Contingency Funds Support Operations, Recovery, New Missions
By Claudette Roulo
DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, July 16, 2014 The Defense Department’s request for $58.6 billion in fiscal year 2015 overseas contingency operations funds is nearly one-third less than it received the previous year and is part of a continued downward trend in war-related spending, Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work told Congress today.
But even as the war in Afghanistan ends, the department will continue to seek OCO funding for the repair and replacement of worn-out and damaged equipment, a process that will continue well beyond 2015, Work said at a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee.
The funds also support the costs associated with the broader presence in Southwest Asia and the Middle East, and with responses to unforeseen contingencies, he said.
The requested OCO funds will support troops who already are serving in harm’s way in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the U.S. Central Command area of operations and “who every day are conducting operations on behalf of our nation’s security in what is becoming a very volatile, complex and dangerous world,” he said.
“The requested funds for 2015 would provide $53.4 billion for Operation Enduring Freedom,” the deputy secretary said. “This funding will support the responsible drawdown of forces in Afghanistan as announced by the president.
“It will pay for the retrograde of equipment and personnel and the continued reset of forces,” he continued. “And it will enable a really vast range of support activities in theater, including logistics and intelligence. And it will support a portion of the temporary Army and Marine Corps end strength that supports OEF.”
The costs in Afghanistan and the greater Middle East region remain substantial, Work said. In Afghanistan, the U.S. military is transitioning from a combat role to a support and counterterrorism mission, the deputy secretary told committee members.
“This will require high-end intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets, close air support, force protection, and logistics into next year,” he explained. “We also must return thousands of pieces of equipment from Afghanistan to our home stations and close down hundreds of combat facilities there.”
The OCO request also provides continued support and assistance to Afghan security forces, the deputy secretary said.
“Over the last year, these forces have demonstrated tactical superiority over the Taliban, and have prevented the Taliban from gaining momentum, as demonstrated by their professionalism in the most recent national elections,” he said. “We believe it is critically important that we maintain sufficient financial support for these forces so they can sustain those gains and continue to assume full responsibility across Afghanistan.”
The 2015 request also includes funding for two new presidential initiatives, Work said.
The $5 billion requested for the counterterrorism partnerships fund is intended to underwrite training, capacity-building and facilitation of partner nations battling terrorism.
About $4 billion from the counterterrorism partnerships fund will go to the Defense Department, he said. “The overall goal is, one, to increase the ability of our partner countries … to conduct counterterrorism operations, and, two, prevent the proliferation of terrorist threats from neighboring states, and, three, participate in multinational counterterrorism operations, including countering [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] and other terrorist groups in the region.”
A separate $1 billion request for the European reassurance initiative will fund increased exercises and training, as well as a beefed-up rotational presence across Europe, particularly in the territory of newer allies.
“We believe that a more temporary increase in rotational U.S. air, land and sea presence in Europe, especially in Central and Eastern Europe, along with more extensive bilateral and multilateral exercises and training, are necessary and appropriate demonstrations of support to our NATO allies and partners who are deeply concerned by Russia’s occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea and other provocative actions in Ukraine,” Work said.
(Follow Claudette Roulo on Twitter: @roulododnews)