There’s a Fight Brewing Over the Pentagon’s ‘Slush Fund’
by Matt Yurus
The Pentagon’s war-fighting funds were supposed to shrink, and ultimately disappear, as the military’s efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq wound down — but the opposite is happening.
Congress’s 2016 defense policy bill would increase the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account by $38 billion, bringing its total to roughly $89 billion and prompting some experts to, once again, castigate it as a “slush fund.” The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2016 would pay for the procurement of ammunition, tactical vehicles, and night-vision goggles, among other anticipated costs like research and development.
Originally set up in 2001 under a different name, the OCO fund was created to cover “temporary and emergency requirements” for fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. With a $38 billion increase, however, the beefed-up OCO account would make up nearly 15 percent of the Pentagon’s $612 billion budget, and would pay for materials and training not tied to unanticipated increases in the cost of the two wars, which was the account’s original purpose.
In part because of that fact, President Barack Obama has said he would veto the bill.