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ARLINGTON, Va. – With Congress continuing to delay passage of the Pentagon’s wartime emergency 2006 supplemental budget request, Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Richard Cody has ordered a four-step, five-week belt-tightening plan to keep the service financially afloat.

Military commanders had hoped Congress would approve the supplemental request to fund Iraq and Afghanistan operations before the Memorial Day recess, but the House and Senate could not agree on a common bill. The Senate came up with legislation totaling $109 billion, while the House version matched the Bush administration’s $94.5 billion request.

With the supplemental still in limbo, the Army is facing a money squeeze, according to a memo Cody sent to all Army commanders Friday.

Cody issued a “tasker” for commanders to go through their budgets and report back regarding what could be cut, and the effects of doing so, said Lt. Col. William Wiggins, an Army spokesman.

Cody also ordered an escalating series of mandatory cuts, with the first set taking effect last Friday, to rein in spending.

Those cuts “are not going to impact on things that have to do with life, operational, and safety issues,” Wiggins said.

“The priority goes to the missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and anything soldiers need who are preparing to deploy and go overseas.”

As of last Friday, all Army units were told to stop ordering “non-critical spare parts and supplies, unless the organization or unit has a published deployment date,” the memo said.

The Army should stop shipping goods “unless they are essential to support deployed units,” the memo added.

As for supplies, “requisition only what is necessary to accomplish assigned theater missions. All units should draw down on-hand inventories first,” the memo said.

All nonessential travel, like conferences and training is also canceled, the memo said.

The next set of cuts take effect on Tuesday, and include a hold on all civilian hiring actions.

All summer hiring must be postponed until the Army receives supplemental, the memo said.

The third set of cuts take effect June 15, with the “release” of all temporary civilian employees who are funded through the Army’s operations and maintenance account, including personnel working at Army depots, the memo said.

The Army will also freeze all contract awards and new task orders on existing contracts, and suspend the use of government purchase cards.

The final, most drastic set of cuts take effect June 26, when the Army will release all service contract employees “unless the penalties and termination costs exceed the cost of continuing the contract,” the memo said.

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