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President Bush’s congressional request for $87 billion to pay for the war against terrorism includes hundreds of millions for lifesaving body armor and heavily armored Humvees to protect U.S. forces, according to a report in the Washington Times.

The paper quoted a senior administration official in Baghdad to say that $300 million will be spent on body armor designed to help GIs survive the sort of sniper fire that has claimed dozens of American lives in recent months.

“This is a better form than what we bought in the past,” the official told the Times on condition of anonymity. “That’s what we needed.”

Another $140 million, according to the report, will be spent on what soldiers call “up-armored” Humvees, which can better withstand hits from mortars and rocket-propelled grenades.

“This was an assessment made based on the situation on the ground,” the official told the Times.

“Our flak vests work,” Maj. James Oliverio, an orthopedic surgeon with the 28th Combat Support Hospital at Camp Dogwood, a remote base southwest of Baghdad, told Stripes recently.

Of the 780 recent cases he worked at the field hospital, 65 percent were orthopedic injuries, indicative that the protective vests, with higher collars and better shield plates, are better at protecting the torso and neck.

Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington has treated approximately 1,250 patients from Operation Iraqi Freedom since the war began, according to a Monday press release.

A spokesman could not, however, offer any statistics on the nature of the injuries.

The body armor and Humvees are part of the $66 billion that Bush has requested for military expenditures on Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries during the next year.

In an address to the nation on Sunday, he also asked Congress for $21 billion in reconstruction funds, almost all of which would be earmarked for Iraq, though some funds would go toward stabilization efforts in Afghanistan.

[RECIPETAGNEW]Stripes reporter Lisa Burgess contributed to this report from Washington.


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