Legislative News is AUSA Government Affairs Directorate's
weekly electronic newsletter, and is published
every Monday when Congress is in session.
In this issue:
- Details of 2010 Defense Budget Released
- AUSA On the Hill
- AUSA Announces Outstanding Legislator Award Recipients
Details of 2010 Defense Budget Released
President Obama released details of his fiscal 2010 budget request last week. Of the $3.55 trillion requested, the Department of Defense (DoD) would receive $533.8 billion. The President also requested $130 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The budget includes:
For the first time in four years, the budget fully funds military healthcare and requests no fee increases. However, the reprieve from fee increases may be short-lived. Defense officials have indicated that they will work with Congress to close the healthcare gap. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said last month, “We figure maybe we’ll have a better chance of having a serious dialog with [Capitol] Hill if we go ahead and fund it and then begin the conversation.” AUSA has successfully fought TRICARE fee increases for the past four years and will continue to oppose them.
The budget fully funds the planned 65,000 troop increase for the Army. Increasing the Army's end strength has been a long-time goal of the AUSA’s. However, in order to achieve a rebalanced Army, the Association believes the Active Army should grow to 700,000 troops. AUSA leadership will continue to pass that message to lawmakers.
The budget includes a 2.9 percent pay raise for active and reserve forces. However, key lawmakers have indicated they will provide a 3.4 percent raise for troops. Also in the budget is an average 6 percent increase in basic allowance for housing and a 5 percent increase in basic allowance for subsistence. Defense civilians would get just a 2 percent pay hike under the proposal, although key members of Congress representing congressional districts with large numbers of federal civilians already have vowed to provide civilians the same 2010 raise that will go to the military.
Family Support and Housing
The budget requests $11 billion to fund military housing and support programs for single and married service members and their families. In addition to constructing new barracks and family housing and maintaining current units, this includes funding for child care centers and youth programs; morale, welfare, and recreation activities; warfighter and family services; commissaries; DoD schools; and military spouse employment programs.
Caring for wounded, ill, and injured service members
The budget requests $3.3 billion to support injured service members in their recovery, rehabilitation, and reintegration. This funding provides additional case managers and mental health providers, an expedited Disability Evaluation System, construction of 12 additional Army Warrior in Transition complexes, and continued implementation of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and Fort Belvoir hospital BRAC projects within the National Capital Region. The budget also includes $0.4 billion for medical research and development for traumatic brain injury, psychological health, and other casualty care issues.
The fiscal 2010 base budget will include an increase of $500 million to field and sustain more helicopters. Because the principal limitation on helicopter capacity is a shortage in maintenance crews and pilots rather than a lack of airframes, the focus will be on recruiting and training more Army helicopter crews.
To grow Special Operations capabilities, DoD will increase personnel by more than 2,400 or 4 percent.
Brigade Combat Teams
The proposed budget will cap the growth of Army Brigade Combat Teams at 45 instead of the previously planned 48, while maintaining the planned increase in Army end strength at 547,400. A budget summary released by the White House suggests that the reduction will ensure better-manned units are ready to deploy; it will help end the routine use of stop loss in the Army; and it will lower the risk of a hollowed force.
Future Combat Systems
The Army’s Future Combat Systems (FCS) program will be significantly restructured. It will change from a core program with spinouts of mature technologies to an incremental program focused on improving Infantry Brigade Combat Teams with FCS technologies and replacing the most vulnerable platforms in the Heavy Brigade Combat Teams. Meanwhile, the fiscal 2010 budget will continue development of three unmanned ground vehicles, two unmanned aerial vehicles, non-line-of-sight launch system, unattended ground sensors, and an information network.
Insourcing and Acquisition Workforce
Under the fiscal 2010 budget request, the Defense Department will begin reducing its reliance on support service contractors from the current 39 percent of the workforce performing administrative and advisory services to the pre-2001 level of 26 percent. Contract personnel will be replaced with approximately 13,800 government employees, including 2,500 acquisition specialists. In addition, DoD will increase the acquisition workforce by another 1,580 government employees, for a total of 4,080 in fiscal 2010. By 2015, the acquisition workforce will grow by about 20,000 people.
AUSA on the Hill
AUSA Director of Government Affairs, Bill Loper, joined representatives of other Military Coalition members at a roll out announcement and press conference for HR 2243, the Surviving Spouses Benefit Improvement Act of 2009. The bill would increase the VA benefit paid to survivors whose spouses died on active duty or from service connected injury or illness. It would also eliminate the offset between the SBP and DIC benefits. Also attending the press conference were Reps. John Hall, D-N.Y., former soldier Tim Roe, R-Tenn., and Mike McMahon, D-N.Y.
Introduced by Reps. Steve Buyer, R-Ind., and Tim Walz, D-Minn., both soldiers, the legislation has 26 original co-sponsors. Passage would achieve a long time and high priority AUSA goal. Please let your U.S. representatives know you support this important legislation by sending them an AUSA-suggested message. Go to the AUSA website, www.ausa.org, click on “Contact Congress”, type in your zip code beside “Elected Officials”, and scroll down to “End the DIC-SBP Offset”.
AUSA Announces Outstanding Legislator Award Recipients
Association President GEN. Gordon R. Sullivan, USA. Ret., announced that Sens. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., will be the recipients of AUSA’s Outstanding Legislator Award for 2009.
Sen. Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, was selected based on his long-time and strong support for the Army. He has consistently advocated for above-Employment Cost Index (ECI) military pay increases; increasing Army end strength, set-aside money for Army reset, additional money for Army procurement (MRAP, Stryker) as well as leading roles in the passage of the HEROES Act and the Wounded Warrior Act, and TRICARE for Reserve Components and the continuing fight for concurrent receipt.
Sen. Sessions, also a long-time and strong supporter of the Army, authored the HEROES Act in 2005 that increased the death gratuity to $100,000 and the SGLI max to $400,000. He cosponsored the successful Army coin bill and supports the AUSA stance on lowering the retiree benefit age of the Reserve Components from 60 to 55; ending the SBP/DIC offset, increasing time available for the Reserve Components to use GI Bill benefits; improvements to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act as well as funding for PTSD/TBI.
Both distinguished Senators will be recognized in a ceremony on Capitol Hill in June.