WASHINGTON — The Pentagon is requesting $4.5 billion in funds for the European Deterrence Initiative, the second straight year that the department has cut its request for the program.

The EDI is a special part of the department’s Overseas Contingency Operations funding, focused on reassuring allies in Europe and deterring Russian aggression on the continent.

The Pentagon requested $4.8 billion for EDI in FY18, a request which grew to $6.5 billion in FY19. The FY20 request, however, dropped it down to $5.9 billion. Congress plussed up the funding to $6.5 billion, meaning the department’s request for this year would be a $1.5 billion cut.

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Funding will go towards rotational force deployment and the implementation of previously funded multiyear agreements. It will also support additional exercises in Europe and the prepositioning of U.S. equipment on the continent.

Two European officials contacted by Defense News downplayed concerns, with one saying that a drop in funding is normal given the number of infrastructure projects that are being completed.

Included in the EDI funding is $250 million for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which can be used to replace any “weapons or defensive articles” provided to Ukraine by the U.S. government. Such funding became a flashpoint in 2019, eventually leading to the impeachment of President Donald Trump, who was acquitted in the Senate last week.

In the last National Defense Authorization Act, Congress requested that the Pentagon submit a five-year plan for EDI in FY21.

Overall, the OCO funding request is $69 billion, slightly down from the $71.3 billion enacted by Congress for FY20. Other major OCO funds include $16.2 billion for operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria; $7.6 billion for the replenishment of major munitions that have been expended around the globe; and $4 billion to train and support Afghanistan security forces.

OCO also funds $600 million in security cooperation funding, which has now been rebranded as the National Defense Strategy-Implementation fund, or NDS-I.

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.

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