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Senate Defense Authorization Bill includes dangerous provisions

Friday, August 03, 2018

Imagine you have just reported to your first unit as a second lieutenant. Luckily for you, there is a platoon open, and you will immediately become a platoon leader.

However, while you were at your officer basic course, Congress changed some laws and moved some responsibilities so that what you were taught in your military science classes doesn’t necessarily apply anymore.

Bear with me; this is just a thought experiment and not reality – yet. But continue imagining that as you take over the platoon, you find out that you will not be the primary rater for your noncommissioned officers. Instead, a bureaucratic agency back in Washington, D.C., will do that for you.

Instead of you determining the mission essential tasks that you need to train your platoon on, and assessing the state of that training in your platoon, the same bureaucratic agency will take care of that too.

And while your Table of Organization and Equipment says that you should have X number of soldiers in your platoon to do your mission, the bureaucratic agency will instead get to determine the “total workforce requirements” for your platoon, and if they want, they can reduce the soldiers in your platoon, or even send sailors, airmen or marines as substitutes for your soldiers.

Sounds like a nightmare, because you would be responsible for your platoon and its readiness to perform its missions, but most of your command and control would be removed and sent to a Washington, D.C., bureaucracy.

Actually, this isn’t happening at the platoon level, but it is what Congress is trying to do in the Senate version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for our Military Treatment Facilities (MTFs).

Sections 711 and 712 of the Senate NDAA for Fiscal Year 2019 transfer seven different authorities from the military services to the Defense Health Agency in Washington, D.C.

The provisions also disestablish the medical departments of the services, and instead establish “operational medical force readiness organizations” with no command authority.

Sections 711 and 712 strip authorities from the Services and consolidate power in the Defense Health Agency without adding the ability and expertise to enhance operational medical force readiness and total force readiness.

View the full text of Sections 711 and 712 at https://bit.ly/2JPGzVB.

If these provisions make it into the final conference NDAA, it is highly likely that the quality of care in MTFs will degrade rapidly.

MTFs will be reorganized and managed for cost savings, and the health care experience for our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines, and their families, will be substantially reduced.

Even more alarming, if these provisions are implemented, it is possible that we won’t see the full effects of this destructive legislation right away.

Not until our military health care system experiences massive failure on the next major battlefield, and soldiers lose their lives because the Senate preferred to consolidate power in the hands of Washington bureaucrats instead of at the point of the sword.

See you on the high ground.