‘Sixteen-Star Letter’ Calls for Supplemental Passage
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 9, 2007 In a “16-star letter” to Congress, the services’ uniformed leaders are urging a quick passage of the fiscal 2007 emergency supplemental request.
The four service chiefs, all four-star generals, signed the letter.
The request will fund operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa through the end of the fiscal year.
The letter, signed by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael G. Mullen, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley and Marine Commandant Gen. James T. Conway, asks Congress to “expeditiously complete its work” on the supplemental.
DoD requested $93.4 billion to fund operations in the combat zones. Both the Senate and House have passed bills that provide the funding but contain amendments that call for combat troops to be out of Iraq on a certain timetable. President Bush has vowed to veto any bill containing these provisions.
The Senate has come back from recess, but the House will remain out through April 13. House and Senate negotiators must meet to reconcile the different portions of their respective bills. If the bill contains the withdrawal provision, it is “dead on arrival” at the president’s desk, White House officials said.
“Without approval of the supplemental funds in April, the armed services will be forced to take increasingly disruptive measures in order to sustain combat operations,” the four general and flag officers wrote in their letter. “The impacts on readiness and quality of life could be profound. We will have to implement spending restrictions and reprogram billions of dollars.”
The uniformed leaders said such reprogramming is an inefficient solution that wastes money.
The spending restrictions could also slow or halt training for follow-on units. With no supplemental by April 15, the Army will be forced to consider curtailing and suspending home-station training for Army Reserve and National Guard units, DoD officials said. The service would slow the training of units slated to deploy next to Iraq and Afghanistan and would cut funding for the upgrade or renovation of barracks and other facilities that support quality of life for troops and their families. Leaders also would stop the repair of equipment necessary to support pre-deployment training, officials said.
If the supplemental funding is not passed by May 15, the Army would consider reducing depot repair work. The service also would delay or curtail the deployment of brigade combat teams for training rotations. This may force the service to extend units in Iraq or Afghanistan, officials said.
No supplemental funding would also delay forming new brigade combat teams, force the service to implement a civilian hiring freeze and prohibit new contracts and service orders, officials said.