Includes $51B for Overseas Contingency Operations
WASHINGTON — The Department of Defense is preparing to submit a $585 billion fiscal 2016 funding request to Congress on Feb. 2, according to a source with knowledge of the budgetary documents.
The request includes $534 billion in base budget funding along with a $51 billion overseas contingency operations (OCO), the source said.
The request would shoot past the congressionally mandated budget cap of $499 billion for 2016, as the Obama administration has long pledged to do. The request would lay the groundwork for a contentious debate with Congress over spending priorities, and guarantees another several rounds of tense hearings with the service chiefs and defense secretary on Capitol Hill next month.
The budget has grown from the fiscal 2015 request, which was $554 billion when it was passed in December. That budget included $490 billion in base discretionary spending and $64 billion in OCO funding.
In the forthcoming request, the Air Force is asking for $152.9 billion ($16 billion over the enacted amount for 2015), while the Navy Department is looking at a $161 billion request ($11.8 billion over 2015) and the Army's request is $126.5 billion, or about $7 billion more than last year, according to briefing slides from the Pentagon's comptroller office.
When it comes to the $51 billion supplemental wartime request, $42 billion of that will go toward the advising mission in Afghanistan — which has leveled off at 10,900 US troops — with $7.8 billion earmarked for the reset and retrograde of equipment.
The request will ask for $5.3 billion to continue to fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria — similar to the $5.6 billion request made for 2015 — while adding $789 million to the previously requested $1 billion for the European Reassurance Initiative that President Obama rolled out in June.
The higher-than-expected OCO request will most likely run into resistance in Congress, which has begun to bristle in recent years over the large requests even as US troop numbers in Iraq and Afghanistan have plummeted, and the insistence of the Obama administration to move more activities that have traditionally found a home in the base budget into the supplemental fund.