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DoD Needs Supplemental Budget Money Now, Zakheim Says

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 12, 2002 – America's war on global terrorism will go broke if $14 billion in fiscal 2002 budget supplemental money earmarked for DoD isn't approved by Congress soon, the department's senior money manager said here today.

DoD Comptroller Dov S. Zakheim told Pentagon reporters in a noon briefing that the U.S. military is "burning through" an average of $2 billion a month in prosecution of the war on terrorism at home and overseas.

"We're in a war - we're operating here, we're operating overseas," Zakheim pointed out. "Al Qaeda and the Taliban folks haven't just given up and walked away."

Indeed, in a letter to Congress dated July 3, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld acknowledged that the supplemental funds "are needed to sustain our readiness and global operations against terrorism."

If congressional passage of DoD's supplemental is delayed significantly beyond July 15, Rumsfeld wrote, the impact "would likely include inability to meet the military payroll, canceled training, deferred depot maintenance for ships and aircraft, postponed facilities maintenance and repair, and reduced spare parts and supplies purchases that would hurt future readiness."

DoD asked Congress in late March for the additional $14 billion to fund the war, Zakheim explained. The initial $17 billion supplemental request has long been spent, he said.

The department needs the new supplemental before mid- August, Zakheim emphasized. Otherwise, he added, the lack of additional funds will hamper war operations, including transport, maintenance, training, and military and civilian payroll.

If DoD doesn't get the additional funds soon, Zakheim noted that Air Force flying hours "will die by the middle of August" and engine maintenance for F-18 planes "would go south." Navy ships would remain in port. The Army, he noted, would have to cancel training at Fort Irwin, Calif. Force protection construction projects, such as barriers at military bases, would have to be curtailed.

Without the supplemental, the department won't be able to pay its military members on Aug. 30, Zakheim pointed out, adding that up to 35,000 civilians would have to be furloughed.

All of these possible scenarios would hurt military readiness, morale and, possibly, retention, Zakheim noted.

The proposed DoD supplemental contains:

o $7.2 billion for conducting military operations.

o $4.1 billion to pay for some 80,000 Guard and Reserve troops called up to active duty for the war.

o $200 million for service members in critical wartime jobs like linguists and other hard-to-maintain specialties.

o $500 million to obtain additional precision munitions, such as Joint Direct Attack Munitions.

o $1.6 billion to fund command, control, communications, and intelligence support and classified programs.

o $400 million for coalition support to Afghanistan, Pakistan and other partners in the war on terrorism.

DoD is already $3 billion into its fourth-quarter funding to pay for the war, Zakheim said. Mindful of looming deficits, he noted, Congress is now in conference to discuss and negotiate national budgetary matters.

He said there is a lot of good will in Congress as part of ongoing negotiations for DoD's budget supplemental. However, he emphasized, time is running out. The annual month-long congressional summer recess coming in August normally lasts through Labor Day.

"Sometimes things take time to get sorted out. We're just saying, ... please do so by the beginning of August," he said.

Zakheim acknowledged that DoD can't just stop all military operations if Congress doesn't provide the additional money before its recess. "But, he pointed out, "you reach a point where if you don't have the money, you don't have the money."

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