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Thursday, Jul 31, 2014
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Two major MacDill commands winners in new budget

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As expected, the two major commands headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base came out winners in the budget and planning documents unveiled in Washington Tuesday.

U.S. Special Operations Command is being given a 10 percent boost in its base budget for the next fiscal year under the $496 billion defense spending plan presented by President Barack Obama Tuesday.

“The $7.7 billion budget will support a Special Operations force of 69,700 personnel,” according to the Pentagon. “At this level, Socom will have the resources for full-spectrum training, global capabilities, and regional expertise.”

With the future of U.S. operations in Afghanistan still up in the air, it is unknown at this point how much money Socom will receive in war funding. Last year, the command received about $2 billion in what are called overseas contingency operations funds.

Socom’s war funding allocation for the new fiscal year, beginning in October, has yet to be determined, said Cdr. William Urban, a Pentagon spokesman.

Obama’s budget includes an overall “placeholder” of $79 billion for all Pentagon war funding, which is equal to the money allocated for the current fiscal year ending in September.

“Once conditions permit a decision about the scope of the enduring U.S. presence in Afghanistan, a formal budget amendment will be proposed to specify” how much war funding will be allocated, Urban said.

Adm. William McRaven, Socom’s commander, last week told congress that despite budget concerns, his Vision 2020 plan, hammered out before the latest budget and calling for a globally networked force of commandos, representatives from agencies like the CIA, NSA, FBI and DEA, allies and partners, is on track.

“I see it moving forward,” he said of the plan, which relies on host nations to signal their needs to the State Department.

The Pentagon on Tuesday also released the Quadrennial Defense Review, a four-year forecast of military priorities.

Both Socom and U.S. Central Command, also based at MacDill, remain key to national defense, according to that document, which comes as no surprise.

The U.S. will “maintain a worldwide approach to countering violent extremists and terrorist threats using a combination of economic, diplomatic, intelligence, law enforcement, development, and military tools,” according to the defense review. “The Department of Defense will rebalance our counterterrorism efforts toward greater emphasis on building partnership capacity, especially in fragile states, while retaining robust capability for direct action, including intelligence, persistent surveillance, precision strike, and Special Operations Forces.”

Growing Socom to 69,700 personnel protects “our ability to sustain persistent, networked, distributed operations to defeat al-Qaida, counter other emerging transnational threats, counter WMD, build the capacity of our partners, and support conventional operations,” according to the review.

There will also be a continued emphasis, according to the review, on Centcom, which oversees U.S. military operations in the Middle East and Southwest Asia,

“The United States also has enduring interests in the Middle East, and we will remain fully committed to the security of our partners in the region,” the defense review says. “We will continue to maintain a strong military posture in the Gulf region – one that can respond swiftly to crisis, deter aggression, and assure our allies and partners – while making sure that our military capabilities evolve to meet new threats.”

Tomorrow, Centcom commander Army Gen. Lloyd Austin III is scheduled to appear before the House Armed Services to deliver his view on the future of the command and issues in the region.

Stay with TBO.com for updates.

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