Pentagon seeks more funds for Afghan projects

October 18, 2009 10:17 pm 

WASHINGTON, Oct. 19 — The Pentagon is asking the Congress for more funds on infrastructure projects in Afghanistan to support U.S. troops and other personnel although the Obama administration hasn't decided on troop levels there.

As part of the fiscal 2010 defense appropriations bill, the Pentagon seeks as much as 1.3 billion U.S. dollars on more than 100 projects at 40 sites in Afghanistan, according to a congressional report disclosed by the Washington Post Sunday.

The U.S. military has already spent some 2.7 billion dollars on infrastructure projects in that country over the past three years.

At the main U.S. base in Afghanistan, Bagram, the Pentagon is investing 30 million dollars to build a passenger terminal and adjacent cargo facility to handle the flow of troops.

The U.S. military is also spending hundreds of millions of dollars constructing facilities for the Afghan army and police.

The U.S.-led coalition forces recently opened a "forward operating base "near Farah, in the western Afghanistan bordering Iran. It cost some 68 million dollars.

The base will house 2,000 Afghan soldiers and an American mentoring team.

Washington is still debating on the future direction of the Afghan strategy.

On one hand, top military leaders and Republicans are pressing U.S. President Barack Obama to act quickly to increase the present 68,000-troop level by at least 40,000.

Meanwhile, senior White House advisers are reportedly pushing back the request for sending large number of additional troops, saying that the United States should instead focus on faster military training of Afghan forces, assassinations of al-Qaida leaders and support for the government of neighboring Pakistan to fight against the Taliban.

As the casualty toll grows and public support for the Afghan war wanes, Obama is carrying out a major strategy review of his Afghanistan policy.

The White House said that a final decision is still weeks away. (PNA/Xinhua)

ALM/ebp

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