Posts

Defense Bill May Not Include Provision on Drafting Women

drafting women

By Debbie Gregory.

House and Senate negotiators plan to shelve the provision requiring women to register for the draft in favor of ordering up a study of the issue.

Last year at this time, Defense Secretary Ash Carter ended the combat exclusionary rule for women and opened up all military jobs to women in the military who qualify. The Senate Armed Services Committee then said that Carter’s action had removed any justification for limiting draft registration to men.

A few months later, Rep. Duncan Hunter and Rep. Ryan Zinke, opposed to Carter’s action, introduced a bill titled the “Draft America’s Daughters Act of 2016” that would require women to register with the Selective Service System.

Both Hunter and Zinke said they were opposed to their own bill, but argued that a debate in Congress was necessary on lifting the combat exclusion rule for women.

Carter, the service secretaries, and the service chiefs have made clear that requiring women to register for the draft was up to Congress, and they have yet to voice any opposition to such a move.

President Obama supports requiring women to register for Selective Service when they turn 18. He is the first president to endorse universal draft registration since Jimmy Carter.

Obama believes adding women to the draft would serve two purposes: showing a commitment to gender equality throughout the armed services, and fostering a sense of public service that comes from requiring draft registration as a ritual of adulthood.

“As old barriers for military service are being removed, the administration supports — as a logical next step — women registering for the Selective Service,” said Ned Price, a spokesman for Obama’s National Security Council.

But the timing of Obama’s support makes it mostly symbolic, coming in the final weeks of his presidency.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Thornberry’s Bill Would Increase Troop Size

macmac

By Debbie Gregory.

Rep. Mac Thornberry has introduced a defense bill that would increase, rather than decrease, the size of the U.S. Army.

Thornberry has floated a brash plan to get around spending limits on the military. His defense budget dramatically boosts spending by $16 billion, pumping that money into the Army and troop pay as well as training, equipment and facilities.

The money would not only stop the Army from drawing down 15,000 soldiers in the coming year, it would add another 5,000.

His bill also aims to add an additional 15,000 troops to the National Guard, bringing the count up to 350,000, and 10,000 to the Reserves, for a total Reserve strength of 205,000. The bill would increase the strength of the Marine Corps by 3,000 and the Air Force by 4,000.

The size of the Army has been a major concern among lawmakers, many of whom have stated that the active force is too small to deal with the growing number of threats facing the U.S.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the plan is “deeply troubling and flawed” and that Thornberry is gambling with money for troops on the battlefield during a time of war.

Thornberry’s revised budget earmarks just over $2 billion in additional funding for the troop increase, according to language in the bill. That’s about $2.5 billion short of what the Army would need, according to Army senior leaders who have said that it will cost about $1 billion for every 10,000 soldiers.

“The proposal is designed to restore strength to the force through readiness investments and agility through much needed reforms, while providing a more solid foundation for the next President to address actual national security needs,” according to the bill’s summary.

Thornberry said the military is already suffering due to a lack of spending and it is “fundamentally wrong to send servicemembers out on missions for which they are not fully prepared or fully supported.”

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Defense Bill Vetoed, Heads Back to Congress

U.S. President Barack Obama vetoes H.R. 1735 "National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016" in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington October 22, 2015. Obama officially vetoed the $612 billion defense bill on Thursday, sending the legislation back to Congress because of the way it uses money meant for war spending to avoid automatic budget cuts to military programs. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RTS5PM2

By Debbie Gregory.

President Barack Obama vetoed a $612 billion defense policy bill, insisting congressional Republicans send him a better version, one that doesn’t tie his hands on some of his top priorities.

Obama praised the bill for ensuring the military stays funded and making improvements on armed forces retirement and cybersecurity. Yet, at the same time, he accused Republicans of resorting to “gimmicks,” objecting to the way the bill purposes using money meant for war spending to avoid automatic budget cuts to military programs.

“Unfortunately, it falls woefully short,” Obama said. “I’m going to be sending it back to Congress, and my message to them is very simple: Let’s do this right.”

Previously, Obama has vetoed only a handful of bills. And those vetoes were done in private. But in an effort to call attention to Obama’s concerns, the White House invited reporters and photographers to witness him veto this bill.

The veto marked the latest wrinkle in the ongoing fight between Obama and the Republican-controlled Congress over whether to increase federal spending, and how.

Four years after Congress passed and Obama signed into law strict, across-the-board spending limits, both parties are eager to bust through defense spending caps. Obama and many Democrats want a broader budget deal that would address mandatory cuts in domestic spending rather than only providing more funds for the Pentagon.

Republicans argue that the military should be spared many of the so-called sequestration budget cuts to ensure national security. They accuse Democrats of using the issue to camouflage a desire for irresponsible domestic spending.

Obama also said he disagreed with provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act that would limit his ability to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center before he leaves office.

“It’s time for us to close it. It’s outdated, it’s expensive, it’s been there for years. We can do better in terms of keeping Americans safe while making sure that we are consistent with our values,” he said.