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Pentagon to increase Daesh war budget by 50 percent
 WASHINGTON  
The Pentagon will increase funding by more than 50 percent in 2017 for the war against Daesh, the U.S. defense chief said Tuesday.

“We are accelerating the [anti-Daesh] campaign,” Ash Carter told the Economic Club of Washington DC. “[The Defense Department] is backing that up in our budget with a total of $7.5 billion dollars in 2017 – 50 percent more than 2016.”

The U.S. military will buy more than 45,000 more GPS-guided smart bombs and laser-guided rockets, already in use, in counter-Daesh operations that will amount $1.8 billion, Carter said.

As of Jan. 1, the total cost of Daesh-related operations since Aug. 8, 2014, reached $5.8 billion at an average daily cost of $11.4 million, according to the Pentagon.

Noting that President Barack Obama will next week reveal his 2017 federal budget, Carter said that half of the administration’s discretionary funds – $582.7 billion – would be allocated for the Pentagon.

In justifying the massive figure, Cater indicated challenges the U.S. needs to confront that require a “new posture in some regions, and also new and enhanced capabilities”.

Those challenges include the rise of Russia in Europe and China in the Asia Pacific; nuclear programs of Iran and North Korea and the rise of Daesh.

According to the defense chief, Russia and China are positioning their military apparatuses in ways that threaten U.S. interests in specific areas.

“In some cases, they are developing weapons and ways of war that seek to achieve their objectives rapidly, before they hope we can respond,” he said. “Because of their actions to date – from Ukraine to the South China Sea – DoD [Department of Defense] has elevated their importance in our defense planning and budgeting.”

As a deterrent to Russia, the Pentagon is asking for $3.4 billion for Europe operations – more than four times the $789 million it previously received for the 2016 fiscal year, according to Carter.

He also said the military will invest $71billion with a particularly focus on advanced areal and naval technologies amid disputes with Russia and China in Ukraine, Syria and the South China Sea.

The Pentagon is also going to invest about $7 billion in cyber security, Carter said. The U.S. government has repeatedly accused Russian, Chinese and North Korean hackers of high-profile cyber attacks, including at least one against the White House.

Carter will travel to Belgian capital of Brussels next week to meet his counterparts from 26 nations taking part in the Daesh war. He said he would urge partners to do more, noting that while some are contributing, others have not lived up to their political commitments.

Regarding the closure of the controversial Guantanamo Bay prison facility in Cuba, Carter said he doesn’t know if it would be closed before he left office next year but acknowledged that some detainees present unique problems.

“There's no way I can safely have them transferred somewhere else,” he said. “We have to find another place to detain the people who must be detained. Now, at the moment, it's against the law to establish another detention facility.”

Congress would need to help the Obama administration to find a solution to close the controversial prison, he said.

After a high of about 800 detainees, just 91 are currently housed at prison.
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