President Obama's decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2016 set the stage for major reductions in the account for war funding, or Overseas Contingency Operations.
Pentagon planners have yet to decide how much the OCO budget, sometimes called the supplemental budget, will be trimmed from the tentative $79 billion figure that was sent to the White House Office of Management and Budget in March.
However, White House officials have said it would likely cost about $20 billion to keep 9,800 U.S. troops in Afghanistan next year as President Obama has proposed.
"The OCO budget is still in development. We don't have a timeline" for submitting a proposal to OMB, Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said Thursday.
The delay in offering an OCO budget stemmed from the bitter dispute between the Obama administration and Afghan President Hamid Karzai on the conduct of the war. Karzai refused to sign a Bilateral Security Agreement for a post-2014 U.S. troop presence, making it nearly impossible for Pentagon planners to project a Fiscal 2015 OCO budget.
Obama announced his plan Tuesday to keep 9,800 troops in Afghanistan in 2015, cut the number of troops in half in 2016, and have all troops out in 2017. This offered planners a general outline of the funding needs.
In background briefings and in statements, White House and OMB officials have said that the FY2015 proposal will include $5 billion for a "Counter-Terrorism Partnerships Fund" -- a proposal offered by Obama in his West Point commencement speech Wednesday.
In a statement Wednesday, the OMB said that the FY2015 OCO request "will include funding for the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan and DoD's supporting presence in the broader region in [fiscal] 2015, and it will reflect a continued downward trajectory of war-related spending."
Last year, the Defense Department requested $79.4 billion in OCO funding and Congress eventually increased that figure to $85 billion for 2015.
In recent years, OCO budgets have generally been in the $80 billion range, down from the $187 billion in OCO funding for FY2008 at the height of the Iraq war.
-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.firstname.lastname@example.org.