This bill would authorize federal spending on national defense programs for fiscal year 2017. It proposes $610.5 billion in spending, $523.6 billion of which would go toward the Dept. of Defense’s (DOD) base budget.
- $58.7 billion would be set aside to fund Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) and overseas bases — $18 billion more than the president requested in his budget.
- Another $8.3 billion in mandatory defense spending would be authorized.
The base funding level for national defense was set by the Bipartisan Budget Agreement at $543.4 billion. This includes the DOD’s base budget and $19.5 billion to the Dept. of Energy (DOE) for servicing the military’s nuclear technologies. Of the $58.8 billion in OCO funding, $23.1 billion goes toward base funding (the president’s request was closer to $5 billion) while another $35.7 billion would go to financing military operations through April 2017.
This bill would expand funding for missile defense while also providing the resources to increase the number of military aircraft available back to pre-drawdown levels. A Carrier Air Wing would be restored along with an additional 11 F-35s and 14 F-18s available to address a shortage of strike fighters. Additionally, three C-130Js, four C-40s, and two V-22 aircraft would be added. Five Apache helicopters would be restored to operation along with 24 UH-60 Blackhawks, while 12 new Blackhawks would be operational.
To ensure that the military’s platforms are ready for use, funding for Navy Ship and Aircraft depot maintenance and afloat readiness would grow by $530 million. The Air Force’s depot maintenance program would receive $430 million in additional funding. Further, the Navy’s cruiser modernization program would receive $160 million (unfunded in the president’s request) and the Marine Corps would get $67 million for logistics.
TROOPS & FAMILIES
This legislation reverses the military-wide personnel drawdown.
- Active duty Army would remain at 480,000 soldiers.
- The Marines would grow their ranks (by 3,000) to 185,000.
- The Air Force would add 4,000 of their own to reach 321,000 active duty Airmen.
- Personnel levels for the Air National Guard and Army Reserve would be set at 350,000 and 205,000, respectively.
Military personnel would see their pay increase by 2.1 percent and the president’s ability to reduce troop pay would be blocked. This portion of the bill also provides $2.5 billion in additional funding for training and maintenance that would let the branches of the military maximize their flight training hours, which was left unfunded in the president’s budget.
The TRICARE program which offers healthcare services to members of the military, their immediate families, and some retirees would be reformed to offer two comprehensive options — a managed care option (Tricare Prime) and a no-referral network option (Tricare Preferred). It would also adopt the core quality metrics used by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, so beneficiaries can review and compare their options across organizations.
Referrals for urgent care would be eliminated and urgent care access for families would be ensured through 11:00 PM. Care at Military Treatment Facilities (MTF) primary care clinics would be extended beyond normal business hours, and public-private partnerships would be formed to increase and complement MTF services. Retirees could also purchase certain durable medical equipment at DOD cost.
The number of available appointments at MTF clinics would increase, and beneficiaries experiences would be improved by standardizing scheduling and customer service procedures. The use of telehealth and secure messaging would also be maximized.
New trauma centers would be established at military medical centers in areas with unmet patient demand, and military trauma specialists would be able to participate in partnerships allowing them to receive training by working at civilian trauma centers.
The president’s request to train and equip moderate Syrian forces that are vetted would be granted, but funds would have to be disbursed through the reprogramming process to maximize congressional oversight. The Secretary of Defense would also have to certify that there are enough U.S. forces deployed to the region to support the strategy in Syria and a plan to retake and hold the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa.
Existing restrictions that prevent the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo Bay to the U.S. would remain in effect, as would the prohibition on building or modifying U.S. facilities to house the detainees. The DOD would also be prohibited from returning the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay to Cuba.
To confront Russian aggression in Ukraine and elsewhere, funding for U.S. military forces in Europe would be increased to provide for increased training and exercises and the pre-positioning of an Armored Brigade Combat Team’s worth of equipment. Additional funding would also go toward intelligence and early warning capabilities, Javelin missiles, active vehicle protection systems and aircraft survivability. Funding would be shifted toward the purchase of upgraded Abrams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles.
A total of $150 million would go toward providing the Ukrainian military, National Guard, and security services with training, equipment, and other assistance.
Defeating Islamic Extremists
This section ensures that no fewer than 9,800 U.S. troops would remain in Afghanistan to assist local security forces. It also increases funding for providing the Iraqi Security Forces with equipment and training by $50 million more than the president’s proposal, which would be provided directly to Kurdish, Sunni, and other local forces in the fight against ISIS. One-fourth of these funds would be restricted until the DOD submits a plan to retake and hold the ISIS stronghold of Mosul.
DOD authorities used by special operations forces (SOF) would be extended, including the Non-Conventional Assisted Recovery program which is used to rescue isolated servicemen and women and U.S. citizens. The authority used by SOF to work with indigenous or surrogate forces in support of U.S. counterterrorism goals would also be extended.
Access to Space
This legislation would encourage the development of a new American engine to replace the Russian engines that NASA and private space companies currently rely on for space missions. However, it rejects the Air Force’s request to develop the engine at taxpayer expense.
This section addresses the $3.7 billion backlog of deferred maintenance at the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). The NNSA is responsible for maintaining and modernizing the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile.
The military’s acquisitions of new technologies would be reformed to require new weapon systems be designed with open architectures that can easily be upgraded to use new technology or counter evolving threats. Flexible funding would be provided to allow for experiments with new technology, and suppliers of all sizes would have an increased ability to compete in the process.
It’s hoped that these reforms will promote experimentation and prototyping, not only to field capability, but to learn and develop new operational concepts. The bill would give the DOD more tools to manage and approve cost, schedule, and technological risk for major acquisition programs. Reducing redundant bureaucracy is a priority for reform. For this reason, this legislation grants Milestone Decision Authority for Joint Programs to Military Services after October 1, 2019. This change also provides Congress time to ensure the military services will be held accountable and that appropriate transparency and enforcement mechanisms are in place.
Biodefense and CWMD
To respond to the accidental 2015 shipment of live anthrax by the DOD to more than 50 locations, this legislation provides for corrective action to be taken in line with the findings of the investigation into the matter. The DOD, DHS, HHS, and Dept. of Agriculture would be required to collaborate on developing a National Biodefense Strategy.
This section of the bill reforms the Goldwater-Nichols Act in order to improve the accountability, integration, oversight, and strategic planning of military activities. The advisory role of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) would be expanded and the CJCS term would grow from two to four years.
The U.S. Cyber Command (CYBERCOM) would be elevated to a unified command and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) would tasked with evaluating the CYBERCOM leader’s dual role as head of the National Security Agency (NSA).
The Quadrennial Defense Review would be eliminated and replaced with a new framework led by the Secretary of Defense. A Defense Strategy Commission would be established and staffed by independent security experts would be appointed by Congress and make recommendations at the beginning of a new presidential administration. Then after four years, the Secretary would issue a guidance about force structure and resource priorities after four years.
Cyber operations would be fully funded at a level of $6.7 billion, which is a $900 million increase from the year prior. The readiness of the Cyber Mission Forces including the 133 teams across the military services, their tools, and capabilities would be prioritized. This legislation also includes purchasing authorities that could be used to recover from a cyber attack.