Army to slow repairs as Congress weighs funds

WASHINGTON Tue Apr 17, 2007 11:33am EDT

U.S. soldiers patrol a road in Diwaniya, south of Baghdad, April 15, 2007. REUTERS/Imad al-Khozai

U.S. soldiers patrol a road in Diwaniya, south of Baghdad, April 15, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Imad al-Khozai

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Army will defer spending and slow repair work on any equipment not needed for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan due to Congress' failure to approve $100 billion in extra war funding, the largest branch of the armed forces said on Monday.

The Pentagon also will ask Congress to allow the Defense Department to use $1.6 billion in funds meant for the Navy and Air Force to pay the Army's operating expenses, the Army said.

If funds are not approved by May, further spending restrictions will be made. That, the Army warned, could hurt its ability to take on a new fight.

"The Army estimates that even with these spending restrictions and a temporary reprogramming of $1.6 billion, funds are sufficient to keep operations running only until the end of June," the Army said in a prepared statement Monday.

"These actions carry consequential effects, including substantial disruption to installation functions, decreasing efficiency and potentially further degrading the readiness of non-deployed units," the Army said.

The Bush administration requested $100 billion in additional war funding but Congress has tied those funds to a deadline for withdrawing troops from Iraq. President George W. Bush has vowed to veto such a bill.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon repeatedly has warned the Army would face spending restrictions if the money was not approved by April 15.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have stressed the U.S. military, particularly the Army.

Immediately, the Army will tell commanders to slow spending in certain areas so that war-related activities and support to families can continue, it said.

In May, absent new funds, the Army said it would freeze new civilian hiring from outside the Army, lay off temporary employees, and suspend some service contracts for training and facilities, among other things.

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