Other Highlights:

The 2008 defense policy bill (see above) also would elevate the National Guard Bureau chief to four-star rank and makes the NGB a joint activity of DOD. And, it would require at least one Air or Army National Guard officer deputy at US Northern Command. On the military healthcare front, the report also continues to deal a blow to Pentagon officials who have wanted to raise Tricare fees for military retirees; the answer is “no,” at least for now. Current lawmakers also took a dim view of DOD’s attempt to revise labor relations practices under its new National Security Personnel System; they would repeal authority to revise the rules and want DOD to make the NSPS pay-for-performance process consistent with current labor requirements. Conferees have withheld $5 million in relocation funds until DOD provides a report (due March 1) on the cost benefits and risks associated with movement of elements of NORAD from Cheyenne Mountain AFB, Colo., to nearby Peterson Air Force Base. Lawmakers have added $16 million to “help create buffer zones” around military bases and protect training ranges. (Highlight releases from Senate and House).