14:59 GMT +319 July 2019
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    US soldier, left, instructs a Ukrainian soldier during joint training exercises on the military base in the Lviv region.

    State Dept & Pentagon Hawks Jittery Over Possible Loss of Global Military Fund

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    Officials from the Pentagon and the State Department are concerned about the future of a "relatively small, but…important" fund, known as the Global Security Contingency Fund (GSCF), whose funding is set to expire next year. Without renewal, the fund, aimed at quickly funding initiatives to train and equip US partners worldwide, will dry up.

    According to Defense News, the GSCF, which has its money allocated from Pentagon and the State Department programs, may be deemed unworthy of renewal when it expires in 2017, leading to the closure of projects to finance the training and equipping of US allies in countries like Ukraine, the Philippines, and Libya.

    Presently, the GSCF finances projects whose cost ranges anywhere from $3.5 million to nearly $80 million, with a total of $208 million allocated. This includes the Ukrainian National Guard training program, which cost $19 million, a maritime security and counterterrorism program in the Philippines, still ongoing, costing $40 million, and two programs in Libya worth a combined $22.5 million for training of special forces and border security support, presently on hold. It also includes border security, counterterrorism, and special forces training in countries across Africa and Europe.

    The Ukrainian National Guard training fund was openly criticized by US lawmakers following revelations that some of the 600 guardsmen who were trained were members of neo-fascist militia groups, units of which have been accused of war crimes in the ongoing civil war in eastern Ukraine. Nevertheless, a proposal for more military assistance for Ukraine using the GSCF has already been submitted.

    But now, the GSCF program, which was listed as a pilot program in 2012 under the National Defense Authorization Act which created it, needs to be renewed, and that may prove problematic. At the moment, Defense News points out, "there does not appear to be much focus on Capitol Hill" regarding the future of the program. 

    Proponents of the fund have praised its lack of budgetary constraints tying it to yearly appropriations, thereby theoretically allowing it to move quickly to provide funding to secure US interests worldwide. Still, infighting between the State Department and the Pentagon over funding priorities, combined with the bureaucratic nature of both departments, have effectively prevented the fund from "work[ing] out as people hoped," one Washington-based analyst told the newsweekly. 

    More than anything, the Pentagon is concerned by the fact it provides over 80% of the money in the fund, while the GSCF gives the DoD and State Department equal say on its use. Accordingly, Congress may end up questioning the usefulness of the fund, with lawmakers concerned about its lack of accountability.

    At the same time, according to Defense News, "one potential piece of good news for GSCF could come if former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wins the presidential election com November." The fund's creation was Clinton's pet project, a State Department official told the paper.

    Last month, Ukrainian officials sought to ratchet up defense cooperation with Washington, with the Ukrainian Ambassador to the US proposing the joint production of weapons on Ukrainian territory.

    US officials have yet to commit to Kiev's offer, but seem to be exploring the possibility. Shortly after the Ukrainian ambassador made the proposal, former DARPA head Anthony Tether traveled to Kiev, where he became an official adviser to Ukraine's defense industry. According to analysts, Tether's appointment may be part of Washington's efforts to test the waters on the state of Ukraine's military industrial complex, and whether it is worthy of investment.

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    Tags:
    program funding, military funding, bureaucracy, funds, training, State Department, US Defense Department, Pentagon, United States, Ukraine
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