DoD Supplemental Request Won't Go to Hill Until January
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 11, 2004 The Defense Department has a number of good reasons to delay asking for a wartime supplemental funding request for fiscal 2005, said DoD Comptroller Dov Zakheim, the biggest one being, "We don't know how much to ask for."
Zakheim said the department doesn't plan on submitting a supplemental request to Congress until around Jan. 1, one quarter into fiscal 2005. Supplemental requests fund the global war on terrorism.
Congress passed the fiscal 2004 supplemental bill in November. It appropriated almost $88 billion about $65 billion of that for DoD. Another $18.6 billion went for reconstruction projects in Iraq and Afghanistan, and another $3.5 billion went to State Department needs.
Defense officials cannot guess how much operations in fiscal 2005 will cost now. Zakheim said there will be changes in Iraq and Afghanistan before the start of the next fiscal year. He said the coalition turnover of sovereignty to the Iraqi people will mean changes that no one can anticipate now.
Further, other countries may contribute to the effort, thereby affecting the American contribution. Zakheim specifically cited the Japanese troop contributions to Operation Iraqi Freedom and the proposed South Korean deployment. Other countries may be interested in contributing troops to the effort once the Iraqis regain sovereignty, he said, adding that in any case, the number of U.S. troops in the country may change.
Another change will come when Afghanistan holds its elections later this year.
These are options where fewer U.S. troops could be needed, Zakheim said, but he allowed that events in Iraq and Afghanistan could mean more U.S. troops would be needed. "Requesting the supplemental at the beginning of the next calendar year will allow us to have six months to base our decisions on," he said.
In the meantime, DoD will flow operations and maintenance funds from late in fiscal 2005 to pay for the war in the first and second quarters of the fiscal year. Once the fiscal 2005 supplemental request is passed, Zakheim said, the money would flow back into the third- and fourth-quarter accounts. The comptroller said DoD financial managers are "comfortable" with this proposal.
But financial managers will remain comfortable, he added, only if Congress passes the supplemental request soon after it arrives on Capitol Hill. He said that waiting until May to pass the funding would make him "very, very nervous."