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U.S. Africa Command will work through the Defense Department to explain its budget request for the coming fiscal year to Congress, said a top AFRICOM officer on Monday.

The command, which is set to become fully operational on Oct. 1, is at risk of receiving 80 percent less funding than what was formally requested.

"If something bad were to happen, that would be bad," said Air Force Maj. Gen. Michael Snodgrass, AFRICOM chief of staff. "That’s a hypothetical. There’s no reason to even discuss hypotheticals. We’ll wait until we get a final budget amount. We’ll do an analysis on that budget amount, and we’ll have to determine what the way ahead is after that."

Last week, the House Appropriations subcommittee on defense recommended providing only $80.6 million in funding for fiscal year 2009. President Bush had requested $389 million for AFRICOM.

The Senate Appropriations Committee passed the 2009 defense bill, but the full report has not been available.

"We’re still in discussion stages, and we’re working with Congress on what the funding amounts are in the president’s budget that we put forward and what those are going to do for this command," Snodgrass said Monday after an AFRICOM town hall meeting. "I anticipate those discussions are going to continue, and we’re looking forward to our participation in that discussion."

Last week, the command went through an exercise that basically served as its "graduation event" as it prepares to become a full-fledged unified command, Navy Vice Adm. Robert Moeller, AFRICOM’s deputy to the commander for military operations, said.

By the end of the month, AFRICOM will have a staff of more than 1,000 — the majority of whom arrived in the past four-and-a-half months, Snodgrass said. Another approximately 300 positions will be filled during the next year, Moeller said.

For the coming fiscal year, AFRICOM’s main focus is to consolidate and manage the programs in Africa that it inherited from the three U.S. military commands that had responsibility for different parts of the continent, said Vince Crawley, AFRICOM spokesman.

"We feel confident that we’ll have the tools we need from our government, including the U.S. Congress, to accomplish our mission," Crawley said.

As far as what would happen if the funding was not worked out by Oct. 1, Crawley said typically when the government shuts down, the Defense Department does not.

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