Backfilling OCO to Pay for Syria Air Campaign

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said he expects Congress to fund a new appropriation for the military to pay for ongoing operations in Iraq and Syria, a move that would ease the services’ already strained operations and maintenance accounts. Speaking to reporters during a breakfast meeting in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Levin said he is pressing to address the funding needs of the new operations through money contained in the Fiscal 2015 defense appropriations bill, which includes the $5 billion marked for counter terrorism efforts championed by the Obama Administration earlier this year, and other funding authorities. “We are considering it as we move forward,” Levin said, adding Congress will fund service operations and maintenance accounts as well as overseas contingency operations (OCO) shortfalls by backfilling through the appropriations bill. Because the OCO request came very late in the appropriations process, he noted, Congress will have to act to make OCO funding whole. Earlier this month, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh told Air Force Magazine there is enough operations funding in the current OCO account to cover initial combat operations, but a follow on appropriation would be necessary to prevent further impacts on readiness should the campaign continue.