a deadline fast approaching, President Barack Obama signed the latest
National Defense Authorization Act to fund the Pentagon in 2017 into
law Friday, according to ranking members of the House Armed Services
passed the military funding bill on December 14, leaving a deadline
of December 26 for Obama to sign or veto the legislation. The
president chose to sign, rather than let it become law without his
House Armed Services Committee confirmed the news via Twitter.
$619 billion bill not only overspends what the Obama administration
requested by more than $3 billion, it also increases troop numbers at
least 23,000 more than what the White House wanted.
Obama released a lengthy statement Friday, highlighting portions of
the legislation he supports and reluctantly authorized. Among them,
he mentioned provisions that put the US cyber command as a fully
separate combat command.
I appreciate the Congress's interest in strengthening our Nation's
cyber capabilities and ensuring that the NSA and CYBERCOM are best
positioned to confront the array of cyber threats we
face," Obama said.
do not support these provisions as drafted: the Congress should leave
decisions about the establishment of combatant commands to the
executive branch and should not place unnecessary and bureaucratic
administrative burdens and conditions on ending the dual-hat
arrangement at a time when the speed and nature of cyber threats
requires agility in making decisions about how best to organize and
manage the Nation's cyber capabilities."
and anti-US propaganda
naming the controversial “Countering
Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act,” which
was introduced by Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) before being placed in
the 2017 NDAA, Obama mentioned it in generally favorable terms.
Critics point to the law authorizing grants in order to track anti-US
propaganda as a form of the US government itself pushing propaganda
on its own domestic population, in the guise of highlighting
so-called fake news.
supports the bill's structural reform of the Broadcasting Board of
Governors (BBG), which streamlines BBG operations and reduces
inefficiencies, while retaining the longstanding statutory firewall,
protecting against interference with and maintaining the professional
independence of the agency's journalists and broadcasters and thus
their credibility as sources of independent news and information."
Bay detention camp
Guantanamo Bay detention center was one of the primary issues
addressed on Friday by the president, who reprimanded Congress for
again passing "unwarranted
and counterproductive" restrictions
on detainee transfers and denying the Obama administration the
ability to appropriate funds to close the facility.
further criticized Congress for limiting federal agencies' ability to
put employees on administrative leave, as well as failing to "divest
unneeded force structure, reduce wasteful overhead, and modernize
military healthcare," which
Obama warned would "degrade,
not enhance, readiness and modernization, contrary to our senior
civilian and military leaders' priorities."
president also expressed discontent with "section
1263(d) [which] purports to require me to determine whether a
foreign person has committed a sanctionable human rights violation
when I receive a request to do so from certain members of Congress."
will maintain my discretion to decline to act on such requests when
added, citing the Constitution's separation of powers doctrine. This
individual sanctions provision is scheduled to sunset in 2023.
supporting foreign forces
the 2017 NDAA allows Syrian rebels vetted by US intelligence to
receive Man-Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS), requiring the
Pentagon and the State Department to file extensive documentation
with Congress, including details of the weaponry provided, the
recipient’s location and the intelligence assessment, including “a
description of the alignment of such element within the broader
conflict in Syria.” The
report would need to include a justification for supplying the
an explanation of the purpose and expected employment of such
new law also increases military aid to the Kiev government to $350
million, up $50 million from the last authorization.
appreciate the bicameral and bipartisan support in the US Congress
for Ukraine in our fight against the ongoing Russian
embassy in Washington said after
Congress passed the NDAA earlier this month.
the Military Times, the Army’s personnel end strength will be
476,000 soldiers, overshooting the administration by 16,000; the
Marine Corps will be set to 185,000 troops, surpassing the
executive’s request by 3,000; the Air Force will be upped to
321,000 airmen, about 4,000 above Obama’s request; while only the
Navy will remain at its present level of 324,000 sailors.