Report on Military Personnel Issues Before Congress

 In U.S. Air Force, Defense, U.S. Army, Australian Capital Territory, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy

The fol­low­ing is the Sept. 18, 2020 Congressional Research Service report, FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act: Selected Military Personnel Issues.

From the report

Each year, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) pro­vides autho­riza­tion of appro­pri­a­tions for a range of Department of Defense (DOD) and nation­al secu­ri­ty pro­grams and relat­ed activ­i­ties. New or clar­i­fied defense poli­cies, orga­ni­za­tion­al reform, and direct­ed reports to Congress are often includ­ed. For FY2020, the NDAA (P.L. 116 – 92) address­es or attempts to resolve high-pro­file mil­i­tary per­son­nel issues. Some are required annual autho­riza­tions (e.g., end-strengths); some are updates or mod­i­fi­ca­tions to exist­ing pro­grams; and some are issues iden­ti­fied in cer­tain mil­i­tary per­son­nel pro­grams.

In the FY2020 NDAA, Congress autho­rized end-strengths iden­ti­cal to the Administration’s FY2020 budget pro­pos­al. The autho­rized active duty end-strength increased by about 1% to 1,339,500. The autho­rized Selected Reserves end-strength decreased by about 2% to 807,800. A 3.1% increase in basic mil­i­tary pay took effect on January 1, 2020. This increase is iden­ti­cal to the Administration’s FY2020 budget pro­pos­al and equal to the auto­mat­ic annual adjust­ment amount direct­ed by statu­to­ry for­mu­la (37 U.S.C. §1009).

Congress also direct­ed mod­i­fi­ca­tions to sev­er­al exist­ing per­son­nel pro­grams, includ­ing

  • exten­sion of DOD Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) priv­i­leges to Foreign Service Officers on manda­to­ry home leave;
  • repeal of the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) and Veterans Affairs’ Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) offset require­ment (i.e., the widows’ tax);
  • mod­i­fi­ca­tion of DOD work­place and com­mand cli­mate sur­veys to include ques­tions relat­ing to expe­ri­ences with suprema­cist activ­i­ty, extrem­ist activ­i­ty, or racism;
  • expan­sion of Special Victim Counsel ser­vices for vic­tims of domes­tic vio­lence;
  • pro­hi­bi­tion of gender-seg­re­gat­ed Marine Corps recruit train­ing;
  • expan­sion of spouse employ­ment and edu­ca­tion pro­grams, includ­ing reim­burse­ment for reli­cens­ing costs asso­ci­at­ed with mil­i­tary relo­ca­tions;
  • clar­i­fied roles and respon­si­bil­i­ties for senior mil­i­tary med­ical lead­ers assigned to the Defense Health Agency or a ser­vice med­ical depart­ment; and
  • med­ical doc­u­men­ta­tion and track­ing require­ments for ser­vice­mem­bers or family mem­bers exposed to cer­tain envi­ron­men­tal or occu­pa­tion­al haz­ards (e.g., lead, open air burn pits, blast pres­sure).

As part of the over­sight process, sev­er­al pro­vi­sions address select­ed con­gres­sion­al items of inter­est, includ­ing

  • DOD review of ser­vice records of cer­tain World War I vet­er­ans for poten­tial eli­gi­bil­i­ty for a posthu­mous­ly award­ed Medal of Honor;
  • a process for former ser­vice­mem­bers to appeal deci­sions issued by a Board of Correction of Military Records or a Discharge Review Board;
  • a fea­si­bil­i­ty study on the cre­ation of a data­base to track domes­tic vio­lence mil­i­tary pro­tec­tive orders and report­ing to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System;
  • trans­paren­cy on mil­i­tary med­ical mal­prac­tice, includ­ing the abil­i­ty for ser­vice­mem­bers to file admin­is­tra­tive claims against the United States; and
  • lim­i­ta­tions on the reduc­tion of mil­i­tary med­ical per­son­nel.

Download doc­u­ment here.

USNI source|articles

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