Afghan, Iraq wars shape Pentagon budget, US strategy
Washington: The Obama administration plans to unveil a defence budget on Monday that pours billions into drones, helicopters and special forces, reflecting a focus on fighting Islamist extremists rather than conventional armies.
The Pentagon`s spending priorities as well as its strategic vision, which is also due to be unveiled this week are a product of the counter-insurgency campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan that have severely stretched the military.
The proposed 2011 defence budget comes to more than USD 700 billion, a modest two percent increase, and unlike last year avoids sweeping cuts to major weapons programs, according to Pentagon officials and draft documents.
Despite alarm over the US government`s ballooning deficit, Obama has spared the military from belt-tightening efforts and will ask for USD 33 billion for the current fiscal year to pay for a surge of 30,000 reinforcements in Afghanistan, said officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have already cost USD 1 trillion since 2001, and the new budget calls for roughly USD 159 billion to cover the costs of the US missions there including about USD 11.6 billion to expand the Afghan security forces, officials said.
The budget asks for USD 9.6 billion for a range of helicopters, a lifeline for troops fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan`s rugged landscape and USD 2.7 billion for unmanned drones and sensors used to hunt down insurgents.
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