Changing Assumptions

The Pentagon’s Fiscal 2012 budget request for military operations in Afghanistan may turn out to be $17 billion higher than what is actually needed, said Todd Harrison, a senior fellow with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington, D.C., Monday. The war funding request included $107 billion for the war in Afghanistan and another $11 billion to help cover the cost of the drawdown in Iraq that is expected to be complete by year’s end. However, the spending request went to Capitol Hill before President Obama announced his plan to drawdown forces in Afghanistan. It assumed an average troop strength of 98,250 troops in Afghanistan throughout next fiscal year, higher than the force size under the drawdown plan, said Harrison. “If all the surge forces are out of Afghanistan in September 2012, that implies an average troop strength of 81,000, which is substantially less than what’s included in the budget,” he explained. “[Obama] actually requested about $17 billion more than what we will need in Fiscal 2012.” (See also Harrison’s analysis of the Fiscal 2012 defense budget request.)