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Pastimes : Next stop Damascus?

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To: Tech Master who wrote (140)4/16/2003 8:32:45 PM
From: Tadsamillionaire  Read Replies (1) of 156
Pentagon: War Cost Is $20 Billion So Far
Wednesday April 16, 2003 6:10 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Pentagon has spent more than $20 billion so far in the war against Iraq and expects to spend at least $10 billion more by the end of September, a senior official said Wednesday.

That doesn't include the several billion dollars it will cost to bring combat troops back home, said Dov Zakheim, the Pentagon's comptroller. He also offered no estimate of the cost of stabilizing and rebuilding Iraq.

At a Pentagon news conference, Zakheim said military operations in Iraq to date have cost about $10 billion to $12 billion. Personnel costs have been about $6 billion and the cost of munitions has been more than $3 billion. He provided no exact figures but said the total was more than $20 billion.

Zakheim was explaining how the Pentagon will use the $62.6 billion Congress has approved in supplemental spending over the Pentagon's $364 billion for the fiscal year that ends Sept. 31. Nearly all the new money is for the war in Iraq and the global war on terror.

The war in Iraq will cost an estimated $2 billion a month through the end of the fiscal year, he said.

Gen. Tommy Franks, the U.S. war commander, made his first trip to Baghdad on Wednesday. His spokesman, Jim Wilkinson, confirmed Franks' trip but provided no details. A full description of his visit was expected to be released later Wednesday, Wilkinson said. Franks has run the war from a command post at Camp As Sayliyah, Qatar, in the Persian Gulf.

The Pentagon's top general, meanwhile, is still worried that Iraqi chemical or biological weapons could fall into the hands of terrorists.

The U.S. military so far has not confirmed finding any of the weapons of mass destruction the Bush administration says Iraq was hiding.

``We still have a lot of work to do in finding and securing weapons of mass destruction sites and making sure that those biological and chemical weapons don't fall in the hands of terrorists. That's still a possibility right now,'' Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Tuesday night on CNN's ``Larry King Live'' program.

U.S. troops in the northern city of Mosul were involved in an armed confrontation Tuesday in which U.S. troops killed at least seven Iraqis, defense officials said.

Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks of the U.S. Central Command said Wednesday the American troops were trying to secure a government building when a crowd of townspeople began throwing rocks at the troops and hitting them. Shots were fired at the troops, and the Americans fired back, Brooks said.

The Pentagon raised the official U.S. death toll in the war to 123. Four Americans were missing, and none was listed as a POW.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military was pulling some forces away from the Iraq fight and working to set the stage for a new, democratic Iraqi government to take over.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said a U.S.-led group charged with laying the foundation for a new civil administration, or interim authority, for Iraq will enter the Iraqi capital of Baghdad ``once conditions on the ground permit.''

He described the interim authority as a steppingstone to a new Iraqi government.

``It will be temporary; it will be large, involving Iraqis from all walks of life; and it will be open to participation by new leaders from across the country as they emerge from the shadow of Saddam Hussein's repression,'' Rumsfeld said.

U.S. military forces plan to snuff out any remnants of the Iraqi regime's Republican Guard or other Iraqi forces and take a closer look at clues to the whereabouts of four missing American troops, prisoners of war from the 1991 war and hidden Scud missiles or other illegal weapons, Rumsfeld told a Pentagon news conference.

``We'll continue these efforts until Saddam Hussein's regime has been removed from every corner of Iraq,'' the defense secretary said.

U.S. Marines controlled Tikrit, Saddam's hometown, after attacking it from the south, west and north and capturing a key Tigris River bridge in the center of the city about 90 miles north of Baghdad.

Fighting has ended in Qaim, a town near the Syrian border where Iraqi holdouts had been battling U.S. forces for about a week, military officials said. American troops still were negotiating with local leaders for control of the town, discussing issues such as whether and when a curfew would be imposed and what forces would police the town, U.S. officials said.

The only fighting of any consequence in Iraq on Tuesday was in two small towns near Tikrit, the officials said.

In the meantime, some U.S. forces in Iraq were being sent home while others arrived either to add new capabilities or to replace departing troops, Rumsfeld said. He confirmed that one ground force in line to deploy to Iraq had been told instead to stay home.

He would not identify the unit but others said it was the Army's 1st Cavalry Division from Fort Hood, Texas.

The size of the U.S. force remaining in Iraq as a postwar security force will depend in part, Rumsfeld said, on how willing other countries are to contribute peacekeeping troops.

Rumsfeld also said that it would take a while to decide the future arrangement of American forces in various Persian Gulf countries, many of which hosted U.S. troops that fought in Iraq.

``We have not made final decisions with respect to the footprint of the United States in that part of the world and won't for some months,'' he said.
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