The Pentagon’s overseas contingency operations accounts that have paid for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq for more than a decade may not go away very quickly, despite the Defense Department’s push to wean itself off such funding, said Air Force Secretary Michael Donley on July 25. The Air Force will be operating in Afghanistan after the 2014 planned ground force withdrawal, helping the Afghan air force equip and develop, Donley told attendees of his speech on Capitol Hill that AFA, the National Defense Industrial Association, and Reserve Officers Association sponsored. However, the Air Force would not necessarily have to fund those operations out of hide, he said. The OCO “will decline and go away” eventually, said Donley, but it’s “still to be determined” how and when. “The endgame of OCO has not been worked out,” he said. Much of what has become “baseline” to the Air Force started out in OCO accounts and is still funded that way, he said, like remotely piloted aircraft. These functions “need to migrate to the Air Force base budget,” and there are similar situations “for all the services,” said Donley.
The Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness revised the Defense Department’s COVID-19 guidelines. The new rules clarify what’s meant by being “up to date” on vaccinations and when personnel must wear masks in vehicles, among other changes.