President Signs Defense Authorization Act
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 28, 2009 – President Barack Obama today signed the fiscal 2010 National Defense Authorization Act during a ceremony at the White House.
Obama hailed the act, which contains $680.2 billion in military budget authority, as transformational legislation that targets wasteful defense spending.
The president was accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden, congressional leaders and other senior officials, including Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“There’s still more waste we need to cut; there’s still more fights that we need to win,” Obama said, noting he and Gates will continue to seek out unnecessary defense spending. Obama said he has ended unnecessary no-bid defense contracts and signed bipartisan legislation to reform defense procurement practices so weapons systems’ costs do not spin out of control.
“Even as we have made critical investments in equipment and weapons our troops do need, we’re eliminating tens of billions of dollars in waste we don’t need,” Obama said.
The legislation, Obama said, saves billions by capping production of the Air Force’s costly F-22 fighter jet and terminating troubled, over-budget programs such as the Army’s Future Combat System and a new presidential helicopter.
“As commander in chief, I will always do whatever it takes to keep the American people safe to defend this nation,” Obama said. “That’s why this bill provides for the best military in the history of the world.”
The authorization act provides for a 3.4 percent pay raise for military members, improves care for wounded warriors and expands family leave rights.
Money also is budgeted to fund programs that address “real and growing threats,” Obama said. Such systems, he said, include the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter, the littoral combat ship, and more helicopters and reconnaissance support for deployed U.S. forces.
The authorization act contains $130 billion to fund overseas contingency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and it also provides $6.7 billion for thousands of all-terrain, mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles now arriving in Afghanistan.
“Secretary Gates and I both know that we can’t build the 21st century military we need unless we fundamentality reform the way our defense establishment does business,” Obama said. He cited a Government Accountability Office report that found cost overruns totaling $296 billion across 96 major defense projects over the last year. That amount of money, the president said, would have paid for troop salaries and military family benefits for more than a year.
Obama praised Gates and Mullen for their hard work in developing the 2010 defense budget. “I want to thank, publicly, Bob Gates for his service to our nation,” he said, and he added that Mullen has “provided wise counsel and stood with us in our efforts to initiate reform.”
The authorization act, Gates said, is a bipartisan effort that’s the result of countless hours and hard work on Capitol Hill.
“This bill is a necessary step toward reshaping the priorities of America’s defense establishment and changing the way the Pentagon does business,” Gates said at the signing ceremony. Work already is under way, he said, in development of the 2011 defense budget recommendation.
“And, I can ensure you it will focus on institutionalizing and accelerating many of the priorities and reforms embraced by this legislation,” Gates said.
The annual defense authorization bill prepared for the president’s approval or veto falls under the House and Senate armed services committees and is one of two bills required for the Defense Department to spend money. The other is the appropriations bill, crafted by the House and Senate appropriations committees, which provides funding to pay for the defense programs specified in the authorization bill.
Although the authorization bill signed today contains funding to develop and produce an alternate engine for the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter that Gates had opposed, the legislators were able to provide that funding without taking resources away from the F-35 program itself, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell told reporters later in the day.
Some people, Morrell said, believe that funding a second engine for the F-35 would be an unnecessary waste of taxpayers’ money.
“The authorizers have been able to do it in a way that does not seriously disrupt the overall F-35 program; we’ll see if the appropriators are able to come up with a way to do it that way,” Morrell said. “If they don’t -- if they seriously disrupt it -- then the secretary will recommend to the president that he veto the appropriations bill.”
The House and Senate appropriations committees are evaluating budget provisions contained within the Defense Authorization Act signed today.
Congress Finishes Work on Authorization Bill
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 14, 2009 – Congress has reached agreement on a $680.2 billion National Defense Authorization Bill for fiscal 2010.
The bill authorizes a 3.4 percent military pay increase and full funding for the Defense Health Program, and it caps F-22 Raptor production at 187 aircraft. For civilian workers, it ends the National Security Personnel System. It includes a base budget of $550.2 billion and $130 billion for overseas contingency operations.
Congress released the conference report Oct. 7. The full Senate and House must pass the conference report before the bill goes to President Barack Obama for his signature.
The bill includes $560 million to continue development and initial procurement of the alternate F136 engine for the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates recommended that the funding be struck, arguing development of the F135 engine – the main engine for the F-35 – is proceeding well and that any money spent of the F136 would be wasteful. House and Senate conferees still included the engine in the fiscal 2010 budget authorization. White House officials said it is up to the president whether to veto the legislation over the inclusion.
The bill authorizes payment of hostile fire pay, imminent danger pay, hazardous duty pay, assignment pay and skill incentive pay to be prorated to reflect actual qualifying service performed during the month.
The authorization bill is one of two bills needed for the Defense Department to spend money – the other being the appropriations bill, which is still in a Senate-House committee to resolve differences between the two chambers’ versions.
The authorization bill includes end strengths of 562,000 for the Army,; 202,100 for the Marine Corps, 331,700 for the Air Force, and 328,000 for the Navy. The legislation authorizes an increase in active-duty Army end-strength of 30,000 in fiscal 2011 and 2012.
The bill authorizes $6.7 billion for all-terrain mine-resistant, ambushed protected vehicles, known as M-ATVs. The first of these vehicles have arrived in Afghanistan, with thousands more to be delivered under the new budget.
The authorization bill conference report has full funding for the Navy’s Carrier Replacement Program, a Virginia-class submarine, a littoral combat ship, a DDG-1000 destroyer and the DDG-51 program. The bill includes $512 million for 18 more F/A-18E/F Super Hornet aircraft and approves the full request for 22 EA-18G aircraft – an advanced electronic warfare plane named the Growler.
The bill authorizes $7.5 billion to train and equip the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police, and provides oversight of the $700 million dedicated to building Pakistan’s military, police and frontier corps, which guards Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan. The authorization also allows for the transfer of defense property in Iraq to Iraqi security forces or Afghan security forces.
The bill kills the Multiple Kill Vehicle program and the second Airborne Laser platform. It applies savings from terminations in the Army’s Future Combat System to other promising technologies and ensures these will spin out to Army brigades quickly.
The conference report repeals the authority for the National Security Personnel System and requires that affected employees transition to previously existing personnel systems. The authorization will provide new personnel flexibilities that include hiring, firing, assigning personnel and appraisals. The authorization also allows the secretary to propose other personnel flexibilities.