Washington, DC – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) announced that H.R. 5136, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011, was reported favorably by the committee on a vote of 59 to 0.  A detailed summary of the bill as reported is available here .


H.R. 5136 authorizes $567 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 $159 billion to support overseas contingency operations during fiscal year 2011, and authorizes $34 billion for fiscal year 2010 supplemental appropriations for overseas contingency operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and to provide humanitarian and disaster assistance to assist victims following the earthquake in Haiti. 


Skelton released the statement below following the committee’s approval of the defense authorization bill:


“This defense bill aligns our military strategy with the 21 st century to sustain the 2 wars today and prepare for the threats of tomorrow – whatever and wherever they may be.  The bill reflects our continued commitment to defend America, support U.S. service members and their families, and keep Americans safe.   


“The bill makes counterterrorism a priority, improving the ability of our military to protect themselves at home and abroad and providing them with the additional tools they need to disrupt, dismantle, and eventually defeat al Qaeda and its extremist allies.  The bill includes funds to implement the initial recommendations of the Fort Hood Follow-on Review conducted by the Department of Defense in the wake of the shooting at Fort Hood.  The bill also addresses urgent force protection needs in Afghanistan, allowing DOD to cut through red tape by expanding rapid acquisition authority to deliver the resources needed to protect our troops. 


“The bill enhances the capacity of the U.S. military, particularly the U.S. Special Operations Forces, to act directly against terrorist organizations.  The bill also builds upon past efforts and creates new initiatives to discredit extremist ideology, increasing funds for research and taking additional steps to counter the use the Internet by extremists.


“Recognizing the important role that foreign nations play in helping us succeed in our fight against terrorists, the bill expands funding to build the partnership capacity of foreign military forces to participate in support of military and stability operations.  The bill authorizes Coalition Support Funds to reimburse nations providing support in connection with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and with the broader counterterrorism and counterinsurgency mission in Pakistan to fight against al Qaeda, the Pakistan Taliban, and other violent extremists. The bill also extends the authorization of the Pakistan Counterinsurgency Fund to ensure the success of efforts to build the counterinsurgency capabilities of Pakistan’s security forces. 


“Earlier this year, the President implemented a new counterinsurgency strategy in the way in Afghanistan to reverse the downward momentum from nearly a decade of no real plan under the previous administration.  To better reflect these changes in the U.S. strategy, the bill requires a new semi-annual report on trends and developments in Afghanistan and requires reporting on progress in stopping the momentum of the Taliban and their allies, building the capacity of the Afghan National Security Forces, and building the capacity of the Afghan government.


“The bill also continues close Congressional oversight of operations in Iraq, requiring reports focused on the redeployment of U.S. troops and their equipment over the next few months, and on the development of military capabilities that are necessary for the Government of Iraq to stand on its own. 


“The bill prepares America to deal with 21 st century threats, moving away from the Cold War mindset to adopt smarter policies on issues such as missile defense and nonproliferation.  The bill provides $10.3 billion, $361.6 million above the budget request, for ballistic missile defense and in support of the Administration’s Phased Adaptive Approach, which addresses immediate needs.  To prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction and to reduce the risk that these weapons could fall into terrorists’ hands, the bill fully funds the DOD Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Program and the DOE’s nonproliferation programs, which includes funding for the President’s effort to secure within four years all known vulnerable nuclear material around the world that can be used for weapons.    


“Our military personnel are the heart and soul of our national security, and this bill makes sure that our troops and their loved ones are receiving the first class benefits that they deserve.  To improve the quality of life for our forces and their families, the bill provides a 1.9 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 also increases the maximum amount of hostile fire and imminent danger pay for the first time since 2004, and increases family separation allowance for our service members whose deployment or temporary duty requires them to live away from their families.


“The bill includes provisions based on the recommendations of the Defense Task Force on Sexual Assault in the Military Services, reflecting the committee’s commitment to protecting service members by improving DOD’s sexual assault prevention efforts and response to victims.


“The bill also allows TRICARE beneficiaries to extend coverage to their dependent children until age 26, the same benefit that was afforded to individuals with private insurance policies under the new health care law.  Other initiatives to support military families include $345 million to modernize DOD schools, $65 million for Impact Aid education programs, and the creation of a new career development pilot program for military spouses.


 “The strain of two wars has taken a toll on military readiness.  To boost readiness and reduce the strain on our forces, the bill increases the size of the military by 7,000 Army troops and 500 Air Force personnel, and recognizes the Navy’s need to temporarily remain at a higher force size, which reflects the President’s budget request.  The bill significantly increases Operation and Maintenance (O&M) funding to support the daily operations, training, and administration of U.S. military forces at home and abroad


“The bill also provides critical funds to restore equipment stocks, including $9.9 billion for Army and Marine Corps equipment reset and depot maintenance, $4.5 billion for depot maintenance of active and reserve Air Force aircraft, and $109 million for Navy ship and aircraft depot maintenance.  To address National Guard and Reserve equipment shortfalls, the bill authorizes $7.2 billion to provide aircraft missiles, wheeled and tracked combat vehicles, ammunition, small arms, tactical radios, and other equipment.  


“To help prepare for future military requirements, the bill authorizes major weapons programs and platforms that will protect our national security in the years ahead.  Demonstrating our commitment to reverse the decline in the size of the Navy fleet, the bill authorizes 9 new ships, including 2 Virginia-class submarines, 2 DDG 51 destroyers, and 2 Littoral Combat Ships. The bill also authorizes F-35 competitive engine program, a necessary insurance policy on the trillion dollar Joint Strike Fighter program that will generate long term savings for taxpayers and also reduce the national security risk of depending on a single engine for ultimately 95 percent of our nation’s fighter fleet. 


“In keeping with the committee’s interest and longstanding defense policy oversight, the bill seeks to improve the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) process. The bill replaces the QDR Independent Review Panel appointed by the Secretary of Defense with a National Defense Panel consisting of ten members, with the Secretary of Defense appointing two panel co-chairs, and the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees each appointing two members.


“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 fulfill our Constitutional obligation to raise and support the U.S. Armed Forces.”