Rushing the National Defense Authorization Act

A lame-duck Congress puts military lives on the line.

Army-legsA lame duck Congress is on the verge of sticking it to America’s troops. Before they leave for recess they will attempt to pass the FY2015 version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). It is a compendium of ill-advised ideas seemingly aimed at advancing the Obama administration’s continuing effort to “fundamentally transform” the finest fighting force in the world into something more closely resembling a social-outreach organization. Sadly, Republicans, apparently oblivious to the mandate just handed to them by the electorate, are on board.

Unsurprisingly, the effort to shrink the military to its smallest size since WWII will be borne in large part by those who do the fighting and dying. A scheduled pay raise of 1.8 percent will be reduced to one percent, there will be reduced growth in the troops’ Basic Housing Allowance (BHA) for those who cannot be accommodated on military bases, and a $3 copay will be added to the cost of prescription medication. For Americans who think this is no big deal, here is the 2014 Military Pay Chart revealing the troops’ relatively meager pay levels, even for those with decades of service to our nation.

Yet it is the ever-reliable Center for Military Readiness (CMR) that details the far more pernicious agendas advanced in this bill. While troops bear the aforementioned reductions, pork still prevails. Sections in a version of the bill conceived by the Senate Armed Services Committee would establish a feminist-oriented entity to be known as the "Defense Advisory Committee on Investigation, Prosecution, and Defense of Sexual Assault in the Armed Forces." As the CMR explains, this "would establish yet another power base in the Pentagon for feminists who believe that a person accused of sexual misconduct is automatically guilty, unless he is somehow (against all odds) found innocent because of 'anti-women' legal procedures that must be ‘fixed.'"

Even as the military is enduring cuts that shrink every branch of our armed forces, a large increase in gender quotas, aimed at increasing the recruitment of women into military service academies by an additional 20 percent, is also part of the agenda. There is nothing wrong with recruiting women, but as indicated by both the Defense Department and the left-leaning RAND corporation, there has been no evidence of insufficient efforts to do so. What this is really all about is the ongoing effort to integrate women into direct ground combat (DGC) units, despite extensive evidence that standards of effectiveness would be compromised in the process. Regardless of biological reality, the Obama administration has embraced “gender diversity metrics,” allowing more qualified personnel to be replaced by those meeting minimum standards laughably referred to as “lower but equal.”

An October article in The Hill announcing the effort to integrate a fixed percentage of women onto ballistic missile submarines, is illustrative of the current thinking. Navy Cmdr. Renee Squier, head of the Office of Women's Policy for the Chief of Naval Personnel, explains that "the goal is to have each unit have 20 percent,” in order to build a "good ecosystem" for female submariners. As the CMR reveals this is being done despite evidence that submarine “ecosystems,” that include "prolonged exposure to chemical contaminants in the constantly recirculated air” pose unique health risks for female sailors. As told to Front Page by CMR president Elaine Donnelly, her organization filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to determine whether female sailors had been made aware of those potential health risks. In keeping with this administration’s contemptible track record, the CMR was stonewalled.

The CMR also blows up the notion that women need to be in direct ground combat units to advance their careers. "For decades, women have been promoted at rates equal to or faster than men,” CMR explains, further citing a Defense Department report submitted to Congress in 2012 that states "there is no indication of women having less than equitable opportunities to compete and excel under current assignment policy…"

Quotas are only part of the equation here. As revealed by the Daily Signal, the 2015 NDAA may also include a provision adding as much as "250,000 additional acres of wilderness, four new national parks and seven national park studies (future parks-to-be)” to the federal government’s real estate portfolio. That would be a portfolio of federally-owned property that, according to a 2012 Congressional Research Survey, now totals approximately 640 million acres comprising approximately 28 percent of the nation’s entire land mass. As the Signal notes, "the importance of the NDAA to the defense budgeting process and its traditional status as a 'must-pass' piece of legislation makes it an inviting target for pet projects and wasteful spending,” one where "lawmakers are trying to end-run the normal legislative process in a rushed, closed-door approach.”

Why the rush? Vanity appears to be an integral part of the equation. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA) and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI), both of whom are retiring, are reportedly jamming this bill through the lame duck session -- so the bill can be named after them. To further that effort, a mechanism known as Unanimous Consent, defined as setting aside a specified rule of procedure so as to expedite proceedings—as in everyone agreeing not to add amendments to the bill that would require time-consuming votes—is being employed.

Ms. Donnelly was critical of the lack of transparency that has surrounded passage of the NDAA in previous cycles, in addition to this one. "A process that is not transparent, like the ObamaCare bill for example, invites big policy mistakes which have serious consequences,” she warned. "The primary offense is not what’s there but what’s not: appropriate oversight.” With regard to many of the sexual issues that concern the CMR, Donnelly see an ongoing “emphasis on social change,” much of which is being pushed using what she refers to as “perception management,” a term coined by author David Baldacci. “The military is attempting to create a (gender-based) reality that doesn’t exist and getting people to believe it,” she explains.

Nothing illuminates that perception management better than the aforementioned phrase “lower but equal,” and one is left to wonder why Republicans, who will have far more leverage over the process in January, are collaborating with Democrats to rush the passage of the NDAA before then. The American electorate, and the men and women who have volunteered to defend this nation, deserve more thought, more transparency and more pushback against an Obama administration and a Democratic Party all determined to make the American military virtually indistinguishable from politically correct American society. In a world fraught with danger, it is a fatal mistake to do so.

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