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Obama seeks $192 billion for wars

/ Source: The Associated Press

President Barack Obama wants $192 billion in war spending for the next year-and-a-half, a hefty sum aimed at escalating the war in Afghanistan despite its waning popularity.

The request reflects Obama's recent decision to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan to blunt a growing insurgency there. Despite doubts among many Americans, including those in his own political party, Obama sees the decision as critical to bringing the war to a conclusion.

His plan calls for troops to start leaving Afghanistan in July 2011.

"The United States must prevent the Taliban from turning Afghanistan back into a safe haven from which international terrorists can strike at us or our allies," Obama said in his budget.

The government has already shelled out a combined $1 trillion since 2001 for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Obama's $192 billion war budget rivals the $245 billion request made in 2007 by President George W. Bush, after announcing that more than 20,000 combat troops would be sent to Baghdad.

Congress was expected to endorse the budget plan even though several anti-war Democrats oppose the troop buildup and others are looking for ways to lessen the war's burden on the nation's deficit. Some lawmakers have proposed a special "war tax" to cover the costs, while Republicans have suggested taking money from Obama's $787 billion stimulus package.

The $192 billion request includes $33 billion to pay for the troop buildup this year. The remaining $159 billion would pay for overseas military operations in the government's 2011 budget year, which begins Oct. 1.

Some of the 2011 money was expected to go toward Pakistan, including $2 billion to reimburse Islamabad for operations along its Afghan border.