This annual, multifaceted, must-pass bill authorizes all U.S. defense spending for FY 2018. Relevant provisions concern joint U.S.-Israeli military programs, congressional oversight on Iran, and U.S. activities in Syria.
Israeli Missile Defense
This bill authorizes up to $92 m. for Israel to procure Tamir interceptors for the Iron Dome missile defense system, so long as any disbursements comported with the 3/5/14 U.S.-Israeli memorandum of understanding on the Iron Dome program (see JPS 43 ). It also authorizes up to $120 m. for the David’s Sling weapons system and $120 m. for the Arrow 3 Upper Tier Interceptor Program, providing that the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment could certify that Israel has reached certain technical milestones related to these programs, Israel is matching U.S. investment in these programs on a one-to-one basis, and the United States has entered into a coproduction agreement with Israel, inter alia. The undersecretary is allowed to waive this certification requirement if Israel demonstrates that U.S. support for these programs would only be used for the “procurement of long-lead components and critical hardware in accordance with a production plan,” that such components fulfill certain technical benchmarks, and that such procurement would maximize coproduction in the United States.
Joint U.S.-Israel Anti-Tunnel Program
Also, this bill extends the secretary of defense’s authority to establish joint anti-tunneling research and development with Israel, which was initially codified in the NDAA for FY 2016 (*S. 1356 of 5/14/15), through 12/31/20. The program’s $50 m. annual appropriation cap and semiannual reporting requirements remain unchanged. Also, at least 50% of any funds appropriated under this provision are to be spent on activities in the United States.
Managing Relations with Iran
Amending U.S. law requiring an annual report on the military power of Iran, this bill requires the secretaries of defense and state, in consultation with the director of national intelligence, to report to Congress on Iran’s use of civilian transportation infrastructure for illicit activities, including the transport of weapons and soldiers via commercial passenger aircraft; an assessment of Iranian military cooperation with foreign countries, including North Korea and Syria; and an assessment of the Iranian commercial aviation sector’s knowing support for the Iranian armed forces, Hamas, Hizballah, and other designated foreign terrorist organizations.
This bill also includes the full text of H.R. 3708 of 6/27/17, extending a presidential reporting requirement related to Iran’s ballistic missile program through 2022.
Matters Relating to Syria
Among a slew of provisions pertaining to U.S. activities in Syria or implementing new oversight procedures, this bill extends for another year the authorization for the secretary of defense to provide assistance to counter ISIS and authorizes $1.269 b. for the effort.
The president is required to submit to Congress a report describing U.S. strategy in Syria, including key geopolitical interests and objectives, as well as effectiveness indicators to measure their realization, a description of U.S. assumptions regarding the key actors involved in the conflict, a description of how current military and diplomatic efforts adhere to the objectives mentioned above, and the resources required to achieve those objectives, inter alia. Furthermore, administration officials are required to file reports on the humanitarian crisis in Syria and on the broader U.S. strategy for Syria and Iraq.