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Military Connection: New Military Budget Proposed: By Debbie Gregory

2015 NDAA

After months of tough negotiation in both the House and the Senate, the two houses’ Armed Service Committees released the text of the “Carl Levin and Howard P. ‘Buck’ McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015.”

The bill is named for Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and retiring Congressman McKeon, the chairman of the House Armed Service Committee. On December 2nd, Mr. Levin told the media that the bill should be passed through both the House and the Senate by the end of the week, and that no further amendments to the bill would be allowed.

“At this point, there is no way that we can resolve disputes about which amendments should be debated, debate them, overcome potential filibusters, and still get the job done,” Levin said. “We ask our colleagues to support us in bringing up and passing this bill without amendment as the best of a bad set of options.”

The annual bill, which authorizes the activities of the Defense Department, has hundreds of provisions, including pay and benefits for service members and military retirees, as well as the authority to train and equip moderate Syrian rebels, and funding for military programs.

As it stands, the bill authorizes $521.3 billion in the base discretionary spending for national defense, and $63.7 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO).

Some of the main provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 include: a FY2015 military pay increase at 1%, with a pay freeze for General and Flag Officers; a $3 increase for select pharmacy copayments; and a 1% decrease in Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH).

Other major highlights of the bill include:

  • Authorizes $3.4 billion for sustaining U.S. personnel forward-deployed to the Middle East to combat the Islamic State and other threats.
  • Provides over $212 billion for operation and maintenance requirements funding activities such as ship refueling and overhaul, depot maintenance, and facilities sustainment.
  • Establishes a report on post-2014 Afghanistan.
  • Directs the Secretary of Defense to report on the viability of reducing combatant command functions by fiscal 2020 and a plan to implement a periodic review of management headquarters.
  • Blocks National Guard end strength reductions, as well as the re-distribution of important Guard aviation assets blocked in FY15.
  • Prohibits U.S. military cooperation with the Russian military until the secretary of defense certifies the Russian military is no longer illegally occupying Crimea, and is abiding by the terms of the Minsk Protocol regarding the ceasefire in Eastern Ukraine.
  • Includes language that lowers the statutory cap on federal employees at NNSA by more than 7%, to a total of 1,690 positions.
  • Authorizes the president’s $1.6 billion request to train and equip Iraqi security forces for a two-year program with robust oversight and notification requirements.
  • Authorizes $1.3 billion for a two year program to build partner anti-terrorism capacity in the Middle East and Africa, except for Iraq, which is already funded elsewhere, and to allow U.S. forces to providing enabling support to foreign partners in their counter terrorism activities.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: New Military Budget Proposed: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Pending Defense Budget Fears: By Debbie Gregory

The PentagonFor the second straight year, the Pentagon is expected to submit a five-year budget to Congress that will infringe on mandatory spending caps, this time by as much as $60 billion.

Defense officials have said for months that the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA), which limits how much the Pentagon can spend, wouldn’t limit the 2016 request. It has been reported that the Joint Chiefs of Staff have pushed for an increase of $60 billion over the $535 billion cap for defense, with another $10 billion for Department of Energy programs.

Budget planners from the Pentagon estimate that, unless overturned, the automatic cuts will reduce defense budget request through 2021 by an average $31 billion a year. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projected that unless Congress reverses the caps, the cuts could average closer to $47 billion a year.

A Pentagon report from March, 2014 outlined how $35.3 billion per-year in cuts would fall under sequestration in 2016, and remains relevant for companies and investors

The five year plan for fiscal 2015-2019, released in February and still pending before Congress, called for $115 billion more than sequestration permits. That plan also included $35.3 billion more than allowed for fiscal 2016, if the cuts return in full force, as planned, after a two-year pause.

The Pentagon aims to spend at least ten percent more each year for the next five years than it currently does on nuclear upgrades and modernization programs.

One of the main areas that would be cut is the upgrading of aircraft throughout all branches of the military. The Pentagon is expected to cut 17 of the 343 F-35 fighters it planned to buy, in fiscal years 2016 through 2019.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Pending Defense Budget Fears: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Another 1% Pay Increase Cap? By Debbie Gregory

Military payFor the second year in a row, the White House is telling Congress that the president intends to cap the military basic pay raise at 1%.

Last year, leading into the “Government Shutdown,” a hot ticket item was the capping of service members’ pay at 1%. This year, President Obama notified Congress that he again is recommending a lower than private-sector wage growth for the men and women who serve in the military. The increase was the lowest basic pay raises since the dawn of the all-volunteer-military era in 1973.

Ongoing budget constraints are being blamed for the cap. But Congress could override the 1% cap and mandate a 1.8 % pay raise for 2015. The 1.8% increase would be more in line with the anticipated rise in private-sector wages.

So far, members in the House have favored a 1.8 % increase, while votes in the Senate have been found to favor the 1% increase. Reaching a compromise on the competing budget bills will likely take the rest of the year.

Many Veteran advocacy groups have insisted that a lower pay increase will negatively impact future military recruiting and destroy the military’s retention efforts. Military advocates are still hopeful that they can sway Congress to support the 1.8% increase, even if it means adding $3.8 billion to the federal deficit over the next five years.

To put the issue in terms of dollars and cents for individual service members, the difference in the two pay plans would be about $195 a year for an E-3 with three years of service. For an E-7 with 10 years, it comes out to $356. For an O-5 with 12 years of service, the lower pay plan would drain about $667 in annual salary.

While the individual sums could be considered small, in the grand scheme of things, for those who have served and the families that they support, it makes a world difference… especially as a matter of principle.

Military families already go without so much. The typical service member’s wages are far lower than a civilian with similar training and experience. Military pay is supplemented by benefits in healthcare and on-base shopping. But the lower earning potential affects a military family’s ability to rent, buy or lease homes and property, and is also a blow to morale.

The majority of active duty, Guard and Reservist service members have endured multiple deployments over the past decade. The men and women still in uniform can expect more deployments, especially as our leaders consider their options regarding ISIL, and as they track the tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Another 1% Pay Increase Cap? By Debbie Gregory