ARLINGTON, Va. — The situations in Iraq and Afghanistan are too uncertain to include the costs of the conflicts in the Defense Department’s regular budget, according to the Pentagon’s top money manager.

“It’s still premature to build the costs in [as part of a regular budget] for Afghanistan, and it’s certainly premature for Iraq,” Pentagon comptroller Dov Zakheim said in a breakfast meeting with military reporters Tuesday.

Instead of putting Iraq and Afghanistan in the normal budget, which is submitted to Congress for approval in January and often takes a full year to get to the president’s desk for signature, Pentagon officials will continue to use supplemental requests to fund the missions in the short term, Zakheim said.

Pentagon officials traditionally make supplemental requests to Congress in order to pay for unexpected contingencies or expenses.

The $87 billion supplemental President Bush approved this fall provides the funds to pay for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan through 2004, Zakheim said.

“Beyond that, I don’t know at this stage,” Zakheim said. “If we have forces in Iraq, I think it’s safe to say there will be some [supplemental] request. But when it will come, I don’t know.”

The question of whether to include the military’s war on terror — primarily including Iraq and Afghanistan — in the 2005 defense budget was first posed to Zakheim during a House budget committee hearing in October. Zakheim responded that defense leaders had not yet decided.

He said he is basing his judgment on the way Pentagon officials handled financing for two other missions, Bosnia and Kosovo.

“We waited about three years, as I recall, before we did this [included the deployments in the regular budget] for the Balkans,” Zakheim said.

“So maybe the ’06 budget would be the right time” to do the same for Afghanistan and Iraq, he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report from Baghdad.

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