“I am pleased that I helped pass H.R. 5122, the Fiscal Year 2007 Department of Defense (DoD) Authorization bill, out of the House Armed Services Committee with broad bipartisan support,” said U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA). “While not perfect, this bill includes a number of provisions to support the members of our Armed Forces and our Veterans and also includes much-needed improvements in TRICARE, troop strength and pay increases. There are also a number of important Puget Sound-based programs that were included in the bill. The Puget Sound region continues to play an important role in the defense of our country. Also included was $50 billion in so-called bridge funds to cover the first portion of war costs for the coming fiscal year. The war in Iraq has been ongoing for over three years and we have a good sense of the costs associated with operations there and in Afghanistan. It only makes sense for our committee to authorize this spending. I will work with my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, to ensure that the best authorization bill possible is enacted into law. This bill is too important for the servicemen and women, who sacrifice every single day for this country, to fall down to partisan politics.”
Highlights of the important provisions included in the bill:
TRICARE for all Guard and Reservists
The bill grants full, affordable access to TRICARE for all Guard and Reservists, regardless of activation or employment status. This provision is part of an earlier bill that Smith introduced, H.R. 4468, which is a quality-of-life bill for Guard and Reservists.
No TRICARE Fee Increases for Retirees
The Committee rejected the DoD’s plan to increase TRICARE premiums and enrollment fees for retirees. The provision bars any fee increases in FY07 and creates a task force to study the potential impacts and savings generated by the DoD’s plan.
The bill provides for an overall end strength increase of 30,000 troops for the Army and 5,000 Marines for the Marine Corps. Additionally, the bill authorizes the Army National Guard at its full end strength of 350,000. Also, $300 million was added for National Guard equipment, ensuring that the Guard will be able to recruit, train and equip their forces at robust levels.
Also included in the bill is a 2.7% pay raise for all service members, as well as targeted pay raises for warrant officers and senior and mid-grade noncommissioned officers.
The bill authorizes $50 million for Impact Aid to assist schools that are located near military installations. In addition, $15 million is specifically intended for schools that receive additional students because of force structure changes due to the recent round of Base Realignments and Closures (BRAC).
IN THE PUGET SOUND REGION:
Clear-Zone Funds for McChord
A provision in the bill recommends $50.0 million for the Readiness and Environmental Protection Initiative (REPI), an increase of $30.0 million. The REPI will support an array of efforts, including acquisition of land and easements, for preventing undesirable development around military test and training ranges, while ensuring sound environmental stewardship. Five bases were named as possible receipients of these funds and three were located in Washington State: McChord Air Force Base, Fairchild Air Force Base and Naval Air Station Whidbey.
Washington Air National Guard
The bill includes $800,000 to finish planning and design for the construction of a new training and operations facility for the 262nd Information Warfare Aggressor Squadron (262 IWAS) at McChord Air Force Base. The new facility would allow for a higher quality, secure work and training space for the 262 IWAS, whose work involves replicating potential adversary Information Warfare capabilities.
$1.65 million for Tacoma Trauma Trust -- Madigan Army Medical Center Trauma Assistance Program
Smith was pleased to help authorize funding for this critical military-civilian emergency health care partnership facilitated by the Tacoma Trauma Trust (TTT), a unique military-civilian partnership (MultiCare Health System, Franciscan Health System and Madigan Army Medical Center). TTT shares in the delivery of critical Level II trauma care to South King, Pierce, Kitsap and Thurston counties and southwest Washington as well as much needed trauma training for medical personnel.
$1.13 billion to fully fund President Bush’s request for the Multi-Mission Maritime Aircraft (MMA)
This critical program would use specially equipped Boeing 737s, manufactured in Boeing’s Renton plant, in order to conduct defense and homeland security-related missions. The MMA will replace the aging fleet of Navy P-3C aircraft with a technologically superior mission system that will allow it to perform anti-submarine warfare missions, homeland security surveillance and other important functions.
$3.0 million for “MRE High Pressure Processing Technology Demonstration”
This program funds a technology demonstration program for high-pressure processing of military food rations. This technology, developed by Avure Technologies in Kent, WA, would assist the Army in its pursuit of advanced food preservation technologies to expand the variety and quality of combat rations for our soldiers.
$1.0 million for “Advanced Boat Lifts for Navy Small Boats Program”
These funds will help the Navy procure additional advanced hydraulic boat lifts that increase the lifespan and reduce maintenance costs for small boats in the Navy. The boatlifts, a product of Sunstream Corporation in Kent, WA, are currently being utilized in Naval bases around the country.
$5.7 million for “Mid-Infrared Semiconductor Laser Technology for Aircraft Protection”
This critical funding would enable the Air Force to conduct final tests and accelerated fielding of a laser technology to combat the most advanced man-portable surface-to-air missiles (MANPADS). The technology has been developed by Aculight in Bothel, WA.
IMPORTANT TECHNOLOGY PROVISION:
“I am pleased that this bill also included my provision for the National Defense University (NDU) Technology Pilot program,” said Smith. “Having worked for many years to improve our military and the Pentagon through the use of technology, I am proud to work with the experts at NDU who are continuing to leverage our technological innovations to maintain the most advanced military in the world."
$1.0 million for National Defense University
Technology Pilot Program - $1.0 million
The purpose of this project is to conduct research and analysis to determine how the United States can maintain its competitive edge against other military adversaries at a time when commercial information technology (IT) is readily available on the global market. Through a series of workshops, conferences, research papers and publications, the NDU has developed new strategies to deal with this issue.