Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Homegrown Terror: Reservists as First Responders

The recent passage of the FY12 NDAA adds $1 billion to the National Guard and Reserve Equipment Account to ensure that the Reserve Components are prepared for their national defense, disaster response, and homeland security missions. Earlier this month, ROA attended a joint-committee hearing during which lawmakers considered the threats associated with homegrown terrorism. What role should the RC have in deterring and responding to terrorist threats at home? Read and discuss:

The first-ever Joint House committee on Homeland Security and Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee hearing was held on Wednesday, December 7, 2011. The hearing, chaired by Congressman Peter King (R-NY) and Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) examined the threat of homegrown terrorism on the United States military. With investigations into the 2009 shooting at Fort Hood in Texas, and other multiple thwarted terror plot attempts aimed at the United States military, the increased threat of homegrown terrorism has been brought to light. The Reserve Officers Association attended and observed the hearing.

The hearing featured a panel that included testimony from Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Stockton, Director and co-founder of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point Lieutenant Colonel Reid Sawyer, and U.S. Army Senior Advisor Jim Stuteville. This panel focused on the steps being taken by the Department of Defense to identify, report, and respond to domestic terrorist threats on the U.S. military, particularly those homegrown terrorists to covertly enter the military or radicalize after entering the military.

Currently, the Department of Defense is focusing on methods to identify potential internal terrorists by teaching awareness of potentially violent behavior. Part of the controversy surrounding this approach, however, is the Department’s and the Administration’s refusal to formally acknowledge radical Islam as a potential threat. Some on the committee, including Chairman King and Chairman Lieberman, believe the military should be identifying ideological extremism to address potential threats. Others, on the other hand, believe that identifying a religion would alienate all Muslim service members. 

In an article published in The Officer magazine last September, ROA’s Director of Legislation, CAPT Marshall Hanson, USNR (Ret.) explored the issue of homegrown terrorism. In this article, he argued that terrorism does not have to be part of a huge plot; rather, terrorism can be an individual act:

 “The point of terrorism is terror. An extensive organization is not needed. Terrorists don’t need to inflict massive casualties to generate terror; they just need to deliver fear. For terrorism to succeed, it must first create a state of mind, which in turn leads to a chain of events that terrorists wish to set in motion, leading to the fulfilling of the terrorist’s political goals.”

Reservists and Guardsmen play a vital role in countering or mitigating terrorist attacks. The National Guard has the mission of homeland security and, Reservists may play a more crucial role through Title 10 of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY-2012. Title 10 authorizes Reservists to be the first responders to natural and man-made disasters. This bill has passed Congress, and is awaiting the President’s signature. With a more vital role on the home front, Congress must consider individual acts as being terrorist-related and must take the necessary precautions. As Hanson contends, “to discount individual acts as not being terrorist-related is to ignore the extent of the real threat, which can ultimately serve terrorist goals.”

A Quick Look at the FY-2012 Defense Appropriations

FY-2011 was a frustrating time for government funding. During that economic year, funding was provided by a series of concurrent receipts, which affected the Department of Defense by limiting procurement, personnel moves, and training periods for the Guard and Reserve. Recognizing this frustration, the Senate passed a nine agency omnibus appropriations bill for FY-2012, on Saturday, December 17, 2011. Learning from the challenges of the FY-2011 budget, this substantial bill provides funding for the federal government through September 30, 2012.

The budget legislation included the Fiscal Year 2012 Defense; Energy and Water Development; Financial Services and General Government; Homeland Security; Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies; Labor, Health, and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies; Legislative Branch; Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies; and State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations bills.

The consolidated appropriations bill allocates $633 billion for the Department of Defense. Keeping with the spending cuts directed by the Budget Control Act of 2011, this amount is a $20.8 billion reduction from the President’s request for the base defense budget. Nevertheless, as Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye summarized at a committee press conference:

This agreement takes care of our men and women in uniform and their families, fully supports military readiness, protects the forces, and maintains our technological edge…At the same time, it reins in defense spending and takes important steps to improve the Department’s fiscal accountability. The conference agreement recommends 775 reductions to individual programs, primarily because of program terminations or delays, changes to policies or programs since the submission of the budget ten months ago, or inadequate justification in an era of fiscal discipline. 

The base budget appropriation for the Department of Defense is $518.1 billion, an increase of $5.1 billion over the FY-2011 level. The Defense bill also allots $115.1 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) of the Department of Defense, a reduction of $2.5 billion from the amount requested by the President.

Included in the Overseas Contingency Operations section of the bill are funds for current military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq for fiscal year 2012. The funding allots the necessary budget needed as the last troops exited Iraq in December 2011. In the exiting procedure, military facilities are turning over to either the U.S. State Department, or the Iraqi military. The funding also includes adjustments for the drawdown of 10,000 troops from Afghanistan by December 2011, and an additional 23,000 withdrawn by the end of September 2012.   

The bill funds an active duty end strength of 1,422,600, and reserve component end strength of 847,100. It fully funds a 1.6 percent authorized pay raise for military personnel.

The Defense legislation also adds $1 billion to the National Guard and Reserve Equipment Account to ensure that the Reserve Components are prepared for their national defense, disaster response, and homeland security missions: dovetailing with a separate Defense Authorization bill which calls for the use of Title 10 Reservists in responding to natural and manmade disasters. 

The Defense legislation recommends $33.1 billion for the Defense Health Program, an increase of $900 million from the fiscal year 2011 level.  Earlier in the year, the Pentagon claimed that its health care costs were $50 billion, reflecting the accounting challenges faced when tracking where health dollars are actually spent. The recommendation still permits increases in TRICARE Prime enrollment fees, and larger co-payments for prescriptions.

To meet the spending allocation, the bill proposes 775 reductions to programs requested in the budget. These cuts are made as a result of program terminations or delays, changes to policies or programs since submission of the budget in February 2011, inadequate justification, or corrections to poor fiscal discipline in the Department of Defense. 

The following are examples of some of the bill’s major reductions:
  • Joint Strike Fighter – Funds production at 31 aircraft and reduces production ramp in FY 2013 to reduce concurrency in developmental test and production and limit the cost of modification bills in the future.
  • Joint Light Tactical Vehicle – Supports the restructured Army and Marine Corps program, which is projected to reduce development costs by $500 million.
  • Ground Combat Vehicle – Proposes reductions to the Army Ground Combat Vehicle due to schedule delays and changes to the acquisition strategy.
  • Defense Weather Satellite System (DWSS) – Directs the cancellation of DWSS and provides funds for a new competitive development program.
  • Joint Tactical Radio Systems – Eliminates funding for the Ground Mobile Radio and the Airborne/Maritime Fixed Radio due to delayed production decisions, and eliminates increases for premature Manpack capability enhancements.
  • Theater High Altitude Area Defense – Reduces funding for interceptors that cannot be produced in FY2012.
  • Double-Funding of Congressional Initiatives – Eliminates requests for combat loss replacement of aircraft and other equipment which were funded by Congress in Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2011, but were also included in the Administration’s 2012 budget.
  • Rescissions – Cuts $2.6 billion in prior year funds that are excess to defense needs due to program terminations, schedule delays, or contract savings.
  • Funding Identified as Excess – Removes billions of dollars identified by the Department of Defense that are no longer required in FY2012.
In a later article, the Reserve Officers Association will be taking a closer look at equipment appropriations and how it will be affecting overall mission strategies. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

NDAA Conference Report for FY-2012: An Overview for the RC

Last week, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Conference convened between members of Congress and the Senate to review and debate provisions for the policy-setting legislation which authorizes the budget authority of the Department of Defense and the national security programs for the Department of Energy. On Thursday, December 8, 2011, the Reserve Officers Association submitted a letter to the leadership of the Conference, highlighting provisions that were included in the House-passed version of the bill. During this crucial time for the future of the Reserve Component, ROA maintained that an operational Reserve Component is a forefront issue to a new generation of citizen warriors that does not want to be placed back “on the shelf” in merely a strategic role. As a result, on Monday, December 12, 2011, Leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees announced that they had reached an agreement on the policy-setting legislation and released a $554 billion NDAA Conference Report for the Fiscal Year 2012 that melds the Senate and House versions of the NDAA into a single document.

Overall, the NDAA includes $530 billion for the Department of Defense and another $11.1 billion for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. Another $115.5 billion was authorized by the conferees for overseas contingency operations. These funding levels were reduced from the House and Senate’s versions of the bill, as well as from President Obama’s FY2012 budget request. In addition, these cuts are keeping with the Budget Control Act’s requirement to cut Defense spending by $465 billion over the next ten years.

The Report included provisions for National Guardsmen and Reservists, some of which ROA supported. While the conferees promise to deliver a report that will compare the cost of the Reserve Component units and the Active Duty units, they were able to establish the following provisions:
  • End strengths remain the same for all forces, except the Navy Reserve and the Air Force Reserve. These end strengths will increase by 700 and 200, respectfully.
  • The Chief of the National Guard Bureau will formally become a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. A Vice Chief of Staff will be reinstituted into the infrastructure of the Guard Bureau.
  • Fully qualified National Guard flag and general officers must be considered for the position of the Commander, Army North Command or Commander, Air Force North Command.
  • National Guard and Reserves are authorized $325 million for equipment.
  • Title 10 Reserve Component members will be able to provide assistance domestically in response to natural or man-made disasters up to 120 days. A call-up authority will enable service secretaries to order up to 60,000 Reserve Component members for preplanned and budget missions in support of a combatant command. This provision comes after a four year effort to reach agreement on language between states and federal agencies.
  • Employment rights established by the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) will extend to certain National Guardsmen who were called to duty to respond to a national emergency that was supported by federal funds.
  • The Secretary of Defense will be authorized to provide members of the Reserve Components access to mental health assessments by a licensed professional during periods of inactive duty training.
  •  The U.S. Comptroller General will submit a review of the Department of Defense system of space-available. This study will then determine the capacity, logistics impact, and any additional costs of the system.
  • A death gratuity benefit to the survivors of Reserve Component members who die in the residences during a period of inactive-duty training will be established.

While it may seem that these provisions are moving forward in Congress, they may not be passed in the White House. The final bill contains language about detainees that reaffirms the military’s responsibility and authority to detain Al Qaeda terrorists. However, this detainee language goes against the White House and President Obama’s agenda. Therefore, President Obama has threatened to veto the bill. This would only delay a final passage until sometime in January, 2012. 

With the complete withdrawal of troops from Iraq occurring in the next few weeks, as well as the drawdown from Afghanistan, time is of the essence for the armed forces and national security. Now is a time when a defense policy and budget needs to be established. As has already been witnessed, the Reserve Component plays a vital role in defense and national security and will increasingly continue to do so in the next year. With a more vital role, the men and women of our nation’s Reserve Component will face challenges equally unique to their role as citizen warriors. The Reserve Officers Association recognizes these issues and continues to address and to advocate for provisions that would benefit national security and the Reserve Component.