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Gates: Lack of 2011 Defense Appropriations Bill is ‘Crisis on My Doorstep’

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Photo: defense.gov

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the lack of a defense spending bill and the specter of a year-long continuing resolution is the “crisis on my doorstep.”

DoD requested $549 billion, while the proposed continuing resolution, which funds the government through March 4, is set for $526 billion.

That $23 billion shortfall represents the “worst of all possible kinds of reductions,” because the cuts would come halfway through the fiscal year, Gates told reporters before a meeting with Canadian officials.

To offset that shortfall, he added, DoD will use operations and maintenance accounts in addition to stretching out programs and cutting training, according to an American Forces Press Service report.

“Frankly that’s how you hollow out a military, even in wartime,”Gates said. “It means fewer flying hours, fewer steaming days, cuts in training for home-stationed ground forces, cuts in maintenance and so on.”

War funding, amounting to $159 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, will not be affected by a continuing resolution shortfall.

Gates “questioned the seriousness” of some Congress members, per the AFPS, who are “up in arms” about Gates’ proposed cuts to DoD’s 2012 budget, but are apparently sitting on their hands in terms of not passing a full funding bill for this year.

If Congress doesn’t pass a funding bill by the beginning of March, Gates said, “this new Congress would be responsible for a cut that’s nearly twice the size of our fiscal ’12 proposal, and much, much more damaging.”

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