- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Pentagon is expected to seek $51 billion in overseas war funding for fiscal 2016, about 20 percent less than the $64 million approved by Congress the previous year and the lowest budget proposal since 9/11, according to military officials and congressional aides.

The Overseas Contingency Operations funding will be sent to Congress in addition to the basic defense budget of about $534 billion for approval for the fiscal 2016 budget, which President Obama will offer on Feb. 2, Bloomberg pentagon-said-to-seek-20-cut-in-u-s-war-funding-to-51-billion.html” target=”_blank”>reported Thursday.

The drop in war funding mirrors this year’s troop drawdown in Afghanistan, which will see numbers drop from 10,600 soldiers currently deployed to roughly half that number by year’s end.

“The continuing drawdown in Afghanistan is not having a proportionate effect” on the war budget because it’s “being used for a lot of things other than Afghanistan,” Todd Harrison, a defense budget analyst with the nonpartisan Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington, told Bloomberg.

Mr. Harrison called the drawdown a “budgetary shell game” to get around sequestered budget cuts.

Unless Congress overturns them, the budget cuts will kick in again in fiscal 2016. The president’s defense budget for the coming year already assumes about $34 billion more than the cuts would allow, according to Bloomberg.

But the funds for overseas wars are exempt from the budget cuts, prompting some to question why the Defense Department shouldn’t cover the cost under the basic budget.

The Pentagon and Congress have added items to the overseas war budget over the years that both sides argue don’t directly relate to waging war.

“The use of war funding expanded to cover issues with only tenuous links to combats,” Emil Maine and Diem Salmon wrote in an essay for the Heritage Foundation, Bloomberg reported.

They added that the fund should not be used as a “safety valve to cover defense spending shortfalls” and should ultimately be cut.

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