QUALITY OF LIFE IS READINESS
Those who serve are the heart and soul of America's all-volunteer military. In order to attract and retain the best and brightest to military service, the nation must provide them with a standard of living that is commensurate with the sacrifices that they are asked to make for their country. Unfortunately, the results of a comprehensive, seven-month review of military readiness found the decline in military quality of life is approaching a state of crisis.
The report by House National Security Committee Chairman Floyd Spence, Military Readiness 1997: Rhetoric and Reality, is the result of interviews by committee staff with hundreds of officers, enlisted personnel, and family members at more than two dozen military installations and over 50 units in all the services in the U.S. and Europe. Across the board, the message was the same: the combination of poor pay and benefits, reduced healthcare, inadequate housing, longer family separations, and dramatically increased workload due to increased operations and personnel shortages have created an atmosphere that is driving quality personnel out of military service.
In response to many of these readiness and quality of life concerns, the committee took actions across many titles of the bill that will send a clear message to the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines in the field that people do come first and that readiness is a high priority.
Pay and Allowances. Following an encouraging fiscal year 1997 budget request, which for the first time in four years included a pay raise that kept pace with inflation, the committee is disappointed that the President's budget request for fiscal year 1998 reverted to the "by law" formula - one-half of one percent below the Employment Cost Index (ECI). This formula ensures that the gap between military and civilian pay will continue to grow from 13.5 percent in fiscal year 1998 to over 15 percent in 2001. The committee is also concerned that servicemembers routinely experience a loss of income when they deploy or participate in training exercises. To address these issues, the committee recommends a number of provisions designed to close the pay gap, reduce out-of-pocket expenses, protect income levels of servicemembers participating in exercises, and retain quality people:
The committee is also concerned that the current housing allowance system, which consists of Basic Allowance for Quarters (BAQ), and Variable Housing Allowance (VHA), and is based on servicemember expenditures, is inefficient and inequitable. Accordingly, the committee recommends that BAQ and VHA be consolidated into a non-taxable allowance that is based on the cost of adequate housing for civilians with comparable income levels residing in the same area. Under this system, the annual growth in housing allowance will be indexed to increases in the national average monthly cost of housing. Additionally, the committee recommends that the authorities for overseas housing allowances and family separation housing allowances be incorporated into a single, easy to administer authority. Finally, a new rate protection provision in overseas allowances will protect servicemembers from reductions that are not attributable to fluctuations in foreign currency rates so long as the servicemember's housing costs have not been reduced;
Military Construction. The President's fiscal year 1998 budget request seriously underfunds military construction accounts. In fact, the President's $8.4 billion request for military construction and military family housing programs is 16 percent less than current spending levels. The committee is particularly concerned by critical deficiencies in military infrastructure, especially in housing and in other facilities that support quality of life for military personnel. According to the Defense Science Board, approximately two-thirds of DOD's housing is classified as inadequate, and, according to a recent survey, 92 percent of family housing units in Europe are considered inadequate by command officials. In light of these facts, the committee is committed to improving military infrastructure with a special emphasis on quality of life improvements.
Therefore, the committee recommends $9.1 billion ($750 million more than the President's request) for military construction. Over 60 percent ($472 million) of the increase is dedicated to quality of life enhancements. Specific military construction initiatives include:
Healthcare. For the second year in a row, the President's budget significantly underfunded the Defense Health Plan (DHP), this time by between $424 million and $471 million, according to the General Accounting Office (GAO). The Administration's recent admission that it underfunded the DHP is another indication that it lacks commitment to one of the top quality of life programs for servicemembers and their families. In an effort to correct the Administration's failure to support the health program, the committee restores $274 million to the program. In addition, the committee recommends the following provisions to ensure the availability of quality medical care for military beneficiaries:
Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR)MWR programs make a tangible difference in the quality of life for American servicemembers. The military resale system, in particular, is a vital part of maintaining servicemembers' quality of life, as well as force readiness. Commissaries, exchanges, and the services' MWR programs offer military families affordable places to shop, exercise, relax, and spend their off-duty hours. The committee bill reflects two overriding goals: first, protecting these critical benefits for our military personnel and their families, and second, ensuring that these benefits are delivered in as cost effective and efficient a manner as possible.
Protecting Military Leave for Federally-Employed Civilian Reservists. The committee rejects the President's proposal to prohibit federally-employed civilian reservists from taking penalty-free leave to serve their annual two-week military training period. The committee believes that such an action would penalize members of the federal workforce who go above and beyond the call of duty by serving this nation as both civilians and as members of our volunteer force. This Presidential initiative would also send a dubious message to the employers of America that reservists do not deserve any special consideration. In addition to rejecting the President's policy request, the committee recommends restoring $85 million to the reserve component military personnel accounts ($85 million is the amount that the President sought to "save" when he presumed Congress would agree with his policy change). To help address this shortfall, the committee reduced the President's request in the following areas:
Termination of the Ready Reserve Mobilization Program. During the Persian Gulf War, approximately one-half of the reservists called to duty reported a loss of income while they served. To protect reservists against such losses in the future, the Secretary of Defense's proposal for a voluntary mobilization income insurance was enacted into law in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1996 (Public Law 104-106). Unfortunately, low participation combined with the untimely call-up of reservists for operations in Bosnia (which coincided with an enrollment period) bankrupted the program and left an unfunded liability of $72 million. Recently, the DOD Inspector General and GAO reported that the program is actuarially unsound. As the committee does not believe it is practical to modify the current program to correct its structural faults, it recommends terminating the ready reserve mobilization income insurance program and fulfilling all benefit payments that are due. By terminating the program, the committee recognizes that many reservists will experience financial hardships when they are called to active duty, and it remains receptive to new legislative proposals from the Secretary of Defense.
Impact Aid. In an all-volunteer military that is 65 percent married, the committee believes that providing for quality education for all children of
military families is a priority. The Department of Education Impact Aid program provides supplementary funds to school districts nationwide to
support the education of nearly 550,000 military children. While the committee believes that assistance to local educational agencies is more
properly funded through the Department of Education, it also recognizes that Impact Aid funding has been eroded by both inflation and
spending reductions in recent years. Therefore, the committee recommends $35 million (the President did not request any funding) to continue
DOD's contribution to educational assistance to local educational agencies.
Two years ago, indications of a long-term systemic readiness problem became evident. Subsequent investigations (culminating in the aforementioned report: Military Readiness 1997: Rhetoric and Reality) indicated that declining defense budgets, a smaller force structure, fewer personnel and aging equipment, all in an environment of a higher pace of operations, is stretching U.S. forces to the breaking point.
As the Administration completed its work on the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), Chairman Spence, in his report, stressed the importance of heeding the warnings of a readiness problem and that "deeper cuts in the services' endstrength and force structure in the absence of a significant scaling back of operational requirements will ensure a return to a hollow military." Nevertheless, the QDR has recommended additional end-strength cuts while affirming an expansive military strategy.
The competition between limited resources and expanding missions has already squeezed the defense budget to the point at which military commanders are forced to make unenviable tradeoffs between maintaining unit readiness, funding modernization shortfalls, or addressing quality of life initiatives. This crisis-management approach to readiness is short-sighted and risks the viability of our high quality, all-volunteer force.
In a number of the committee's readiness hearings this year, witnesses testified that while the military may be ready to fight today, it may not be ready tomorrow. In addressing a range of readiness concerns identified by military personnel out in the field, the committee took several actions to ensure that U.S. forces are ready for the 21st Century:
Operations and Maintenance (O&M) Funding. The President's request for O&M lends the impression of a funding increase of $3.5 billion over current spending levels, when, in fact, much of the so-called "increase" is additional funding for Bosnia and other peacekeeping and humanitarian operations. Since having to pay the higher costs of such operations does little to actually increase readiness, the committee recommends the following funding levels for key readiness accounts:
Committee Oversight of Readiness Accounts. The committee has long-standing concerns over the extent to which funds appropriated for training, maintenance, and other key readiness accounts are diverted to pay for deficiencies elsewhere in O&M accounts. Nowhere has this trend been more evident than in the transferring of funds to pay for the growing costs of the Bosnia operations over the past several years. To enhance congressional oversight of DOD readiness accounts, the committee recommends provisions that would require the Secretary of Defense to:
Active Duty Endstrengths. The committee believes that the President's military personnel budget request is inadequate to provide the forces needed to carry out the current national military strategy, support the current operations tempo, and provide a decent quality of life. Furthermore, the committee does not agree with the preliminary conclusion of the QDR that an even more expansive military strategy can be executed with tens of thousands less people. To the extent that the QDR does recognize the burdens of peacekeeping and humanitarian operations, the QDR endstrength recommendations are disconcerting. The active duty endstrength floors established by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1996 (Public Law 104-106)were the minimum necessary to carry out the essential component of the current and future national military strategy: winning two nearly simultaneous major regional contingencies - now known as major theater wars (MTWs). The committee believes that there should not be significant manpower reductions until the two-MTW requirement changes. Further exacerbating endstrength pressures is the fact that neither manpower requirements, nor the intensity, duration, frequency, and number of peacekeeping and humanitarian missions were factors in establishing the endstrengths in the BUR, nor do they appear to have been a factor in determining endstrength requirements in the QDR. Therefore, the committee maintains the endstrength floors as established in 1996 and mandates active duty endstrength levels as follows:
Selected Reserve Endstrengths. The following table represents the endstrength recommendations for the Selective Reserve:
Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) Activation Authority. During times other than war or national emergency, the President may involuntarily recall units of the Selective Reserve to active duty for up to 270 days (for a maximum of 200,000 reservists). Under current law, this authority cannot be used to recall members of the IRR. During the Gulf War, this restriction compelled the mobilization of elements of late-deploying Selective Reserve units in order to fill personnel shortfalls in early deploying units, and caused significant readiness problems for the late deploying units. Accordingly, the committee recommends the establishment of a new category of IRR where individuals may be recalled to fill any unforeseen gap in recalled units. This category would consist of personnel with specialized military skills, who had volunteered prior to leaving active duty to become part of this new IRR category. The President would have the authority to recall up to 30,000 members of this new IRR category.
Recruiting Challenges. One of DOD's most difficult challenges continues to be recruiting sufficient numbers of high-caliber men and women to serve in the military, and then retaining them through Basic Training. The committee is concerned by the Army's inability to meet its goals in the last recruiting cycle, as well as its decision to lower its goals for percentage of recruits with high-school degrees. Furthermore, the committee believes that the other services will soon face similar challenges and will be forced to lower their recruiting quality standards to maintain their force levels in the future. In an effort to address these problems, the committee makes the following recommendations:
Reforming Army Drill Sergeant Selection and Training. The committee believes that drill sergeants perform one of the most crucial, and difficult, missions in the Army. As such, the standards for entrance into and graduation from drill sergeant training should be rigorous. Therefore, the committee recommends a provision that would require the Secretary of the Army to institute a number of reforms to Army drill sergeant selection and training, including: requiring psychological screening of all drill sergeant candidates, providing drill sergeant trainees the opportunity to work with actual recruits in initial entry training, and revising the drill sergeant trainee evaluation system to include "whole person" evaluations. The provision would require the Army Secretary to report to Congress by March 31, 1998, on any reforms initiated.
Flying Hour Shortfalls. The committee is alarmed by recent reports of significant shortfalls in the Navy and Air Force flying hour programs. For fiscal year 1997, the Navy is reporting a shortfall of $107 million and the Air Force is reporting a shortfall of $171 million. The Secretary of Defense also recently informed the committee that the fiscal year 1998 budget request underfunds the Navy's flying hour program by $350 million and the Air Force program by $200 million. This trend raises serious questions about the validity of the services' budgeting and planning system, which appears to be consciously or unconsciously underestimating the costs of flying operations. Therefore, the committee directs the Navy and Air Force Secretaries to review their current and future years active and reserve component flying hour programs and to report to Congress on plans to correct these budgetary errors.
National Guard and Reserve Construction. The committee authorizes $327 million ($154 million more than the President's request) for construction requirements to enhance the training and readiness of the National Guard and reserves.
Training Ammunition. During the committee's review of military readiness, numerous interviews with military personnel revealed that each of the services are experiencing shortfalls in their stocks of training ammunition. In some instances, these shortfalls have forced the services to use war reserve ammunition for training purposes. Accordingly, the committee recommends $57.6 million more than the President's request for procurement of sufficient training ammunition to ensure that military personnel are able to maintain an adequate level of readiness and, in some cases, the minimum level of training.
Operation of the National Training Center (NTC). The NTC is the only U.S.-based training facility at which Army maneuver units can train against a dedicated force in an environment that closely resembles high-intensity combat. As such, the committee is very concerned by the Army's proposal to change the manner in which it funds its NTC rotations. Currently, the Army funds the operation of the pre-positioned fleet of equipment at the NTC out of a central account. Starting in fiscal year 1998, units training at the NTC would have to pay for the use of pre-positioned equipment out of funds provided for home station training. The committee believes that this policy change would diminish home station training, adversely affecting the ability of units to reach desired proficiency levels, and, ultimately, degrading the NTC training experience. Accordingly, the committee rejects the Army's policy change and recommends an increase of $60.2 million in Army O&M funding in order to pay for the costs associated with the operation of the NTC pre-positioned equipment.
Military Occupational Specialties (MOS) Consolidations. The committee is concerned that DOD's practice of eliminating and consolidating MOSs in order to downsize and save money is causing skill shortages and imbalances, particularly in maintenance fields. The Spence report on military readiness found that MOS consolidations have damaged the ability of many units to maintain their equipment to standard. The committee directs the Secretary of Defense to report to Congress by March 1, 1998, on the extent to which eliminations and consolidations of MOSs have occurred, their impact on readiness, and any recommendations or actions planned to address the committee's concerns.
Expanding the Scope of Quarterly Readiness Reports. The committee continues to be concerned by the disparity between official readiness reports and the reality of readiness as evident out in the field. Personnel from all services and their spouses continue to express significant concerns over many issues affecting readiness, including an increased pace of operations, decreased quality and quantity of combat training opportunities, impact of peacekeeping operations, effects of undermanning, eroding quality of life, and increasing use of training funds for other purposes. None of these factors are measured by the current Status of Resources and Training System (SORTS) - the foundation for today's senior level readiness assessments.
More than three years ago, at the request of the committee, GAO conducted a review of the adequacy of SORTS and provided a list of 29 specific readiness categories that commanders identified as critical but that were not included in SORTS. The committee is disappointed that DOD has not moved more rapidly to incorporate these recommendations into official readiness reports. Therefore, in order to encourage more comprehensive and accurate accounting of the current state of readiness, the committee directs DOD to incorporate the following into its quarterly readiness reports:
The provision also would require DOD to report on all units at the battalion or squadron equivalent level that reported an overall readiness rating of C-3 or lower (a degraded readiness posture) during the reporting period.
Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) Exercise Program. The committee is concerned that the number of exercises under the CJCS Exercise Program is exceeding the ability of the services and units to meet those requirements in an already high paced operational tempo environment. Exacerbating the committee's concerns are reports that many of the exercises have minimal joint training value. A June 1995 GAO report revealed that 75 percent of the CJCS exercises conducted in 1995 were conducted for reasons other than training, such as a show of military presence in a region or to foster relationships with other nations. Accordingly, the committee recommends $359 million for the CJCS exercise program ($50 million less than the President's request) and directs the Secretary of Defense to report to Congress by February 16, 1998, on both past and planned joint training exercises sponsored by the CJCS Exercise Program and the Partnership for Peace program. The report must include the type, description, duration, objectives, percentage of service-unique training accomplished, and an assessment of the training value of each exercise. This information on the CJCS exercise program will provide Congress with valuable information to assess the Exercise Program's overall impact on operational tempo, training and readiness.
Personal Equipment/Initial Issue.The committee recognizes the importance of continuing to provide individual Marines with modernized
equipment. As such, the committee supports the Marine Corps' efforts to field the Marine Load System and the much-needed upgraded body
armor. Both the load system and the body armor are part of an integrated system that will provide Marines with personal equipment that will
enhance both their survivability and their ability to sustain themselves during combat operations. The load system includes a vest and a pack
that can be individually tailored to the requirements of the specific mission. The body armor is part of this integrated system, and, like the load
system, can also be modified depending upon mission demands. The committee recommends $20 million (the President did not request initial
issue funds) to continue efforts to provide individual Marines with the best modernized individual equipment available.
BUILDING TOMORROW'S MILITARY
There has been a vigorous debate over the past several years concerning the adequacy of the Administration's defense modernization budgets. Administration officials argued that a "holiday" in weapons procurement was justified due to the modernization efforts of the 1980s and because older weapons did not need as rapid replacement due to the drawdown in the size of the force. A 65-70 percent reduction in procurement spending since 1985 has jeopardized our military's technological edge that was so clearly demonstrated in the Persian Gulf War. Based upon the long lists of unfunded modernization requirements submitted to the committee by the service chiefs, this belief is not unfounded.
A primary focus of the Administration's recently released QDR is the nation's ability to "prepare now to meet the challenges of an uncertain future." Though the QDR acknowledges that the ability to prepare for the future requires a focused effort on modernization, the Administration's budget request for modernization fails to fund such an effort. This year's $42.6 billion request for procurement represents a $1.5 billion reduction from enacted fiscal year 1997 levels and is $2.9 billion below the spending level forecast just last year for fiscal year 1998. This is the fourth consecutive year that the Administration has reduced the fiscal year 1998 procurement figure - by a cumulative total of $14.5 billion - relative to its earlier projections.
Notwithstanding the Administration's failure to deal proactively with the deepening modernization problems, the committee - for the
third consecutive year - has added funds to modernization accounts ($3.7 billion to procurement for a total of $46.3 billion, and $1.3
billion to R&D for a total of $37.3 billion). Once again, the committee looked to the service chiefs for advice on programs identified
as unfunded requirements.
Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD)
Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO) Funding. The committee once again expressed its strong support for a BMD program aimed at fielding effective theater and national missile defenses to counter existing and emerging ballistic missile threats. Therefore, committee recommends $3.8 billion for BMDO, approximately $1.2 billion more than the President's request. This recommendation includes an increase of $808.5 million and a transfer of $384.6 million from the service procurement accounts to the BMDO procurement account. This transfer would re-establish BMDO as the executive agent for BMD procurement.
The committee also recommends that BMD procurement funding, which the Administration had shifted to the service procurement accounts, be moved back to BMDO. The committee believes that establishing BMDO as the executive agent for BMD procurement will protect those programs from budget pressures resulting from underfunded service modernization.
National Missile Defense (NMD). Continued global proliferation of ballistic missile and weapons of mass destruction technology, combined with growing concerns about the security of ballistic missiles in the former Soviet Union, make the early deployment of an NMD system a high priority. The Administration recently admitted that it had underfunded NMD by $2.3 billion over the next five years and $474 million in fiscal year 1998 alone. This admission confirmed the committee's long-standing suspicion that the Administration had been underfunding its own "three-plus-three" NMD program (three years to develop and three years to decide whether or not to deploy) and vindicates the committee's decision to add NMD funding to the President's request in each of the past two years. Therefore, the committee recommends $978.1 million for NMD, $474 million more than the President's request.
Theater Missile Defense (TMD). The committee continues to support TMD. Although the Administration asserts that this year's budget request would accelerate TMD systems, the actual funding requested for TMD programs was reduced by nearly $400 million from current spending levels. In fact, cuts were proposed in every TMD system under development. Accordingly, the committee recommends TMD funding in the following amounts:
Cooperative Programs. The committee also supports cooperative international BMD programs and recommends $123.1 million for these efforts. This includes $48.7 million ($10 million more than the President's request) for the U.S./Israel Arrow project, $38.2 million for the Tactical High Energy Laser program (THEL; $21.7 million more than the President's request), and $30 million for Russian-Americancooperative BMD projects (for which no funding was requested).
AV-8B Harrier. The Harrier will continue to be the Marine Corps' primary ground-support aircraft until it is replaced by the Joint Strike Fighter, and is one of the highest unfunded priorities of the Marine Corps. Therefore, the committee recommends $310.7 million ($33 million and one aircraft more than the President's request) to procure 12 remanufactured Harriers. In addition, the recommends $62 million (the President did not request any funds) to procure 11 improved engines for the TAV-8B Harrier training aircraft, one of the Marine Corps' highest unfunded priorities.
E-2C Hawkkeye. The committee recommends $300.5 million ($68 million and one aircraft more than the President's request) for four E-2Cs.
V-22 Osprey. The committee authorizes $661.3 million ($189.3 million and two aircraft more than the President's request) for seven V-22 aircraft. The Osprey will replace the Marine Corps' aging fleet of CH-46 helicoptersas its primary means of transporting Marines and their equipment into combat by air.
T-45B Goshawk. The committee recommends $344 million for 18 T-45 aircraft ($100 million and six aircraft more than the President's request), the Navy's next generation jet pilot trainer.
Tactical Aircraft (TACAIR). Since the summer of 1996, the Subcommittees on Military Procurement and Research & Development have held several hearings to review TACAIR modernization. According to DOD, TACAIR of the future will consist of three major programs: the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, which is now in low-rate initial production; the F-22 Raptor, whose prototype was unveiled in April, 1997; and the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), which is still in the design stage. Although the committee strongly supports modernization of the rapidly aging U.S. aviation fleet, the long-term costs associated with DOD's modernization plan are staggering. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the total program cost of the three TACAIR programs in the President's budget will be well over $350 billion, with annual production costs of $14 billion to $18 billion per year (before accounting for inflation), which would constitute 33 to 46 percent of today's total defense procurement budget. While the QDR recommended some reductions in the total number of aircraft that will be procured in the outyears, the committee believes that simply changing the procurement profiles a decade from now is not enough. Therefore, in an effort to more aggressively address the TACAIR problem, the committee recommends the following actions for the F/A-18E/F, the F-22 and the JSF:
B-2 Spirit. The committee believes that the current fleet of 21 B-2 bombers is insufficient to meet the likely contingencies and crises of the next 30 to 40 years. Therefore, the committee authorizes $505.3 million ($331.2 million more than the President's request) to reestablish elements of the B-2 production line that have been shut down, for advance procurement (with the intention of producing a total of nine additional B-2s in future years), and for various support, training, and management costs.
OH-58D Armed Kiowa Warrior. The committee recommends $175 million for 21 OH-58D Armed Kiowa Warriors (the President did not request any funds). Although the Army has enough Kiowa Warriors to meet most of its active duty requirements, there are still not enough helicopters for active component target acquisition and reconnaissance platoons, Force XXI needs, and Army National Guard units. These additional helicopters will maintain a viable fleet until the RAH-66 Comanche is fielded.
RAH-66 Comanche. The Comanche began development in 1982 to fulfill the Army's requirement for an armed reconnaissance helicopter. Recent warfighting experiments at the National Training Center validate the need for such a helicopter. The committee authorizes $322 million ($40 million more than the President's request) to accelerate Comanche development and production.
UH-60 Blackhawk. The committee recommends $304.2 million ($96 million and 12 helicopters more than the President's request) for a total of 30 UH-60 Blackhawks. These 12 additional aircraft are to be procured for the Army National Guard, of which three are to be configured as UH-60Q medical evacuation aircraft.
CH-47 Improved Cargo Helicopter. The committee recommends $22.6 million ($20 million more than the President's request) to upgrade
existing CH-47 Chinook improved cargo helicopters, extending the system's life-span by 20 years and reducing operating costs by more than
Precision-Guided Munitions (PGMs). As Desert Storm demonstrated, PGMs are critically important munitions that reduce the risk to our forces and increase the effectiveness of every weapons platform that carries them. Accordingly, the committee recommends the following:
CVN-77 and CV(X). The CVN-77 will serve as the transition ship from the Nimitz-class of nuclear aircraft carriers to the next-generation CV(X) aircraft carrier. Therefore, it is critical that the Navy use development of the CVN-77 to its maximum potential. In this bill, the committee has placed a priority on increasing research and development for the CVN-77 and reducing that for the CV(X). The committee recommends $34.9 million ($17 million more than the President's request) to evaluate advanced technologies for inclusion in the CVN-77 aircraft carrier while effectively deferring any R&D increase for CV(X) by recommending $1.8 million ($88.4 million less than the President's request).
LPD-18. The committee recommends $185 million (the President did not request funds for the program) for advance procurement of the LPD-18, the second in the new class of amphibious ships. The Chief of Naval Operations listed the LPD-18 among his top unfunded procurement priorities for fiscal year 1998.
Arsenal Ship and SC-21. Although the Navy has attempted to integrate the Arsenal Ship maritime firepower demonstrator into the program for SC-21 - the next generation surface combatant - the committee believes that significant disconnects between the objectives and schedules of the two programs require a restructuring of the Arsenal Ship program. Therefore, the committee recommends no funding for the Arsenal Ship demonstrator in fiscal year 1998 (the President requested $150.2 million) and directs the Navy to consider a prototyping strategy for the development of SC-21.
Naval Surface Fire Support. The committee strongly supports a naval surface fire support program that focuses on near term and future improvements in naval fire support systems. The committee recommends $77.9 million ($40.1 million more than the President's request) for the program. The increase includes:
New Attack Submarine (NAS).The President's request included a provision to allow the nation's two submarine-building shipyards to team together to build the first four NASs. The committee does not support this "teaming" proposal, favoring instead the competitive production plan approved by Congress in fiscal year 1996 in which each shipyard would each produce two of these for submarines. The committee denies this teaming proposal and also denies the request for multiyear procurement of the submarines. The committee is also concerned by the Navy's continued lack of commitment to incorporate new technologies in the first four NASs, and it included a provision that would withhold 50 percent of Seawolf funds appropriated for fiscal year 1998 until the Secretary of the Navy commits to funding at least half of these insertion opportunities.
Finally, the committee added $103 million to pursue construction of a large scale demonstrator that is not limited by form (hull and
appendages) or by a single hull design in order to further evaluate hydrodynamic shaping and advanced control surfaces.
Ground Weapons and Vehicles
High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV). The committee recommends $104.9 million ($38.7 million more than the President's request) to procure 1,134 HMMWVs, including 610 "Up-Armored" variants that provide increased blast protection for vehicle occupants. The "Up-Armored" variant's additional protection was responsible for saving the lives of soldiers whose vehicles were struck by mine blasts in Bosnia.
Heavy Equipment Transporter System (HETS). HETS is the Army's only truck capable of transporting the 70-ton M1A2 Abrams tank and other heavy equipment. The committee recommends $45 million (the President did not request any funds) for 96 HETS for the Army National Guard.
Marine Corps Assault Vehicles. The committee recommends $70.1 million ($10 million more than the President's request) for continued development of the advanced amphibious assault vehicle (AAAV). The AAAV is a high water speed, amphibious, armored personnel carrier that will replace the Marine Corps' aging fleet of amphibious assault vehicles.
Light Strike Vehicle.The committee recommends $5 million (the President did not request any funds) for development of a Light Strike Vehicle that may be transported on the CV-22 Osprey. This vehicle will provide mobility and firepower for Marine and Special Operations troops deployed to areas not accessible to other transports that can carry larger and heavier combat vehicles.
National Guard and Reserve Equipment. The committee recommends $700.4 million (the President did not request any funds) for National Guard and Reserve Component modernization programs.
The committee also recommends the following for National Guard modernization programs funded elsewhere in the bill:
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
UAVs have the unique ability to provide "first-hand" reconnaissance of opposition forces without placing American lives at risk, and the value of their ability to dwell for long periods over the battlefield has been proven. Even as they will become a key component of tomorrow's military force, the committee has been disappointed by the failures and spiraling costs of several of the UAV programs. Thus, the committee recommends the following:
The committee encourages the military services to pursue innovative concepts and technologies that will ensure American superiority in an uncertain world. It endorses a variety of initiatives to accelerate the pace of technology, doctrine, and organizational development in an effort to better position the U.S. armed forces to face new challenges. These new technologies and concepts are not substitutes for traditional military doctrines and tactics, but instead, are an opportunity to magnify the effectiveness and adaptability of U.S. military forces in the next century.
Chemical-Biological Defense and Counter-Terrorism Response. The committee supports the actions taken by DOD in coordination with other federal agencies to enhance domestic preparedness and the capability to respond to a terrorist attack, and the actions taken to improve the readiness of U.S. forces to fight under the threat of use of chemical or biologicalweapons. The President's request included $321 million for chemical-biological defense research and development and $49.5 million to improve domestic emergency response preparedness. The committee recommends increasing the President's request by $21.5 million to develop further improvements in the capabilities and training of local emergency first responders and U.S. armed forces.
Countermine Technology Development. The committee endorses the increased emphasis that DOD has placed on the countermine
program. The committee recommends $186 million for development of technology to support clearing unexploded ordinance, including an
additional $11 million to ensure a robust program for the development and evaluation of advanced countermine technologies.
There is universal agreement that the Pentagon remains inefficient in its organization and its operations, yet there is not yet consensus on how best to address the problem. Fiscal realities demand comprehensive, real, and successful Pentagon reform efforts. In fact, the Administration's newly released QDR is already counting on projected savings from certain Pentagon reforms in order to generate savings to apply towards other budget shortfalls. The committee places a high premium on a defense establishment that is more cost efficient and able to maintain necessary combat capability at lower cost.
The 104th Congress initiated a series of reforms intended to increase overall efficiency within DOD while preserving the military's
warfighting effectiveness. Chairman Spence and Ranking Member Ronald V. Dellums (by request) recently introduced legislation to
begin forcing sweeping reforms that will change the way DOD is organized and conducts business. The bill, H.R. 1778, The Defense
Reform Act of 1997, also reported by the full committee yesterday, undertakes significant organizational, structural, defense business
practice, acquisition, and policy reforms. In addition, H.R. 1119, the fiscal year 1998 Defense Authorization Act contains several
important reform provisions.
Workforce, Staff, and Organizational Reforms
The Department of Defense is one of the world's largest bureaucracies - one that costs American taxpayers billions of dollars every year to perform administrative functions. Although the 104th Congress made great strides in cutting back DOD's bureaucracy, there is still ample opportunity for meaningful reform. In H.R. 1119 and H.R. 1778, the committee recommends several provisions to continue the downsizing process.
Reforming DOD Business Practices
According to GAO, over 45 percent of all active duty military personnel are assigned to infrastructure functions. According to the Defense Science Board, only 20 percent of active duty military personnel are in combat assignments. Such statistics confirm that the warfighting "tooth" of the military services is being sacrificed to protect the infrastructure "tail." This cannot be tolerated at a time when combat forces continue to be reduced to address budgetary shortfalls.
Over the years, Congress has mandated numerous studies and pilot programs in an effort to determine the benefits of shifting responsibility for providing certain support services from the public sector to the private. Given DOD's critical national security mission, there will always be important support functions that must remain, in part or in whole, within the public sector. However, that reality should not stand in the way of moving aggressively to achieve greater efficiencies in non-critical support functions such as printing, payroll, and travel, just to cite a few. In approving H.R. 1778 and H.R. 1119, the committee recommended several provisions that would initiate a sweeping reform of the Pentagon's business practices.
Environmental clean-up costs account for approximately $12 billion per year in defense spending, yet cleanups are not occurring in a timely fashion or on a cost-effective basis, due in large part to redundant federal and state regulations and laws. H.R. 1778 would amend Superfund and other environmental laws to achieve a more common-sense approach to the cleanup of defense sites that would allow America's defense resources to cleanup more of the areas that really need cleaning.
Other Cost Saving Initiatives
Defense Airborne Reconnaissance Organization (DARO). The DARO was originally established to provide centralized oversight of the airborne reconnaissance programs of each of the services. Over the years, however, DARO has developed into DOD's airborne reconnaissance program manager, effectively wresting control over all airborne reconnaissance programs from the individual services. Based on the committee's increasing concern over the DARO's inability to successfully field a UAV program, the committee concluded that the DOD net structure for airborne reconnaissance programs required a different approach. Accordingly, the committee recommends that the oversight function for reconnaissance programs be moved to the Director of Military Intelligence, and that the individual services be handed back the responsibility to execute defense airborne reconnaissance acquisition programs.
DOD Auxiliary Fleet Requirements (H.R. 1778). The fleet of Military Sealift Command (MSC) auxiliary ships and the Army and Air Force's prepositioned ammunition container ships are rapidly wearing out, creating a need for the Secretary of Defense to rapidly replace them. The committee recommends a provision to allow the long-term charter of ships built in the United States to meet DOD auxiliary fleet requirements, permitting the Secretary of Defense to rapidly acquire the necessary fleet of ships.
Fiber-Optics-Based Network Telecommunication Service (H.R. 1778). The communications market has significantly changed over the last decade, driven by proven technologies such as fiber-optics and semiconductors. These changes have significantly reduced the cost of telecommunication services while providing greater flexibility and security. The committee is concerned that DOD is not looking aggressively enough at new telecommunications technologies to take advantage of cost-effective technologies and a deregulated market. Accordingly, the committee requires the Secretary of Defense to compete, among regulated and unregulated companies, the installation of a dedicated fiber-optics based telecommunication network on a test basis, at a minimum of one high military density locale.
Reimbursement of Academies for Foreign Students (H.R. 1119). Current law authorizes up to 40 international students to attend full-time each of the respective service academies and requires the foreign country sponsoring a student to reimburse the U.S. government for the cost of the education, as well as any pay and/or allowances provided to the student by the U.S government. Current law also allows the Secretary of Defense to waive the reimbursement, in whole or in part. The committee recently learned that of 115 international students (representing 39 countries) enrolled in 1997, the Secretary of Defense has waived the full cost of attendance for 106 students. This extravagant use of waivers costs DOD $7.2 million annually. Therefore, the committee directs the Secretary of Defense to re-negotiate the current agreements with the nations who have students at the service academies. The committee also recommends that the Secretary of Defense's waiver authority be constrained to no more than 25 percent of the per-person cost of attendance by an international student. However, in exceptional cases, the Secretary of Defense would be permitted to waive more than the 25 percent of the cost for up to five international students at each of the service academies.
White House Communications Agency (WHCA) (H.R. 1119). WHCA, a DOD agency, was established to provide secure telecommunications support for the President, Vice President, and other elements of the White House. In light of reports that the duties of military personnel assigned to WHCA have been vastly expanded to include services other than telecommunications, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1997 (Public Law 104-201) required the Secretary of Defense to ensure that, starting in fiscal year 1998, the White House reimburses DOD for any non-telecommunications support services provided by WHCA. Although this was a good first step, the committee continues to believe that military personnel assigned to WHCA should not be used for non-telecommunications support services. Accordingly, the committee recommends that WHCA operation and maintenance be limited to $55 million, an amount equivalent to WHCA's spending in fiscal year 1997 minus expenses for non-telecommunications support services. In addition, the committee directs the Secretary of Defense to report to Congress by December 31, 1997, on the services and functions of WHCA that must be conducted by military personnel for national security reasons, as well as a plan to use civilian personnel to provide any WHCA services and functions that do not need to be performed by members of the armed services.
Decorations and Awards.
U.S. Troops in Bosnia. To date, United States involvement in the Bosnian peacekeeping mission has cost American taxpayers more than $6 billion. The committee is concerned with the Administration's stated reasons for extending the U.S. military's presence in Bosnia, and questions whether the Administration will honor its promise to withdraw in June 1998. Continuing its oversight of the U.S. presence in Bosnia, the committee requires the following two reports:
Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR). The committee maintains its historically strong support for the core purpose of CTR- the accelerated dismantlement of former Soviet strategic offensive arms that threaten the United States. Therefore, the committee recommends a total of $284.7 million for CTR activities in fiscal year 1998, a reduction of $97.5 million from the President's request. Specific recommendations include approval of:
In line with the committee's belief that CTR funds are most effectively used to support the original purposes of the CTR program, the committee recommends a provision to prohibit the use of CTR funding for peacekeeping-related activities in Russia, or for housing, environmental restoration, or job retraining.
Counterdrug Activities.The committee recognizes that the U.S. military is able to make a unique contribution to U.S. counterdrug activities. Accordingly, the committee recommends $661.7 million ($9.1 more than the President's request) for military counterdrug activities.
Center for the Study of Chinese Military Affairs. The importance of the regional and global relationship between the United States and the People's Republic of China will grow in the years ahead. Unfortunately, the U.S. government's current ability to develop sound security and military strategies is hampered by a limited understanding of Chinese strategic goals and military capabilities. To narrow this "understanding gap", the committee recommends that the Center for the Study of Chinese Military Affairs be established at the National Defense University by March 1, 1998, and authorizes $5 million for first year expenses of the Center.
Restoration of Missing Persons Authorities. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1997 (Public Law 104-201) repealed several provisions of law that provided due process for the families of missing servicemembers seeking information about their loved ones' fates and that encouraged prompt investigations into missing personnel. The committee recommends restoration of all such provisions stricken by the fiscal year 1997 Defense authorization bill.
Display of the POW/MIA Flag. Out of respect for the thousands of Americans who remain missing in action or unaccounted for, the committee recommends a provision to expand the dates and locations at which the POW/MIA flag must be flown. These provisions honor the POWs and MIAs who have been lost in all U.S. conflicts (not just in Vietnam) and signify the nation's commitment to fully account for any American who was lost or may be lost in the future.
Department of Energy (DOE) Funding Levels. DOE maintains several programs critical to our nation's defense, including R&D programs in support of the armed forces, the production and protection of nuclear materials, and management of radioactive defense waste and environmental restoration. The committee recommends $11 billion ($2.6 billion less than the President's request) for the following programs:
Department of Defense (DOD) Environmental Funding Levels. The committee recommends $4.8 billion for DOD environmental programs, the same as the Administration request.
Revising DOD Depot Policy. The committee recommends a provision that would prohibit DOD or the military services from entering into any contract for depot-level work at any depot facility that was identified for closure in the 1995 round of Defense Base Closure and Realignment Act (BRAC) closings, unless:
Study of Military Criminal Investigative Organizations. The committee recommends a provision requiring an independent review of military criminal investigative organizations and their ability to effectively investigate allegations of criminal sexual misconduct in the armed services. The review will evaluate agent training, the screening and recruitment of investigators, policies for ensuring properly conducted subject and witness interviews, and the accuracy and timeliness of reporting sex crimes to the National Crime Information Center maintained by the Department of Justice.