The 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed this week. You can be forgiven if you missed the announcement, because it certainly didn’t make headlines. I didn’t find out until I checked my email and received my automated Defense News. I’ll go out on a limb and say that because it passed in a normal fashion, it was completely overcome by the 24/7 Russia-Trump news feed.
Looking at details, there is a lot to pay attention to. Here are some highlights, explained in non-defense speak:
– We bought more ships, aircraft, and weapons in general. Yup, no surprise there, we need more equipment and Congress needs to create jobs in their districts.
- The military got a 2.6% pay raise. That’s pretty big increase, and amounts to a noticeable change in service members monthly pay. It also shows a sharp line between the anemic raises during Obama’s tenure and what President Trump is asking for.
There are a lot more restrictions in terms of China and Russia. The NDAA recognized that the Chinese government uses the Confucian Institute as a source of soft power against the US, and thus banned the DoD from using it for foreign language training. China is banned from RIMPAC and Taiwan gets more recognition.
- DoD has much more flexibility in how they recruit people. They can exempt certain folks from promotion boards, promote some people earlier and removes age restrictions.
The bill made significant changes to cyber authorities.
All these changes are pretty good. Over the next couple of months, it will be interesting to see how the Navy and the other services deal with these changes. For example, the Navy has an artificial distinction between Line Officers and Special Duty officers in cyber warfare, which has caused problems when cyber operations start involving kinetic consequences. DoD doesn’t care…to them, an officer has Title 10 authority period unless they are medical staff corps.
In the same way, Navy cyber has been hard over on hiring young people as officers and has not used things like cyber warrant officers and accessing middle aged cyber professionals. This could change in the future if the Army and Air Force use these expanded authorities and better compete for the pool of good cyber candidates.
In the near term, expect to maybe hear some news about these changes. In the long term, watch what each service does (and doesn’t) do to use their new authorities.
This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency. It’s not aimed at any particular person. I’ve known plenty of people that “find themselves,” most often alone and in worse shape when they are done.
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