President Obama signed the $600 billion Fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill on Nov. 25 after vetoing a previous version of the policy bill in late October because it skirted budget control caps by shifting billions of dollars into the overseas contingency operations fund. The Senate overwhelmingly approved a modified version of the legislation on Nov. 10 after the bipartisan budget deal was approved. “This year’s NDAA is one of the most significant pieces of defense reform legislation in a generation. The NDAA modernizes the military retirement system, bans torture, and reforms the broken defense acquisition system,” said Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) in a Nov. 25 release. “The legislation delivers these reforms while authorizing vital pay and benefits for our troops and making critical investments in the equipment and training they need to confront growing threats to our security.” The National Defense Authorization Act once again prevents the Air Force from divesting its A-10 fleet and from retiring seven EC-130H Compass Call aircraft assigned to Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz. McCain said the Fiscal 2016 NDAA “is only the beginning,” noting SASC “has already begun a major hearing series on Pentagon reform.”
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.