While U.S. Army Europe’s roughly $2 billion annual budget has not been decreased as a result of the global war on terrorism, Army officials in Europe say they have been asked by the Department of the Army to watch spending during the next two months.

The tone of that message was not that the Army was facing a budget crisis, but rather to make sure budget officers focused on priorities, said Gary Marlar, USAREUR’s budget officer.

Earlier this month, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John Jumper ordered Air Force commands to cut spending and delay programs considered a lower priority than the war.

The military expects funding in May from the White House-requested $82 billion supplemental spending bill. About $75 billion of that is for defense-related expenditures.

In the meantime, USAREUR has prioritized its funding to ensure soldiers and units are adequately equipped and trained for combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, Marlar said. Also of priority are quality-of-life programs for soldiers and their families, but funding those priorities has not come without consequences, he said.

“To ensure we can most efficiently and effectively support these priorities, we have implemented several initiatives to reduce, defer or eliminate non-essential expenditures where possible,” Marlar said in a written statement.

“To date, we have not ... canceled specific projects or programs. In addition to the normal review of day-to-day operations such as travel, overtime, etc., we are reviewing theater maintenance operations to ensure that we continue to perform predeployment and reconstitution maintenance in the most efficient, cost-effective manner.”

Other measures the Army is taking include:

Reminding commanders not to acquire or ship equipment their units will receive upon arrival in theater;Scrutinizing contractual actions to ensure they are essential to current operations and to determine which can be deferred or canceled with minimal risk;Analyzing support requirements in the Balkans to ensure logistical support is being accomplished in the most efficient, cost-effective manner possible.To date, USAREUR has received about half of its annual $1 billion budget. An estimated $150 million in regular budget money will come its way at the end of the month. USAREUR will have to make do with that amount until supplemental funding arrives, Marlar said.

Officials at the Army’s Installation Management Agency-Europe do not believe the agency’s essential services are in danger as a result of “near term cash challenges” brought on by the cost of the global war on terrorism, according to a written statement by Kim Walz, chief of public affairs for IMA-E.

Walz said some IMA-E actions have been scaled back. In the near term, IMA-E cannot conduct actions other than those absolutely necessary, the statement read.

But when asked for specifics, another IMA-E official was unable to provide examples of services that have been affected. In fact, according to an e-mail from Millie Waters, an IMA-E spokeswoman, the agency has “not scaled back any services.”

In the end, the Army will take care of its soldiers and families, Walz said.

“As soon as the supplemental is passed by Congress, we expect to be back to full business in all our functional areas,” according to her statement.

“The Army, USAREUR and IMA leadership are all committed to support the well-being of our force and our installations.”

Air Force facing massive shortfalls

U.S. Air Forces in Europe officials could not provide details on how individual bases throughout the region would make adjustments due to service-wide budget cuts ordered by the Air Force chief of staff.

Maj. Patrick Ryder, a spokesman for the headquarters command based at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, said Friday that a final decision on what types of areas would be cut is still pending.

Earlier this month, Chief of Staff Gen. John Jumper ordered the major commands to make the necessary cuts to avoid a “budget crisis.” The Air Force is facing a $3 billion shortfall in maintenance and operation and will be $733 million short in military personnel funding by the end of the fiscal year, he told commanders in a March 1 message.

Air Force officials have attributed the debt to spending on the war on terrorism and the war in Iraq.

Commands have been told to “count every dollar, and prioritize all spending,” according to Jackie Hampton, an Air Force spokeswoman at the Pentagon. Flying operations, required maintenance and all “war-related activities” are top priorities and will not be affected by the budget reduction.

Areas that could be cut include travel, administration functions, non-deployment related training and new contracts, Hampton said.

No budget crisis for Department of Navy

While the nation’s war on terrorism has the Air Force cutting programs to avoid a budget crisis, no such edict has come from the Navy, officials said.

The Navy described its budget shortfall as “marginal.”

The service is depending on Congress to dole out additional dollars beyond the Pentagon’s regular budget to pay for the wear and tear on Navy assets and cost of the war, particularly for costs incurred with the high operational tempo of the Marine Corps.

“In the current fiscal year, we are having to ‘cash-flow’ a large portion of the costs of war, but are planning on the U.S. Congress to approve the [fiscal year] 2005 supplemental requested by the president,” Navy spokeswoman Lt. Pauline Pimentel said.

Of the White House’s $82 billion fiscal 2005 emergency supplemental request now before Congress, less than one-third — about $25 billion — is earmarked for the Department of the Navy, comprised of the Navy and Marine Corps. And of that $25 billion, $20 billion would go to the Marine Corps, according to Navy budget documents.

In its early stages, the war took a chunk out of Navy budgets, and to compensate officials trimmed Navy Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs. Today, the budgetary picture is much different, officials in Europe said. They were unable to provide detailed information by deadline, but said they were working on a comprehensive view of the financial impact on naval facilities.

— Stars and Stripes

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