Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) told reporters on Thursday the Fiscal 2017? defense authorization bill was really a “reform bill” that touched on acquisition, military, and management reform while “still investing in crucial military capabilities.” The SASC’s version of the legislation reduces the 41 currently authorized four-star billets to 27 and also reduces the remaining general officer and flag officer positions by 25 percent. The legislation caps the size of the National Security Council staff to 150 permanently assigned personnel and looks to clarify the role of combatant commanders. The bill also “disestablishes” the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology, and logistics position, dividing those duties under a new undersecretary of defense for research and engineering and the “renamed” undersecretary of management and support positions, according to a summary of the bill released Thursday evening. “In short, whereas all acquisition oversight and execution for everything that the Department of Defense buys is centralized in one office, the NDAA seeks to divide that into two parts,” states the summary. “The new USD(R&E) would be a staff office focused on innovation, oversight, and policy for the development of national security technology and systems. The revised Under Secretary for Management and Support would be a line office focused on running defense agencies that perform critical business operations of the Department of Defense.” The bill also mandates an independent assessment of US military force structure, including “the future mix of aircraft platforms,” states the summary.
Boeing’s receipt of the 10th lot contract award for the KC-46 Pegasus this week leaves just three lots left to complete the Air Force’s buy of the tanker, although a further buy of 75 additional aircraft as a “bridge” to the Next-Generation Aerial-refueling System (NGAS) seems increasingly likely.