By MARCUS WEISGERBER
WASHINGTON — The White House on Thursday will ask Congress for $60 billion to fund military operations in Afghanistan and other global contingencies, Defense News has learned.
The Pentagon would receive about $58.5 billion through the 2015 overseas contingency operations (OCO) request. A separate $1.5 billion budget amendment is being requested for State Department contingency funding, according to a source with knowledge of the spending plan.
Pentagon and White House Office of Management and Budget officials were not immediately available for comment Wednesday evening.
The Defense Department and the State Department will also request $5 billion, part of a new counterterrorism fund, which President Barack Obama said he would include in the OCO budget during his commencement address at West Point in May. Of that, $4 billion would go toward DoD and $1 billion toward State. The spending plan that will go to Capitol Hill Thursday will include very few details about how DoD and State would spend that money, the source said.
The spending request will also include $1 billion to boost US military presence in Europe. The money will likely go toward military exercises and building allies infrastructure, said Derek Chollet, assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs.
“Putting new money, new resources toward some of these important efforts — whether it be further exercises, whether it be an infrastructure project in partner countries, whether it be ways that we continue to augment and keep up the op-tempo of our own presence in Europe — that’s what this $1 billion will be for,” Chollet said during an event at the Atlantic Council think tank Wednesday.
Chollet said DoD would be heading to Congress “in the coming days” with “a more-detailed proposal.” He also said the European Reassurance Initiative is one-year money.
“This is not going to be $1 billion for all of eternity,” Chollet said. “This is just a one-time ask. It’s a contingency fund.”
US officials plan to use September’s NATO summit in Wales to call on allies to boost military spending in Europe.
The overall DoD OCO request is more than $25 billion less than the $85 billion Congress approved in 2014.
In an interview Tuesday, Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale said the Pentagon’s 2015 OCO request would “be significantly below” the $79 billion placeholder the Pentagon included with its $496 billion base budget.