WASHINGTON – Anadolu Agency
The Pentagon on Feb. 12 requested $300 million to train and equip the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and wants nearly as much to build a “border security force” with them in Syria.
The military’s budget proposal for 2019 also contains $850 million for train-and-equip activities in Iraq to counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
“The training, equipment and operations support in this request will consolidate the gains achieved against [ISIL] and prevent its reemergence,” according to the proposal submitted to Congress.
The Pentagon wants $1.4 billion for fiscal year 2019, an amount that is slightly less than its 2018 budget at $1.8 billion.
The U.S.-led coalition, officially known as the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), said last month it was creating a 30,000-strong border security force in northern Syria along Turkey’s border.
After strong objection by Turkey, the Pentagon appeared to somewhat back off from its plans for a border security force, comprised of local security forces trained in Syria, saying the U.S.-led coalition is training the SDF as a “stabilization” and “hold force.”
But on the contrary, the Pentagon still plans to establish and fund the group, according to the budget proposal that asks for “$250 million for border security requirements related to the counter-ISIL mission” in Syria.
The first budget proposal prepared by the Pentagon for fiscal year 2018 required $606 billion, the budget for fiscal year 2019 increased $80 billion to $686 billion.
Following appropriations, Congress increased the budget for fiscal year 2018 from $606 billion to $692 billion. Considering the rise in this year’s budget for fiscal year 2019, the defense budget is expected to hit $800 billion.
In addition, the Pentagon’s overseas contingency operations budget, also known as the war fund, has increased from $65.8 billion to $89 billion in the 2019 budget proposal.