The US Department of Defense has revived a Cold War-era fund as it struggles to overcome a bloated bureaucracy that is impeding the timely delivery of armaments for allies of its anti-Daesh coalition, who keep running out of bombs to drop.
The budgetary tool, called the Special Defense Acquisition Fund, was established in 1982 and terminated in 1994, only to be revived in 2012. In December 2015, the fund received a boost, jumping from $100 million to $900 million, according to Todd Dudley of T2 Strategy Group.
According to Ann Cataldo, Deputy Assistant Army Secretary for Defense Exports and Cooperation, "its purpose is to let the military department buy in advance of [formal arms sales requests] so we can get started early on long-lead-time items, so we can stockpile things we know there's going to be an immediate rush or demand."
The fund is reminiscent of a large warehouse, combined with a large bank account, that buys and stores weapons and other military items from weapons contractors, and stores them until receiving an official purchase request from a foreign buyer. Weapons are then delivered to the buyer, speeding up the process. The fund aims to predict what kind of armament will be purchased, acquiring them in advance. During the Cold War-era this tool acquired $2.7 billion from 76 countries, according to Dudley.
Now the fund has been tasked with ordnance and other weapons purchases to supply US allies fighting Daesh in the Middle East, according to Defense One. Earlier this year the US-led coalition found itself in an unpleasant situation by running out of bombs after dropping some 42,000, purportedly primarily on terrorists. US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced in February that the Pentagon would ask Congress for over $1.8 billion to purchase 45,000 more bombs, which they asserted would be dropped on terrorists. In the meantime, the US military raided its own global stockpiles to keep up with the campaign's seemingly endless demand for bombs.
Following its 2012 revival, the fund was only allowed to keep a maximum of $100 million on its account. Last year, Congress increased that sum tenfold, nearly returning it to a Cold War-level ceiling of $1.07 billion. That figure suggests that the nearly $90 million spent by the fund this year is likely to increase.
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