Defense Reform Starts in Earnest
By: Matt Vallone
After budget activities dominated defense conversations in Washington for several weeks, , discussion this week will begin to shift towards policy and the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act. Notably, HASC Chairman Mac Thornberry will announce his proposals for acquisition reform on Tuesday. These proposals will likely attempt to create a more agile and responsive acquisition system better able to deal with rapidly changing technology. These proposals will almost certainly become part of the House-version of the NDAA, so we’ll be watching closely to see what he proposes (event here). SASC will have its say, though SASC Chairman John McCain has not yet released his proposals.
The budget process continues to move in fits and starts, as Senate Republicans have announced their intention to move forward with appropriations bills using last year’s Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA) toplines. This puts even more pressure on House Republicans to find a way forward. Conservatives balked at earlier leadership budget plans, but this week will see a flurry of activity in an attempt to provide assurances that mandatory savings will be able to move through the House to offset the increase that is in the BBA. This will be complicated by the fact that it is highly unlikely additional mandatory spending will move anywhere in the Senate or face anything but a certain White House veto.
Beyond defense and budget activity, this week will likely see the unveiling of the President’s nominee for the Supreme Court, something that will, if nothing else, generate intense attention and controversy. In addition, the House will be considering legislation to exempt some businesses from various regulations while the Senate continues searching for a path forward on energy legislation that has been tied up for weeks over disputes about aid to Flint, Michigan.
Congressional Defense Activity
3/15 Current State of Readiness of U.S. Forces, Subcommitee on Readiness and Management Support, 10am
3/15 Posture of the Department of the Navy, Full Committee Hearing, 230pm
3/16 CLOSED Hearing: Department of Defense’s Global Counterterrorism Strategy, Subcommittee on Emerging Threats, 230pm
3/16 Army Unmanned Aircraft Vehicle and air Force Remotely Piloted Aircraft Enterprises, Subcommittee on Airland, 230pm
3/17 Department of Defense Budget Posture, Full Committee Hearing, 930am
3/15 The U.S. Transportation Command FY 2017 Readiness Posture, Subcommittee on Readiness Hearing, 1015am
3/15 FY 2017 Budget Request for National Security Space, Subcommittee on Strategic Forces Hearing, 330pm
3/16 FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Budget Request from the Military Departments, Full Committee Hearing, 10am
3/16 FY 2017 Budget Request for U.S. Cyber Command: Preparing for Operations in the Cyber Domain, Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities Hearing, 2pm
3/16 FY 2017 Army and Air Force Rotorcraft Modernization Programs, Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces Hearing, 330pm
3/16 Evaluating DoD Investments: Case Studies in Afghanistan Initiatives and U.S. Weapons Sustainment, Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations Hearing, 430pm
3/17 The Department of the Navy FY 2017 Operations and Maintenance Budget Request and Readiness Posture, Subcommittee on Readiness Hearing, 930am
3/15 Members Day, 9am
3/17 Oversight Hearing – US Central Command, 10am
3/16 Hearing to Review FY 2017 Budget Request for the National Guard & Reserve, 1030am
Government Activity Round-up
Last week, the GAO issued a report on Defense Weather Satellites, in particular looking at possible alternatives. Conclusions were limited due to coordination between various agencies. More in the full report here.
Monday morning, CSIS hosted ‘Defense Reform in the 21st Century’, looking at what changes could be made if Congress decides to revisit some of the features of the 1986 Goldwater-Nichols Act. On Tuesday, Chairman Thornberry reveals his reform plans at Brookings. On Wednesday, the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation looks at the year ahead in drones. Thursday has a really interesting CSIS event as part of their ‘Smart Women, Smart Power’ series called ‘The View from Abroad: A Conversation with America’s Ambassadors’.
Last week saw a couple of articles come out from Avascent, the first being a Q&A with Vice Admiral Bill Landay and the second is a National Defense article by August Cole & Chris Meissner on helping the Pentagon avoid problems in its Silicon Valley outreach.