U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) today voted to improve our nation’s military readiness, support military families, recommit to our efforts in Afghanistan and protect our nation from terrorism and unconventional threats.  He supported H.R. 5658, the fiscal year 2009 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which authorizes $601.4 billion to support our national defense, including $70 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Smith helped shape the legislation via his chairmanship of the House Armed Services terrorism subcommittee and an amendment he offered on the floor of the House of Representatives.  The bill passed by a vote of 384 to 23.

“This year's National Defense Authorization Act is a good product, especially considering its language and funding to restore readiness and support military families. Our forces are under a great deal of strain because of their deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, so we provided almost $2 billion above the President’s request to fill readiness gaps. The bill also prioritizes our troops by giving them a 3.9 percent pay raise to recognize their hard work and sacrifice and support them in every way we possibly can,” Smith said.

Recommitting to Afghanistan

  • Our efforts in Afghanistan continue to suffer due to a disproportionate focus on Iraq.  The NDAA attempts to rectify this imbalance in a region of the world critical to our fight against al-Qaida and their allies.  The bill:
  • Requires the Administration to de-link its future budget requests for Afghanistan from those for Iraq to enhance transparency and congressional oversight. 
  • Requires detailed reports on the training of the Afghan National Security Forces - the cornerstone of our counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan.

“Our national security interests would be best served by a responsible redeployment from Iraq and a greater emphasis on our Afghanistan commitment.  Recently I introduced a resolution calling for such redeployment and a better balance in our defense policy.  I am pleased the NDAA this year will help Congress oversee and prioritize our efforts in Afghanistan,” Smith said.

Protecting Our Nation from Terrorism and Unconventional Threats

The Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee’s (HASC) portion of the NDAA fully resources and enhances the Defense Department’s ability to combat terrorism, fight smarter in the realm of irregular warfare, and counter other unconventional threats to our nation’s security.  Smith chairs the terrorism panel.  The bill:

  • Supports expansion of our special operations forces (SOF) – the “tip of the spear” in our fight against terrorism and extremism – and provides needed equipment and support.  The legislation includes $185 million above the President’s request to fund eight top priorities of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), including advanced aircraft survivability systems, advanced sniper scopes and body armor vests.
  • Prioritizes “irregular warfare,” including counterinsurgency, stability operations, and strategic communications.  The NDAA requires an Assistant Secretary of Defense be tasked to manage irregular warfare to ensure needed support and attention from the Pentagon.  The bill includes a $90 million increase for embedded cultural advisors in Iraq and Afghanistan and requires the creation of a management board to enhance coordination of the Defense Department’s (DoD) counter-terrorism strategic communication efforts. 
  • Enhances DoD’s use of technology and includes language and funding to help protect the United States from unconventional attacks.  The NDAA funds needed science and technology (S&T) research, streamlines our acquisition process for commercial information technology (IT) for the military, and mandates greater coordination and collaboration between DoD and the VA.  The bill adds funds for the Chemical-Biological Defense Program, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, and other homeland defense initiatives.  The NDAA also clarifies the President’s authority to use the Reserves during national emergencies.  These provisions ensure our military remains up-to-date and ready to prevent and respond to major attacks on the homeland.

The bill must be approved by the Senate before the President can sign it into law.