WASHINGTON — Shipping $28 billion worth of equipment out of Afghanistan over the next year and a half won’t be easy — or cheap.
The massive job is made more difficult by the fact that the overseas contingency operations (OCO) funding line is expected to fall from the $88 billion granted by Congress last year, though by how much remains to be seen. Senior Pentagon officials say they will release their request in the next several weeks.
But even before the number is released and debated among the generals and politicians, it’s already known that the Army alone will face about a $7.8 billion shortfall in OCO funding over the rest of fiscal 2013, due in part by the skyrocketing costs to move gear out of the country.
In a draft budget reprogramming document leaked Friday and first reported by Inside Defense, the Army wants $1.34 billion more in operations and maintenance funding to make up for “increased fuel costs and increased use of multi-modal transportation methods for equipment movement and retrograde operations.”
The service is also requesting $3.6 billion more — boosting the OCO request from $45 to $48 billion — to supply troops in Afghanistan.
In order to do this the service is willing to give up funding for some of its procurement programs, including the requested transfer of $235 million from several AH-64 Apache new build and modernization programs; while taking another $128 million from its WIN-T battlefield communications program; and $270 million from its tracked combat vehicle programs.
The Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) may also lose $276 million if the request is approved, and a whopping $730 million could be saved by putting off Humvee recapitalizations and MRAP modifications for another 12 months.
The service can also move $1.6 billion in pay and allowances originally budgeted to service members who are now being separated from the force.
Other highlights from the reprogramming document include the Air Force’s request for $1 billion more in operations and maintenance funds, which includes $600 million “to support shortfalls for base communications throughout the US Central Command,” and which includes $200 million to support operations in there and $47 million for its Cyber Command.
A number of Air Force platforms would also take a hit. Funds for the F-15 would be cut by $13 million, C-130 funds drop by $33 million, and the C-135 request drops by $4.5 million. Unmanned systems, including the Global Hawk, Reaper and Predator vehicles, will lose out on $132 million in funding that was primarily earmarked for modifications and new payloads.
Missile and space procurement would drop by more than $192 million, with the largest cut coming from the Space-Based Infrared Systems (SBIRS) program due to a six-month slip on the production contract for satellites five and six. SBIRS is a key update for the Air Force’s space surveillance network.
The reprogramming also budgets a $62 million increase for “critical test assets” that will be used in electronic warfare tests for the F-35 joint strike fighter. Those assets include the development and procurement of 20 open-loop threat emulators and six closed-loop surface-to-air-missile simulators, along with infrastructure upgrades to Eglin Air Force Base and Patuxent River Naval Air Station, where the fifth-generation fighter is undergoing testing.
The draft reprogramming proposal also includes more than $100 million earmarked to bulk up the cyber workforce. In April, a Pentagon official disclosed that the agency is still looking for 3,700 cyber experts to add to the payroll, and the draft directs funds to the Air Force and the National Security Agency toward that end.
The NSA would get an additional $89.3 million “to establish a trained and ready cyber workforce in direct support of US Cyber Command, Cyber Mission Force requirements.” Some of the funds would go toward military intelligence projects not specified in the draft.
The Air Force would move an additional $47.8 million to help it support Cyber Command both in growing the workforce and in providing infrastructure.