AUSA's Directorate of Government Affairs coordinates AUSA’s activities related to the U.S. Congress and the Executive Branch. The Directorate helps maximize the Association’s and members’ participation in the legislative process. We advocate for the Army, soldiers (past, present and future) and their families. Additionally, the Directorate monitors congressional activity and reports to our members to ensure they are well-informed and prepared to be active in the legislative process.
AUSA's Priority Resolutions for 2016
Army Chief of Staff General Mark A. Milley has laid out three priorities: Readiness, adapting the Army for the future and taking care of troops. The Association of the United States Army shares his goals. However, there is a growing divide between the emerging geopolitical realities confronting the United States and the declining resources provided to the Army by Congress. One of our highest priorities is for Congress and the President to strike a deal to remove the threat of budgetary caps and sequestration cuts before they cause irreversible damage to our national security. AUSA’s priority resolutions outline key and essential actions required to properly fund, maintain, sustain and modernize a combat-ready, all-volunteer American Army that is ready to defend the nation in an unpredictable world.
Fund the Army FY17 base budget at $135 billion (by October 1, 2016) in order to support the National Military Strategy with reduced risk.
Provide Overseas Contingency Operations funding as requested to support operational needs.
- Endstrength floor: 1,035,000 Total Army (480,000 active; 350,000 Army National Guard; 205,000 Army Reserve)
- Ensure the continued success of the All-Volunteer Force by adequately funding talent management initiatives with respect to recruiting, retention, quality of life (policies, pay and benefits), and retirement.
OPERATIONS AND MAINTENANCE
- Fund Operations and Maintenance in order to restore operational readiness to ≥90% across all vehicle and watercraft fleets, and ≥75% across all aircraft fleets.
- Fully fund readiness accounts in order to meet Combatant Commander demand for trained and available units.
Robustly fund RDT&E and procurement to develop, maintain and increase capability overmatch against all potential enemies.
Fully man, train and fund Army acquisition and contracting workforce.
2015 was an active year for the Government Affairs team. We not only welcomed newly-elected members of the 114th Congress, but also welcomed a new director of Government Affairs, John Gifford. Gifford brings with him a profound knowledge of the Army through his 23 years of military service, as well as his role as the former director of Strategic Planning at General Dynamics Corporate Headquarters.
In an atmosphere of change and reform on Capitol Hill, General Sullivan weighed in on many issues important to the Army and our members. He sent letters and contacted key congressional leaders to discuss proposals outlined by the congressionally-mandated Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission in their final report released in January. He also testified before the National Commission on the Future of the Army, a congressionally-mandated commission charged with conducting a comprehensive study of the roles and structure of the Army.
AUSA’s Vice President for Education, LTG Guy C. Swan, USA Ret., submitted testimony to the Joint House–Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. We strongly supported preservation of dual eligibility of uniformed services retirees for VA and DoD health care systems. Along with many other issues, AUSA continues to support legislation that would remove the dollar for dollar offset in military retired pay for any amount of VA disability compensation, not just for those with 50 percent or greater.
The Government Affairs team maintained our visibility on Capitol Hill through meetings with members of Congress and professional staff members on the defense oversight committees. We also strengthened our relationships with the Army and the DoD to ensure our mutual objectives are in the best interests of the Army and its Soldiers.
Several of the goals outlined in our Resolutions were achieved either totally or partially by congressional legislation. While there is still much work to be done, we can report some success toward reaching our goals.
AUSA and its leadership, who have been committed to ending sequestration since its inception in 2011, are very pleased that Congress passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. The legislation will provide the Army with budget stability for Fiscal Years 2016 and 2017 at funding levels above the 2011 Budget Control Act. Sequestration, with its indiscriminate, disproportionate reductions put the nation’s defense posture at serious risk. It deprives defense leaders of the funding certainty and the financial flexibility to properly structure, fund, and maintain our armed forces to meet evolving threats. Sequestration will return in Fiscal Year 2018 if the law is not changed. AUSA will continue to strongly advocate for its repeal.