WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Pentagon is scrambling to assess the impact of Congress’ decision last week to approve only a third of the requested funding on the US counterterrorism fight in Syria and Africa, the department’s budget chief said on Monday.
An appropriations bill approved on Saturday contained $1.3 billion of the $4 billion President Barack Obama sought for a new Counterterrorism Partnership Fund to counter al Qaeda affiliates in Africa and train Syrian moderates to fight Islamic State rebels.
“We got a lot less flexibility than we asked for. So we’ll really need to dive in with our attorneys and figure out how … would we actually implement
this with less money and more restrictions,” Pentagon Comptroller Mike McCord said in an interview.
He said Congress separately approved about $1.6 billion to help Iraqi forces battle Islamic State rebels.
McCord said the Pentagon initially thought it would use about $1 billion of the $4 billion fund for the Syria conflict, with about half going to train and equip moderate Syrian rebels and half going to help border states deal with spillover effects of the conflict.
“We had a variety of things that we had hoped to do both on the counter-ISIL (Islamic State) effort but also in Africa Command,” McCord said, noting Africa had been a “real beneficiary” of the Counterterrorism Partnership Fund.