By David Vergun
Army News Service
President Donald J. Trump signed the fiscal year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, which provides for a 2.6 percent pay raise for troops, the highest increase in nine years, as well as a 3.4 percent increase for basic allowance for subsistence and a 2.9 percent increase for basic allowance for housing, to take effect Jan. 1.
Trump signed the NDAA Monday at Fort Drum, New York, surrounded by troops from the 10th Mountain Division.
The president said the NDAA is the “largest defense spending increase in a generation.”
The NDAA calls for funding that will provide for an additional 4,000 Soldiers. The funding is also expected to replace aging vehicles like Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles, and fund the new Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, he noted.
He told assembled Soldiers: “You’re not just tough, you’re mountain tough, you’re mountain proud, and you’re mountain strong, ever climbing to glory.”
The 10th Mountain Div. has deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan more times than any other division, Trump commented. In fact, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team will be headed to Afghanistan later this year, he said.
Trump recognized several personnel of the 10th Mountain Div., including Ashley Shepherd, wife of 1st Sgt. Ian Shepherd, who has been doing volunteer work like feeding homeless veterans and supporting Army families and Gold Star mothers through fundraising.
Also recognized was Spc. Brad Cook, who received a Bronze Star Medal for valor after rescuing an Afghan soldier injured by an IED, despite heavy enemy mortar and small arms fire.
Passage of the FY19 NDAA
An Army press release dated Aug. 3, praised the congressional passage of the act, leading up to the signing: “The Department of the Army applauds the swift passage of the (FY19 NDAA), which authorizes a budget that supports the Army’s vision, resources our modernization initiatives and priorities, allows us to continue to increase the readiness and lethality of the force, and postures the Army to meet the requirements of the National Defense Strategy.”
The $148 billion portion of the budget will support an increase of active-duty end strength by 4,000, support the establishment of Army Futures Command, restore decisive action readiness and improve “our aging equipment fleets” among other things like “improving hiring practices for childcare services at military childcare centers and assessing the impacts of permanent changes of station on the employment of military spouses,” the release states.
The funding includes upgrades for AH-64E Apache, UH-60M Black Hawk and CH-47F Chinook helicopters, as well as upgrades to Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles. The budget also includes the purchase of hundreds of MSE and Javelin missiles and thousands of 155mm artillery projectiles, much of which will support the missions in Europe.
Of particular note, much of the Army’s $10.2 billion will be focused on the Army’s six modernization priorities: long-range precision fires, a next generation combat vehicle, future vertical lift, network improvements, air and missile defense and Soldier lethality, said Davis Welch, deputy director of the Army Budget, in February, when the Army’s budget request was first made public.
Secretary of Defense James Mattis weighed in on the NDAA’s passage, as reported in an Aug. 1 DOD news release, saying he was grateful for the bipartisan effort that moved the bill through Congress.
“Together, they have demonstrated the deep and abiding bipartisan support our military enjoys,” he said. “It is now our duty to implement these policies responsibly and ensure a culture of performance and