President Barack Obama has requested an additional $11.6 billion from Congress to boost the fight against ISIS and fund the continued presence of US troops in Afghanistan.
The request made Thursday includes $5.8 billion for the Pentagon, bringing the total price tag for these operations in 2017 to $85.3 billion.
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter called the additional money “vitally important for our national security” and said it would “hasten the defeat of ISIL and make our nation more secure,” using the government’s preferred acronym for the terror group.
It’s a request that comes as Iraqi troops, backed by US airpower and advisers, are locked in a fierce battle with ISIS as they enter the city of Mosul. It’s also being made as US backed Syrian forces make preparations to begin the isolation of the ISIS capital in Raqqa.
“Additional resources will help sustain that positive momentum by boosting our support to partner forces and our intelligence efforts,” Carter added in his statement.
The new assets will aid a campaign that, come January 20, will be overseen by President-elect Donald Trump.
Carter said in a new interview that aired Friday he would urge the incoming Trump administration “finish the destruction of (ISIS) in Iraq and Syria.”
“Continue to strike them elsewhere where they arise, like Libya and Afghanistan,” he told CBS’ Norah O’Donnell.
The defense secretary said in a statement that the money would also fund Obama’s decision to maintain a larger troop presence of 8,400 in Afghanistan into 2017. The administration’s original plan was to draw down that number to 5,500 troops.
Those funds will allow the US to “better support the Afghan government’s strategy to secure its nation, and would help enhance Afghanistan’s aviation capability,” Carter said.
The change was made as part of an effort to boost the Afghan military as it works to defeat an enduring Taliban insurgency. America’s Afghan allies have only just begun to field an indigenous air force and the US continues to provide airstrikes in support.
“Swift passage of this plan will help the Department of Defense and our partners in the US Government and around the world protect this nation, and I urge Congress to support it,” he added.
Rep. Mac Thornberry, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, issued a statement calling the request insufficient.
“While we will review the request carefully, the amount still does not accommodate the increased pace of operations against ISIL,” the Texas Republican said. “It is time to put politics aside and provide our men and women in uniform the resources actually required, not just what is politically expedient.”
The request also includes an additional $5.8 billion for the State Department and US Agency for International Development.
Secretary of State John Kerry said this funding would allow the State Department to “work with our partners and relentlessly pursue Daesh’s (ISIS’s) networks outside of Iraq and Syria to ensure a lasting defeat.”
“This is a critical moment in the campaign — a moment of both strategic opportunity and urgency.” Kerry said. “We look forward to working with Congress to ensure that we have the funding for the critical civilian resources — both diplomatic and foreign assistance — that will be required to finish the mission.”