The White House on Monday presented U.S. President's Fiscal Year 2013 budget request for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
Making up just one percent of the U.S. government's overall budget, the Department of State/USAID budget totals $51.6 billion. "The request provides the most cost-efficient way to ensure diplomats and development experts to have the resources necessary to address complex threats to our national security and promote our economic renewal," Deputy Secretary for Management & Resources Thomas Nides said in a special briefing.
While the U.S. government has reduced funding for Iraq, Europe and Eurasia, its request includes the creation of a $770 million Middle East and North Africa incentive fund to support political and economic reforms in the region.
The U.S. official made it clear that "we have limited our requests to what is absolutely necessary to achieve our mission."
Twenty-three percent of the budget -- $11.9 billion -- is spent on defending the United States' security interests in the frontline states of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
In Iraq, the U.S. government is requesting $4.8 billion for next year, which is about ten percent less than that of last year. Nides justified the expenditure cut saying that "the transition is already saving American taxpayers a great deal of money." With State in the lead, and with the troops no longer on the ground, the government is spending $40 billion less this year. "We're continuing to be thoughtful about the rightsizing of our presence in Iraq, hiring more local staff, procuring more goods locally, which should further reduce our spending," he added.
In Afghanistan, the State Department is requesting $4.6 billion to help civilians who "are securing our gains against the Taliban."
And in Pakistan, the 2013 request is for $2.4 billion. Nides said the United States' "relationship with Pakistan is challenging, but effective cooperation with Pakistan is critical to Afghanistan's future and to America's national security." The request includes funds to strengthen democratic institutions, countering extremism, supporting joint counter-terrorism efforts, and protecting "our civilians" on the ground.
The budget proposes a new Middle East and North Africa Incentive Fund "to better position the United States to quickly respond to dramatic changes in the region and incentivize reforms."
Twenty-eight percent of the budget, or $14.6 billion, goes to preventing conflicts, supporting U.S. allies and partners through direct assistance and multilateral contributions, among other things. It includes police training in Latin America, efforts to promote stability in places like Haiti and South Sudan, more than 70 military-to-military partnerships, which are managed by the State Department. It funds peacekeeping missions around the world and U.S. presence in international institutions.
In all, the United States will be spending $5.1 billion to provide military assistance to its allies worldwide, including $3.1 billion for Israel, matching last year's record high. The budget allocates $1.3 billion for Egypt, $300 million for Jordan, and approximately $400 million for the United States' 70 other strategic partners around the world.
Another 28 percent is spent on human and economic security, specifically global health, food security, and climate change, poverty reduction, and cross-cutting efforts to empower women and girls.
The State Department says a reduction in funding for Europe and Eurasia by 18 percent is "to reflect the successful transition of a number of countries to market-based democracies and eliminates the stand alone Assistance to Europe, Eurasia, and Central Asia account."
The budget reflects over $100 million in FY 2013 administrative savings through administrative reforms.
by RTT Staff Writer
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