In its new budget for fiscal year 2008, the Pentagon says it'll parcel out about $142 billion to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the Defense Department doesn't really believe in its own figures, apparently. The number was was calculated before the new 35,00-48,000 troop "surge" plan was put in place, Pentagon comptroller Tina Jonas said in a news conference. So $142 billion is just a "best estimate.""We know it will be wrong," she added. "Conditions will change, and we'll have to adjust at that point."The number is also $28 billion dollars less than the $170 billion being spent on Iraq and Afghanistan this year. Does that mean there's some sort of secret plan to start bringing troops home? Hell, no. "White House spokesman Tony Fratto said that fact shouldn't be interpreted as an indication of likely reduction in U.S. troops in Iraq," according to the AP.There was another item of note from the Pentagon news conference introducing the new budget. Vice Admiral Stephen Stanley, Director for Force Structure, Resources, and Assessment for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, listed a number of major "risks" to the health of the American armed forces. One of the biggest was increased wear and tear that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were putting on military gear. Another was the increased "operational tempo" from those wars, which were grinding down our troops. In other words, the wars themselves are a threat to the American military. Interesting to hear that, in a Pentagon briefing.
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