Defense budget ready for a vote

Defense budget ready for a vote

House and Senate conferees today approved a $445.6 billion budget for the Defense Department and the national security programs of the Energy Department for fiscal 2005, that increases funding for science and technology, establishes a rapid acquisition process and sets a deadline for DOD to submit transition plans to move to Internet Protocol Version 6.

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005 will soon go before the full House and Senate for a vote, before it is sent to President Bush to sign.

"A lesson learned from the ongoing global war on terrorism is that DOD's current acquisition system cannot respond in a timely manner to urgent requests for combat equipment by commanders in the battlefield," according to the report. "The goal of the rapid acquisition process is that the time from a combatant commander's request to contract award shall be no more than 15 days."

To that end, conferees approved a plan to allow the Secretary of Defense to waive provisions of law, policies and regulations, research, development and tests, and the solicitation and award process in order to procure equipment when combat casualties have occurred.

In the spending plan, conferees also gave the Defense secretary until March 31 of next year to submit his plans to transition to IPv6 from Internet Protocol version 4. The secretary's plan should outline the networking and security system equipment that will need to be replaced, and the timing and costs of the replacement.

The act also directs the Defense secretary to detail how the current and new networks and security systems will be managed, and submit finished tests and evaluations of how the new protocol faired over the department's networks.

The committee also instructed the Defense secretary to establish a joint program office to improve the interoperability of battlefield management command and control systems.

The goal is for the military to access a common operational picture of the battlefield via a common systems architecture.

Other highlights of the proposal include:

  • $11.2 billion for the DOD science and technology program, including funding for basic research, applied research and advanced technology development. If approved, this would increase the president's budget request for science and technology by more than $500 million.

  • $4.3 billion for Navy and Air Force development of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. This proposal decreases the request by $126 million for the Navy and $134 million for the Air Force.

  • $1.5 billion to continue development of the high-tech DD(X) surface combatant ships, which marks an increase of $40 million over the request.

  • $2.9 billion for the Army's Future Combat Systems program, which will include 18 manned and unmanned vehicles connected by a common network. If approved, this decreases the president's budget request by $270 million.

  • $75 million for space-based radar, a proposal that slashes the budget request by more than $240 million.

  • $40 million to procure 2,241 movement tracking systems. MTS is a satellite-based communications system currently being used in OIF and OEF to give troops real-time Global Positioning System vehicle tracking and two-way text messaging.

  • $60.2 million for the Combating Terrorism Technology Support Program, which looks at technologies that may help combat terrorism.


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