2016 Defense Bill Could Put Troops At Risk

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Yesterday the Senate passed the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act in a 91-3 vote. The defense bill funds military operations to a figure of $599.2 to over $600 billion for the next fiscal year (depending on estimates) however, a small provision has raised alarm within the military community.

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Courtesy of The Hill:

A little-noticed provision in the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act would take away the Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Agency’s (JIDA) independent status and subsume the office into an existing Pentagon agency — which critics say would essentially kill its work in coping with improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

Over 2,500 United States service men and woman have lost their lives in Afghanistan and Iraq due to IEDs since the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom in October 2001. This provision is coming at a time when the use of IEDs has gone up by ISIS within the Middle East:

A U.S. military commander who recently returned from Iraq said ISIS’s use of vehicle-borne IEDs has “become more significant.”

The Hill also reports:

The agency’s research, development and acquisition activities would also be moved to an existing military department or defense agency. It’s not clear whether these functions would all survive or go to the same department or agency. It’s also not clear what will happen to the agency’s 400 government and civilian staff.

JIDA’s supporters argue that all of its parts work together as a network. The move risks breaking up the agency into parts that won’t be as effective.

“There’s no question it will kill it,” Gouré said. “Once you bury it in a larger organization, it immediately becomes a small part of something big, but different — not the same.”

The JIDA once operated on a cost of $3.9 billion per year which would dwindle to $432 million if the the program is successfully transitioned into another department in nine months. If there isn’t a transition within that time period no funding will go to the program, meaning the agency dealing with protecting military personnel from IEDs will not receive a penny of tax payer funding.

This revelation is maddening, the agency tasked with fighting against the number one killer of American lives overseas has been minimized in such a way that it not receiving any funding going forward. Not to mention, that it will no longer act on its own accord. The JIDA will now become even more entrenched in bureaucracy, while Republican candidates for President are all but promising more military intervention in Iraq and Syria.

To compare the nonpartisan NDAA is financing the F-35A aircraft -which will not be combat ready until 2018- to a total of over $4 billion during the 2016 fiscal year:

The Senate amendment contained a provision (sec. 133) that would limit the availability of fiscal year 2016 funds for F 35A procurement to not more than $4.3 billion until the Secretary of Defense certifies to the congressional defense committees that F-35A aircraft delivered in fiscal year 2018 will have full combat capability with currently planned Block 3F hardware, software, and weapons carriage.

Over $5 billion is being allocated to a submarine program, supporting a ten boat deal between the Navy and defense contractor Electric Boat. Without spending months researching it is clear that our government could easily find the funding to make the JIDA viable and stay independent.

Another eye opening portion of the bill is the following:

Of the funds authorized to be appropriated by this Act or otherwise made available for fiscal year 2016 for aircraft procurement, Air Force, not more than $4,285,000,000 may be obligated for the procurement of F-35A aircraft until the Secretary of the Air Force certifies to the congressional defense committees that F-35A aircraft delivered during fiscal year 2018 will have full combat capability, as determined as of the date of the enactment of this Act, with Block 3F hardware, software, and weapons carriage.

Over $4 billion going to funding an aircraft that has already had over $1 trillion dumped into what is seemingly a failed experiment. Yet, politicians cannot allocate the money necessary into life saving measures for those they send into war.



Mainstream journalists need to pressure politicians about the JIDA, but that is unlikely to happen. As most of the attention has gone to other portions of the legislation.

You can read each version of the NDAA here, which is expected to be signed by President Obama unlike HR 1735 (Vetoed on October 22) which can be found here.

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