- The Washington Times - Monday, February 4, 2008

STATE DEPARTMENT — $38.3 billion

The Bush administration’s 2009 budget gives the State Department $38.3 billion a 16.5 percent annual increase for foreign affairs operations, of which Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan are the biggest foreign beneficiaries.

The increase in the budget comes two months after Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates called for better funding of U.S. diplomatic efforts, in an unusual speech for a Pentagon chief that pleased the Foreign Service and advocates of soft power.

The additional resources will allow the State Department to hire more than 1,000 new Foreign Service officers, said Patrick Kennedy, undersecretary of state for management.

That will permit 300 additional officers to be in language training at any given time, he said after the president’s budget was released yesterday.

The department also will step up its cooperation with the military, Mr. Kennedy said. About 150 more diplomats will be given year-long training at military schools, and the number of resident diplomatic advisers in the offices of the nation’s top military commanders at home and overseas will be increased by 50.

The weak dollar is hitting hard the U.S. overseas operations, Mr. Kennedy said, noting that the budget assumes currency exchange rates will remain around current levels.

According to the figures released yesterday, Afghanistan will receive $1.1 billion in aid, Pakistan $830 million and Iraq $400 million. There will be more funds for Iraq in a supplemental budget, officials said.

Almost $700 million will be spent on U.S. government television, radio and Internet broadcasts overseas, with a focus on the Middle East, North Korea, Burma, Iran and Cuba.

In addition, $1.5 billion will be contributed to U.N. peacekeeping, including operations in Sudan, Congo, Liberia, Lebanon and Haiti.

About $6 billion will go to President Bush’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, a program that is expected to spend $30 billion over the next five years to help millions of people affected by the AIDS crisis.

We are elevating the importance of development as a policy priority to complement diplomacy and defense, and we are renewing focus on poverty reduction, said Henrietta Fore, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Mr. Gates surprised both the Pentagon and the State Department with his November speech, in which he said that modern wars cannot be won with military assets alone.

What is clear to me is that there is a need for a dramatic increase in spending on the civilian instruments of national security diplomacy, strategic communications, foreign assistance, civic action, and economic reconstruction and development, he said.

Funding for non-military foreign-affairs programs has increased since 2001, but it remains disproportionately small relative to what we spend on the military and to the importance of such capabilities, he said.

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