Billions in Defense Spending to be Withheld Until Trump Submits ISIS Strategy

Of the $15 billion in supplemental wartime spending in the 2017 federal spending bill, $2.5 billion will be withheld until 15 days after the president provides Congress with a strategy to defeat the Islamic State (ISIS).

The defense secretary and secretary of state will also be required to update the Armed Services, Foreign Relations, Intelligence and Appropriations committees of Congress on progress every 90 days.

Congress also wants the Trump administration to provide a description of U.S. political and military objectives toward the Syrian government, Syrian civilians, and efforts taken by U.S.  regional and international partners and relevant agencies to achieve the objectives, The Hill reports, although lawmakers are not hinging funding on the Syria report.

In January, Trump signed an executive order requesting the Pentagon to provide a new strategy against ISIS within 30 days. While the Pentagon provided its initial review within the allotted time, Defense Secretary James Mattis described the strategy as  “in skeleton form” in April. He added that “it’s being fleshed out now.”

Mattis said in February that the U.S. will use “economic, diplomatic, military, [and] covert means” to defeat ISIS.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Joseph Dunford said the plan would “fully leverage all the capabilities our nation has: diplomatically, economically and militarily, and now in the 21st century in the information space as well,” Defense News reported.

The Pentagon has made “quiet, incremental additions to the troop levels” in Syria and Iraq, Defense News reports,  including adding hundreds of Marines to provide artillery support in Syria and sending more advisers into the fight for Mosul in Iraq.

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