Obama seeks $75.5 billion for Iraq and Afghan wars 2009

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama is seeking an additional $75.5 billion (53 billion pounds) for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for the rest of the current fiscal year in a budget released Thursday that reflects plans to pull troops out of Iraq.

Obama, in his first budget, is also requesting $130 billion for military operations in the two wars for fiscal year 2010 that starts October 1, which would be a decline from the roughly $140 billion he expects will be needed this year.

“The budget recognizes and funds the president’s strategy to increase our resources in Afghanistan while responsibly removing combat brigades from Iraq,” the document said.

Congress has already appropriated about half of the money that the Obama administration says it will need for Iraq and Afghanistan this year.

The proposed 2010 budget would increase U.S. defence spending by 4 percent, or $20.4 billion, to $533.7 billion, excluding the cost of the wars or work on nuclear weapons.

Total spending in the Pentagon base budget and for the wars would reach nearly $664 billion in fiscal 2010, if the plan is approved by Congress.

The administration anticipates big savings in the budget over the next few years in a number of areas, including defence spending. Obama aides say the drawdown of troops from the Iraq war will help yield significant budget savings.

But some private analysts are sceptical that a reduction of troops will bring big savings in the near-term because the drawdown from Iraq comes as the administration is boosting troop levels in Afghanistan.

An administration official said the costs of moving personnel and equipment out of a war zone were included in the budget.

Obama plans to give a speech on Friday at Camp Lejeune, a Marine Corps base in North Carolina, in which he is widely expected to announce steps to begin pulling U.S. combat troops out of Iraq.

Reporting by Tabassum Zakaria and Andrea Shalal-Esa; Editing by Jackie Frank