Details Emerge from Senate Armed Services
In a closed door session late last week, the Senate Armed Services Committee marked up their version of the FY13 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Since it was closed and staffers are typically very tight-lipped about the details until the actual bill emerges, which by the way can take days or weeks, we have to wait. Listening through the walls just makes us look silly.
However, there are a few things we do know.
For the Air Guard....
- Halts the Cuts: The Air Force would be precluded from divesting, retiring or transferring aircraft assigned to the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve in FY13.
- Makes exception to AF language to be able to retire C-5As and replace with C-17s (TN and WV-ANG, TX- AFR)
Establishes a National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force: The committee established this commission in response to the lack of analysis and justification for the Air Force’s proposals letting force structure reductions fall more heavily on the Air National Guard.
- Will consist of eight members, four appointed by the President (one of whom would be the Chairman of the Reserve Forces Policy Board) and four appointed by leadership of the Committees on Armed Services of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
- The Commission would be required to report to the Congress by March 31, 2013, in time to inform congressional action on the fiscal year 2014 budget request.
For the Army Guard....
- Blackhawks: Authorized $1.3 billion for UH-60M Blackhawks, though we don’t yet know if the additional $200 million above the President's request of $1.1 billion is for the extra 10 UH-60Ms for the ARNG, mirroring what the House did.
- Abrams Tanks: Authorized $165 million, $91 million above the request but $90 million below what the House authorized and appropriated, for 33 additional Abrams tanks, though we don't yet know if these tanks will go to the Guard as we requested.
- Chinooks: Authorized the 5-year multi-year procurement for the CH-47 Chinook, which is good for the ARNG because our new Chinooks will come in that order.
- Sherpa: Does not prohibit the retirement of the C-23 Sherpa. The Senate Armed Services professional staff adamantly opposes it, but it's in the House version (which could be good for conference), and Sens. Manchin and Begich may work the issue through a floor amendment, if they allow them.
- Space-A: Provides worldwide space-available travel privileges for Guard and Reserve members, gray-area retirees and the family members of each group.
- TRICARE: Does not authorize Department of Defense proposals that would establish enrollment fees for TRICARE Standard and TRICARE for Life, and increase TRICARE deductibles and the annual catastrophic cap. Does not prohibit the Department from instituting proposed TRICARE pharmacy copayment changes, which do not require legislation.
- BAH Transition: Clarifies that the basic allowance for housing for full-time National Guard members shall be based on their duty location and may not be modified upon the transition of a member between active duty and full-time National Guard duty, so long as the transition occurs without a break in active service.
The full SASC press release is available here. When we get the full scoop on the bill, we'll make sure to share it.