Webb backs defense authorization

Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., said the passage on Wednesday of the National Defense Authorization Act will improve the quality of life of our men and women in uniform while enhancing their operational capabilities throughout the world. The bill now goes to the president for his signature.

“The passage of the defense authorization reflects our continued commitment to improve the quality of life of our all-volunteer force, and to enable them to carry out their vital operational roles, including counterinsurgency and stability operations,” said Webb, who serves as chairman of the Personnel Subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Armed Services.

The Fiscal Year 2011 NDAA (HR 6523) authorizes a 1.4 percent across-the-board pay raise as requested by the president. During his subcommittee’s consideration of the bill earlier this year, Sen. Webb proposed providing additional compensation to service members performing the most dangerous and hazardous duties during direct combat operations.

This proposal was incorporated in the Senate-House Joint Explanatory Statement accompanying the bill, which urges the Department of Defense to accelerate implementation of previously authorized special pay increases during 2011 “… in a tiered manner that recognizes the increased daily stress and exposure to danger experienced by those service members most engaged in the fight.”

The NDAA also:

  • Provides full funding for a number of Navy programs, including: Carrier Replacement Program, Virginia-class submarine, DDG-1000, DDG-51, Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), LHA(R) amphibious assault ship, Joint High Speed Vessel, and Mobile Landing Platform.
  • Provides full funding ($3.4 billion) for the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle (MRAP) fund that funds the development, testing, production, and sustainment of the MRAP vehicles and new MRAP All Terrain Vehicles.
  • Enhances the capability of the armed forces to conduct counterinsurgency operations.
  • Addresses the threats from nuclear weapons and materials by strengthening and accelerating nonproliferation programs, maintaining a credible nuclear deterrent, reducing the size of the nuclear weapons stockpile, and ensuring the safety, security, and reliability of the stockpile, the delivery systems, and the nuclear infrastructure.
  • Authorizes important health-care, education, and family support provisions, including TRICARE coverage for eligible dependents up to age 26.
  • Extends for one year the prohibition on increasing the premium and copayment for TRICARE Prime, charges for inpatient care in civilian hospitals under TRICARE Standard, and cost sharing requirements for drugs provided through the TRICARE retail pharmacy.

Edited by Chris Graham. Chris can be reached at freepress2@ntelos.net.



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