The request shatters the initial cost estimates pushing the total bill for both conflicts to almost $US300 billion ($A390 billion) so far.

Before the invasion, former White House budget director Mitch Daniels predicted Iraq would be “an affordable endeavour”, and Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz assured Congress, “We are dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction and relatively soon.”

When a former White House economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey estimated Iraq costs at $US100 billion ($130 billion) to $US200 billion ($260 billion), he was derided by administration colleagues and later lost his job.

The White House brushed aside criticism about earlier cost estimates, citing “changing circumstances on the ground”.

“In a time of war, you have to be prepared for the unexpected and you have to be flexible enough to adapt,” said White House spokesman Scott McClellan.

A senior administration official said the request “may be slightly above” $US80 billion ($104 billion) and that additional money would be needed to boost aid to Asian nations devastated by last month’s tsunami. He did not offer a new figure for tsunami aid.

Congressional aides said President George W. Bush is expected to request up to $US900 million ($1.17 billion) for humanitarian, reconstruction and military operations in tsunami-hit nations.

The $US80 billion ($104 billion) request will push funding for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan to $US105 billion (A$136.5 billion) for fiscal year 2005 alone, including $US25 billion (A$32.5 billion) in emergency spending already approved.

The new money will supplement the Pentagon’s annual budget, which already totals more than $US400 billion ($519.95 billion).

The request is expected to win congressional approval despite lawmakers’ concerns about record federal budget deficits and complaints that Mr Bush and his top advisers initially underestimated the costs.

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