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Defense Authorization Bill

 By Jim Garamone

 American Forces Press Service

 

 WASHINGTON, Oct. 31, 2000 -- A 3.7 percent military pay

 raise, TRICARE changes, military modernization and lifetime

 medical benefits are just some of the aspects of the Floyd

 D. Spence National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal

 Year 2001 that President Clinton signed into law Oct. 30.

 

 The act gives DoD permission to spend an authorized overall

 budget of $309.9 billion. The fiscal 2001 appropriations

 act signed in August actually provided the money.

 

 The authorization act set total military fiscal 2001 end

 strength at 1,382,242. The Army's end strength is 480,000;

 the Navy's, 372,642; Air Force's, 357,000; and the

 Marines', 172,600. The Selected Reserve end strength is

 874,664 with the Army National Guard's at 350,526, the Army

 Reserve's 205,300 and the Naval Reserve's at 88,900. The

 Marine Corps Reserve will have 39,558 members, the Air

 National Guard is set at 108,022; the Air Force Reserve at

 74,358; and the Coast Guard Reserve, 8,000.

 

 End strength is down 3,190 from fiscal 2000 for the active

 force and up by 4,366 for the Selected Reserve.

 

 Service members did particularly well in quality of life

 expenditures. In addition to the 3.7 percent across-the-

 board pay raise that goes into effect Jan. 1, 2001, service

 members in pay grades E-5 to E-7 will receive a targeted,

 one-time monthly raise of $32 to $59 starting July 1, 2001.

 

 Congress has added funds to the Basic Allowance for Housing

 to reduce out-of-pocket expenses service members must pay

 if they live off base. Currently, service members living

 off base pay an average of 19 percent of their housing

 costs out-of-pocket. The money will bring that average to

 15 percent in fiscal 2001. The legislation authorizes the

 defense secretary to raise BAH rates to eliminate out-of-

 pocket expenses by fiscal 2005.

 

 The act extends the military housing privatization program.

 The program allows commercial firms to build and run

 military family housing areas.

 

 Another pay action calls for active and reserve military

 personnel to be able to use the Thrift Savings Plan. The

 plan, long a part of the Federal Employees Retirement

 System, would allow military personnel to invest a

 percentage of their pre-tax pay toward retirement. Taxes on

 participants' investments and earnings are deferred while

 in the plan. Details remain to be worked out, but the act

 calls for the system to be up and running 360 days after

 the president signs the legislation.

 

 The budget changes the TRICARE military medical system in

 several ways. For active duty personnel, TRICARE Prime

 Remote now covers family members as well as active duty

 personnel. The act also eliminates co-payments for active

 duty family members enrolled in TRICARE Prime. It also

 allows travel reimbursements to those who must go more than

 100 miles to see a TRICARE health-care provider.

 

 The biggest TRICARE change, however, covers Medicare-

 eligible retirees. The act restructures TRICARE to allow

 Medicare-eligible military retirees and their family

 members to continue their coverage beginning in fiscal

 2002. Under the plan, Medicare-eligible beneficiaries would

 pay no co-pays, deductibles or TRICARE enrollment fees or

 premiums. Retirees can receive care under Medicare; also,

 any medical expense not covered by Medicare will be paid by

 TRICARE.

 

 The act also expands the mail-order pharmacy service to

 cover all beneficiaries, including Medicare-eligible

 retirees.

 

 The act authorizes $63.2 billion in procurement. The

 account, also called modernization, hits the $60 billion

 number Defense Secretary William S. Cohen called for in

 1997.

 

 Big ticket items in procurement include $4 billion for a

 Nimitz-class carrier, $2.7 billion for three Arleigh Burke-

 class destroyers, $1.2 billion for a Virginia-class attack

 submarine and $1.5 billion for two San Antonio-class

 amphibious ships. The act also funds 16 MV-22 Osprey tilt-

 rotor aircraft, 12 C-17 strategic airlift jets and 10 F-22

 Raptor stealth aircraft.

 

 The act funds Army transformation efforts to the tune of

 $1.3 billion in fiscal 2001. These efforts will result in a

 more mobile and more lethal force able to cover the range

 of operations the Army may face in the future. The act

 calls on the Army secretary to report to the Senate and

 House armed services committees with a "road map" charting

 the progress of the Army through 2012. The act authorizes

 the Army to procure medium-weight armored vehicles to test

 them against the transformation concept.

 

 The act provides $2.1 billion for the National Missile

 Defense program and $2.7 billion for Theater Missile

 Defense. TMD breaks down to $550 million for the Theater

 High-Altitude Missile Defense program, $462.7 million for

 the Navy Theater-Wide program, $274.2 million for the Navy

 Area Defense program, and $365.5 million to procure

 additional Patriot-3 missiles.

 

 The Joint Strike Fighter is the next generation ground

 attack aircraft. The mammoth program will provide single-

 engine attack aircraft to the Air Force, Navy and Marine

 Corps. Congress is concerned the services are rushing the

 program. The total authorization for JSF in fiscal 2001 is

 $688.6 million. In the act, Congress called on the defense

 secretary to report on the criteria before the JSF enters

 the engineering, manufacturing and development phase of the

 procurement. DoD cannot enter this phase until the defense

 secretary certifies the key technologies in the craft are

 "sufficiently mature."

 

 Other procurement actions include:

 

 $244.2 million for Joint Direct Attack Munitions. These

 precision-guided weapons proved their worth over Yugoslavia

 and are the focus of NATO's Defense Capabilities

 Initiative.

 

 $109.2 million for Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles,

 the "UAV of the future." The act also provides $32.1

 million to upgrade the current Predator UAV.

 

 $149.8 million for two F-15E Eagle all-weather air-to-

 surface aircraft.

 

 $46 million for a 16th E-8C Joint Surveillance and Target

 Attack Radar System aircraft.

 

 $614 million for the Army Comanche helicopter

 engineering, manufacturing and development program phases.

 There are two prototypes. Initial operating capability is

 set for fiscal 2006.

 

 $206 million for 18 Black Hawk helicopters for the Army

 National Guard -- 16 regular and two air ambulances.

 

 $39.9 billion for fiscal 2001 research and development,

 including $85 million for the Air Force Airborne Laser

 program, $24.4 million for chemical and biological

 protection R&D, $30 million for high-energy laser research,

 $274 million for R&D for the Navy's 21st century aircraft

 carrier, and $539.8 million for R&D of the Navy's future

 Zumwalt-class destroyers.

 
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