WASHINGTON, July 16, 2014 —
The $58.6 billion in supplemental overseas contingency operations funds the Pentagon is seeking for fiscal year 2015 supports global missions beyond Afghanistan, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told the House Armed Services Committee today.
Navy Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr. said that while the $26 billion drop in the OCO budget compared to the current year is indicative of the drawdown in Afghanistan, readiness, unanticipated contingency operations and indirect support missions continue globally.
“There’s an awful lot in this request that is outside of Afghanistan, but that supports Afghanistan,” Winnefeld said. “[Last year’s sequester spending cuts] squeezed our ability to absorb within the department unanticipated operations.”
He cited 2011’s Operation Tomodachi in Japan as an example. The earthquake and tsunami relief humanitarian mission caused the Defense Department to absorb some $90 million in expenses beyond those budgeted for routine ship deployment and operations. “We have a lot less capability to do that now than we did before,” he said. The vice chairman also noted the Army’s 2013 deployment of the MIM-104 Patriot surface-to-air missile system in Turkey in response to the crisis in Syria.
If the request is approved, $500 million of the $5 billion Counterterrorist Partnership Fund portion of the funding will be earmarked to train and equip vetted elements of the moderate Syrian armed opposition to and to weaken extremists groups, Pentagon officials said.
“If we had taken kinetic action in Syria last year, then this is the first place we would turn -- that small, $500 million fund,” Winnefeld said.
But readiness, he asserted, remains on the forefront of DoD priorities, and the 2015 budget request includes money to train all of the services into the full spectrum of operations.
(Follow Amaani Lyle on Twitter: @LyleDoDNews)