If we're going to send hundreds of thousands of young men and women into harm's way, the least we could do is not screw with their paychecks.Common sense maybe. But Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld presumably disagrees. Back in December, regular Defense Tech readers will recall, Rummy's braintrust decided to dip into the Army's payroll into order to fund truck armor and other wartime expenses. Congress would make up the difference later on, they figured, with a second, emergency "supplemental" funding bill. The fact that the payroll accounts would dry up in May didn't seem to factor into the Pentagon calculus -- except maybe as a lever to force Congress into action.But as senators loaded the $80 billion supplemental with pet projects -- $23 million for a baseball stadium in DC, $32 million for forest roads in Cali -- and the Pentagon added billions in long-term programs to the supposedly last-minute funding measure, its progress slowed.So now, Rummy is getting all weepy, complaining to Congress that they're keeping soldiers from getting paid."Our folks out there need these funds," he moped in handwritten notes to Capitol Hill chieftains, obtained by CNN.
The Army has slowed its spending, so it can continue operations in Afghanistan and Iraq through early May when the funds are due to run out, Rumsfeld said...Without [the supplemental's] passage, Rumsfeld warned he would have to move funds which would "seriously disrupt other activities," and he might have to invoke the "Feed and Forage Act" to keep the deployed troops operating.The Feed and Forage Act allows the military departments to incur obligations in excess of available appropriations for clothing, subsistence, fuel, quarters, transportation and medical supplies, according to Pentagon officials.I suppose it's nice that Rumsfeld cares enough about our soldiers to invoke emergency measures in order to clothe and feed 'em. But wouldn't it have been better not to sneak off with their paychecks in the first place?THERE'S MORE: "Who in their right mind would vote to stop the production of armored Humvees?" asks Minstrel Boy. "The odds are 39% that it was your senator. That's right. "A simple measure [an ammendment to the supplemental] to keep the production of armored humvees at two shift capacity for a couple of extra months this summer passed by only a 22 vote margin; 61 to 39 in the Senate [last] week."