By Tony Bertuca
The U.S. military’s latest operations in Iraq will be funded through the Pentagon’s wartime supplemental budget, though there is no cost estimate for them yet, according to a Defense Department spokesman.
“The department intends to use available Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding to cover incremental costs associated with efforts to respond to the current situation in Iraq,” Navy Cmdr. Bill Urban toldInsideDefense.com in a statement. “We continue to reevaluate resource needs as the situation evolves. There is no cost estimate at this time and we have no designated name for budgeting purposes for now other than calling it Iraq operations. Where there are humanitarian costs, the department will use available Overseas Humanitarian Disaster and Civic Aid funding as necessary.”
The U.S. military began a series of targeted airstrikes and humanitarian air drops in the Kurdish region of Iraq on Aug. 8 to stem the advances of the militant group known Islamic State of Iraq in Syria and to aid ethnic and religious minorities in the area threatened by genocide.
Lt. Gen. William Mayville, the director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters at the Pentagonthat U.S. forces had slowed the progress of ISIS fighters, but added there were no plans to continue attacking them as they regrouped.
“There are no plans to expand the air campaign,” Mayville said. “We are gripped by the immediacy of the crisis, and our focus right now is to provide immediate relief to those who are suffering.”
Mayville noted, however, that ISIS “remains focused on securing and gaining additional territory throughout Iraq and will sustain its attacks against Iraqi and Kurdish security forces and their positions, as well as target Yazidis, Christians, and other minorities.”
Mayville said humanitarian aid so far has consisted of air dropping food, water and other suppliers.
“Over the last four nights, U.S. and U.K. aircrews have flown 14 successful missions, airdropping more than 310 bundles of food, water, and medical supplies, delivering almost 16,000 gallons of water and 75,000 meals,” Mayville said.
To date, there have been 15 targeted airstrikes conducted by F-15Es, F-16s, F/A-18s and MQ-1s.
“The president also authorized targeted airstrikes to facilitate a resolution to the humanitarian crisis on Sinjar Mountain and to protect citizens, facilities, and forces in the northern city of Erbil,” Mayville said. “These airstrikes have helped check the advance of ISIL forces around Sinjar and in the area west of Erbil.”