May 20th, 2016 09:08 EST
Ash Carter Has Concerns Over House Cut in Contingency Ops Funds
Defense Secretary Ash Carter has deep concerns over proposals in the House version of the defense spending bill for fiscal year 2017 that cut the Overseas Contingency Operations fund that supports the warfighter, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook told reporters today.
The House version of the legislation includes a budget gimmick that would underfund [the Defense Department`s] overseas warfighting account by $18 billion and spend that money on programmatic items that are not our highest priorities for national defense, " Cook said.
As the secretary expressed May 17 at the Navy League`s Sea-Air-Space Exposition, Cook said, quoting the secretary, This approach is deeply troubling for several reasons. First, it is gambling with warfighting money at a time of war, proposing to cut off funding for ongoing operations in the middle of the fiscal year. "
Second, Carter is concerned the House version of the budget is a step in the direction of unraveling the bipartisan budget agreement agreed to just seven months ago and has provided the critical stability the [DoD] needs, " the press secretary said.
And last, this provision threatens our readiness to respond to the challenges of a complex world, " Cook said in communicating the secretary`s concerns.
Enforcing structure today without the resources to sustain it tomorrow is not a path to increased readiness, Cook said, noting the secretary`s belief that the House bill is a path to a hollow force and exacerbates the readiness challenges we currently have.` "
Carter remains postured to work with Congress on the defense budget, but has also indicated he would recommend a veto of this legislation in its existing form, Cook said.
Navy Searches for Downed Egyptian Airliner
Cook said DoD extends its condolences to all those affected by today`s crash of EgyptAir Flight 808 flying from Paris to Cyprus, and that the U.S. attache in Athens has provided a U.S. Navy P-3 Orion aircraft in support of search operations.
That aircraft launched on the search mission today and is still on station helping with the search at this time, " Cook said.
The U.S. military has reached out to its counterparts in Greece and Egypt to offer U.S. support, he said, adding the U.S. 6th Fleet is working with the Cyprus Joint Rescue Coordination Center.
The department stands by for any assistance that is requested, [but] at this point the investigation is just beginning, " Cook noted.
Iraqi Forces Takes Rutbah
Highlighting overnight progress in the effort to counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Cook announced that Iraqi security forces have cleared much of the strategic town of Rutbah, Iraq, from ISIL control.
In the last day, those forces have continued to expand government control and now have cleared 80 percent of the town, " he said. Rutbah carries outsized significance because of its position on the main land route between Jordan and central Iraq, " Cook explained.
The eventual reopening of the main land route will have important economic benefits in Iraq and the region, he added. This operation recaptures the final ISIL stronghold in southern Iraq [and] south of the Euphrates, " Cook said.
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