In marking up the 2011 defense authorization bill Wednesday, the House Armed Services Committee opted to follow the lead of its personnel panel in tacking on another 0.5 percent to the Administration’s requested 1.4 percent military pay boost. Committee chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) ranked that addition as No. 1 of “two of the most critical aspects” of the markup. The other was higher readiness funding. Readiness panel chairman Solomon Ortiz (D-Tex.) highlighted the areas of increase, including “additional funding for Air Force accounts critical to supporting emergent missions and taking care of an aging aircraft fleet.” That includes $150 million for weapons system sustainment—about half the amount USAF had targeted in its unfunded priority list—and about $80 million for support equipment and combat forces. (Skelton’s markup remarks)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.