Today, Congressman Brad Wenstrup, Vice Chairman of the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee and Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve, released the following statement on the U.S. House of Representatives’ bipartisan passage of H.R. 2810, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2018:
“Providing for our national defense is not optional – it’s a constitutional command. In recent years, the U.S. military has faced years of devastating cuts, leaving us with the smallest Army since before World War II, a Navy fleet among the smallest since World War I, and an Air Force whose top general has said it may not be able to control the skies in a future conflict. While our military grows weaker, threats around the world have grown only stronger.
This legislation takes a major step towards reversing those trend-lines, and represents a down-payment on the military needed to face threats to our national security both today and tomorrow. It begins the important work of reforming, repairing, and rebuilding our military, provides for the future health of our troops, invests in future technologies, and ensures that the promises made to our men and women in uniform are kept. The national security challenges of the coming decade require the type of thoughtful, bipartisan leadership found in this legislation and I applaud its passage today in the House.”
Key provisions of the FY18 NDAA include:
Increases defense spending topline. The legislation provides a total of $696.1 billion, of which $621.5 billion is in base defense funding, $10 billion is in OCO for base requirements, and $64.6 billion is in OCO for operations.This topline is consistent with the Defense Appropriations bill and the House budget agreement.
Increases end strength. The mark authorizes 17,000 more personnel for the Army; 4,000 more for the Navy; 4,100 more for the Air Force, as requested by each of the Services.
Provides a pay raise to troops. The bill authorizes the full 2.4% pay raise for troops to which the statutory formula says they are entitled. The administration request had it cut by .3%.
Prioritizes equipment maintenance and modernization. The NDAA authorizes key investments to accelerate the fielding of new, more effective, lethal, and cost-effective platforms. It also provides additional capacity for high-demand assets to reduce the stress on the force, rebuild the depth-of-bench in critical capability areas, and begins a path to restoring full-spectrum readiness.
Makes major acquisition reform. The mark requires major reforms in Pentagon buying practices, including allowing the military to buy commercial products through online sites such as Amazon, Staples, and Grainger. Lifecycle maintenance costs must be considered at the beginning of a program, as must intellectual property rights to maximize competition for maintenance and repairs. Oversight into service contracts is increased.
Continues to move the DOD audit forward. The Department of Defense will be audited for FY2018. It is required by law, and the new DOD Comptroller testified that the audit will go forward.
Addresses Services’ unfunded requirements. The mark funds $21 billion out of the $32 billion in unfunded requirements identified by the Services and endorsed by Secretary Mattis and Chairman Dunford.
Strengthens missile defense. This legislation provides an additional $2.5 billion above the administration’s request for missile defense, including additional interceptors for existing systems and research for new technologies. Total missile defense is still below funding levels during the Bush administration.
Restricts GTMO detainees from being transferred to the U.S. The NDAA carries the annual restrictions against transferring detainees from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to the United States and building on or modifying facilities in the United States for housing detainees.
Invests in space. The bill requires the creation of a separate Space Corps within the Air Force to give strategic attention to space as a critical aspect of U.S. national security.