Budget cuts rip into Army combat communications -- again

Army combat communications systems programs continued to bear congressional budget cuts as the House slashed funding for battlefield communications systems in the fiscal 2007 Defense Department budget, following funding cutbacks to many of the same systems in the 2006 emergency funding bill passed earlier this month.

But the House boosted funding for improving Air Force bases’ communications infrastructure and modernizing laboratories at the Naval Postgraduate School.

The House passed the bill June 20 by a 407-19 vote. The Senate has not scheduled a markup yet on its version of the appropriations bill; it is debating the 2007 National Defense Authorization bill this week.

The House DOD appropriations bill passed June 20 slashed procurement funds for the Army’s purchase of Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System (Sincgars), the standard radio Army combat units in Iraq use, by $50.3 million to $66.2 million. The president had requested $116.5 million.

Congress chopped Sincgars’ funding by $167 million from the requested $692 million to $525 million in the emergency supplemental bill passed earlier this month.

Army information management systems also fared poorly in the 2007 House DOD bill. The House cut $40 million from the $121.8 million requested for the Single Army Logistics Enterprise, reducing its 2007 funding line to $81.8 million if the Senate goes along with the House when bills from the two bodies reach conference later this year.

The research and development budget for Net-Centric Enterprise Services, the Defense Information Systems Agency’s priority project, was cut to $11.9 million in the House bill from the $26.9 million requested.

The House bill added $1.5 million to the Army Information Systems Security program (ISS) budget for a total of $91.8 million. Congress zeroed out the $95.7 million requested for ISS in the supplemental.

The bill boosted funding for Air Force base communications infrastructure upgrades by $8 million, to $143.2 million from the requested $135.2 million. This increase includes funding for secure wireless local-area network systems at Illinois Air National Guard bases.

Warfighting laboratories at the postgraduate school in Monterey, Calf., received a $10 million increase in funding, and the budget for Navy Reserve IT systems won a $4 million boost in its 2007 budget.

The House bill increased the budget for Defense Security Service, which processes security clearances, by $10 million.

The service handles all Personnel Security Investigations (PSI) for government and contract employees. These investigations were abruptly halted this year because of extreme budget shortfalls.

The House Appropriations Committee directed DOD to fix the flawed budget process at DSS by including PSI projections from all federal agencies it serves and said DOD must increase its accuracy in projecting the types of investigations that will be needed.

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