By Connor O’Brien, Lee Hudson
Both the House and Senate Armed Services committees have finalized their authorization bills for fiscal 2023. While it wasn’t easy, now comes the even harder part: Coming up with a compromise.
But before that happens, both bills need to be approved in their respective chambers.
Once each chamber passes a version of the bill, the committees will enter conference and craft compromise defense policy legislation.
Here are the biggest hot-button issues that will be up for debate.
The $8 billion question: Both panels agreed to scrap President Joe Biden’s $802 billion national defense proposal and voted to increase the price tags of their bills substantially, though by different amounts.
House Armed Services on Wednesday adopted in a 42-17 vote a $37 billion increase to the topline, boosting the total to approximately $839 billion. The panel did so without the backing of Armed Services Chair Adam Smith (D-Wash.), who opposed the increase along with most committee Democrats.
The topline boost, offered by Democrats Jared Golden of Maine and Elaine Luria of Virginia, included billions to boost shipbuilding and aircraft procurement as well as blunt some of the impacts of inflation, such as on troops’ cost of living, fuel and military construction.
Senators, meanwhile, approved an even bigger increase by an even wider margin. Senate Armed Services adopted a $45 billion boost to Biden’s budget, with just one Democrat on the panel opposed.
Senate Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense “A Review of the President’s Fiscal Year 2023 Funding Request and Budget Justifications for the Department of Defense”
On Tuesday May 3, the Senate Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense met to review the President’s FY23 funding request and budget justifications for the Department of Defense (DoD). Members largely discussed the support for Ukraine, threats in the Indo-Pacific, and troop wellness.
Members in Attendance
Chairman Jon Tester (D-MT), Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), Sen. John Boozman (R-AR), Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
Sen. Moran expressed concern that the U.S. cannot rely on nuclear deterrence for hypersonic attacks, asking how they will ensure troop safety from hypersonic attacks and what shifts are expected in missile and interceptor investments. Secretary Austin replied that this budget is investing $7.2 billion in long range fires, $4.7 billion of which is focused on hypersonics. He said hypersonic capabilities are important in combination with other capabilities. Sen. Moran asked about the hypersonics workforce. Secretary Austin replied that they have engaged the industry, asking them to increase production but that they have not yet pushed or invested in hypersonics to the degree they can. Gen. Milley told Sen. Murkowski that the key to hypersonics is that they are very fast with no defensive weapon against them. He said the units, equipment, and organization of hypersonics needs to be smaller, faster, and difficult to find on the battlefield. Secretary Austin also shared his support for a sky range system to test hypersonics.
Providing Support to Ukraine
In his opening statement, Secretary Austin said the U.S. delivered security assistance to Ukraine with unprecedented speed and resolve, giving Ukraine $1 billion worth of weapons before the war and committing $3.7 billion since the invasion. He stated the goal to give the Ukrainians the capabilities they need in the South and Donbas regions. He described the $33 billion supplemental request that allocates $16 billion for the DOD, $5 billion of which is for additional drawdown authority, $6 billion for Ukrainian security initiatives, and $5 billion to bolster Ukraine’s eastern fight.
Sen. Hoeven asked what weapons system Ukraine needs the most. Secretary Austin replied that the Ukrainians have asked for long range weapons capabilities, which they are using now. He also said that unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) were provided. Gen. Milley added that they have provided multiple battalions of 155 cannon and ammunitions that go with them, ground maneuver capabilities, and sustainment of anti-tank weapons. Secretary Austin stated the Ukrainians have been trained to use the tanks and javelins provided to them and are pushing training kits into the country as well. He said the Russians do not have weapons equivalent to the javelins. Secretary Austin and Gen. Milley also clarified that the funds provided by Congress have gone almost entirely to lethal aid.
By Jen Judson
McALESTER, Okla. — Many of the U.S. Army’s ammunition plants, arsenals and depots, mostly constructed in World War II, are time capsules of the era. The service has tried to update these wartime facilities, but there is much left to do to bring them into the 21st century.
McAlester Army Ammunition Plant in Oklahoma is dotted with shrub-cloaked ammunition bunkers built around 1943 and resembling Hobbit-holes. Old covered bridges that extend from external break rooms to manufacturing facilities across roads loom overhead but are now closed because of the presence of asbestos.
Since WWII, trains have carried in supplies and carted out ammunition in cargo containers. The Army has worked to update rail gauges and train cars to keep shipments moving on time, day and night.
Long, dark tunnels connect one facility for painting and prepping bomb shells to another where explosives are loaded into those rounds. A robotic arm spray-paints the outside of a shell in one facility.
But this automated capability isn’t available for the nuances of mixing explosives or filling shells, Brig. Gen. Gavin Gardner, commander of Joint Munitions Command, told Defense News on a tour of the ammunition plant’s production line for the Mark 82, a 500-pound bomb used by the Air Force. Chemists still manually mix explosives — like tritonal, which is 80% TNT and 20% aluminum powder — using a resonant acoustic mixer, then adding it to the weapon mostly by hand.
Defense News accompanied Army Secretary Christine Wormuth on a trip to the plant last month.
By J.E. Jack Surash, P.E., SES, M.SAME April 12, 2022
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Army is the largest consumer of installation energy in the Department of Defense, spending more than $1 billion per year on facility energy and water. With few exceptions, Army installations rely on commercial energy and water sources to accomplish critical missions. Uninterrupted access to energy and water is essential for readiness and the Army’s requirement to deploy, fight and win.
Vulnerabilities in interdependent electric grids, natural gas pipelines and water resources supporting Army installations jeopardize mission infrastructure, base security and the ability to project power and sustain global operations. As the Army’s initial maneuver platforms, installations must be able to operate and meet power projection requirements in and from an increasingly contested multi-domain operational environment.
The Army Installations Strategy, published in December 2020, represents a pivot from an Industrial Age paradigm characterized by rigidity and purpose-built specialization to a data-rich, reconfigurable Information Age construct. The strategy also indicates that Army installations support total ground force operations to mobilize and project capabilities anywhere in the world, at any time.
The Army Installation Energy and Water Strategic Plan aligns with Army Installations Strategy, establishing resilience, efficiency, and affordability as strategic goals. The strategic objectives of this plan are measurable through 12 metrics that clearly depict the Army’s progress in achieving resilient, efficient, and affordable installation of energy and water infrastructure. Building and measuring resilience improve the Army’s capability to prevent and recover from any disruption to energy and water utility services. That means greater readiness and a higher likelihood of mission success.
House Armed Services Full Committee Hearing: “National Security Challenges and U.S. Military Activities in the Indo-Pacific Region” - March 9, 2022
On Wednesday, 9 March 2022, the House Armed Services Committee held a hearing to discuss the U.S. military's current activities, goals, and challenges in the Indo-Pacific Region. The hearing broadly focused on addressing U.S. relations with China. There was general agreement that China remains the most threatening adversary to the United States. Democrats and Republicans were in agreement that the military needs to remain vigilant now more than ever in light of the Ukraine/Russian conflict. The hearing also focused on the U.S.'s commitment to protecting Taiwan and exploring the possibilities of conflict with China in that area. The witness panel consisted of representatives from the Department of Defense, Indo-Pacific Command, and the United Nations.
Members in Attendance
Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA), Rep. James Langevin (D-RI), Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA), Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA), Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT), Rep. William Keating (D-MA), Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ), Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA), Rep. Kaiali'I Kahele (D-HI), Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Ranking Member Mike Rogers (R-AL), Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), Rep. Michael Turner (R-OH), Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Rep. Robert Wittman (R-VA), Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA), Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO), Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Rep. Scott DesJaslais (R-TN), Rep. Trent Kelly (R-MS), Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL), Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA), Rep. Stephanie Bice (R-OK), Rep. Lisa McClain (R-MI).
FY22 Continuing Resolution (CR) and Appropriations / FY23 Budget / Supplemental
On July 9, 2021, President Biden signed Executive Order 14036, Promoting Competition in the American Economy. The Executive Order established the White House Competition Council to coordinate and promote Federal Government efforts to advance competition. Under Section 5 of the Order, the Department of Defense (DoD) was directed to submit a report to the Chair of the White House Competition Council reviewing the state of competition within the defense industrial base (DIB), including areas where a lack of competition may be of concern and any recommendations for improving the solicitation process.
Competition within the DIB is vital to the Department for several reasons. When markets are competitive, the Department reaps the benefits through improved cost, schedule, and performance for the products and services needed to support national defense. During initial procurement, incentivizing innovation through competition drives industry to offer its best technical solutions at a best-value cost and price. During contract performance, the expectation that contractors will have to compete against other firms in the future encourages them to perform effectively and efficiently.
Competition is also an indicator of the necessary industrial capability and capacity to deliver the systems, key technologies, materials, services, and products the Department requires to support its mission. Insufficient competition may leave gaps in filling these needs, remove pressures to innovate to outpace other firms, result in higher costs to taxpayers as leading firms leverage their market position to charge more, and raise barriers for new entrants. Moreover, having only a single source or a small number of sources for a defense need can pose mission risk and, particularly in cases where the existing dominant supplier or suppliers are influenced by an adversary nation, pose significant national security risks. For all these reasons, promoting competition to the maximum extent possible is a top priority for the Department.
The Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) is a Department of Defense (DoD) organization focused exclusively on accelerating the adoption of commercial technology throughout the Services, Combatant Commands (CCMDs), defense agencies, and other components. DIU partners with organizations across the DoD and the interagency to rapidly prototype, field, and scale commercial solutions that can save lives, lead to new operational concepts, increase efficiencies, and save taxpayer dollars.
In fiscal year (FY) 2021, DIU delivered the following commercial solutions to DoD end-users, bringing the cumulative total of DIU delivered capabilities to 35.
• Commercial Threat Data
• Cyber Asset Inventory Management
• Cyberspace Deception
• Installation Counter-Unmanned Aerial Systems
• Generative Modeling of of Hypersonic Missile Trajectories
• Responsive Launch
Since COVID began, global supply is newsworthy. “Supply Chain Resilience” is a buzzword, and COVID, Suez Canal closure and other supply chain disruptions continue. It is one of President Biden’s biggest challenges. If current supply issues are not resolved soon, the potential for mass layoffs is real.
Most of America’s fragile supply chain centers at the Port of Los Angeles and its worrisome impact on upcoming holidays. Lost has been troublesome news regarding our military’s critical supply chain, and its inability to keep fighter jets, bombers and refueling tankers afloat. The sprawling network of private contractors that manufacture critical replacement parts is known as the defense industrial base. Recent reports paint a worrisome picture of the defense industrial base’s rapidly declining ability to support our military.
Senate Committee on Armed Services Nominations Hearing: “Camarillo, Hunter, Jacobson, Wagner” - October 6, 2021
On Tuesday, Oct. 5, the Senate Committee on Armed Services held a hearing to review nominees for the positions of Under Secretary of the Army; Assistant Secretary of the Army for Energy, Installations, and the Environment; Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Manpower and Research Affairs; and Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics. Members’ questions focused on balancing readiness and modernization, investing in energy resilience, cultural reform within the armed services, establishing better housing conditions for service members, and combatting climate change. In addition, Mr. Hunter and Mr. Camarillo highlighted that modernization of military weapons technology, such as long-range hypersonic weapons, is critical to counter advances China and Russia are making in military technology. All committee members expressed general support for the nominees.
• The Honorable Gabriel Camarillo – Nominee to be Under Secretary of the Army
• Ms. Rachel Jacobson – Nominee to be Assistant Secretary of the Army for Energy, Installations, and Environment
• Mr. Alex Wagner – Nominee to be Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Manpower and Reserve Affairs
• Mr. Andrew Hunter – Nominee to be Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics
Members in Attendance
Chairman Jack Reed (D-RI), Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand (D-NY), Sen. Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), Sen. Angus King (I-ME), Sen. Gary C. Peters (D-MI), Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-WV), Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Ranking Member Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE), Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD), Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO).