budget of $366 billion for the federal budget year that started last Oct. 1.

But that amount is expected to grow significantly in coming weeks, with or without a war.

Members of Congress and aides said that in coming weeks they expect President Bush to request $20 billion more for the military for this year - excluding any costs of a war with Iraq.

The money would be for replenishing accounts the Pentagon has dipped into for its ongoing campaigns in Afghanistan, the Philippines and elsewhere abroad. In addition, the military has incurred more security expenses at home, such as air patrols that have periodically circled some major U.S. cities.

If there is war with Iraq, the Pentagon will need even more money. White House officials are still trying to decide when they would seek funds to pay for the conflict.

So far, the United States has spent $2.3 billion deploying troops and equipment to the Middle East in preparation for possible war with Iraq, Keck said.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, several congressional aides said they believe that figure understates the actual expenses. Last September, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that it would cost $9 billion to $13 billion to deploy a force to the Persian Gulf.

Pentagon officials, who have questioned the accuracy of the CBO report, say there are more than 150,000 U.S. troops in the Middle East, an amount analysts expect to grow to 250,000. Also present are four aircraft carrier groups and hundreds of aircraft - numbers that are also expected to rise.

Besides the $20 billion request expected for the Pentagon, the administration is also expected to seek billions for other efforts.

Turkey seems likely to receive at least $6 billion in U.S. aid. Jordan and perhaps Israel, Egypt and other regional allies are probably in line for billions more, lawmakers and congressional aides say.

In addition, the administration may request extra funds for rising domestic security expenses and other initiatives that could bring the midyear spending package's price tag to $40 billion, aides say.