DoD Asks for Supplemental Funds
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 16, 1998 DoD civilian and military leaders called on Congress to approve emergency funding to offset expenses incurred in Bosnia and Southwest Asia.
Defense Secretary William S. Cohen and Air Force Gen. Joseph Ralston, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, asked the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee March 12 to quickly approve DoD's request for $2 billion in supplemental funding. The services must know by early April if they have the money or there will be a significant degradation in military readiness, Ralston said.
DoD needs the money for the unplanned contingency in Southwest Asia and for the extended stabilization mission in Bosnia. If DoD does not receive the money soon, it will begin paying for the contingencies with other funds. This will divert money from personnel, quality of life initiatives and modernization, Cohen said.
Ralston warned lawmakers that the Air Force would be forced to cut flying hours for nonemergency pilots and aircraft. The service would be forced to curtail peacetime flying training in the fourth quarter of this fiscal year for crews not engaged in contingiency operations. Other crews would be downgraded to C-4 readiness -- the lowest readiness status.
He said the Army would have to divert funds to the contingency missions and cut off other divisions. If this were to happen, he said, Army divisions would be downgraded to C-3 readiness status -- the next to lowest -- by the end of the fiscal year.
"The Navy would have to postpone shipyard maintenance on 22 ships, which would affect future schedules and degrade the reliability and long-term life of those ships," Ralston said. Nondeployed carrier wing readiness would also degrade, he said.
Money could also come from modernization accounts, if Congress fails to act quickly. "If we're forced to divert funds from our modernization programs, then we will fall behind the investment goals that were defined last spring in the Quadrennial Defense Review," Ralston said.
He pointed out the money is equal to 4 percent of the year's planned modernization. "That's twice the amount in this year's budget for modernization of the Army's main battle tanks and the Bradley fighting vehicle," he said. "It's double the number of Harriers and Ospreys in this year's procurement budget for the Marine Corps. It will buy more than a squadron of F-18s for the Navy, and it would buy eight new C-17s for the Air Force."
Iraqi president Saddam Hussein is responsible for the need for more money in Southwest Asia, Cohen said. When Iraq stopped U.N. weapons inspectors from doing their jobs, the prudent move was for the United States to build up forces in the region. These forces are significant: two mechanized infantry brigades, more than 300 aircraft, two carrier battle groups and a Marine amphibious readiness group.
The supplemental request calls for $1.85 billion to go to cover the cost of the Southwest Asia contingency. The rest of the money will go toward funding U.S. involvement in the NATO Stabilization Force in Bosnia through the end of the fiscal year.