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Blog: National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)

May 20, 2014 | By Marge Clark, BVM

The National Defense Authorization Act prioritizes the direction that will be taken by the Pentagon as it puts forward programs and weapons systems, continuing some that are in existence and authorizing the development of new ones.

At this time, when the war in Iraq has ended and the war in Afghanistan is to end by the end of this calendar year, NETWORK feels strongly that it is a time to pull back on some existing practices. Three areas are of particular concern to NETWORK:

  • Afghanistan War: This war is ending. Our troops are coming home by the end of this year. Once this mission is over, it is critical that any further U.S. mission be required to come to a vote in Congress. Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA), Walter Jones (R-NC) and Adam Smith (D-WA) are offering an amendment to bring this about.
  • Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) passed in 2001 gave unprecedented powers to the president to use force against any organization or person in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the U.S. This has given rise to the situation at Guantanamo (uncharged individuals held indefinitely), massive surveillance within and outside the U.S., and drone attacks against individuals and communities where there is suspicion of a terrorist. Representatives Barbara Lee and Adam Schiff are offering amendments to repeal the AUMF.
  • The Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) fund, created to have money quickly available for unexpected military needs during war. This fund is “off-budget” and unaccountable (many consider it a slush fund). It has grown exorbitantly over the last few years, and has begun to be used for weapons and other materials which should be covered within the base Pentagon budget. The need for additional systems was anticipated, but this fund allows spending over and above the amounts curtailed in the Budget Control Act and sequestration. Even with the ending of wars, the request for money into this fund increased for FY2014, and is projected to increase in FY 2015. This is the only such fund available to any entity. NETWORK and many of our partners are calling for reduction of the OCO, and eventually elimination – requiring that all military funding be within the Pentagon base budget.