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16 Nov 23. DOD, Republic of Korea Ministry of National Defense Enter Into Security of Supply Arrangement.
The Department of Defense today announced entrance into a bilateral, non-binding Security of Supply Arrangement (SOSA) with the Republic of Korea. The arrangement will enable both the U.S. and the Republic of Korea to acquire the industrial resources they need to quickly meet defense requirements, resolve unanticipated disruptions that challenge defense capabilities, and promote supply chain resiliency.
“Allies and partners are foundational to our National Defense Strategy, especially throughout the Indo-Pacific,” said Dr. William A. LaPlante, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment. “This Security of Supply Arrangement represents another important step forward in the seven-decade defense relationship between the U.S. and the Republic of Korea, strengthening the resiliency and security of our national defense programs and furthering opportunity for future, long-term collaboration.”
The SOSA was recently signed by both Dr. LaPlante and Mr. Eom Dong-hwan, Minister of the Defense Acquisition Program Administration.
In the Arrangement, the U.S. and the ROK commit intent to support one another’s priority delivery requests for procurement of critical national defense resources. The U.S. will provide the ROK assurances under the U.S. Defense Priorities and Allocations System (DPAS), with program determinations by DoD and rating authorization by the Department of Commerce (DOC). The ROK will in turn establish a government-industry Code of Conduct with its industrial base, where ROK firms will voluntarily agree to make every reasonable effort to provide the U.S. priority support.
SOSAs are an important mechanism for DoD to strengthen interoperability with defense trade partners. The Arrangements institute working groups, establish communication mechanisms, streamline DoD processes, and proactively act to allay anticipated supply chain issues in peacetime, emergency, and armed conflict. For more information, visit: https://www.businessdefense.gov/security-of-supply.html
The ROK is the sixteenth SOSA partner of the U.S. Other SOSA partners include Australia, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
About the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Industrial Base Policy (OASD (IBP)
The OASD IBP works with domestic and international partners to forge and sustain a robust, secure, and resilient industrial base enabling the warfighter, now and in the future. (Source: U.S. DoD)
16 Nov 23. DOD Official Describes Crucial Role of National Defense Strategy. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III calls the National Defense Strategy the department’s “North Star,” and officials throughout the world are working to implement the strategy and link the strategy to resources, said Mara Karlin, who is performing the duties of the deputy undersecretary of defense for policy.
Karlin just returned from meetings in Australia discussing the trilateral defense agreement between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. Today, she fought off the effects of jet lag to brief reporters on the trip and to mark the one-year anniversary of the release of the National Defense Strategy.
“We continue to see a rapidly changing global balance of military capabilities, an escalation of competitors malign activities, the introduction of emerging technologies, and enduring transboundary challenges that pose difficulties for our collective security for the foreseeable future,” she said. “We have seen increasingly risky and coercive military activities in the Indo-Pacific and an unprovoked brutal invasion of Ukraine. And, of course, we have witnessed the harrowing events in Hamas’ recent terrorist attacks against Israel.”
China, Russia, Iran, terrorism and more present daunting difficulties, she said, but the nation remains committed to facing the challenges and maintaining U.S. leadership in the world.
The strategy implementation in the Indo-Pacific region has been particularly successful, she said. In addition to the AUKUS security agreement among Australia, the United Kingdom and the U.S., there have been agreements with Japan and South Korea. There are additional opportunities with the Philippines and Papua New Guinea. U.S. military relations with India, Indonesia, Singapore and more have become closer. The efforts in the region are “delivering a U.S. military that is more capable, more forward and more deeply integrated with our allies and partners than ever before,” she said.
U.S. forces in the Indo-Pacific are receiving new military capabilities, testing new doctrine and operating in more areas. “Being forward means being more physically visible and agile in the region,” she said. “We’re updating our posture from a concentration of large operating bases in Northeast Asia, and our agreements with Australia, Japan, the Philippines and Papua New Guinea are updating our posture and enabling the U.S. military to be more distributed and resilient.”
Half a world away, U.S. efforts to support Ukraine as it resists Russian invasion also strengthens U.S. deterrence in the Indo-Pacific. “By reinforcing our stance against Russian aggression in Europe, we signal our resolve against all forms of global aggression,” Karlin said. “Russia remains an acute threat …, one that is immediate and sharp. Over the past year and a half since Russia’s invasion, we continue to stand with Ukraine. We have moved assistance with unprecedented speed, including more than $44 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of the Biden administration.”
And the United States is not operating in a vacuum, other NATO and partner nations have matched U.S. support also producing tens of billions of dollars of security assistance as Ukraine pushes back the Russian bear.
The Hamas terror attack on Israel shows terrorist organizations cannot be ignored, and she said the United States maintains the capabilities to respond to contingencies without major impacts to the European or Indo-Pacific theaters.
Secretary Austin is personally involved in overseeing implementation of the highest priority national defense strategy efforts, particularly focusing on the most complex and cross-cutting issues, Karlin said. The secretary routinely meets with DOD leaders to discuss the situation and how they are moving along. Austin has also empowered senior leaders to change their processes, policies and plans to align with the National Defense Strategy.
The department has made tremendous progress in “operationalizing” the defense strategy. “Of course, this work is generational in nature, and we have much work ahead of us,” she said.
“This all marks a major departure from past strategy implementation efforts,” she said. That work will require bipartisan support, she said. “I actually see substantial bipartisan agreement across the American public, across our Congress in terms of the need to focus, in particular, on urgently sustaining and strengthening deterrence vis-a-vis the People’s Republic of China,” Karlin said.
She said she believes that most Americans agree “on the need to make sure we have security and stability in the Indo-Pacific and an understanding why the United States needs to play a role working closely with our allies and partners in ensuring that that is a reality.”
Karlin said U.S. leadership is key to strategic success of the international rules-based order. She said a recent example of the role the U.S. must play is Austin’s trip to Europe and the Middle East last month. “It was, in many ways, a spectacular example of the importance of American leadership,” she said.
On the first day of the trip, the secretary convened the Ukrainian Defense Contact Group with 50-plus allies and partners discussing support to Ukraine. “The next day, he sat in NATO defense ministerial, where there was robust discussion on the tremendous progress that we have seen across NATO, which is getting bigger,” she said.
The very next day, the secretary traveled to Israel to discuss support to the nation as it reeled from the Hamas terror attack. “It’s a role not able to be played by other countries,” she said. ” very much requires the United States to work very closely with other countries from around the world, and I would argue when we are doing that, we see increased security, stability and peace.”
Still, there are Americans who believe the nation does not need allies and partners. “I am hard pressed to find examples where it strategically makes sense for us to operate on our own: Go all the way back to our Revolutionary War and the support that we got from the French,” she said. “The history of the United States is working with allies and partners in various ways, and the evidence is there of just how much stronger we are together.” (Source: U.S. DoD)
16 Nov 23. Readout of Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Kathleen H. Hicks’ Meeting With the Defense Business Board.
Pentagon Spokesman Eric Pahon provided the following readout:
Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks hosted the Defense Business Board’s first quarterly meeting for fiscal year 2023 at the Pentagon on November 14 in a closed, classified session.
During the session, she briefed board members on managing the Department through international crises, to include the Russia-Ukraine war and the Israel-Hamas war, while operating under unprecedented and unnecessary constraints.
Deputy Secretary Hicks discussed the impact of ongoing continuing resolutions and Senate holds on the Department’s readiness and modernization. She emphasized that continuing resolutions delay new programs, disrupt training, and jeopardize our ability to fully execute the National Defense Strategy. She also highlighted the Senate hold on all general and flag officers as unnecessary, unprecedented, and unsafe- creating real gaps in leadership and having impacts on recruitment, retention, and the resilience of the Department’s forces.
Board members asked questions and provided recommendations based on best business practices from the private sector.
Deputy Secretary Hicks thanked the board members for dedicating their time and expertise toward improving Department of Defense business practices, governance, and culture, all of which improve military readiness. More information on DBB’s fourth quarter FY23 meeting is available here: https://dbb.defense.gov/ (Source: U.S. DoD)
16 Nov 23. Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Office Launches Access to Digital On-Demand Learning Platform.
The Department of Defense (DoD) Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Office (CDAO) announced the launch of “Digital On-Demand” today, an initiative to accelerate artificial intelligence (AI) knowledge by providing access to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Horizon’s library of learning resources for the DoD enterprise. The CDAO is opening the MIT Horizon learning platform to all members of the DoD military and civilian workforce providing users with flexible, mobile-friendly options to view the content.
“The CDAO is rolling out Digital On-Demand to foster a baseline understanding of AI systems and other emerging technologies,” said Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Officer Dr. Craig Martell. “This resource demonstrates to the DoD workforce how they fit into the future of these advancements and further enables their adoption throughout the Department.”
The CDAO provides this capability through Digital University, a joint venture of the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force, granting straightforward access to best-in-class training content. Digital –On-Demand can be used y to gain foundational knowledge of certain technologies and as an easy reference tool to provide definitions or explanations of terms and concepts.
The MIT Horizon on-line platform consists of bite-sized learning assets on AI capabilities as well as on other emerging technologies, including the Internet of Things (IoT), 5G, Edge Computing, Generative AI, Cybersecurity, and Big Data Analytics. One goal of providing this first step of entry level AI knowledge is to establish a common language and understanding to enable better communication across the DoD.
“The DoD is on a historical journey of building a digital workforce. When it comes to AI and emerging technologies, it is really important that their employees are all speaking the same language,” said Kathleen Kennedy, senior director of MIT Horizon and executive director of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence. “We are excited to collaborate with DoD on this effort to accelerate AI knowledge and emerging technologies across their entire workforce.”
Today’s launch follows a successful soft launch that occurred earlier this summer to members of the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) workforce. Additionally, in August 2022, the CDAO piloted content into a 101-training program for ~1,200 DoD participants. Results of the pilot showed that 91% of participants found that the content broadened their understanding of AI and 97% found the content relevant to their role.
To utilize the service, users can visit , click “Register,” create an account with a “.mil” email, and search “MIT Horizon.”
About the CDAO
The CDAO became operational in June 2022 and is dedicated to integrating and optimizing artificial intelligence capabilities across the DoD. The office is responsible for accelerating the DoD’s adoption of data, analytics, and AI to enable decision advantage from the boardroom to the battlefield. For more information about the CDAO, please visit our website at ai.mil. You can also connect with the CDAO on LinkedIn (@ DoD Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Office) and X, formally known as Twitter (@dodcdao). Additional updates and news can be found on the CDAO Unit Page on DVIDS. (Source: U.S. DoD)
16 Nov 23. US-China: Regional tensions, trade risks stabilised in short term; tech restrictions will likely remain. On 15 November, US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping reached agreements on critical issues such as military communications following a summit in Woodside (California). Specifically, Biden and Xi agreed to further co-operate in curbing narcotics trafficking, resume military communications, and hold further government talks on artificial intelligence (AI). The meeting indicates a stabilisation in US-China relations. In recent months, regional tensions have significantly impacted trade, with US tariffs on imported Chinese goods averaging 19.3% versus an average of 3% on goods from other nations. There is a realistic possibility that a sustained stabilisation in regional tensions will ease trade tariffs. It is unclear, however, whether increased bilateral engagement will herald a decrease in technology curbs, with elevated regulatory and compliance risks still likely for firms reliant on sensitive technologies. (Source: U.S. DoD)
16 Nov 23. DOD Makes Incremental Progress Toward Clean Audit. The Defense Department is making progress toward the goal of a clean audit, said Michael J. McCord, the undersecretary of defense comptroller and DOD’s chief financial officer.
McCord briefed the press yesterday on the results of the massive audit of the department — the sixth since 2018.
Getting a clean audit is crucial so leaders can manage and lead the department. DOD is one of the largest organizations in the world with $3.8trn in assets and $4trn in liabilities, McCord said.
“The audit comprises 29 standalone audits of the military services and other components, such as the Defense Logistics Agency and several other accounts as well as the department’s consolidated audit,” he said in the briefing. In addition, there is an overall department-wide audit on its own.
The audit is a massive effort conducted by a mix of independent public accounting firms and the DOD Office of the Inspector General.
The bottom line is of the 29 components undergoing stand-alone financial statement audits, seven received an unmodified audit opinion, and one received a qualified opinion. This means the audits found these organizations under compliance. The audits of the U.S. Marine Corps, the Defense Information Systems Agency Working Capital Fund and the DOD Office of Inspector General are still pending. All other DOD components undergoing a stand-alone audit received disclaimers of opinion, which means there were faults, and more work must happen before they come under compliance.
“I want to highlight that while we still have much work to do, our work on the audit over the last few years has yielded significant benefits to the department,” McCord said. “Our efforts to track coordinate and quickly deliver security systems to our allies and partners in Ukraine and now Israel is closely related to the work across the DOD enterprise on readiness.”
The overall results of the sixth annual department-wide audit will again be a disclaimer of opinion, McCord said. “This is not unexpected,” he said.
McCord spoke about the Marine Corps audit, which has been extended. “We are very focused on it as a test case for the department and the larger services,” he said. “The Marines have extension to March 1 because this is a first-time audit. Whatever results of that may be when we get the auditor’s final opinion, I want to commend the USMC and in particular, (Marine Commandant Gen.) Eric Smith for their leadership and effort.”
Putting the audit results in perspective, McCord said favorable opinions cover 50% of DOD’s assets. “This does not mean that the other 50% is unaccounted for,” he said. “The department has tight control of its assets — but too many of our financial management systems, such as some of our property systems of record, still cannot meet auditing standards. We are working hard to accelerate the retirement of these older systems and bring more of our asset records up to accounting standards.”
This is key to the future. The components have eliminated many older systems and put in more modern procedures and technologies. McCord hopes these changes will help to accelerate the process.
McCord also discussed the notices of finding recommendations, known in shorthand as NFRs. “As of Nov. 13, the auditors had validated that we had closed 490 of last year’s 3,008 findings, and we expect that total will continue to increase as the numbers get finalized,” he said.
To date, auditors issued 2,509 new NFRs, of which about 365 were completely new and the other 2,144 were reissued or recurring.
Another deficiency is known as a material weakness. Auditors did find material weaknesses that indicate “a pattern or a whole subject area that needs work,” he said.
The department and its components closed one material weakness and downgraded six material weaknesses, an increase from three in fiscal 2022.
“The department took a major step toward resolving its Fund Balance with Treasury material weakness, one of Secretary of Defense (Lloyd J.) Austin III’s three audit priority areas,” he said.
The Air Force General Fund closed its Fund Balance with Treasury material weakness. It is the first service to fix this foundational issue on one of its financial statements, McCord said.
The Army Working Capital Fund and Navy General Fund both downgraded their Fund Balance with Treasury material weakness.
“The substantial progress made by the services shows that by naming DOD-wide priority areas, concentrating efforts and setting and monitoring metrics, we are collectively having a meaningful effect,” he said.
McCord stressed that the audits are not just nameless, bureaucratic exercises that signify nothing.
“We measure progress across five areas: Workforce Modernization, Business Operations, Quality Decision-Making, Reliable Networks and Enhanced Public Confidence,” he said.
Workforce modernization, for example, is robotics automating manual processes and freeing up labor hours “and allowing our workforce to focus on analytics and more value-added tasks,” he said. All the services and many defense agencies are putting bots to good use.
Business operations are improving, and he pointed to the Marine Corps reducing unsupported, undistributed transactions from $2.2 bn in October 2022 to less than $500,000 in March 2023. This supports more effective leadership decisions, he said.
Data quality efforts give leaders more information. “The Navy reviewed $17 bn unliquidated obligations; validating 97% of the balances met audit requirements, while also uncovering $330 m available for de-obligation,” McCord said. “This provided Navy with greater insight into funds management and optimized use of budgetary resources for mission critical objectives.”
Retiring legacy systems results in more reliable networks, he said. This past year DOD retired 10 audit-relevant systems, three of which were accounting systems used by multiple components over several years.
The process is moving forward, but McCord would like to see it speed up considerably. He called on Congress and defense industry partners to do more to help in the effort.
“Our congressional defense committees can help by doing their part in stabilizing the budget process and avoiding continuing resolutions and repeated threats of government shutdowns, such as the one we are living through yet again this week; by ensuring timely continuity and confirmation of our military and civilian leadership; by providing adequate and consistent resources for replacing DOD legacy systems; and through continued support of the department’s financial transformation efforts,” he said.
Industry partners can help by bringing property in the possession of contractors into audit compliance, providing transparency into the location and condition of DOD assets, and supporting audit progress by complying timely with all audit requirements and requests.
“I commit to accelerating our audit efforts to ensure every decision we make at the department is fiscally informed and empowers global force decision-making,” he said. “Fiscal readiness accelerates mission readiness, and we are working hard to achieve greater financial integrity and increase transparency, in support of decision-making.” (Source: U.S. DoD)
16 Nov 23. Congress approves bill to avert government shutdown; government stability risks remain high. On 15 November, US Congress gave final approval on a continuing resolution to fund federal agencies into early 2024, officially averting a government shutdown. The Senate voted 87 to 11 in favour of the funding, with President Joe Biden likely to sign before the deadline on Friday (17 November). This stopgap measure is set to increase government stability in the short term, but still means Congress has only a few months to reach a governmentwide spending agreement for FY2024. Extreme partisanship in the House of Representatives underlines the difficulties of creating a lasting agreement, meaning there will be a sustained risk to government stability in the medium-to-long term. Internal congressional tensions will be exacerbated by a tight deadline, including holiday leave, and discussion on policy issues like military aid to Israel and Ukraine, driving likely policy stagnation risks. (Source: Sibylline)
15 Nov 23. DoD Completes Annual Department-Wide Financial Statement Audit. The Department of Defense (DoD) fiscal year 2023 audit of the Department’s consolidated financial statements resulted in a disclaimer of opinion. Of the 29 Components undergoing standalone financial statement audits, seven received an unmodified audit opinion, and one received a qualified opinion. The results of the financial statement audits of the U.S. Marine Corps, the Defense Information Systems Agency Working Capital Fund, and the DoD Office of Inspector General are still pending. All other DoD Components undergoing a standalone audit received disclaimers of opinion. The audits resulted in the consolidation of two DoD-wide material weaknesses into one, and the separation of one DoD-wide material weakness into two. No new DoD-wide material weaknesses were reported resulting in no net change in the number of material weaknesses.
The Department took a major step toward resolving its Fund Balance with Treasury material weakness, a Secretary of Defense audit priority area. The Air Force General Fund closed its Fund Balance with Treasury material weakness, making it the first Service to remediate this foundational issue on one of its financial statements. Army Working Capital Fund and Navy General Fund both downgraded their Fund Balance with Treasury material weakness. Importantly, the substantial progress made by the Services shows that by naming DoD-wide priority areas, concentrating efforts, and setting and monitoring metrics, we are collectively having a meaningful effect.
“Auditing the Department’s $3.8trn in assets and $4.0 trillion in liabilities is a massive undertaking,” said Michael McCord, the DoD Under Secretary of Defense and Chief Financial Officer, “but the improvements and changes we are making every day as a result of these audits positively affect every soldier, sailor, airman, marine, guardian, and DoD civilian.”
The Department measures audit progress across five areas: Workforce Modernization, Business Operations, Quality Decision-Making, Reliable Networks, and Enhanced Public Confidence. For example, the Department of the Air Force has deployed a total of 65 bots saving approximately 429,000 labor hours and improving the auditability of business processes. The auditors for the Army tested its construction-in-progress monitoring control and found no unresolved transactions in the clearing account. The Department of the Navy reviewed $17 bn of unliquidated obligations, validating that 97 percent of the balances met audit requirements and uncovering $330 m available for deobligation. And the Department retired 10 audit-relevant legacy systems, 3 of which were accounting systems used by multiple Components. The Department received positive (unmodified or qualified) audit opinions on 27 of 30 of its financial system examinations, with 2 opinions still pending.
The Department successfully resolved three high priority improper payment programs in FY 2023 by reducing monetary losses and restructuring programs to better align with program objectives. Furthermore, the Department prevented other programs from becoming a high priority program in FY 2024 by continued efforts to identify root causes; focus on controls that detect and prevent overpayments; implement or reinforce applicable processes and procedures; and train staff on travel policy guidance and best practices.
“We are working hard to address audit findings as well as recommendations from the Government Accountability Office. The Components are making good progress resulting in meaningful benefits, but we must do more, and we cannot do this alone,” McCord said. He emphasized actions DoD leaders have taken to accelerate audit progress and called on Congress and defense industry partners to do more to help, including:
* On October 13, 2023, the Secretary of Defense issued a memorandum to the Secretaries of the Military Departments and Principal Staff Assistants emphasizing and reinforcing expectations for supporting the DoD financial statement audits, including actions necessary to implement and report on recommendations provided by the Government Accountability Office for achieving an unmodified audit opinion.
* The Planning, Programming, Budget, and Execution process requires collaboration across DoD’s planners and programmers, the DoD financial management community, DoD leadership, the Office of Management and Budget, and Congress to ensure alignment of priorities and resources. Congress can help us to optimize our budget to execution by enabling us to refine our process to reduce outdated regulations and policies and streamline end-to-end standard capabilities. This will result in total funds visibility and ultimately help us all deliver defense mission capabilities faster and with more agility.
* Congress can further help by stabilizing the budget process and avoiding continuing resolutions and government shutdowns; ensuring timely continuity and confirmation of leadership; providing adequate and consistent resources for replacing DoD legacy systems; aligning regulatory guidance to DoD-specific financial reporting challenges; and advocating for continued support of the financial statement audits.
* Defense industry partners can help by introducing innovative, time-saving enterprise solutions; bringing property in the possession of contractors into audit compliance; providing transparency into the location and condition of DoD assets; providing compliant, innovative, and affordable enterprise solutions; and supporting audit progress by complying timely with all audit requirements and requests.
This was the sixth consecutive audit of the Department’s financial statements. For more information, please see the Department’s Agency Financial Report at https://comptroller.defense.gov/odcfo/afr/. (Source: U.S. DoD)
16 Nov 23. Congress passes stopgap funding bill, hampering Pentagon initiatives. Congress on Wednesday passed a temporary spending bill needed to avoid a government shutdown, funding military construction through Jan.19 and the rest of the Defense Department through Feb. 2.
It’s the second short-term funding bill, or continuing resolution, Congress passed in two months, freezing budgets at the last fiscal year’s level. If lawmakers fail to pass a full defense spending bill, the Pentagon could face a year-long continuing resolution for FY24.
The lack of a full defense spending bill for the first four months of the fiscal year will hamper Pentagon contracting as the Defense Department seeks to accelerate it. Defense officials spent the week warning publicly that programs from shipbuilding to Air Force procurement to the wilted munitions industrial base will be harmed.
“It’s the additive domino effect of delays, and the particularly hard hit on the sub-tier supplier base that really on the acquisition side compounds the problem,” Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Radha Plumb told Defense News.
She pointed to counter-Unmanned Aircraft Systems slated for delivery in 2024 and 2025 and that could be delayed by the continuing resolution. Plumb also noted that the short-term spending bills threaten Pentagon subcontractors, who depend on stable revenue.
Plumb’s boss, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Bill LaPlante, told the Politico Defense Summit on Tuesday that continuing resolutions have a “devastating effect” and can lead to layoffs within the defense industry.
“If the [continuing resolution] ends in January…the money that goes will not flow out to the commands that do the contracting probably until about May because of all the processes,” said LaPlante. “Nothing happens without contracting.”
The short-term funding bills cascade delays in Pentagon contracting and can punt scheduled training to later dates. But they at least avoid some of the most disastrous impacts caused by government shutdowns, which threaten troop pay and furlough most civilian workers.
The Senate on Wednesday passed 87-11 the bifurcated continuing resolution to fund military construction through January 19 and the Defense Department through February 2. The House voted 336-95 to pass it on Tuesday. President Joe Biden is expected to sign the measure into law.
More House Democrats voted to pass the bill than Republicans. House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., had to use the same procedural mechanism to move it to the floor that his predecessor, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., resorted to for passage of the first short-term funding bill in September.
This tactic led to McCarthy’s ouster as speaker in a vote instigated by a handful of right-wing Republicans. But that same group of lawmakers has not sought to oust Johnson despite their opposition to the second continuing resolution.
Shortly after voting on the continuing resolution on Wednesday, the Senate also voted to begin conference negotiations with the House on the FY24 defense authorization bill. Still, Congress must also agree on final spending levels and legislation for the full FY24 military construction and defense appropriations bills to fund that authorization bill.
‘A screeching halt’
Inside the continuing resolution is a rare exemption that allows the Navy to begin building the second Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine before Congress passes a full FY24 defense budget. The Navy requested this carveout to keep the program from falling behind an already tight schedule, which could potentially create a nuclear deterrence gap.
“This is a critical exception for the Navy’s number one acquisition priority that will ensure construction remains on schedule as our shipyards and suppliers dramatically ramp up capacity,” said Rep. Joe Courtney, the top Democrat on the Armed Services Committee’s sea power panel, whose district includes the Electric Boat shipyard that builds the submarines.
Still, the Navy can’t proceed with three of its six shipbuilding programs until Congress passes a full FY24 defense spending bill: the Virginia-class attack submarine, the Constellation-class frigate and a submarine tender replacement.
Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said at the Center for a New American Security on Monday that the continuing resolutions bring new initiatives “to a screeching halt.” About a dozen of the service’s new starts would remain in limbo without Congressional approval.
Among the programs affected, Kendall said, would be the Air Force’s C3 battle management system, part of the Pentagon’s larger goal to form a unified network powered by artificial intelligence. Spending on the system, he said, was scheduled to double next year but can’t without a full spending bill.
Kendall also noted that the Air Force has multiyear procurement requests for three munitions pending before Congress: the Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile, the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile and the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range.
The Pentagon hopes using multiyear buys for munitions, a mechanism usually reserved for larger items like ships and aircraft, will help ramp up that sector of the industrial base, which is lagging as the U.S. rushes massive amounts of weaponry to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.
Plumb, the Pentagon acquisition official, noted that continuing resolutions also hamper Defense Department efforts to ramp up munitions production for items such as 155mm artillery shells.
“We’re looking to get 100,000 rounds per month, and we need the workforce and the machines and the factories to be able to do that,” said Plumb. “All of that gets delayed, and that’s on a more traditional munition.”
“You can look at the other timelines in terms of new starts and new technologies that need to get integrated in,” she added. “That looks even worse.”
If Congress ultimately fails to pass a full FY24 defense budget, the May debt ceiling agreement mandates that a full-year continuing resolution with a 1% cut from FY23 spending levels goes into effect.
“We’ve sadly learned to adapt our business practices to manage through these more short term [continuing resolutions],” Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said at the Politico Defense summit. “Heaven forbid if we went closer to a year continuing resolution, then yes, some of our new modernization programs would be significantly disrupted.” (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
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