Representative Duncan Hunter, the ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, suggested that the military was being saddled with additional responsibilities because the State Department has been sluggish in responding to new needs. Hunter said “the need to train and equip foreign forces and to provide stabilization programs will remain necessary as we continue to fight the global war on terror.”
The Pentagon asked Congress Tuesday to give it permanent authority over training and equipping foreign militaries, in a shifting of roles from the State Department.
Both Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sought Congressional approval for the change, as well as authorization for the Pentagon to spend 750 million dollars in 2009 in helping foreign militaries.
Gates told members of the House Armed Services Committee the foreign military assistance program is “a vital and enduring military requirement, irrespective of the capacity of other departments, and its authorities and funding mechanisms should reflect that reality.”
Some lawmakers said it raised questions about the military’s growing role in domains traditionally reserved for diplomats.