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News Link • WAR: About that War

Sidestepping cuts, US likely to use 'war credit card' to pay for Iraq-Syria action

• Travis J. Tritten, Stars and Stripes

The Pentagon has been issuing dire warnings this year that the military is fast approaching a severe money crunch — a problem compounded now by the war in Iraq and Syria.

With mandatory defense cuts looming next year and new war costs mounting, Congress will almost certainly reach for an old standby accounting solution to keep money flowing — the Overseas Contingency Operations fund, a so-called war credit card.

The OCO account, separate from the base defense budget and exempt from spending reductions set to remain in place until 2021, allows the military to respond quickly to unforeseen crises. It also allows Congress to sidestep tough budget decisions such as trimming troop benefits and eliminating weapons systems the military says it no longer needs while paying for a war that the Obama administration says could last years.

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