An extraordinary action by the chief of staff sends a message - The Pentagon must increase the budget or reduce commitments in Iraq and elsewhere:
The Army's top officer withheld a required 2008 budget plan from Pentagon leaders last month after protesting to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld that the service could not maintain its current level of activity in Iraq plus its other global commitments without billions in additional funding.
The decision by Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, the Army's chief of staff, is believed to be unprecedented and signals a widespread belief within the Army that in the absence of significant troop withdrawals from Iraq, funding assumptions must be completely reworked, say current and former Pentagon officials.
Schoomaker failed to submit the budget plan by an Aug. 15 deadline. The protest followed a series of cuts in the service's funding requests by both the White House and Congress over the last four months.
According to a senior Army official involved in budget talks, Schoomaker is now seeking $138.8 billion in 2008, nearly $25 billion above budget limits originally set by Rumsfeld. The Army's budget this year is $98.2 billion, making Schoomaker's request a 41% increase over current levels.
"It's incredibly huge," said the Army official, who, like others, spoke on condition of anonymity when commenting on internal deliberations. "These are just incredible numbers."
Most funding for the fighting in Iraq has come from annual emergency spending bills, with the regular defense budget going to normal personnel, procurement and operational expenses, such as salaries and new weapons systems.
About $400 billion has been appropriated for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars through emergency funding measures since Sept. 11, 2001, with the money divided among military branches and government agencies.
But in recent budget negotiations, Army officials argued that the service's expanding global role in the U.S.-declared war on terrorism — outlined in strategic plans issued this year — as well as fast-growing personnel and equipment costs tied to the Iraq war, have put intense pressure on its normal budget. [Read the rest of the story...]
And now with an NIE that concludes that the war in Iraq has increased the threat of terror, there are very few choices left for us. More borrowing (increasing the deficit), reinstating the draft, raising taxes - the list of options (for continuing on the Bush-Cheney roadmap) is short and bleak. I suppose that they could raise the stakes, try to make themselves look dangerously unstable and insane (more than they already are) by dropping nuclear payloads over Iraq (and Iran). Wasn't that our rationale for dropping `Fat Man' and `Little Boy' over Japan? To "shorten the war"?
Yes, it can get much worse with Bush-Cheney in charge.
Filed under: Army, Rumsfeld, military, budget, Iraq, Afghanistan, Schoomaker