Tales from the Trail

Petraeus says budget delays not affecting Afghan war… yet

The commander of international forces in Afghanistan is keeping a wary eye on budget battles in Congress these days.

General David Petraeus says failure to pass a budget this year has noUSA/t yet complicated the war effort against al Qaeda.

But there’s a point at which it will begin to have an impact, he told an eventĀ  sponsored by the National Journal on Friday at the Newseum.

The U.S. Air Force has urgently sought additional Reaper hunter-killer drones for use in Afghanistan, Petraeus said. Failure to pass President Barack Obama’s budget could block that.

The president also asked for an increase in funding to train, equip and sustain the Afghan military as it prepares to assume the lead role in providing security for the country. That’s a necessary step before U.S. forces can hand over control and return home.

Budget-cutters take aim at nuclear modernization funds

In hardball negotiations over the START nuclear arms treaty last year, Senate Republicans wrested a commitment from the White House to redouble work to overhaul the nation’s nuclear infrastructure.

USA/President Barack Obama agreed to spend an additional $5 billion over 10 years on the effort, including some $650 million in the 2011 fiscal year.

The funds would be used to refurbish facilities and upgrade technology to provide safer and more secure devices, for example by making it impossible for them to be detonated if they are stolen by extremist groups. Obama and Senate Democrats even agreed that if it became necessary to cut discretionary spending in the future, the funding for nuclear modernization would be considered on the same basis as defense spending, making it harder to trim.