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Pentagon says funding fight affecting war effort

Story Highlights

• President Bush, Democrats face stalemate after veto of war funding bill
• Pentagon says effects of standoff over legislation are already being felt
• Tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan may be extended
• Training of brigade combat teams may be delayed
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The standoff between President Bush and congressional Democrats over a war funding bill already is delaying some military training and orders for spare parts, Pentagon officials said.

Bush on Tuesday vetoed legislation passed by the Democratic-controlled Congress that would continue to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but set a timeline for withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq.

The bill would have required U.S. combat troops to begin to withdraw on October 1, with a goal of a complete pullout within six months.

"This is a prescription for chaos and confusion," Bush said, explaining his veto of the legislation. "It makes no sense to tell the enemy when you plan to start withdrawing."

The president and congressional leaders have agreed to meet to discuss a compromise. (Full story)

In the meantime, military officials said some effects are already or will soon be felt.

According to the Pentagon, the Army two weeks ago told commanders to purchase fewer parts, delay repairs on training equipment and postpone nonessential travel.

This month, the Army also will freeze hiring for civilian jobs, release temporary workers and sign no new contracts.

An Army official said these disruptions will hurt military readiness.

The Congressional Research Service told Congress that the Pentagon has enough cash to last through June. But the military must plan for the worst.

"The problem is they're not sure when they will get money," said Steve Kosiak of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. "If they were confident they would get money in a month, or in six weeks, they probably wouldn't have to make any of these worst-case planning assumptions. But they don't know that for sure."

Any disruptions in training or equipment could disrupt troop rotations.

"We are committed to not sending troops over there until they are fully trained and equipped for the mission," said Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

And delaying rotations will have an effect on those troops already in the combat zone.

"If you don't sustain them with replacements and give them enough well time -- in other words, downtime -- in between operational redeployments, then you'll wear them out. That's simple," said retired Army Lt. Col. Robert Maginnis.

Without new funds, orders for what the Army considers the No. 1 lifesaver against roadside bombs, MRAPs -- Mine Resistant, Ambush Protected vehicles -- will be canceled. About $3 billion for the vehicles is tied up by the stalled legislation.

"We can build what we can get the funds to build. It's strictly an issue of money," outgoing Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker told a Senate panel in March.

The vehicles provide four to five times the protection of an armored Humvee. They have V-shaped hulls that deflect blasts from improvised explosive devices -- IEDs -- outward and away from passengers.

Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Delaware, called the need for the $1 million vehicles a "matter of life and death." The troops "will have a three to four times greater chance of surviving a hit with an IED while on patrol than exists today if we don't act," Biden said.

CNN's Tom Foreman and Jamie McIntyre contributed to this report.


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