The Pentagon is increasing its reliance on war-time funding to not only fully cover the costs of the wars in Afghanistan and against ISIS, but also to pay for some programs that “admittedly” shouldn’t be covered by the overseas contingency operations fund, Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work said during a Tuesday briefing. The $58.8 billion Fiscal 2017 OCO request “provides us everything we need right now to execute global operations,” said Work. That includes $41.7 billion for Operation Freedom’s Sentinel in Afghanistan, which maintains 9,800 troops in the country through the fighting season but drops to 5,500 troops by the beginning of 2017, said Work. The request also provides $7.5 billion for anti-ISIS operations in Iraq and Syria, including increased airstrikes and training, and it triples funding for the European Reassurance Initiative to $3.4 billion. It also includes a new $200 million fund to combat terror throughout Africa. The remainder of the OCO request includes $1 billion for a “counterterrorism partnerships fund” and $5 billion for readiness and support requirements, according to budget documents.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.