Wednesday, October 24, 2007

"Urgent Operational Need" For Bunker-Busters?

By Cernig

Via Laura at War and Piece, Congressional Quarterly's John Donnelly writes:
Some Democrats are worried that President Bush’s funding request to enable B-2 “stealth” bombers to carry a new 30,000-pound “bunker buster” bomb is a sign of plans for an attack on Iran.

Buried in the $196.4 billion supplemental war spending proposal that Bush submitted to Congress on Oct. 22 is a request for $88 million to modify B-2 bombers so they can drop a Massive Ordnance Penetrator, or MOP, a conventional bomb still in development that is the most powerful weapon designed to destroy targets deep underground.

A White House summary accompanying the supplemental spending proposal said the request for money to modify ­B-2s to carry the bombs came in response to “an urgent operational need from theater commanders.” The summary provided no further details. The White House and the Air Force, in response to queries, did not provide additional clarification.

Previous statements by the Defense Department and the program’s contractors, along with interviews with military experts, suggest the weapon is meant for the kind of hardened targets found chiefly in Iran, which Bush suspects of developing nuclear weapons capability, and North Korea, which already has tested a nuclear device.
Huh? Since the only operations currently underway in Iraq and Afghanistan aren't about attacking deep and reinforced bunkers, this "urgent operational need" should be setting off alarm bells. Does anyone know how long it would take to outfit a half-dozen B-2's to carry these massive penetrators? Also - I can't believe they're waiting on the money to go ahead with the upgrades to the bombers. This is doubtless a request for funding to book-balance, after they've shifted the money from somewhere else. The usual place the Pentagon gets slush money from is the troop's pay - that way, no-one on the Hill is going to vote against putting the money back again later.

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