This is part 1 of a two-part report on the 2023 FY NDAA.
7 months after a major U.S. military theater was closed following the departure of U.S. forces from Afghanistan and the requested military budget for the 2022-2023 fiscal year has increased from $753 billion to $773 billion.
As inflation of prices resulting from inflation of the money and credit supply by the Federal Reserve to finance two decades of over-spending by Washington, some Americans are seeing price increases in nearly every sector of the economy.
Nevertheless, lawmakers have found room in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for an additional $30 billion worth of core military spending.
WaL defines “core” spending as purely what is asked for by the President on behalf of the DoD at the top of the bill. Core spending doesn’t include the budget for the intelligence services, the “wishlist” spending, which consists of a supplementary list of additional line items which the DoD desires, but which it doesn’t deem as necessary, and finally the Dept. of Energy budget for the maintenance of America’s nuclear weapons stockpile. The wishlist spending was not long ago totaled at $550 billion, or two-thirds of the actually NDAA of that year.
With Core, DoE, and Intel. spending together, the confirmed budget for all things military balloons to $813 billion, the largest such authorization in history.
In the milieu of programs, reports and acquisitions, the self-licking ice cream cone of the “MIC” is on full display. Section 211’s codification of the “National Defense Science and Technology Strategy” is a perfect example of this, under the provisions for which it states that the Sect. of Defense will “identify mechanisms to provide information on defense technology priorities to industry to enable industry to invest deliberately in emerging technologies to build and broaden the capabilities of the industrial base”.
In simple terms this means the biggest spender in the government will actively inform market entities about what they want to buy with taxpayer dollars the most, in order to grow the capabilities for that technology to be developed, siphoning yet more brains and resources from the normal economy.
In WaL’s annual review of the NDAA, these stood out as particularly noteworthy.
— There’s a prohibition on reducing the fleet of A-10 fighter jets or B-1 bombers, unless any unit is replaced with a currently-in-development B-21 heavy stealth bomber.
— “Limitations” on the number of F-35s authorized for purchase by the branch secretaries were placed at more than 2,000.
— There’s the creation of a Consortium to Study Irregular Warfare, which authorizes the Sect. of Defense to establish a consortium of universities to study irregular warfare or terrorism. After 20 years of the War on Terror, it seems late for such a project.
One line stands out as curious if one is thinking about a remote valley in Afghanistan: “To maintain open-source databases on issues relevant to understanding terrorism, irregular threats, and social and environmental change,” as well as “to support basic research in social science on emerging threats and stability dynamics relevant to irregular threat problem sets”.
— As usual, there are also all the extensions on the prohibition of the use of funds to close or relinquish control of Guantanamo Bay prison, to transfer or release prisoners there, or to construct any additional or separate facilities to house them.
— The Arctic Security Initiative promises to be a large endeavor, as no later than 30 days post-passage of the NDAA, the Sect. of Defense will develop a “5-year plan” to increase security in the Arctic region.
The objectives of such an initiative will be to “modernize and strengthen the presence of the Armed Forces, including those with advanced capabilities, improve logistics and maintenance capabilities and the pre-positioning of equipment, munitions, fuel, and materiel, conduct exercises, wargames, education, training, experimentation, and innovation for the joint force, [and] improve infrastructure to enhance the responsiveness and resiliency of the Armed Forces,” in the Arctic.
— A new commission will be formed to review and formulate a new National Defense Strategy, but it is to consist of 8 private civilians, and no accountable elected representatives. They will review the current National Defense Strategy, and make recommendations to its updating. The most senior members of Congress get to nominate 1 member of the commission, who will serve for its life, and it will be interesting to see who is placed on it.
— Efforts to counter the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq sees $20 million more, for a total of $345 million to be spent on the project which was declared over and accomplished 5 years ago.
— $560 million was authorized for the Navy for Standard Missile 3 systems, a kinetic anti-missile missile which Russia sees as a major threat to the nuclear parity between her and the U.S./NATO, and the second highest line item in the Naval weapons budget.
Hundreds of systems including Arleigh Burke Class warships, stationary launchers, and mobile launchers have encircled Russia with potentially thousands of these Standard Missile systems.
— $27 billion was requisitioned for shipbuilding and conversion, $18 billion for war planes for the Airforce alone.