U.S. military training for Iraq’s security forces will continue uninterrupted despite Congress’s failure to approve money for it in a temporary spending bill now funding government operations, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said Oct. 2.
When Congress approved a short-term spending bill last month to keep the government running in the new fiscal year that began on Monday, the measure left out funding for the roughly 200 U.S. troops in Iraq who are training Iraqi forces.
Little told reporters during a Pentagon news conference that Navy Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr., vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, approved U.S. Central Command’s request for $1.7 million for continued training through the Combatant Commander Initiative Fund, which is money already in the Pentagon budget.
“This is a temporary bridge while we seek a longer-term way ahead in the [fiscal 2013] national defense authorization, which we expect to be taken up by Congress later this year,” he said.
Congress is in recess until after the November elections. The financial bridge is a 90-day stopgap measure that includes funding for counterterrorism operations as well as military training and education, a Defense Department official said.
The last U.S. combat troops left Iraq last year, but the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad continues to maintain an Office of Security Cooperation under which the U.S. trains the Iraqi security forces in capacity building and counterterrorism. The office also oversees military sales.