Pentagon finalizing 2015 war spending request

The Defense Department will soon send its 2015 war spending request to Congress, Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale said Wednesday, but the plan is unlikely to include money for operations in Iraq.

The budget plan, known as the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) fund, requests money for operations in Afghanistan and other overseas conflicts.

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The Pentagon, though, will leave out Iraq operations because President Obama has not yet decided if he will take further action beyond the 300 military advisers deployed to help Baghdad combat a Sunni insurgency, Hale told Reuters.

The administration has tapped the OCO to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as counterterrorism operations in other countries. The White House intends to cut the budget down from its present amount of $79.4 billion as the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan winds down.

Last week, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told Senate appropriators that the wartime funding request, once finalized, would be “substantially smaller” than in previous years.

The Pentagon will be better able to tabulate a price tag for Iraq once the advisers on the ground report back to the president about the security situation there, according to Hale.

For now, U.S. Central Command will cover the cost of the 300 operators, Pentagon spokesman Navy Cmdr. Bill Urban said on Monday.