HOUSE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE
DUNCAN HUNTER – CHAIRMAN
For Immediate Release: July 7, 2006 Contact: Josh Holly (202) 225-2539
The National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2007:
Supporting Our Troops, Safeguarding our Future
By: U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee
As our nation enters the fifth year of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), our military continues to confront multiple threats around the world and Congress has supported them each step of the way. During this past week alone, the global community was alarmed by ’s provocative missile launches, ’s continued defiance of international nuclear agreements and the takeover of the capital of Mogadishu, by militant Taliban-like warlords.
In contrast, countries that have known only years of civil war and despotic rule have held landmark democratic elections. Formerly shrouded by the Taliban’s strict fundamentalism, today is rebuilding its society and infrastructure. has rejoined the international community and relinquished nuclear ambitions. has reclaimed its territory from . ’s newly formed unity government – the first representative government after decades of Hussein’s tyranny – is embarking on an ambitious platform of judicial, economic and political reform. Our men and women in uniform have been instrumental in ensuring the march of democracy from the sands of to the mountains of . Whether stationed at home or abroad, responding to humanitarian crises or terrorist threats, our Armed Forces are serving on the frontlines in the war on terror and continue to secure the freedoms we cherish here at home.
These successes are not without cost. This year’s annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) authorizes $512.5 billion to fund ongoing military operations and to ensure that American warfighters in and have the equipment necessary to win the war on terror. H.R. 5122, which passed the House on May 10, 2006, by an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 396-31, reflects the priorities of providing for our military personnel, equipping and safeguarding our troops, ensuring adequate funding for readiness and continuing acquisition reform initiatives.
Our men and women in uniform are ’s most valuable assets and keeping them safe remains the top priority. H.R. 5122 provides improved capabilities to counter improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and authorizes an increase of $109.7 million to fund counter IED measures. The legislation also includes an initiative to take back the roads in from terrorists and provides the best available IED-jamming devices for vehicle convoys and dismounted soldiers. H.R. 5122 also increases force protection funding by $364 million to include additional up-armored Humvees, Humvee IED protection kits and increases funding for state-of-the-art body armor by $930 million.
The NDAA also reflects the House Armed Services Committee’s (HASC) efforts to improve personnel benefits and quality of life initiatives for ’s military. The legislation includes a 2.7 percent pay increase for all members of the armed forces and blocks the Department of Defense’s (DOD) proposed fee increases to TRICARE Prime and TRICARE Standard beneficiaries. The measure also completes the transition to full coverage for Selected Reserve personnel, and provides for generic and formulary prescriptions through the TRICARE mail order pharmacy at no cost to military beneficiaries.
As part of our continued oversight of DOD programs, this year the HASC focused on ensuring that we don’t fund future systems on the back of the current force. Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom have placed severe demands on air and ground equipment, and their “reset” – the maintenance, replacement or repair of the worn and damaged equipment – has been funded through supplemental appropriations which may not receive future funding due to budgetary restraints.
Army Chief of Staff General Peter J. Schoomaker testified before our committee recently and highlighted the underfunding of our investment accounts and consequent equipment shortages. Drawing a historical parallel, he stated, “At the height of the Second World War, defense expenditures exceeded 38 percent of our Gross Domestic Product. Today, they amount to 3.8 percent and are projected to shrink…. In this extraordinarily dangerous time for the nation, we can – and must – reverse this trend.”
Current readiness is also impacted by the escalating costs of military weapons platforms. For example, the committee has raised concerns about the Army’s funding of the Future Combat System (FCS) and modularity while simultaneously trying to address the reset needs outlined above. Therefore, H.R. 5122 cuts the FCS program by $325 million to stem the spiraling costs of the program and builds on the successes of the Nunn-McCurdy enhancements enacted last year by directing the DOD to develop and implement significant reforms.
The Senate has passed its version of the NDAA, and conferees are now meeting to iron out differences between the two measures. I am encouraged by recent statements from my counterpart in the Senate, Chairman Warner, who announced his intent to move the legislation swiftly to ensure that our warfighters receive without delay the funding, equipment and support necessary to complete their operations. The men and women who are on the frontlines securing our freedoms deserve no less.