U.S. Army leaders may soon ask Congress for supplemental funding to pay for “unanticipated war costs” as a possible solution to shortfalls in its overseas contingency accounts.
Actually it was Republican Sen. Susan Collins who brought up the idea of separate funding for the service to fix the $8.3 billion shortfall in its Overseas Contingency Operations account during a May 22 Senate Appropriations Committee hearing.
“The shortfall in the OCO account is more than the amount that has been caused by sequestration,” Collins said. “It seems to me that if unanticipated war costs – which are very difficult to estimate particularly in the kind of environment that we are in right now – accounts for the more than the Army’s entire sequestration shortfall that we need to address the portion of the fiscal 2013 budget shortfall with some sort of supplemental OCO request.”
The Army has submitted a request to reprogram about $5 billion from other programs to help offset the fiscal 2013 OCO shortfall. “So right now, we have a $3.3 billion shortfall, and we are taking on risk, so … we may have to come forward and ask for some help,” Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno told lawmakers at the hearing.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel “has left the door open for such a request,” Odierno said, referring to the $79.4 billion in OCO funding the Pentagon is asking for in fiscal 2014. “We want to make sure we need the money we think we are going to need,” Odierno said.