|For Immediate Release||Tuesday, October 5, 1999|
Today, the President will sign into law the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2000. This Act provides for a strong national defense and supports our deep commitment to a better quality of life for our military personnel and their families. It marks the start of the first long-term, sustained increase in military spending in some fifteen years. The Act resulted from a bipartisan consensus that we must keep our military ready, that we must take care of our men and women in uniform, and that we must modernize our forces for the challenges they will face in the 21st century.
Most significantly, the Act provides a comprehensive program of pay and retirement improvements that represent the largest increase in military compensation in a generation. The Act provides for important new and enhanced special and incentive pays that are needed to recruit and retain high quality military personnel in support of readiness. Personnel-related provisions include:
· Increasing military pay by 4.8 percent -- the largest increase since 1981 -- and future raises that will exceed average private sector raises; · Increasing the reward for performance with targeted pay raises that will boost the pay of mid-career service members; · Increasing the use of special pay and bonuses to retain our highly skilled personnel; and, · Restoring retirement benefits by returning members to 50 percent at 20 years of service.
Other important provisions in the Act for sustaining and enhancing the readiness of our Armed forces include:
· Funding Operations and Maintenance at a level that exceeds the level per individual soldier, sailor, airman and Marine that was provided in the 1980s; and · Adding over $400 million for Reserve training, operations and integration of Active and Reserve components into a truly Total Force.
The Act accelerates the transformation of our forces and empowers them with the ability to dominate the battlefield for decades to come. It authorizes 53 billion dollars for procurement – our second annual increase since reversing the trend two years ago – and puts us on the path to achieving our goal of increasing procurement funding to $60 billion per year by 2001.
The Act authorizes important funding for both theater and national missile defense. It authorizes the full request for the Medium Extended Air Defense System cooperative program with Germany and Italy, funding for national missile defense, including military construction planning and design, and funding to help keep the Patriot Advance Capability-3 and Navy Area Defense programs on track.
Although most of the Act's provisions support a strong national defense, several of its features are troubling. These include some of the provisions concerning reorganization of the nuclear defense functions within the Department of Energy, provisions that prejudge the Chinese military threat, damaging restrictions on cooperative threat reduction programs in the former Soviet Union, and a number of other provisions that raise concerns relating to the President's constitutional authorities as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive.
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2000, as a whole, will enhance our national security and help us achieve our military and related defense objectives. By providing the necessary support for our forces, it will ensure continued U.S. global leadership well into the 21st century.
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