Army Funds Crunch Would Affect Installations Worldwide
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 29, 2007 Installation operations and quality of life programs for soldiers and their families would be affected worldwide if the Army doesn’t receive additional funding from Congress soon, a senior officer said here today.
“Absolutely, it’s an urgent need,” Maj. Gen. Edgar E. Stanton III, director of the Army’s budget office, said of the necessity for the Army to obtain nearly $55 billion from Congress to fund operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The active Army is now using $26 billion in appropriations that were earmarked for base-support operations to fund its overseas global war on terrorism operations, Stanton said.
Congress has approved supplemental funding for war operations, but the legislation comes attached with timetables for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. President Bush has vowed to veto any such legislation that crosses his desk.
The Army is now spending about $7 billion monthly to support worldwide installation operations and overseas war fighting requirements, Stanton said. Without additional funding, the Army will exhaust its base operations and maintenance accounts by mid-February, he said.
In a memorandum dated Nov. 26, Gen. Richard A. Cody, vice chief of staff of the Army, directed that all Army commanders and agency directors begin planning to curtail operations and related expenses that do not directly support warfighters engaged in the global war on terrorism.
Cody’s instructions tell Army commanders and civilian leaders to review all operations and to forward recommendations to cut costs back to him by Dec. 4.
“We are only in the prudent planning phase,” Cody said in a statement released yesterday. The Defense Department has instructed all military services to review operational costs at installations as well as to prepare for possible furloughs of government civilian employees.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates directed the Army and Marine Corps to begin planning to reduce operations at all Army bases by mid-February and all Marine installations by mid-March.
About 200,000 Army civilians and contractors worldwide could be furloughed or temporarily laid off if the funding isn’t provided, according to senior Defense Department officials. Persons affected by potential furloughs would need to be notified by around mid-December, Stanton noted, since 60 days of notice is required.
Soldiers will receive their paychecks even if the additional funding doesn’t come through by February, Stanton said. However, installation child care services and other quality of life programs likely would be adversely affected, he said.
Also, available soldiers at Army installations could be called upon to perform security duty and other key tasks previously performed by civilians and contractors, Stanton said.
In view of a potential budget crunch, the call out to Army commanders to review installation and agency spending is simply part of responsible planning, Stanton explained.
If the Army doesn’t receive the needed funding by mid-February, “there will be impacts,” Stanton predicted, and he said officials are working to identify the specific effects a budget crunch would have on quality of life and family programs.