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Senior Defense Budget Official Background Interview

Presenter: Senior Defense Budget Official
April 19, 2004
Senior Defense Budget Official Background Interview

            Senior Defense Budget Official: As mentioned, I don't know exactly where the allegations are coming from [on] these reports, but I'd just like to explain to you what we did.

 

            Congress made available two supplementals. In 2001 we got 14.2, and in 2002 -- 2001, 17; 2002, 14.2. We got the supplementals after 9/11 to respond to the terrorist attacks on the United States, to deal with other consequences of the attack including the cost of providing support to counter, investigate, prosecute domestic or international terrorism and support national security. That was the background of those supplemental funds.

 

            Granted, these authorities were broad. It provided a basis for Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Noble Eagle to be able to fund these emerging requirements as they occurred. There were people on our discussions with Congress through this entire period were ongoing. We were up there always talking about execution of these funds and what we were doing. But I want to frame these authorities for you initially so you know the basis of where we were working.

 

            In July in the course of preparing for contingency operations in Iraq, CENTCOM came in with an initial estimate of $750 million. July of 2002. $750 million in preparatory tasks.

 

            Q:            For Iraq?

 

            Senior Defense Official: This was in the context of preparing options for an Iraq contingency.

 

            Senior Defense Official: In our office we reviewed the CENTCOM request, we recommended what funds should be made available and what were executable consistent with the authorities included in the supplemental for the global war on terrorism.

 

            In August and September of 2002 --

 

            Q:            August and September?

 

            Senior Defense Official: Right. We made available about $178 million to support CENTCOM requests which included funding for communications equipment, fuel supplies, humanitarian rations, even improvements to CENTCOM's force forward headquarters.

 

            Senior Defense Official: But consistent with the existing authorities for broad support for the global war on terror.

 

            Senior Defense Budget Official: All these investments were designed to strengthen our capability in the region or support ongoing operational requirements. No funding was made available to sit with the specific purpose of funding the Iraqi contingency [inaudible].

 

            Congress approved the Iraqi resolution on October 11th. It was signed in by the President on the 16th. And consistent with the congressional statutory requirements regarding military construction activities we made a notification of $63 million, on October 15th, and after October 25th more than $800 million was made available to support other Iraqi preparatory tasks.

 

            Many of these were the same tasks that were identified in July.

 

            Senior Defense Official – but this was post passage of the congressional resolution on Iraq.

 

            Q:            That was $800 million?

 

            Senior Defense Budget Official: Right.

 

            Q:            And that was what date?

 

            Senior Defense Budget Official: After October 25th. It went over the next few months.

 

            Q:            That was [inaudible]?

 

            Senior Defense Budget Official: These plans were consistent with the supplemental appropriation authority, but the point I wanted to make about the thing about the MilCon, that MilCon required a special notification and we did it. These other funds didn't require a notification. But we went up on a regular basis, we go up on a regular basis all the time, to inform Congress on how we execute our supplemental funds.

 

            So when we had a specific requirement we met that requirement, and that was demonstrated by the fact on the MilCon notification.

 

            Senior Defense Official:  A specific requirement for notification.

 

            Senior Defense Budget Official: Notification to Congress.

 

            Q:            -- that MilCon notification [inaudible]?

 

            Senior Defense Budget Official: That was the 63 and that was October 11th?

 

            Voice: October 15th.

 

            Senior Defense Official:  Delivered to Congress on October 15th.

 

            Q:            On the $63 million.

 

            Senior Defense Budget Official: On the $63 million.

 

            Q:            How about the $800 million?

 

            Senior Defense Budget Official: We already had authority for the $800 million so that was discussed in Congress when we were talking about the execution of these accounts. But there was no prior notification.

 

            Q:            What about the $178 million? The $178 million --

 

            Senior Defense Budget Official: In August and September 2002, after we reviewed the requirements and those that we thought were consistent with the supplemental, we spent $178.

 

            Senior Defense Official: Again, it was not anything --

 

            Q:            But you said the $178 million, you said originally that was preparing for an option for an Iraq Contingency unfold – but that’s what you said.

 

            Senior Defense Official: No, wrong.

 

            Senior Defense Official: No, let's clarify real quickly.

 

            CENTCOM comes in in July. If I had my way to go to war in Iraq, which by the way there was no decision to go to war by that point, it was purely contingency planning for options. As I prepare my options, I would like $700 million. That request comes in.

 

            The Comptroller then consistent with authority provided to the Department of Defense by the Congress says well, we can't give you $700 million because we wouldn't be able to validate that in accordance with our authorities, but there's a portion of this we feel comfortable validating in the context of the authorities towards the global war on terror. Things like fuel, things like some communications, some humanitarian rations. That's consistent with the global war on terror. It's helpful to CENTCOM for whatever purpose whether there was nothing as the Comptroller has described that was specifically approved that was Iraq-exclusive in this first tranche of money, $178 million.

 

            Then comes the vote in Congress and we go back and look at this requirement that General Franks set into this list of priorities and it starts to get washed up against and validated and we start to flow funds. But this is post the vote in Congress for the Iraq contingency.

 

            Q:            But you're saying that in this $178 million there's nothing "Iraq-exclusive", that is to say fuel or improvements to the forward headquarters in CENTCOM. Not necessarily --

 

            Senior Defense Budget Official: They were to support the $178 for increasing our capabilities in the region or operational requirements that our forces already had like fuel, repair parts, that type of thing.

 

            Senior Defense Official: Remember, the authorities were for Operation Enduring Freedom and the broad national security requirements of the global war on terror, so those funds were    determined by the people responsible for making those determinations, to be consistent with those authorities.

 

            Senior Defense Budget Official: When you look at these dollar figures I don't want anybody to walk away with that we [inaudible] a $178 million project and an $800 million project. This is a series of lots of little projects.

 

            Q:            The $800 million --

 

            Q:            The $168 was --

 

            Senior Defense Official: $178.

 

            Q:            -- list of requirements for planning for contingencies [inaudible]? for the cost of war on Iraq.

 

            Senior Defense Official: No. The $178 was judged to see where we had the authority for things we needed to fight the global war on terror. But not specifically for Iraq.

 

            Senior Defense Official: To use a term that's in use right now, that stuff is fungible. I mean if he comes in and says I need this and we say shoot, you need that anyway because you've got some requirements within the theater.

 

            Q:            Right, but the requirement originated from the need to plan for contingencies --

 

            Senior Defense official:  But that's the input. The output is what the Comptroller determines is consistent with the authorities.

 

            Senior Defense Budget Official: Not necessarily. I mean we start going through like humanitarian rations, I mean we started really going through humanitarian rations. We had to go back and buy those special type of rations. So who uses those in Afghanistan. So we had a requirement for those. We didn't specifically buy them for that operation.

 

            Senior Defense Official: And they weren't put in some place and said "hold for Iraq". It was fungible.

 

            Q:            We just want to make sure that we're accurately characterizing the request in July of 2002 for $750 million worth of things, that that requirement was based on possible planning for contingencies in Iraq, right? That's the --

 

            Senior Defense Budget Official: That was based on the whole scope of things. That's why some of it got delayed because it was Iraq-specific. Some of it was shortfalls. Some of it was shortfalls of equipment. Things that no matter where they were going to go, no matter, wherever it was, communications equipment, some of them were shortages in prepositioned equipment that we had already over there. I think --

 

            Q:            At the risk of over-simplifying it, so if I'm the commander and I say if I had to go to war in Iraq these are some things I would need, and you take a look at this list and say well, some of these are specifically to go to war in Iraq but others aren't. We can give you the stuff that aren't necessarily specific to Iraq, and the other stuff might have to wait. Am I reading that right? Is that what you're saying?

 

            Senior Defense Budget Official: If it's supporting a capability to fight the war on terrorism and there was a shortfall, we meet a requirement, we funded it.

 

            Q:            You can justify that or validate it.

 

            Senior Defense Budget Official: Yeah. But if you sat down there and it was specifically designed only for the war in Iraq, it had to wait until after funds were made available --

 

            Senior Defense Official: And that decision was made.

 

            Q:            That's what I'm getting from what you're saying, I just want to make sure I'm understanding it.

 

            Senior Defense Official: Is that correct? Is it accurate that Franks' request was contingency planning for Iraq? Is that accurate?

 

            Senior Defense Budget Official: (Inaudible) The initial request.

 

            Q:            What of the specifics cited by Woodward when he's talking about [inaudible]? One of the specifics he talks about is the paving of the airfields in Kuwait. They were paved, expanded, and that some of this money was used for that.

 

            Now was that approved in the initial $178 million? Or the later $800 million?

 

            Senior Defense Budget Official: I don't know specifically what --

 

            Senior Defense Official: That would have been MilCon probably, wouldn't it?

 

            Senior Defense Budget Official: We’re in some type of an operational requirement. Like we found out that in Afghanistan we were flying a lot of sorties out of that area and the reason we were having to use so many carriers was because we didn't have the infrastructure to do that. So we ran into that problem. So some of the things that we did were to expand our capability in that area and for our operational needs.

 

            Senior Defense Official: But doesn't that come under MilCon which would have required notification --

 

            Senior Defense Budget Official: In some cases if it's for an operational requirement you can use O&M funding. If it's temporary in nature, it doesn't belong to us, there's a whole set of requirements that you guys probably would be bored to listen to. But if it dealt with an operational requirement that we were facing you could use funding.

 

            Q:            Do you know what the $63 million of MilCon that you did notify Congress about was [inaudible]?

 

            Senior Defense Budget Official: There were five projects. I can get that for you.

 

            Q:            Was that $63 part of the original $178?

 

            Senior Defense Budget Official: No. That was part of the original $750.

 

            Senior Defense Official: But the point of drawing that figure out is that required a specific notification different from the broad authorities that didn't require notification, but there was ongoing sort of discussions on how we were executing those funds.

 

            Senior Defense Budget Official: So if it required, and the point I wanted to make on that, when we were required to file notification, we made it.

 

            Q:            Then after October -- the vote was on October 21st you said?

 

            Senior Defense Official: October 11th I think.

 

            Q:            But October 25th is when you allocated the $800 million to support --

 

            Senior Defense Budget Official: That was after the resolution.

 

            Senior Defense Official: It was not in one tranche, the $800 million.

 

            Senior Defense Budget Official: No, that's what I said down there, that's why I didn't want anybody to believe that what we did was fund some great big huge project. This was done, the $178 was done over the course of two months and the other $800 million, that was done over I don't know how many months. Three or four months, five months. I don't know. And it was a series of small projects. It wasn't one great big project.

 

            Q:            And all of this was from the two, was from the $17 billion and the $14.2 billion.

 

            Senior Defense Budget Official: From the supplemental.

 

            Senior Defense Official: Except for the MilCon. The MilCon was or was not from that same pot of money?

 

            Senior Defense Budget Official: We transferred it from the [inaudible].

 

            Q:            So the total amount of the supplemental for Iraq-related [inaudible] even though some of it could be used for other purposes was [inaudible]?

 

            Senior Defense Budget Official: That's probably not right.

 

            Q:            -- plus $800 million.

 

            Voice: [Inaudible].

 

            Q:            That didn't come out of the first two supplementals?

 

            Senior Defense official: She's saying she doesn't think so, but --

 

            Senior Defense Budget Official: We'll have to get that, I don't want give you bad information.

 

             Q:            So what you're saying I think is that although Franks asked for $750 million in July of 2002 to prepare for possible contingency, war, whatever you want to call it in Iraq, in July, that no money was provided for preparing for the war in Iraq until after Congress voted in October.

 

            Senior Defense Official: That was certainly the intent.

 

            Senior Defense Budget Official: For any specific --

 

            Senior Defense Official: For Iraq-specific type requests.

 

            Q:            [inaudible]? You said money is fungible, and the case being made here [inaudible] is you guys are confirming there were actions, there was active war planning for Iraq before Congress had approved that, and you're saying you were looking at the request to find out what you could provide --

 

            Senior Defense Official: Hold on. First of all, fast and loose, we had authorities. There's a global war on terror and Operation Enduring Freedom and good people who try and follow the law spent a lot of time sifting through this and saying well, we do have a war in Afghanistan. Some of these funds could be used and should be used --

 

            Q:            The fast and loose part, [inaudible] is that everybody here is denying that anybody was seriously considering going to war with Iraq --

 

            Senior Defense official: But there's a big difference between saying we're going to war and we're preparing options, Pam. It is laid out and the Secretary has discussed it. In November or December of '01 the President said I would like to start developing some options. So that process began. But the Congress didn't say you are authorized to do war planning. The Congress said you are authorized to use force if the following conditions are --

 

            Q:            You're talking about options generally, and maybe [inaudible] $750 million specifically [inaudible] a little bit more serious than a war plan.

 

            Senior Defense Official: You can characterize it how you'd like. I'm just describing the process. The combatant commander comes in and says I'm doing contingency planning and here are some funds that would be helpful as I do this contingency planning.

 

            Q:            [inaudible]?

 

            Senior Defense Official:  We'll make this the last question. I think we've about exhausted this topic probably.

 

            Q:            The [inaudible]?

 

            Senior Defense Official: Would you identify yourself?

 

            Q:            I'm sorry, [inaudible].

 

            Senior Defense Budget Official: I'll have to get you the list of the five projects, but it was required in statute, a prior notification prior to the obligation of the funds.

 

            Q:            [inaudible].

 

            Senior Defense Budget Official: No, no. This is just what the committee wanted. When we used MilCon to build these type of projects overseas, they wanted to know about it.

 

            Q:            [inaudible]?

 

            Senior Defense Official: It wasn't the same category.

 

            Senior Defense Budget Official: They weren't in Iraq, if that's your question. They were in the AOR.

 

            Q:            They were in [inaudible].

 

            Senior Defense Budget Official: No, they were MilCon projects, they were actually construction projects.

 

            Senior Defense Official: Were they global war on terror, OEF? I mean they weren't Iraq-specific projects.

 

            Senior Defense Budget Official: The war in Iraq --

 

            Q:            They came from the $750 million?

 

            Senior Defense Budget Official: I'd have to get you the list. I suspect it could have been airfields, that type of thing. But those funds, --

 

            Q:            The $63 million was for projects that Franks asked for in the $750 million package in July of 2002 for "Iraq contingencies".

 

            Senior Defense Budget Official: Right, that --

 

            Q:            Right.

 

            Senior Defense Official: But they had the same basis of global war on terror --

 

            Senior Defense Budget Official: -- Iraq contingencies. See, he had some operations shortfalls as well and we always try to give to a combatant commander's operations shortfalls in whatever the region may be. Some of the things we funded were to fill those shortfalls that existed whether we were going into Iraq or not.

 

            Q:            So why didn't he ask for those earlier?

 

            Senior Defense Budget Official: Sometimes they're asked for a number of years before we have the priority to fund it.

 

            Q:            You're not saying that the shortfall suddenly [inaudible] planning for a war and you're filling up to a new level. [Inaudible].

 

            Senior Defense Budget Official: An existing shortfall.

 

            Q:            The $800 million?

 

            Senior Defense Budget Official: To tell you the truth, I don't know [inaudible].

 

            Senior Defense Official: Let's make this really the last question. We're beating a dead horse here.

 

            Q:            The $800 million, we're not quite sure where that came from. Whether, you're saying it was [inaudible] some other accounts which came later, but it started, [inaudible] three or four months, started in October and went through --

 

            Senior Defense Budget Official: I don't know how long it took to get that funding out.

 

            Q:            But it was all after October 11th?

 

            Senior Defense Budget Official: Right.

 

            Q:            That was all Iraq-specific [inaudible] possible conflict.

 

            Senior Defense Budget Official: Right.

 

            Q:            Was that from the Iraq resolution in October or was that from [inaudible]?

 

            Senior Defense Official: That's what we owe you an answer on. If we can get it.

 

            Q:            -- O&M and then be paid back from --

 

            Senior Defense Official: If --

 

            Q:            -- original two supplementals or the new supplemental?

 

            Senior Defense Budget Official: Correct.

 

            Q:            And where the $800 identified in the initial $750 --

 

            Senior Defense Budget Official: No. I think that you know from the Pentagon that the time involved in --

 

            Senior Defense Official: As the planning gets more mature --

 

            Senior Defense Budget Official: It gets more mature --

 

            Senior Defense Official: -- in and October --

 

            Q:            I guess what we're all trying to figure out is what [inaudible] that initial request and what was added later knowing we were going to go to war?

 

            Senior Defense Budget Official: After you go to war they're no longer [inaudible], they're just war plans.

 

            Q:            We're trying to figure out of the $800 million which of those had their genesis in the initial $750 million request compared to [inaudible] getting ready for the war? Were they somehow [inaudible]?

 

            Senior Defense Budget Official: To answer your question, all the above. Some of it was generated from the $750 that we delayed until after the resolution, and some of it was a maturing of requirements, different costing. So really, a combination of all those things.

 

            Senior Defense Official: Thank you, folks. I hope that's helpful.

 

            Q:            Can you let us know how much [inaudible]? We've been going by what [inaudible].

 

            Senior Defense Budget Official: That's the last time we ran it. Those numbers are still holding pretty true.

 

            Senior Defense Official: Thank you.

 

            Q:            There was a $40 billion supplemental in September 2001 that got divided into two pieces. One was 20 and one was 20. Then there was another supplemental of about $25 billion [inaudible]. Is that right? I know --

 

            Senior Defense Budget Official: There was a $40 billion that was in two pieces, and then there was another. But I don't know --

 

            Q:            There was one supplemental that got divided in half, and how much money was in --

 

            Senior Defense Budget Official: The one that required the appropriation request. There was $20 billion, $10 billion that required a reporting [inaudible], then there was another $20 billion that required an appropriation request.

 

            Q:            That's where you get the 14 number from, the 17 number from?

 

            Q:            Thank you very much.

 

            Senior Defense Official: Thank you.