The 180,000-member occupation force in Iraq and surrounding
nations could not be maintained much beyond March 2004, after
which active Army units would have to be decreased according to a
Congressional Budget Office report released Tuesday.
Assuming the use of all available forces, including Marine
Corps, Army Special Forces and National Guard reserves, the
Pentagon could maintain a long-term occupation force of as many as
106,000 military personnel, at an annual cost of up to $19
The report was prepared by CBO at the request of Senate
Appropriations ranking member Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., who called the
report "quantified evidence that the long-term occupation is
straining our forces close to the breaking point."
The report comes as the administration is preparing to request
supplemental funding for military needs in Iraq, where costs are
said to be running as high as $3.9 billion a month, according to
the Defense Department. CBO last week projected a $480 billion
federal deficit for fiscal 2004, and CBO Director Holtz-Eakin is
scheduled to testify before the Senate Budget Committee Wednesday.
If two new Army divisions were created, as some have advocated,
an additional 23,000 military personnel could be added to the
occupation force at a cost of up to $19 billion upfront and would
take as many as five years to implement, the report states. The
annual cost would be $6 billion.
Also, ending U.S. military operations in Bosnia, Kosovo, the
Sinai Peninsula and removing troops from Okinawa would provide an
additional 12,000-13,000 troops for the Iraq occupation force.