Report: Experts say DOD war budget to outlast Afghanistan
By STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 4, 2014
The Defense Department will likely continue to ask Congress for war funding separate from the Pentagon’s base budget even after U.S. troops leave Afghanistan by the end of the year, online outlet Defense News reported Monday.
The Pentagon submitted a $495.6 billion 2015 budget request Tuesday, a spending plan that does not include money for operations in Afghanistan.
War funding has been covered under what’s known as overseas contingency operations funding, and is being delayed because the Afghan government has not approved a security agreement that would allow troops to remain in the country beyond the end of the year.
Despite US troop levels in Afghanistan falling 40 percent between 2013 and 2014, the Pentagon’s OCO funding did not decline much. DOD requested $88.5 billion in 2013 and Congress approved $85 billion in 2014, adding $5 billion to DOD’s request.
Defense News quoted Todd Harrison, an analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, as saying that about $20 billion in Army and Air Force operations and maintenance funding, typically included in the base budget, was shifted to the OCO accounts in 2014. The Army and Marine Corps are funding pay and benefits for 38,000 troops out of the 2014 OCO budget, he said.
“This is an uncapped funding stream that exists for DOD, and both the administration and Congress have been willing to use it to soften the impact of sequestration,” Harrison said Monday, according to the report.