US To Continue Training Iraqi Forces Despite Congress Disapproval Of Funding

U.S. military training for Iraqi security forces will continue uninterrupted despite failure of the Congress to approve money for it in a temporary spending bill now funding government operations, the Pentagon has said.

When Congress approved a short-term spending bill last month to keep the government running in the new fiscal year that began this month, the measure left out funding for the roughly 200 U.S. troops in Iraq who are training Iraqi forces.

Pentagon Press Secretary George E. Little told a news conference on Tuesday that Navy Admiral James A. Winnefeld Jr., Vice-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, approved U.S. Central Command's request for $1.7 million for continued training through the Combatant Commander Initiative Fund, which is already in the Pentagon budget.

"This is a temporary bridge while we seek a longer-term way ahead in the [fiscal 2013] national defense authorization, which we expect the Congress to take up later this year," he said.

Congress is in recess until after the November presidential elections. The financial bridge is a 90-day stopgap measure that includes funding for counter-terrorism operations as well as military training and education, a Defense Department official said.

The last U.S. combat troops left Iraq last year, but the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad continues to maintain an Office of Security Cooperation under which the U.S. trains the Iraqi security forces in capacity building and counter-terrorism. The office also oversees military sales.

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