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New Defense Law Focuses on Personnel, Adversaries

President Biden expands the powers of the Department of Defense to recruit, train and retain cyber warriors.

U.S. President Joe Biden signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law on Friday. The text allots $816.7 billion to the Department of Defense (DoD) for the fiscal year 2023. 

The NDAA raises the wages of all members of the Department of Defense by 4.6% and includes $45 billion more funds to accelerate the implementation of the National Defense Strategy

“The act provides vital benefits ... for military personnel and their families,” Biden said. 

In a competitive labor market, the law increased maximum amounts for bonuses and special pay for service members with critical skills. 

It also plans to train the next generation of cyber warriors with the DoD Cyber and Digital Service Academy as a scholarship-for-service program offered together with U.S. universities. 

The law broadens the power of the DoD to hire highly skilled professionals in key technical areas. 

During this fiscal year, the secretary of defense will have to evaluate the market and career forces conditioning cyber warriors in a series of reports to Congress, according to the NDAA. 

“The Act authorizes fiscal year appropriations for the Department of Defense, for Department of Energy national security programs, and for the Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, and the Intelligence Community,” said Biden in a statement

The act authorizes $30.3 billion for Department of Energy national security programs and the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board.

The Navy was awarded $34.8 billion to build 12 new battle force ships. The Air Force will increase its power with 39 fixed-wing combat aircraft and other aerial platforms, both manned and unmanned. 

Part of the funds appropriated include $12.6 billion to balance the impact of inflation on purchases. 

The act provides vital benefits... for military personnel and their families
Joseph R. Biden Jr.
U.S. President

The NDAA assigns funds toward funding military alliances. The Pacific Deterrence Initiative receives over $11 billion; this initiative responds to the threat from China in the National Defense Strategy. 

“The Department is prioritizing the multi-domain threat posed by China; a great deal of the Department [of Defense's] investments and efforts are focused on this threat and strengthening Indo-Pacific deterrence,” stated the Initiative. 

Support for Taiwan against China's armed forces escalation is also addressed in a specific bill that awaits final passage in Congress. The Taiwan Policy Act designates the island as a major non-NATO ally and will provide $4.5 billion over four years to change the nature of military cooperation, allowing sales of offensive weapons and enhancing training. 

As the strains on ammunition stockpiles are felt due to sustained support against the Russian invasion of Ukraine, over $2.7 billion have been assigned to additional munitions production and capacity increase, according the NDAA. 

Beyond these two allies the NDAA authorizes additional $198.5 million for partner capacity building through DoD international cooperation, and most of these funds are have been assigned as follows: $20 million for U.S. Southern Command; $20 million for U.S. Africa Command; $5 million for U.S. Northern Command; and $100 million for U.S. European Command. 

The NDAA eliminated the COVID-19 vaccine mandate in the armed forces, a point of political and health contention during the passage of the bill in Congress.

A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers power production specialist evaluates infrastructure. The NDAA has provisions to evaluate and protect critical services in case of aggression. Photo: Patrick Bloodgood, U.S. Army.
A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers power production specialist evaluates infrastructure. The NDAA has provisions to evaluate and protect critical services in case of aggression. Credit: Patrick Bloodgood, U.S. Army