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Hagel: Iraq Crisis May Require DoD To Rethink 2015 Budget

Aug. 21, 2014 - 03:45AM   |  
By MARCUS WEISGERBER   |   Comments
US-UNREST-IRAQ-SYRIA-MILITARY
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, left, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey hold a press briefing at the Pentagon on Aug. 21. (Saul Loeb / Getty Images)
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WASHINGTON — The Pentagon might have to retool its $555 billion 2015 budget proposal to account for the threats posed by and actions taken against the Islamic State, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Thursday.

“[Y]ou’re constantly shaping a budget to assure that resources match the mission and the mission and the resources match the threat,” Hagel said during a briefing at the Pentagon.

“[Y]ou’re shifting [money] all the time on what you think is going to be required,” Hagel said. “We’ve had to move assets over the last couple of months...to accomplish what we accomplished in Iraq. That costs money, that takes certain monies out of certain funds. So it’s a constant, fluid process as you plan for these.”

Since Aug. 8, US forces have conducted 89 airstrikes against Islamic State militants, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at the briefing.

Dempsey said US forces have delivered 636 bundles of food, water and medical supplies to Iraqis. As well, manned and unmanned military aircraft are flying more than 60 intelligence missions each day.

“I think we’re fine for fiscal year ’14 and we’ll have to continue to gather the data and see what it does in ’15,” Dempsey said.

In March, the Defense Department asked Congress for $496 billion for 2015. Called the “base budget,” it covers normal operations, acquisition, personnel costs, etc. In late June, the Pentagon asked lawmakers for an additional $58.6 billion to cover overseas contingency operations (OCO).

The overall budget proposal includes a request for $5 billion — $4 billion in DoD’s OCO request and $1 billion in the State Department’s war budget — for a counterterrorism account that could be used for operations, such as the campaign against militants in Iraq, experts say.

“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 request,” Todd Harrison, an analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said this month.

The fiscal year ends on Sept. 30. If Congress does not pass a 2015 spending plan by then, the government would likely be funded through a continuing resolution, which would limit funding at 2014 levels. ■

Email: mweisgerber@defensenews.com.

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