Defense

Pentagon policy bill targets restoration, next-gen threats

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The Senate cleared a fiscal 2014 defense authorization bill on Dec. 19 that aims to rebuild readiness drained by sequestration while also preparing for future operations, including in cyberspace and the Asia-Pacific theater.

The bill authorizes $552 billion in base spending and nearly $81 billion in overseas contingency operations funds, tackling some of the Defense Department's highest-level issues both inside the military and across the globe. The fiscal 2014 budget passed on Dec. 18 reverses some of sequestration's across-the-board cuts with a two-year agreement, and Pentagon leaders plan to maximize the new leeway.

"I think we're beginning to turn the page on a prolonged period of fiscal uncertainty.... The budget gives us some predictability for those two years," Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Dec. 19 in a Pentagon press conference. However, "even with this budget agreement, DOD still faces very difficult budget decisions."

Some areas of spending fare better than others.

Cyber and science and technology are, once again, among a handful of areas receiving considerable attention. The bill strengthens provisions in science and technology, including laboratories and workforce development, and expands an IT personnel exchange program between DOD and the private sector.

The bill requires that cyber operations at the Pentagon undergo a full mission analysis, including an examination of the balance and coordination of cyber capabilities across DOD. The bill directs the Defense Science Board to independently assess Cyber Command's organization, missions and authorities, and also requires the establishment of standards for cyber training.

Furthermore, Congress is requiring the appointment of a high-level principal cyber adviser to oversee cyber offense, defense, resources, personnel, acquisition and technology, as well as the integration of cyber expertise across DOD components as a "cross-functional team." The DOD cyber workforce also could see some growth under provisions for potential bonuses and recruitment.

While the Senate was finishing up debate on the measure, the Army announced that Fort Gordon, Ga., had been selected as the consolidated headquarters for Army Cyber Command. Since its establishment in 2010, Army Cyber Command has been temporarily split among seven Washington, D.C.-area offices. The move to Fort Gordon will co-locate the headquarters with the Army's Joint Forces Headquarters-Cyber and NSA-Georgia, as well as the Army Cyber Center of Excellence.

IT security also is highlighted in the bill, with authorities directed at ensuring the integrity of the government IT supply chain, including through the Energy Department.

In keeping with the spotlight on U.S. intelligence activities, the bill calls for new policies for defense intelligence priorities and an assessment by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on DOD's contributions to the National Intelligence Priorities Framework. The bill also limits Defense Clandestine Service funding pending a review by Hagel of how well the program fulfills DOD's intelligence requirements.

The defense bill augments some efforts already underway at the Pentagon to reduce costs by streamlining, but it also raises questions about Hagel's plans to restructure the Office of Net Assessment under the undersecretary for policy, among other proposed changes. In addition, the bill targets efficiencies through orders for new strategies for commercial satellite procurement and the future of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization.

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a former staff writer for FCW and Defense Systems.

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