WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama’s administration will seek a significant increase in funding for the fight against Islamic State as part of its 2017 defense budget request, U.S. officials say, in another possible sign of U.S. efforts to intensify the campaign.
The fiscal year 2017 Pentagon budget will call for more than $7 billion for the fight against Islamic State, a roughly 35 percent increase compared with the previous year’s request to Congress, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter is due to disclose his spending priorities for the $583 billion 2017 defense budget on Tuesday in an address to the Economic Club of Washington. The White House plans to release Obama’s full budget proposal for fiscal 2017, which begins Oct. 1, on Feb. 9.
Carter in his speech is expected to cite his intent to increase the administration’s request for funds to battle Islamic State, officials say, although it was unclear how much detail he would offer.
He was also expected to touch on other budget priorities, including plans to increase spending to reassure European allies following Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, and the need for the United States to maintain its military edge over China and Russia.
Carter’s budget will underscore the need for Washington to fund a new Air Force bomber awarded last year to Northrop Grumman Corp, a replacement for the Ohio-class submarines that carry nuclear weapons, and to start replacing a fleet of nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles, according to a source briefed on the plans.
The proposed budget will also seek to boost spending for several key priorities, including increased cybersecurity, electronic warfare and increased security for crucial U.S. satellites, the source said.
Lockheed Martin Corp, maker of the F-35 fighter jet, Boeing Co and other big weapons makers are anxiously awaiting details about the budget and how it will affect their programs.
Senior defense officials have said that $15 billion in cuts required under a two-year budget agreement with Congress last year would largely come from procurement accounts since personnel costs and operations costs were harder to cut.
One official noted that spending on the Islamic State fight was expected to be drawn from the roughly $59 billion Overseas Contingency Operations account, or OCO, a separate budget that supplements the larger, $524 billion base budget for fiscal year 2017.
Still, key details on the more than $7 billion request were unclear, including whether the funding applied to operations outside Iraq and Syria.
The disclosure about plans for an increased spending request to combat Islamic State came as the Obama administration seeks to intensify its campaign, looking to capitalize on recent battlefield gains against the militants in Iraq.
Carter has called a meeting later this month in Brussels with defense ministers from all 26 military members of the anti-Islamic State coalition, as well as Iraq. He is asking them to come prepared to discuss further contributions to the fight.
Reporting by Phil Stewart and Andrea Shalal; Editing by James Dalgleish
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