The Meter is Running

Air Force activities in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn have cost the service roughly $50 million thus far, and the price tag is going up about $4 million with each passing day, said USAF’s leadership Wednesday. Still “unresolved” is how the service will pay these bills, Air Force Secretary Michael Donley told the Senate Appropriations Committee’s defense panel. He said the service is in talks with the Pentagon comptroller and Office of Management and Budget about that. Chief of Staff Gen Norton Schwartz told the panel that he was “not in a position to predict whether the Administration will submit a supplemental request ” to cover the US military’s costs for this endeavor. Odyssey Dawn began on March 19 to create a no-fly zone over northern Libya, protect Libyan civilians from attack by Muammar Qaddafi’s regime, and enforce an arms embargo. Donley said the per-week costs may change once the United States completes the transition to a supporting role and the NATO-led coalition is in charge. On Tuesday, Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale said the Defense Department had spent about $550 million already on Odyssey Dawn. (Donley-Schwartz written testimony)