Pentagon to seek $300 million for Somalia costs

November 14, 1993|By New York Times News Service

WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon plans to ask Congress for $300 million to pay for the military operation in Somalia through March, when U.S. forces are to leave the African nation, according to a senior Defense Department official.

The Pentagon official, who spoke to reporters Friday on the condition of anonymity, said the extra money was needed because the armed services are paying for the Somalia operation with money earmarked for other activities, such as routine training, in the 1994 fiscal year.

The request, which needs White House approval, is in addition to the $261 billion 1994 military budget approved by Congress on Wednesday and signed by President Clinton on Thursday. That budget, covering the 12 months from Oct. 1, sets aside no money for the Somalia mission.

The senior official said that if Congress did not approve the extra spending for this year, the Pentagon might be forced to reduce routine training and combat exercises, a step that Congress has vigorously opposed as a threat to maintaining U.S. forces' ability fight.

"The services are paying for Somalia by borrowing money they planned to spend in the third and fourth quarters of this fiscal year," the official said.

For that reason, Pentagon and congressional officials say lawmakers would probably approve the extra financing. The United States now has about 7,450 troops in Somalia and 8,600 on ships offshore.

The Pentagon has historically paid for military operations -- war-fighting as well as peacekeeping -- through an account called operations and maintenance. That account also covers training as well as food and heating bills. The Pentagon sometimes recoups the costs of military missions through a supplemental appropriation.

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