ARLINGTON, Va. — The Bush administration is asking Congress for an extra $80 billion to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, while speeding up the Army’s transition to new modular brigades and increasing funding for the training and equipping of local security forces inside the combat zones, according to a senior Pentagon official.

If approved, the Pentagon will get the lion’s share with $75 billion of the new funding, dubbed a “supplemental budget request.”

The remaining $5 billion has been earmarked for State Department projects including the construction of a new embassy in Baghdad and funds for the Palestinian peace process.

The extra infusion of cash to the Pentagon will be added to $445 billion already approved for the Defense Department this year and comes as the administration prepares its fiscal 2006 request, expected next month.

“Most of these funds will support American troops on the ground by continuing to provide them with the equipment and other supplies they need,” President Bush said in a statement Tuesday on the supplemental. “The request also provides for the continued pursuit of al-Qaida and other terrorist elements in Afghanistan and elsewhere, while supporting the great progress Afghanistan has made toward joining the community of free nations.”

“More than two-thirds of our money will go directly toward funding the basic cost of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said the Pentagon official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

In real terms, he said, that means everything from resupplying bombs and bullets, buying fuel and food and fixing beat up tanks and trucks.

The remaining approximately $25 billion will be split between building the Iraqi and Afghan militaries, while also funding Army transformation efforts.

“This will allow the Army to fund the next three modularized brigades,” said the Pentagon official.

Units of action

The new formations are part of the Army’s “units of action” concept designed to build standing, brigade-sized forces that have traditionally been split into different units.

According to Army spokesman Lt. Col. Chris Rodney, the three new Units of Action slated to stand up this year are:

4th Brigade, 10th Mountain Division at Fort Polk, La.;4th Brigade, 4th Infantry Division at Fort Hood, Texas;and 4th Brigade, 25th Infantry Division at Fort Richardson, Alaska.Activation ceremonies for 10th Mountain Division’s new brigade were held Jan. 19, said Rodney. The other two are already in the process of standing up.

The three new brigades follow three UA brigades that began standing up last year. They include 10th Mountain Division’s 3rd Brigade at the division’s home base at Fort Drum, N.Y., another at Fort Campbell, Ky.’s 101st Airborne Division and the third at the Fort Stewart, Ga.-based 3rd Infantry Division.

By 2007, the Army hopes to have to have built 15 new brigades, increasing from 33 to 48.

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