The White House this week submitted requests to Congress to boost the budget for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) by $12.8 billion to combat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), bringing the total OCO budget request to $71.4 billion.
In a letter Monday to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, President Obama said the request for additional OCO funding became necessary "as the approach to counter ISIL has evolved with emerging requirements" that have been identified since the original OCO request of $58.6 billion was submitted last June.
In a separate 34-page letter to Boehner, Shaun Donovan, director of the White House Officer of Management and Budget, said the administration's amended OCO request would add $5 billion for the Defense Department to increase the total DoD request under OCO from $58.6 billion to $63.6 billion for 2015.
In addition, Donovan said the administration was asking for an increase of $7.8 billion in "Department of State and Other International Programs (OIP)" to counter ISIS to be included in OCO to bring the total OCO request to $71.4 billion.
The additional State Department funds would support humanitarian relief, counter-propaganda messaging and other efforts to counter the appeal of ISIS to youth.
Donovan said in a cover letter to Obama that the amended OCO request to boost funding to $71.4 billion would "provide the resources needed to support your comprehensive strategy to degrade and ultimately defeat" the ISIS extremists who have advanced across large areas of Iraq and Syria.
At a Pentagon briefing Monday, Army Col. Steve Warren said that the additional OCO funding had to be approved in the lame duck session of Congress to allow Obama's authorization to send 1,500 more troops to Iraq to go forward.
The 1,500 troops slated to train and advise the Iraqi national security forces would boost the U.S. troop presence in Iraq to about 3,100. Obama has repeatedly ruled out a combat mission for the troops.
"We need the funding to begin this phase of the operation," Warren said, and the 1,500 additional troops "will not begin to flow" until the money is approved by Congress.
The additional OCO funding would also support pay and allowances for the troops sent to Iraq, the Pentagon said.
The OCO budget, sometimes called the supplemental budget, or the "war budget," is in addition to the base budget of $496 billion submitted by DoD for Fiscal Year 2015. DoD has been relying upon OCO money to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan apart from the base budget.
The costs of military operations against ISIS, including the airstrikes that began on Aug. 8, were not included in the original OCO request, Donovan said in his letter. The administration needs the additional money to combat ISIS "in order to avoid diverting funding from other key priorities within its budget," Donovan said.
The OMB proposals set out several priorities for the added funding for Operation Inherent Resolve:
- $931.6 million for the Air Force to include amounts for pre-deployment, training and operations costs to include fuel, supplies and repair parts.
- $464 million for the costs of transportation, supplies and equipment, depot maintenance, and command, control, and intelligence capabilities (including satellite data and other information technology).
- $1.6 billion for the "Iraq Train and Equip Fund" to bolster Iraqi, Kurdish and tribal fighters in efforts against ISIS.
- $55 million for the procurement of small, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
- $54 million for the replacement of the 47 Tomahawk cruise missiles that were fired at the Khorasan terror group in the first strikes in Syria in September.
-- Richard Sisk can be reached at email@example.com