On May 28th, the House passed the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2011 (HR 5136)--another step by President Obama and the 111th Congress to take America in a New Direction by ensuring that our military is fully prepared for threats and challenges worldwide and that our troops get the benefits they deserve and have earned. This defense bill aligns our military strategy with the 21st century: focusing on the threats of today and preparing for the threats of tomorrow - wherever they may be.
America has the finest military in the world. Unfortunately, the Bush Administration's policies in Iraq depleted our great military and put a tremendous strain on our troops. This bill:
Strengthens our counterterrorism efforts - providing our military with the additional tools they need to disrupt, dismantle, and eventually defeat al Qaeda and its extremist allies. For example, it enhances the capacity of the U.S. military, particularly the U.S. Special Operations Forces, to act directly against terrorist organizations. It also expands funding to build the partnership capacity of foreign military forces to participate in counterterrorism.
Strengthens protection for our troops - including better protecting our troops at home by providing the funds to implement the initial recommendations of the Fort Hood Follow-On Review to fix vulnerabilities and abroad by providing a rapid acquisition account that allows our commanders on the ground to get equipment they need immediately.
Strengthens support for our troops and their families, by such steps as giving the military a pay raise of 1.9% (0.5% higher than the budget request), extending TRICARE coverage to cover dependent children up to age 26, increasing the maximum amount of hostile fire and imminent danger pay for the first time since 2004, and increasing the family separation allowance for our troops whose deployment requires them to live away from their families.
Strengthens our military readiness, including by authorizing $9.9 billion to fund the Army's and Marine Corps' equipment reset requirements, as well as authorizing $7.2 billion to provide the National Guard and Reserve critically needed equipment.
Strengthens nuclear nonproliferation by fully funding the budget request of $522.5 million for the DOD Cooperative Threat Reduction Program and fully funding the request of $2.7 billion for DOE nonproliferation programs.
Strengthens missile defense, supporting the President's new Phased, Adaptive Approach, which places the highest priority on our most immediate threats like North Korea.
Strengthening Counterterrorism Efforts
- Enhances the capacity of the U.S. military, particularly the U.S. Special Operations Forces, to act directly against terrorist organizations.
- Recognizing the important role that foreign nations play in helping us succeed in our fight against terrorists, expands funding to build the partnership capacity of foreign military forces to participate in support of military and stability operations.
- Authorizes $1.6 billion for Coalition Support Fund (CSF) reimbursements to nations providing logistical, military and other support in connection with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
- Expands the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) reimbursements to the broader counterterrorism and counterinsurgency mission in Pakistan, to assist in the fight against al Qaeda, the Pakistan Taliban, and other violent extremists.
- Extends DOD's Pakistan Counterinsurgency Fund through FY 2011 to ensure the success of efforts to build the counterinsurgency capabilities of Pakistan's security forces.
- Provides support for implementing the new counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan, targeted at violent extremists and bringing new stability to the country.
- 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.
- Builds upon past efforts and creates new initiatives to understand and prevent the recruitment methods of terrorist groups, including increasing funds for research and taking additional steps to counter the use of the Internet by extremists.
Strengthening Protection for Our Troops
- To better protect our troops at home, provides funds to implement the initial recommendations of the Fort Hood Follow-On Review to fix vulnerabilities in our force protection identified in the wake of the tragic shooting at Fort Hood.
- To better protect our troops abroad, provides a rapid acquisition account that would allow our commanders on the ground to cut through the red tape and get equipment they need immediately to protect our warfighters.
- Authorizes $3.4 billion to fully fund Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles.
- Authorizes $3.5 billion for the work of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDD), which develops better technologies for defeating IEDs.
- Authorizes $200 million to address urgent force protection needs in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Strengthening Support for Our Troops and Their Families
- Provides a 1.9 percent pay raise for our troops, 0.5 percent higher than the President's budget request.
- Extends TRICARE coverage to cover dependent children up to age 26.
- Increases the maximum amount of hostile fire and imminent danger pay for the first time since 2004.
- Increases family separation allowance for our service members whose deployment or temporary duty requires them to live away from their families.
- Expands college loan repayment benefits.
- Includes the most comprehensive legislative package ever to address sexual assault in the military - including 28 provisions to implement into law many of the recommendations of the Defense Task Force on Sexual Assault.
- Establishes a pilot program to offer an alternative career path to military officers, providing a broader range of experiences over a longer career.
- Establishes a pilot program to help military spouses take advantage of their personal skill sets to identify and obtain desirable and portable careers.
- Authorizes an additional special one-time payment to seriously wounded service members to pay for the relocation costs of their caregivers.
Strengthening Our Military Readiness
- To boost readiness and reduce the strain on our forces, 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.
- 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.
- Provides critical funds to restore equipment stocks, including $9.9 billion for Army and Marine Corps equipment reset and depot maintenance.
- To address National Guard and Reserve equipment shortfalls, authorizes $7.2 billion, $700 million above the budget request, to provide aircraft missiles, wheeled and tracked combat vehicles, ammunition, small arms, tactical radios, and other equipment.
Strengthening Nuclear Nonproliferation
- To prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction, fully funds the request of $522.5 million for the DOD Cooperative Threat Reduction Program and the request of $2.7 billion for the DOE's nonproliferation programs, which includes funding the President's effort to secure within four years all known vulnerable nuclear material around the world that can be used for weapons.
Strengthening Missile Defense
- Authorizes $10.3 billion, $361.6 million above the budget request, for ballistic missile defense.
- Provides support to the President's new Phased, Adaptive Approach to missile defense, which is both mobile and flexible, and which places the highest priority on our most immediate threats from nations such as Iran and North Korea, while still providing us with the flexibility to be prepared for the threats of tomorrow.