Washington, D.C. – Congressman Ike Skelton, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Congressman John Spratt, Chairman of the Budget Committee and Congressman Marty Meehan, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, sent a letter to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) asking for a cost estimate of the President’s proposal for escalating the number of troops in Iraq. CBO responded to that request today .
“Because the President’s advisers have indicated that they will pay for the troop increase from funds already provided to the Department of Defense, we were concerned that the full financial cost of the escalation would never be made clear to the American people,” said Chairman Skelton. “We strongly believe that Congress cannot provide good oversight to the President’s troop escalation plan without first understanding the costs.”
"There is no way that the American people can have a meaningful debate about the troop escalation without understanding the full costs of sending more troops to Iraq," said Rep. Meehan. "Frankly, it is irresponsible for the Administration to roll out a so-called 'new' strategy in Iraq without telling the public what that plan will entail."
CBO responded with cost estimates for three separate four month scenarios. The first assumes no additional support personnel will be required, for a total cost of $5 billion. This is believed to be an unlikely scenario. The second assumes deployment of “light” support, roughly 15,000 additional personnel, at a cost of $9 billion. The third uses the average support-to-combat ratio that DoD has used since 2003. Under this scenario 28,000 additional support personnel would be deployed for a total cost of $13 billion.
“What the CBO found concerns me,” Skelton said. “The cost of the troop increase could be significantly higher than what the Administration has been saying in the press. Even more surprising, is that CBO’s estimates indicate a significant number of support troops, between 15 and 28 thousand, will have to be deployed to support the additional five combat brigades deploying under the President’s plan. I am disturbed that the administration’s figures may not be fully accounting for what a true force increase will entail; if combat troops are deployed, their support needs must not be shortchanged.”
"The CBO report only confirms what we already know: the President has continually tried to hide the true costs of this war, both in terms of money spent and lives affected," said Meehan. "This Democratic Congress and the House Armed Services Committee will not let the President get away with saying whatever he wants without checking his facts anymore."
“This finding also appears to conflict with the estimate given by the Chief of Staff of the Army in his testimony. We will want to carefully investigate just how big the President’s troop increase really is. Is it 21,500 troops, or is it really closer to 33,000 or 43,000? ” Skelton asked.
General Schoomaker, Chief of Staff of the Army, testified before the House Armed Services Committee on January 23, 2007 that there was not a need for additional combat support personnel beyond the President’s plan of five brigade combat teams.