This annual bill must pass to give the Dept. of Defense legal authority to carry out activities. The relevant sections concern cooperative programs implemented by the Israeli and U.S. armed forces, and reactions to developments in Syria and Iran.
Following the failure of the Senate to pass its version of the NDAA (S. 1197 of 6/20/13) before adjourning for the Thanksgiving recess in 11/2013, members of both chambers met to negotiate a new NDAA. Reconciling elements of S. 1197 and the NDAA bill that the House passed on 6/14/13 (H.R. 1960 of 5/14/13), the bicameral talks included independent proposals by members of both parties. The final bill, a summary of which is presented below, was passed and signed into law on 12/26/13.
This summary lists only final authorizations and not Defense Dept. funding requests (see H.R. 1960 of 5/14/13 for initial requests).
Military Aid for Israel
Carrying over language from the House version of the NDAA, this bill authorizes the Missile Defense Agency to spend up to $489 m. on the development of joint U.S.-Israel missile defense programs and the Iron Dome missile defense system ($268.7 m. of which would go to the joint programs specifically). Of this total, $149.7 m. was allocated to the David’s Sling system, $74.7 m. to the development of the Arrow 3 upper tier interceptor, and $44.3 m. to improve the Arrow program. The remaining $220.3 m. would be for Israel to procure additional Iron Dome interceptors and batteries.
The bill also authorizes an additional $15 m. for the production of Iron Dome missile defense systems inside the U.S., an unprecedented provision which the Israeli government supported. As a corollary, the director of the Missile Defense Agency is required to submit a report to Congress on the agency’s plan for initiating production of the Iron Dome.
Finally, the bill requires the defense secretary to submit a report to Congress on the status of missile defense cooperation between the U.S. and Israel.
Reacting to the Crisis in Syria
In order to organize a coherent U.S. response to the ongoing crisis in Syria, the bill specifies a variety of activities and new oversight procedures.
It authorizes $13 m. from the Cooperative Threat Reduction fund for the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria. In connection with that authorization, the bill requires the Defense Dept. to develop a cooperative threat reduction strategy for weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East and North Africa. It also authorizes training and equipment for regional partners’ WMD responses.
Additionally, the bill authorizes up to $150 m. in assistance for Jordan, specifically to reimburse the Jordanian government for expenses relating to the maintenance and security of its border with Syria. The secretary of defense is required to submit a report to Congress describing the provision and handling of that $150 m., including a timeline.
Moreover, unless the defense secretary waives this provision for reasons of national security, the bill forbids the transfer of any funds authorized in this act to Rosoboronexport. Rosoboronexport is the state intermediary agency for the import and export of Russian arms. It was widely reported to be the primary supplier of the Syrian government’s munitions, though Russia maintains that all exports to Syria were of a defensive nature and reflected long-standing agreements. If the defense secretary does exercise the waiver, he must submit a report to Congress on the company’s contracts with the Syrian government stipulating how many S-300 anti-aircraft missiles the company has supplied to Syria, if any. In a noteworthy exception, the bill allows for the Defense Dept. to contract with Rosoboronexport to deliver helicopter parts to the Afghan national security forces.
Managing Relations with Iran
In recognition of the continued threat posed by Iran, the bill expands reporting requirements and congressional oversight of relations with Iran