Hawks Hint at Expanding Use of Never-Ending War 'Slush Fund'
Vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff sees counterterrorism funding expanding
A proposal for supplemental war funding was under scrutiny Wednesday at a Congressional hearing, where Defense Department officials hinted that there is no end in sight to the need for this counterterrorism "war chest."
At issue is nearly $60 billion proposed last month by the White House for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funds for the 2015 budget. The pot for OCO, which until 2009 was called Global War on Terrorism, is on top of the base budget for the Defense Department, which for the 2015 proposal is nearly $500 billion.
Mattea Kramer of the National Priorities Project has pointed out that the OCO budget "isn’t subject to caps or cuts or any restrictions at all." This has led some, like Stephen Miles, coalition coordinator for Win Without War, to refer to it as "a massive slush fund to avoid fiscal discipline."
The House Armed Services Committee (HASC) held a hearing on the OCO funding proposal on Wednesday.
HASC Chairman "Buck" McKeon told Politico's Morning Defense that the need for the OCO funds extends beyond Afghanistan:
“I think there’s going to be an ongoing need for OCO,” he told [Morning D], saying the fund will be necessary as long as the military is carrying out counterterrorism operations around the world.
Adm. Sandy Winnefeld, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made similar comments at the hearing Wednesday. Stars and Stripes reported:
Winnefeld said the supplemental funding pot... could be expanding even further and used for anything the military “would not normally be doing in a peaceful world.” [...]
[T]he OCO war chest could be tapped whenever the U.S. needs to launch operations to fight threats or stamp out violence around the globe, Winnefeld said.
And, according to a statement released by the Defense Department, Winnefeld said that "readiness, unanticipated contingency operations and indirect support missions continue globally."
Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work also said at the hearing that in addition to funding ongoing operations in Afghanistan, the funds would support new, multinational counterterrorism operations.