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War-Funding Delays Harmful Within Months, Deputy Secretary Says

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 3, 2008 – War-funding delays will become harmful within months if continued, the Pentagon’s second-ranking official said here today.

Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England said lawmakers have approved less than half the fiscal 2008 request of $189 billion to support operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“At some point, that delayed appropriation will be harmful,” England told members at a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention here. “We do manage to keep stretching (the appropriated $86.8 billion), but at some point here in a matter of months, we will start to run out of money again.”

The $189.3 billion -- a supplemental request separate from last year’s overall defense budget -- is allotted to subsidize costs related to the global war on terrorism. The deputy secretary called the appropriations “vital” for funding daily operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and other parts of the world.

England’s remarks echoed Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who last month told Congress that the stall in supplemental funding is degrading the Defense Department’s ability to operate and sustain the force at home and in combat theaters.

“The Department of Defense is like the world’s biggest supertanker: It cannot be steered like a skiff,” Gates told the defense subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee. “I urge approval of the fiscal 2008 (global war on terrorism) request as quickly as possible.”

England referred to the Defense Department’s $515.4 billion overall fiscal 2009 budget request as necessary to pay the nation’s “insurance policy” against future threats. The request, which marks a $35.9 billion increase over fiscal 2008 funding, accounts for about 4 percent of the United States’ gross domestic product, the total market value produced by goods and services in a fiscal year.

By comparison, defense spending accounted for 11.7 percent of the GDP during the Korean War, and 9 percent during the Vietnam War, England noted.

“Fortunately, our economy has grown to support the kind of military we need in this complex (security) environment we have today,” he said. “I view the 4 percent as … the insurance policy to protect our freedom and liberty and frankly it sounds like a pretty reasonable amount of money.”

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Robert M. Gates
Gordon England

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