A lack of detail in DOD’s National Defense Strategy hindered the Senate Armed Services Committee’s effort to put together its version of the fiscal 2019 defense authorization bill, which it marked up last week, reports CQ. For example, the degree to which the military needs to grow is left unclear, according to committee staff. The committee recommended boosting active-duty end strength by 7,000, or less than half of the number the administration requested. “One of the things the committee had asked for, which has not been produced in detail, is a force-sizing construct,” said one aide. “This is analysis that we don’t have in detail.” DOD’s request, which the House matched in the authorization bill it approved last week, called for adding 15,600 active personnel in FY 2019. … The committee’s move to redesignate the undersecretary of defense (USD) for personnel and readiness as the undersecretary for personnel is intended to focus the office on human resources responsibilities, including recruiting, retention and human capital management. Lawmakers believe revamping the office — and shifting its readiness responsibilities to other senior defense posts — will better focus leaders “to guide investments in necessary capabilities, readiness and posture for the future joint force,” reports Military Times. The House version, H.R. 5515, does not include a similar provision. Earlier this month, President Trump nominated the current USD for personnel and readiness, Robert Wilkie, for secretary of Veterans Affairs, meaning a Pentagon vacancy will be created if the Senate confirms him to the new position. … The bill is expected to go to the Senate floor next month, possibly as early as next week, when Congress returns from its Memorial Day recess. A summary of the measure can be found on the committee website.
DOD photo by Master Sgt. Ken Hammond