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JIEDDO will soon run out of money to combat IEDs

By JEFF SCHOGOL | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 20, 2007

ARLINGTON, Va. — The outgoing head of the organization tasked with combating roadside bombs said Monday that it will run out of money by Dec. 1.

The Joint IED Defeat Organization currently has about $413 million, said retired Gen. Montgomery Meigs.

Unless JIEDDO gets more money from Congress, it will not have enough money to fund new initiatives to beat roadside bombs, said Meigs, who leaves Nov. 30.

Congress had allocated about $1.6 billion for JIEDDO but the bill failed to come to a vote in the Senate after the House passed a version that called for a “limited presence” of U.S. troops in Iraq by December 2008.

Meigs said JIEDDO has asked Congress for temporary funding, but he doesn’t know when the group will get the money, or how much it can expect.

For JIEDDO, the issue of funding has been a recurring problem.

In summer 2006, a Defense Department spokesman warned that the delay in passing the fiscal 2006 supplemental budget would have the same results, but Congress gave the organization temporary funding.

And in May, Meigs said JIEDDO was down to about $50 million, but it eventually got the money it requested, said JIEDDO spokeswoman Christine DeVries.

What makes this time different is that in previous fiscal years, JIEDDO received money in the first quarter from budget supplementals, but there has been no supplemental this year, Meigs said.

JIEDDO can draw funds from the $459 billion fiscal 2008 Defense Department Appropriations Budget, said Jesse Jacobs, director of communications for the Senate Appropriations Committee.

However, Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently noted that the Defense Department can only transfer a fraction of the budget to cover funding shortfalls.

“We can only move a total of $3.7 billion under general transfer authority, which only amounts to a little over one week’s worth of war expenses,” Gates said Thursday.

Also, any such reprogramming has to be approved by Congress, said Defense Department spokesman Lt. Col. Brian Maka.

There is little lawmakers can do while Congress is in recess until Dec. 4.

“If were out of session until the 4th, we cannot reprogram the funds, nor can be pass an emergency supplemental bill,” Jacobs said.