“Prioritizes higher personnel and readiness levels over procurement”

The Senate and House armed services committees have agreed upon a compromise National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 that prioritizes higher personnel and readiness levels over procurement of ships and aircraft. Senior armed services committee aides told reporters this afternoon that their compromise bill includes $3.2 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) spending aimed at adding 16,000 soldiers, 4,000 airmen and 3,000 Marines to the force. That money covers not only the military personnel costs associated with the higher force but also increased operations and maintenance costs. “One of the things that we were really focused on was getting after the readiness issues,” an aide said. “All that money went to readiness issues, particularly in the area of end strength,” with an eye specifically towards “operations and support for Air Force and Marine Corps aviation readiness shortfalls.” Marine and Navy aviation leaders have said that barriers to rebuilding readiness go beyond just funding for personnel and flight hours and also include a lack of spare parts to keep planes ready, a backlog of planes at depot maintenance facilities and other logistics and maintenance-related issues. The armed services committee aides said money was reallocated within the base budget, keeping within the Bipartisan Budget Agreement spending caps, to increase funding for aviation spares and maintenance to further help boost aviation readiness.

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