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House panel seeks to boost funding to improve readiness

Jun. 4, 2013 - 11:37AM   |  
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WASHINGTON — The U.S. House Armed Services Committee wants to boost Pentagon war funding for 2014 by $5 billion, aiming to boost military readiness.

The panel’s version of Pentagon policy legislation that authorizes spending levels would inflate the White House’s $80.7 billion dollar overseas contingency operations request to $85.8 billion.

HASC aides said the increase would be used to help Pentagon brass partially offset reductions in things like training and flying hours that were enacted under the first year of the decade-spanning sequestration cut.

In a summary of the legislation, the panel said “successive rounds of budget cuts and sequestration have damaged readiness.” What’s more, it pointed to what it concludes has been a “systematic underfunding of contingency operations,” saying this “has forced readiness to historic lows and puts our war fighters at risk.”

The National Priorities Project estimates Washington has spent nearly $1.5 trillion on its post-9/11 wars.

The committee contends readiness accounts have been “raided” in previous years to help pay war bills.

HASC contends the $5 billion hike, which would pump $4.5 billion into readiness, would move the military from 80 percent readiness levels to “more historically acceptable 90 percent.”

“This includes restoring Army and Air Force flying hours programs, facilities sustainment, ship depot maintenance for each service, Army OPTEMPO, Navy critical spares and combat support forces equipment and sustainment, and provides for the stabilization of fuel rates,” according to the committee summary.

The HASC’s bill, which eventually will be combined with a Senate version, would merely authorize a war-spending level. The Appropriations committee will allocate the dollars.

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