Earlier this week, U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) voted to support the House Armed Services Committee’s markup of the fiscal year 2008 National Defense Authorization Act.  Smith chairs the Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee, which wrote the portion of the bill providing our special operations forces the tools and support they need to better fight al-Qaeda.

“The Defense Authorization offered by the Democrats today finally addresses one of worst outcomes of the President’s failed Iraq policies:  the degradation of our military readiness.  Our bill begins to address the training and equipment shortfalls faced by our Armed Services by providing more than $1.25 billion for readiness needs,” Smith said.

Smith continued: “Our bill would also take better care of our service members and reservists.  This bill will increase their pay, improve health care and reduce bureaucratic obstacles for wounded troops, and provide more reintegration assistance to Guard and Reserve members returning to civilian life.  These changes are essential in light of the increased burden we ask our military families to bear on our behalf.”

“The Defense bill also brings more accountability to the Administration’s Iraq policy.  Congress will not simply take the President’s word that ‘we’re making progress.’  When this measure becomes law, the President will be required to submit detailed reports to Congress on progress – or the lack thereof – so that we can assess next steps for changing the direction in Iraq,” Smith said.

The 2008 Defense Authorization bill includes provisions that: 

  • Authorize $13.6 billion for the Army and $8.4 billion for the Marine Corps to address equipment reset requirements, $1 billion for National Guard and Reserve equipment from their unfunded requirements list and $250 million to address training shortfalls throughout the services;
  • Authorize two significant initiatives to improve readiness:  the Defense Readiness Production Board and the Strategic Readiness Fund, a $1 billion fund for critical readiness requirements identified by the Board;
  • Require detailed reports from commanders in Iraq on the situation on the ground and contingency plans should the current strategy be deemed unsustainable;
  • Provide $4.1 billion to purchase MRAP (mine-resistant, ambush-protected) vehicles to protect our troops against the single greatest cause of U.S. troop fatalities in Iraq – improvised explosive devices;
  • Expand and strengthen counter-proliferation programs including the National Nuclear Security Administration nonproliferation programs and the Department of Defense Cooperative Threat Reduction Program; 
  • Empower the National Guard with enhanced authorities to fulfill its expanded role in the nation’s defense;
  • Raise the military pay rate for all ranks by 3.5 percent;
  • Reject the President’s proposed fee increases for TRICARE; and
  • Establish a national program to provide better support National Guard and Reserve service members and their families as they reintegrate into civilian life.

On Smith’s Terrorism Subcommittee Markup

“Our special operations forces lead the fight against terrorist groups in more than a dozen countries, and one of their most important missions is to establish relationships with local populations and prevent al-Qaeda from gaining a foothold in the first place.  This bill will finally provide needed emphasis on SOCOM’s vital indirect action work,” Smith said.

“Our bill supports the continued expansion of our special operations forces, encourages SOCOM and the Defense Department to better address unconventional threats such as terrorist networks, and improves the Department’s ability to harness technological innovation.”

The terrorism subcommittee’s $23.3 billion portion of the bill:

  • Fully funds the President’s request for the Special Operations Command (SOCOM);
  • Funds or partially funds an additional five SOCOM priorities left unfunded in the President’s budget, including resources for advanced body armor and night vision equipment;
  • Gives proper weight to SOCOM’s indirect action work and prioritizes unconventional warfare as the top priority of SOCOM;
  • Requires SOCOM to present a plan to meet their unconventional warfare requirements and an annual report to Congress;
  • Authorizes additional funds for “irregular warfare support” research and development activities, with the aims of better understanding jihadi strategies, improving our understanding of various cultures where terrorists seek a foothold, and developing creative countermeasures to frustrate terrorist groups;
  • Establishes a demonstration program to help the Defense Department more rapidly and aggressively seek out cutting edge commercial information technologies and put them to use for our military;
  • Fully funds DARPA and the Defense Department’s basic research accounts; and
  • Funds investment in energy storage and renewable energy technologies.

More information on the Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee can be found at http://www.house.gov/list/press/wa09_smith/morenews/chair.html

The bill must be approved by the full House of Representatives and the Senate before the President can sign it into law.