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Pentagon Warns of Budget Shortfall - 2002-07-13


The Pentagon is warning it may have to stop paying all soldiers, sailors and airmen and curtail some military operations if Congress does not quickly approve additional defense funds for the war on terrorism.

Pentagon Comptroller Dov Zakheim said his warning is no joke. Unless Congress approves some $16.5 billion in supplemental defense funds before its August recess, there will be dire consequences. "No money, no payroll. If we can't get a [supplemental appropriation] by the end of this month, before the August recess, we cannot pay any of our people in uniform by August 30th. Full stop," he said. "No paychecks. Nobody's going to like me."

But that is not all. Mr. Zakheim told Pentagon reporters ship and aircraft operations by units that are not involved in overseas operations will be suspended. He said maintenance on ships and aircraft will be halted and major training exercises will be cancelled.

Mr. Zakheim said the Defense Department has been borrowing from its payroll, maintenance and training accounts to finance operations in the war on terrorism. He said that war is costing the Pentagon about $2 billion a month.

Some of the supplemental money, once approved by Congress, will be used to procure precision munitions, such as those used extensively in Afghanistan. Some will also go to reimburse allies like Pakistan for their support in the war.