War fund likely to continue after Afghan combat operations end

Defense budget experts predict the Pentagon will request war funding in 2015, even though U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan are scheduled to be over next year.  

Analysts from the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments said Monday they expect the war fund to continue in 2015, but the amount will not be announced until after the U.S. and Afghanistan agree to leave troops there after December. 

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The fund is referred to as “overseas contingency operations,” or OCO, funding, and is not subject to budget caps known as sequestration. OCO funding was $85 billion in 2014, and $88.5 billion in 2013.  

Budget analyst Todd Harrison said in previous years, the Pentagon has been able to use the fund to ease sequestration cuts to troop training and other readiness expenditures.

The fund is likely to stick around for 2015, since the fiscal year begins in October, and the combat mission ends in December, but will be harder to justify in future years as troop levels go down or disappear, Harrison said.

Acting Deputy Defense Secretary Christine Fox said funding was likely to continue after 2015, due to the costs of bringing home and retrofitting equipment from the war. 

“We must reset the equipment that we put over there, we have to get out [and] we have to take care of people that deploy,” she said, according to Defense News. “I don’t believe it will be the last year." 

 

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