By Jim Garamone
WASHINGTON, Oct. 17, 2006 – The fiscal 2007 National Defense Authorization Act provides more than $530 billion to maintain the military in the shape it must be to win the war on terror. President Bush signed the bill, officially called the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007, during a small ceremony in the Oval Office this morning. Warner is Virginia's senior senator and the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The act provides $462.8 billion in budget authority for the department. Senate and House conferees added the $70 billion defense supplemental budget request to the act, so overall, the act authorizes $532.8 billion for fiscal 2007.
The $70 billion supplemental provision covers the cost of ongoing operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa, as well as other expenses affiliated with the war on terrorism. The supplemental funding also provides $23.8 billion to help "reset" Army and Marine Corps equipment, which is wearing out faster than originally planned because of the war.
The supplemental measure further provides $2.1 billion for the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Task Force, $1.7 billion to train and equip Iraqi security forces and $1.5 billion to help train and equip Afghan security forces.
The authorization act provides a 2.2 percent pay raise for American servicemembers, effective Jan. 1. It continues the Army at its end-strength of 512,400 and raises the Marine Corps end-strength to 180,000. The Army National Guard end strength is set at 350,000.
The act authorizes the expansion of eligibility for the Tricare health care program to all members of the Selected Reserve while in a non-active-duty status and their families. Payment is set at 28 percent of the premium amount established by DoD. The act also prohibits any increase in Tricare Prime and Tricare Select Reserve in fiscal 2007.
The act authorizes $36.6 billion for operations and maintenance costs, including $700 million for body armor and $149.5 million for ammunition.
The act authorizes construction of seven warships, including the next-generation destroyer and the amphibious assault replacement ship. The act also provides $794 million in advance procurement authority for the next generation aircraft carrier, the CVN-21.
The act sets aside $4.4 billion for 22 C-17 Globemaster III airlifters, $1.4 billion for procurement of 14 Marine V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft and $1.5 billion for 43 MH-60R/S helicopters.
The act authorizes $841 million for 122 Stryker combat vehicles, including $41.5 million to replace combat losses. The act also provides $1.4 billion for 20 F/A-22 Raptor fighters and reduced funding for the F-35 Lightning II fighter due to schedule delays.