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Navy chief: Cost of Syria strike rises as deliberations continue

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The cost of keeping warships in the Mediterranean will rise as the Obama administration and Congress deliberate on whether to launch a punitive attack on Syria, the Navy's top officer said Thursday.

Adm. Jonathan Greenert, chief of naval operations, said he might need to request extra funding if ships poised to strike Syria are deployed in the Mediterranean for an extended period beyond their scheduled deployments.

"A supplemental might be the order of the day," Adm. Greenert said at the American Enterprise Institute on Thursday.

There are four Navy destroyers currently stationed in the eastern Mediterranean. A fifth, that was held in the area longer and left on Wednesday, is still available if needed, said Adm. Greenert. Another is scheduled to return home this month. For every week they remain there beyond their scheduled time at sea, it will cost $7 million in operating costs, he said.

In addition, the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier strike group, which includes two destroyers and a guided-missile cruiser, was held in the Arabian Sea and will cost $20 million for every week it remains there, he said.

Adm. Greenert said he believes the Navy can absorb any costs in fiscal 2013's waning weeks.

But after the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1, the Navy would be forced to take budgetary actions if the ships remain in the region for an extended period, he said.

One action would be to request supplemental funding from Congress. Another would be to "borrow" money from the fourth quarter of fiscal 2014 and reprogram spending in the middle of the year to repay the funding, he said.

"The numbers are, I call it, nagging, but they are not extraordinary at this point yet," Adm. Greenert said.

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