The $5 billion counterterrorism fund that the White House requested in the Pentagon and State Departments' 2015 budget proposal would likely fund missions like the ones the US military has been conducting in Iraq over the past several months, an expert said. (AFP)
WASHINGTON — The $5 billion counterterrorism fund that the White House requested in the Pentagon and State Departments’ 2015 budget proposal would likely fund missions like the ones the US military has been conducting in Iraq over the past several months, an expert said.
"In the future, I would think this is exactly the kind of operation that should be funded out of the Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund included in the FY15 OCO [Overseas Contingency Operations] request," said Todd Harrison, an analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.
The proposed fund has drawn criticism by Congress members who have called it a blank check.
Meanwhile, Harrison said it is unlikely that the Pentagon will request extra funds for the bombing campaign that began Friday again Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters in Northern Iraq.
"I think it is safe to say that so far operations have been a relatively low level that could be covered by existing appropriations," he said.
Since June, manned and unmanned US military aircraft have been conducting upwards of 30 surveillance missions per day over Iraq. Several hundred US advisors and assessment teams are on the ground in the country as well.
On Thursday, US C-130 and C-17 cargo planes airdropped food and water to civilians near Sinjar in Northern Iraq. Friday, two US F/A-18 fighter jets dropped 500-pound, laser-guided bombs on mobile artillery near Erbil, Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said in a statement.
Harrison calculates that the US has spent more than $800 billion in Iraq since 2003.