This GSOF Imperatives SITREP was published on 20 JUL 2020. They are published regularly and shared to our Corporate Partners and Legislative Representatives.
The GSF SITREP brings you the latest update on issues impacting SOF in Washington, D.C.
The Global SOF team continues its fight this week in Washington to advance the interests and priorities of the SOF community as the United States Congress tackles the annual defense policy bill (NDAA). Both the full House of Representatives and Senate will each work on, and ultimately advance, their vision for how DOD should operate in the next year. Even with Covid-19 restrictions in place, GSF has been actively engaging with these decision-makers all spring and summer to highlight the needs of our community outlined in our 2020 Imperatives.
Our efforts have not only set the table for these discussions, but have advanced the cause in key ways. The compelling case for the need for a dedicated Armed Overwatch (AO) platform has been heard loud and clear, and the House proposal includes authorized funding towards an initial five aircraft, and the Senate proposal also called for an initial five. There are still some hurdles to overcome as Congress is keen on better understanding the long-term requirements and plan for the program before things move forward, but these steps are already underway at SOCOM. We will continue to work with policymakers on the NDAA as well as pursuing other avenues such as annual spending bills to achieve our mission objectives. In fact, the FY’21 House Defense Appropriations bill also signaled its support for getting the program up and running in action taken just last week.
GSF will launch a digital ad campaign this week to amplify the operational and fiscal benefits of AO as Congress takes these next steps. Thanks to your hard work and partnership, we hope these combined advocacy efforts will ultimately deliver a huge win. By establishing AO as a program of record this year, it sets the stage in the future to build out this critical air support for our operators on the ground.
One of the other important items we have been highlighting and working with Congress on is the need for a better voice and influence for our SOF leaders. Specifically, our goal is to demonstrate the many reasons and long-term benefits of elevating the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict (ASD SO/LIC) to an Under Secretary position.
It is clear that there is a lot of frustration in Congress with the Pentagon regarding a lack of progress from directives given in FY’17 in this space. While the Senate NDAA bill does not go as far as we would like, it takes important steps by demanding the SecDef promptly issue department-wide guidance to implement the “service secretary-like” responsibilities of ASD(SO/LIC) and, equally as important, includes financial incentives for the Pentagon to comply. This long overdue guidance, if crafted appropriately, will substantially advance the ability to provide real oversight and effective advocacy for the SOF Enterprise. Lastly, both sides of the Capitol appear willing to apply additional pressure on the Department to justify their lack of progress over the past several years in this area.All in all, there are a lot of good steps for the SOF community in these bills this year. Our job is to help push things over the finish line in the coming months, and we intend to do so.