Iraq request includes $2 billion for info tech

Information technology accounts for nearly $2 billion of President Bush's $87 billion supplemental budget request to sustain operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and worldwide in the war on terror.

Communications systems and research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) received the lion's share of the IT requests. The request for command and control components for the Army, Air Force, Navy and Defensewide procurement total more than $240 million, with the Air Force's theater communications systems accounting for $150 million of that.

Some other procurement requests include:

* $122.4 million for logistics and support equipment for the Army and Air Force.

* $36.6 million for defensewide command, control communications, computers and intelligence (C4I) equipment.

* $30 million for special operations forces' intelligence systems and equipment.

* $4.5 million for the Navy's Global Broadcast System terminal improvements.

RDT&E for the Air Force, Navy and the overall Defense Department will reach nearly $340 million, if Congress approves the White House's request as-is.

Bush also asked for nearly $120 million for Army construction, which includes a "sensitive Compartmented Information Facility" and a joint operations center.

The Defense Department's share of the total budget request is $65.6 billion. Reconstruction cost requests in Iraq total more than $20.3 billion, including $835 million for transportation and telecommunications expenses.

"This request reflects urgent and essential requirements," Bush wrote in a letter to House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.). Bush formally submitted the request on Sept. 17, when he designated the proposals included in his request as "emergency expenditures." Congress yesterday began hearings debating the proposal.

"It is my plan to move this request quickly and cleanly, but my committee will fulfill our constitutional obligations by holding several oversight hearings in the coming weeks," House Appropriations Committee Chairman C.W. Bill Young (R — Fla.) said in a statement. "We will be asking some tough questions of the administration and will expect detailed justifications for these expenditures."

A House and Senate conference committee on Sept. 18 approved a $368.2 billion Defense Appropriations Bill for fiscal 2004, but that bill does not cover ongoing operations in Iraq and elsewhere.

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