Defense Authorization Update
Legislative News is AUSA Government Affairs Directorate's
weekly electronic newsletter, and is published
every Monday when Congress is in session.
In this issue
- Defense Authorization Update
- Senate Panel Approves the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act
- There’s Still Time!
- Army’s Senior Resource Officer Addresses Congressional Staff
The fiscal 2010 defense authorization bill stalled in the Senate last week as members spent three days debating hate crimes and F-22 funding amendments.
Sen. Joseph Lieberman's, I-Conn., amendment that calls for an increase of active duty Army end strength by 30,000 over the next three years is expected to come up this week. In remarks he made on the Senate floor on July 14, Sen. Lieberman put into the Congressional Record a letter he received from AUSA President Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, USA, Ret., on the senator's efforts to raise end strength levels. (To view the Congressional Record entry, go to /legislation/congressionalinfo/tocongress/Documents/CongRecLieb_all.pdf)
In part, Gen. Sullivan's letter said: "The Army is in dire need of sufficient troops to increase dwell time for active duty soldiers, increase support for operational missions and help the Army achieve reorganization objectives." He added increasing dwell time would also help military families.
"Your actions to make this a reality show that you are a true ally to the armed forces," Sullivan wrote.
This will be a pivotal week on the Army troop increase front.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates told soldiers at Fort Drum. N.Y., last week that he expects to be making a decision immediately on whether to order a temporary expansion of the Army to cope with ongoing strains posed by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He said that a larger Army could help increase the amount of time that individual soldiers can spend at home between deployments overseas.
"One of the things we're thinking about to help make sure that happens is whether to provide for a temporary increase in the end strength of the Army," Gates said at a town hall meeting with soldiers from the Army's 10th Mountain Division, which has seen repeated tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"We are very mindful of the stress on the force and particularly the stress on the soldiers and their families," Gates added.
Gen. Sullivan and the Association are encouraged by Secretary Gates' words.
Please encourage your Senators to vote for the Lieberman amendment. Go to /, click on Contact Congress, enter your zip code and then click on the AUSA-proposed letter titled, “Support the Lieberman Amendment to Increase Army End Strength.”
Senate Panel Approves the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act
Legislation to remove some of the obstacles that caused the ballots of thousands of military personnel to be lost or uncounted won the approval of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee last week. The legislation would give military and other overseas voters more time to send in ballots and expanding electronic access to voting forms.
The measure would require that states provide military and other overseas voters with ballots at least 45 days ahead of an election to ensure there is enough time to complete and return them. It would also require states to make registration and absentee ballot request forms available on the Internet and bar states from rejecting military ballots for lack of a notary signature.
The Congressional Research Service surveyed election offices in seven states with high numbers of military personnel. It found that of 441,000 absentee ballots requested by eligible voters - mainly active-duty and reserve troops - living abroad, 98,000 were mailed out but never received by election officials and an additional 13,500 were rejected because of a missing signature or the failure to notarize.
There’s Still Time!
Because of the continued debate on the defense authorization bill, there is still time to let your Senator know that you support several AUSA-backed amendments.
TRICARE: Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s, D-N.J., amendment to assert that military retirees earned their health benefits with their military service.
Concurrent Receipt: Sen. Harry Reid’s, D-Nev., amendment that would end compensation penalties for thousands of disabled uniformed services retirees.
SBP/DIC: Sen. Bill Nelson's, D-Fla., amendment that would end compensation penalties for survivors of military personnel who died of service-caused conditions.
Reserve Retirement Age: Sen. Saxby Chambliss’, R-Ga., amendment that would make retroactive to Sept. 11, 2001, the provision that reduces the reserve retirement age by 3 months for every 90 days activated.
Thanks to those of you who have already written in support of these important amendments. For others who wish to do so, please go to AUSA’s website, www.ausa.org., click on Contact Congress, enter your zip code and then click on the AUSA-proposed letter titled, “Support Senate Amendments to S.1390.”
Army’s Senior Resource Officer Addresses Congressional Staff
AUSA hosted several key congressional staff members at its Institute of Land Warfare breakfast last week.
LTG Stephen Speakes, Deputy Chief of Staff, G-8, said that, “This is not the time to look to the Army for resources” to cover other parts of the federal budget in time of economic crisis.
He said challenges in the future include sustaining the All Volunteer Force [“our people come first”], restoring depth, integrating Quadrennial Defense Review decisions and taking on a “fossilized” acquisition system.
“The Army is straining today to meet combatant commanders’ requirements” for manpower at a time when the service’s capitalization and reset of equipment “is coming under increased scrutiny.”
The monthly Institute of Land Warfare breakfast gives congressional staffers the opportunity to hear the Army's story and provides them with unique insight on a variety of subjects.