Stars and Stripes quotes Brent Scowcroft Center Resident Senior Fellow for Defense James Hasik on the effects of US fighting against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham on defense spending:
Jim Hasik, a defense analyst with the Atlantic Council, called the OCO fund an “accounting workaround” used to avoid the mandatory budget caps imposed by Congress and said it has potential drawbacks.
But he said overall it makes good sense to separate defense accounts that have different goals. The base Pentagon budget is aimed at long-term military preparedness and daily operations while the OCO pot can provide the spending flexibility needed to deal with sudden and unforeseen threats.
That flexibility can prove critical to the fight and protecting troops. When improvised explosives became a top threat in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. spent $50 billion to field 24,000 mine-resistant vehicles that could survive the blasts and protect occupants.
With the threat receding, those mine-resistant trucks and other vehicles may be costing the government $100 million just to ship them back from Afghanistan, according to a Government Accountability Office report. Many of the trucks should simply have been destroyed or given away because upkeep is not economical, auditors said.
“There is absolutely potential for more overspending any time you use a supplemental account, sure. In a sense, that is actually part of the plan,” Hasik said. “You worry less about checking up on the waste and abuse and you just worry about getting it done fast.”
For now, the top concern is whether the Obama administration has a strategy that will ultimately win the war against the Islamic State and not whether more reliance on the OCO account with cause problems in the future, Hasik said.