The OCO Question

Defense Department leaders won’t know how much funds are needed for overseas contingency operations in Fiscal 2015 until President Barack Obama decides what the US policy is going to be in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of combat forces later this year, said DOD Comptroller Robert Hale on Tuesday. The proposed Fiscal 2015 budget, released Tuesday, includes a $79.4 billion OCO figure, but Hale noted this was merely a placeholder figure for now. The current mandate for US and NATO troops expires at the end of 2014, and Hale said he is waiting for more “definition” on the spending level for the OCO request from the White House. The Fiscal 2015 President’s Budget also includes some $26.4 billion from the “Opportunity, Growth, and Security” initiative, which is split between defense and non-defense spending. Spending cuts and tax loophole closures will fund the OGS initiative, noted Hale. The funds will be split between three main accounts in DOD. Forty percent will support direct readiness activities, such as facilities, range support, and flying hours, said Hale. Another 40 percent will go into modernization, including the procurement of two additional F-35 strike fighters. Finally, the remaining 20 percent will go towards installation support costs, Hale noted.