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WASHINGTON – Defense Secretary Robert Gates has forecast operations in Iraq and Afghanistan to cost nearly $136 billion for the 2009 budget year, which began Oct. 1, if the situation continues at its current pace. Announcing in a New Year’s Eve letter aimed neither at the current president or the future Commander in Chief, Gates told lawmakers that the Pentagon would need another $70 billion to supplement the $66 billion that was approved last year.

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WASHINGTON - Defense Secretary Robert Gates has forecast operations in Iraq and Afghanistan to cost…