Note: This article was updated to include the comments of Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash.
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration has formally requested $11.6 billion in extra wartime funding, bringing the total fiscal year 2017 overseas contingency operations (OCO) funding request to $85.3 billion
The extra money comes in the form of two $5.8 billion budget amendment requests. The first is for DoD funds to the support the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces and to help in the ongoing campaign against the Islamic State group, commonly known as ISIS or ISIL, in both Syria and Iraq. The second funnels funds through the State Department and USAID for assistance in the non-military aspects of the counter-ISIL campaign.
In a statement, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter called the amendments "vitally important" and urged Congress to fund it in order to not lose momentum of recent gains in Iraq.
"Our counter-ISIL strategy is demonstrating results on the battlefield: Iraqi Security Forces are once again inside Mosul and operations have begun to isolate and eventually liberate Raqqa," he wrote. "Additional resources will help sustain that positive momentum by boosting our support to partner forces and our intelligence efforts. In addition to enhancing our effort to defeat ISIL, this plan would fund the President's decision to adjust our troop levels to better support the Afghan government's strategy to secure its nation, and would help enhance Afghanistan's aviation capability."
In July, Obama announced plans to leave 8,400 service members in Afghanistan through the end of the year, rather than the 5,500 that were initially budgeted for fiscal year 2017.
Added Carter, "in contrast to some congressional proposals, it does not risk that stability and supports emergent defense and non-defense requirements," a not-so-veiled swipe at congressional Republicans who have proposed cutting off funding for OCO on April 30, 2017, a gambit to force the next president to make a supplemental request to Congress. Carter has previously stated concerns over that provision.
Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, did not seem impressed with the Obama administration’s request.
"While we will review the request carefully, the amount still does not accommodate the increased pace of operations against ISIL and does nothing to begin addressing the readiness crisis," he said in a statement. "It is time to put politics aside and provide our men and women in uniform the resources actually required, not just what is politically expedient."
Thornberry's Democratic counterpart, HASC Ranking Member Adam Smith, of Washington, said he, too, would assess the request.
"The administration has requested additional funding for the Defense and State Departments for operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere," Smith said in a statement. "We will assess the details of this request and determine how best to provide for these needs."
Aaron Mehta was deputy editor and senior Pentagon correspondent for Defense News, covering policy, strategy and acquisition at the highest levels of the Defense Department and its international partners.