Washington, DC – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) announced that H.R. 2647, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010, was reported favorably by the committee on a vote of 61 to 0.

  H.R. 2647 authorizes $550.4 billion in budget authority for the Department of Defense (DoD) and the national security programs of the Department of Energy (DoE).  The bill also authorizes $130 billion to support overseas contingency operations during fiscal year 2010. 

 In a statement released after the committee’s approval of the defense authorization bill, Skelton discussed some of the measure’s most significant provisions:

 “This defense bill reflects our commitment to support U.S. service members and to provide the necessary resources to keep Americans safe and protect our national interests.  The provisions of this year’s defense bill promote our main policy objectives: restoring military readiness; taking care of our troops and their families; focusing on our strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan and on redeployment from Iraq; eliminating waste and recovering savings through acquisition reform; and maintaining robust oversight of the Department of Defense.  

 “After more than seven years of war, we must sustain our efforts to restore military readiness in order to meet current military challenges and prepare for the future.  The bill provides $11 billion for Army reset, $2 billion for Marine Corps reset, and $6.9 billion to address equipment shortfalls in the National Guard and Reserve.  Addressing urgent issues such as dilapidated military barracks and to keep defense facilities in good working order, the bill adds $450 million for Army barracks improvements and $762 million to fully meet sustainment requirements for base facilities and infrastructure. 

 “To boost readiness and reduce the strain on our forces, the bill increases the size of the military by 15,000 Army troops, 8,000 Marines, 14,650 Air Force personnel, and 2,477 Navy sailors, which reflects the President’s budget request.

 “To improve the quality of life for our forces and their families, the bill provides a 3.4 percent pay raise for all service members, continuing our efforts to reduce the pay raise gap between the uniformed services and the private sector. The bill extends the authority for the Defense Department to offer bonuses and incentive pay, expands TRICARE health coverage to reserve component members and their families for 180 days prior to mobilization, and also provides $1.95 billion for family housing programs to support and expand the quality housing our military families deserve. 

 “To improve the benefits available to wounded warriors, the bill provides travel and transportation for three designated persons, including non-family members, to visit hospitalized service members.  The bill also enables seriously injured service members to use a non-medical attendant for help with daily living or during travel for medical treatment. 

 “To meet the changing needs of today’s service members and their families, the bill establishes an internship pilot program for military spouses in order to offer federal government career opportunities that are portable when the time comes to relocate. The bill also authorizes Impact Aid funding to assist schools with large enrollments of military children, and establishes a Department of Defense School of Nursing to address the critical nursing shortage in our military services. 

 “The war in Afghanistan is a critical mission that is finally gaining the attention it demands.  The President’s new Afghanistan strategy, which calls for an increase in military and civilian resources and also recognizes the vital importance of Pakistan efforts in the region, is a welcome development.  To ensure our strategy in both countries is effective and achieves the intended goals within well-defined timelines, the bill requires the President to assess U.S. efforts and report on progress. 

 “To build partnership capacity, the bill provides funds to train and equip the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and authorizes the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Fund to improve the counterinsurgency capabilities of Pakistan’s security forces.  The bill improves accountability and oversight of U.S. assistance by requiring the President to establish a system to register and track all U.S. defense articles provided to the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

 “As we redeploy forces from Iraq and build up forces in Afghanistan, the Department of Defense must manage many difficult logistical challenges.  To ensure our plans are sound, use realistic assumptions, and carefully assess risk, the bill requires the Department of Defense to report on its efforts to prioritize resources and capabilities between Iraq and Afghanistan.   The bill also directs the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to provide Congress with separate reports assessing the strategic plans for Iraq and Afghanistan.  In addition, the bill calls for a report to help Congress monitor our redeployment from Iraq and requires the Department of Defense to develop a detailed plan for the disposition of U.S. military equipment in Iraq. 

 “Defense acquisition reform is a top priority for our committee, which this year has already established a panel to examine this issue and passed weapon systems acquisition reform that the President signed into law.  Building on these efforts, this bill supports the Secretary of Defense’s plan to increase the size of the civilian acquisition workforce, to reduce the Department of Defense’s reliance on contractors for critical acquisition functions, and to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse through better contract oversight. 

 “Efforts to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction and to reduce the risk that these weapons could fall into terrorists’ hands are critical to our national security.  In the area of nonproliferation, the bill increases funding and creates new authorities to strengthen the Department of Defense’s Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Program. The bill also fully supports the Department of Energy’s nonproliferation programs, which includes funding for the President’s plan to secure and remove all known vulnerable nuclear materials that can be used for weapons.    

  “Our bill also addresses efforts to combat piracy, another nonconventional threat the committee has closely monitored as pirate attacks have been on the rise.  The bill directs the Department of Defense to report on the short and long term strategies for combating piracy off the coast of Somalia, as well as its strategy for dealing with organizations supporting piracy onshore.  The bill also requires vessels carrying Department of Defense cargo in high piracy risk areas to be equipped with appropriate non-lethal defense measures to protect the vessels from seizure.

 “Next year, the Department of Defense will deliver the report of the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), which was established to help Congress develop our national security priorities.  Because reports from previous QDR’s have not always provided the information expected by Congress, the committee encourages the Department of Defense to closely follow the QDR requirements written in law.  Upon completion of the QDR, the bill directs the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to assess the degree to which the Department of Defense has complied with the law, and requires the Secretary of Defense to report to Congress on any shortcomings. 

 “The bill also creates a Congressionally-appointed National Defense Panel to conduct an independent review of the QDR’s effectiveness and issue recommendations on how to improve the decision making process for determining national security objectives.   Finally, the bill requires the Department of Defense to report on the force structure requirements used to guide the QDR process so that Congress may better understand the foundation of the QDR’s analysis.

 “Each year, members of the House Armed Services Committee work very hard to make this the best bill possible for our military and for our nation.  I want to thank all of our members for helping our committee continue the tradition of bipartisan cooperation as we fulfill our Constitutional obligation to raise and support the U.S. Armed Forces.”

            A detailed summary of H.R. 2647 as reported by the House Armed Services Committee is available at http://democrats-armedservices.house.gov/ .

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