HEADLINE: HEARING OF THE HOUSE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE BUDGET REQUEST FOR THE ARMY
CHAIRED BY: REPRESENTATIVE DUNCAN HUNTER (R-CA)
LOCATION: 2118 RAYBURN HOUSE OFFICE BUILDING, WASHINGTON, D.C.
WITNESSES: ACTING ARMY SECRETARY LES BROWNLEE; ARMY CHIEF OF STAFF GENERAL PETER SCHOOMAKER
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REP. JIM COOPER (D-TN): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I know our witnesses have had a long day. I don't intend to add too much to your burdens, but just a little bit.
First of all, General Schoomaker, I really admire the work that you're doing. You're doing a great job. It seems to me, though, that you're in a little bit of a bind, because when we have the honor of visiting our troops in Iraq, the number one thing that the leaders tell us is, "Don't interrupt the funding."
GEN. SCHOOMAKER: Don't interrupt the --
REP. COOPER: The funding. And I know the president isn't anxious to go ahead and ask for the supplemental before the election, but the head of OMB, Josh Bolton, has estimated about $50 billion will be necessary. Why shouldn't this Congress go ahead and initiate a supplemental before the election so there is no risk of funding interruption so the people in the Pentagon don't have to raid every other account for months to try to patch up the anticipated shortfalls. Why wouldn't it make sense, let's just take the monkey off everybody's back and Congress go ahead and initiate a $50 billion supplemental right now and pay for the anticipated shortfall? What's wrong with that? Isn't that sensible budgeting?
SEC. BROWNLEE: Sir, as far as we're concerned, I mean, that's accounting's above our pay grades. (Laughs.)
REP. COOPER: Well, my purpose isn't to get you all in trouble, but --
SEC. BROWNLEE: We have the resources, we believe, as General Schoomaker said, certainly to take us until the end of the fiscal year. If we are required to, we can cash flow out of other accounts, we believe, through the end of March. Beyond that, it would be a problem.
REP. COOPER: But isn't that an embarrassing way for the world's greatest superpower to finance its most important overseas deployment?
SEC. BROWNLEE: It's not the way I finance my household, that's for sure.
REP. COOPER: Well, maybe this Congress can find it in itself to go ahead and fulfill that need in an orderly fashion, you know, on time. So that's just one point.
The second point is this-I happen to be a personal friend of Colonel McGregor, who has written a book on transformation of the military, and I'm a little worried that he maybe was a little bit too far ahead of his time, because it's my impression that he is being encouraged to leave the military when you all are adopting, as I read it, you know, a substantial portion of his recommendations. And, not so much for Colonel McGregor, but for others, I hope that we have a culture of creativity and thinking outside the box so that original thinkers are appreciated in the Army, and I know that you, General Schoomaker, come from outside traditional Army ranks. I think you are a clear example of how outside-the-box thinking can be helpful to all the services, because we need to work together in a joint fashion. So I would just hope, whether it's Colonel McGregor or others, that original thinking is appreciated and encouraged. Thank you.