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Bill Allowing Mattis to Become Defense Secretary Approved by Congress

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By Debbie Gregory.

Sometimes it takes an act of Congress. And that is exactly how the House and Senate paved the wave to permit retired Marine Gen. James Mattis to head the Pentagon for Donald Trump.

The measure overrides a prohibition against former U.S. service members who have been out of uniform for less than seven years from holding the top job at the Defense Department. Mattis retired from military service in 2013.

The vote was 268-151. Only 36 Democrats supported the bill after Trump’s transition team blocked Mattis from testifying before the House Armed Services Committee Thursday, despite the retired four-star general sailing through his Senate confirmation hearing earlier in the day.

The House vote came one day after the Senate easily passed the waiver, 81-17.

Mattis in line to be part of the first batch of President-elect Donald Trump’s picks to be confirmed by the Senate as early as Inauguration Day.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Friday that Obama would sign the bill, if it’s sent to him before he leaves office next Friday.

Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) acknowledged “legitimate complaints” with the process and wording of the waiver, including the omission of Mattis by name.  But Thornberry argued lawmakers should push ahead with the waiver to ensure there’s no gap in Pentagon leadership when Trump takes office.

Mattis is a graduate of the U.S. Marine Corps Amphibious Warfare School, U.S. Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and the National War College. His awards include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star (with Valor) and the Meritorious Service Medal.

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

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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.