Defense Secretary Gates is singing the fund the war or the troops will not get their paychecks song

Late Monday Secretary Gates sent letters to congressional leaders letting them know that he was encouraged to hear they intend to pass the rest of the president’s FY ’08 war funding request by Memorial Day. The remaining $108 billion is urgently needed for this department, as well as State and the intelligence agencies, to continue operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As it now stands, and has for months, actually, we here at the Pentagon are financing those wars by borrowing from our payroll accounts. But those accounts are about to run dry, and if Congress does not act soon, the Army will not be able to pay its soldiers after June the 15th. While we certainly hope lawmakers get their work done well before then, prudent management requires that we plan for the possibility that they do not meet that goal. After all, we first requested these funds more than a year ago.

As we have all learned very little of the money appropriated for the occupation of Iraq makes it to our troops and a recent editorial in the Toledo Blade says

“U.S. troops in Iraq will not suffer if the new spending isn’t passed. The Defense Department budget already stands at nearly half a trillion dollars, from which the Iraq war can easily be funded.

“The best course for Congress is simply to reject the supplemental spending bill. The war doesn’t deserve more money. If other expenditures for veterans are justified, they should be put in separate legislation.”

There are $481.4B at the disposal of Secty Gates and he can surely figure out a way to bring home the troops and pay them at the same time.