Defense Budget Experts Urge Changes to Wartime Funding Account

Congress’ reliance on an annual emergency wartime account to fund combat operations in Syria and Iraq has served the nation’s warfighters but done damage to budget clarity and long-term planning, a panel of experts said on Monday at the Brookings Institution.

The next administration will have to decide whether to preserve the Overseas Contingency Operations account as is, more strictly restrict it to wartime needs, or introduce some modifications, said former Pentagon Comptroller Bob Hale, now a senior fellow at Booz Allen Hamilton. Given the “enormous turbulence” in the defense budget since the enactment of budget caps in the 2011 Budget Control Act, the OCO account on the whole has served the Pentagon well, despite criticism that it allows officials to circumvent budget caps and fund items not directly related to the nation’s wars, Hale said.

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