This annual, must-pass bill authorizes all Defense Dept. programs and activities, including joint U.S.-Israeli military programs, monitoring Iran’s nuclear program and international activities, and U.S. involvement in the Syria conflict. (A previous version of the NDAA, H.R. 1735 of 4/13/15, was passed in the House [5/15/15] and Senate [6/18/15], but vetoed by Pres. Obama on 10/22/15.)
Israeli Missile Defense
No more than $41.4 m. is provided to Israel for the procurement of radars for the Iron Dome missile defense system ($13.6 m. less than the administration’s request), which included coproduction of radars. Cooperation with Israel on the Iron Dome program is pursuant to the 3/5/14 joint agreement, which stated that coproduction opportunities should be maximized.
A total of $267.595 m. is authorized for other Israeli cooperative missile defense programs, including no more than $150 m. for the David’s Sling weapons system and $15 m. for the Arrow 3 Upper Tier Interceptor Program, stipulating coproduction of parts in the U.S. for both systems. Before disbursing the funds, the administration was required to certify that Israel had entered a coproduction agreement with the U.S.; pledged to match any aid on a one-to-one basis; and demonstrated knowledge of the technology and production readiness. The administration was permitted to waive the certification requirement, however, if it could certify that disbursals were being provided solely for certain components and that coproduction in the U.S. was being maximized without incurring additional costs. Furthermore, the undersecretary and the director of the Missile Defense Agency would be required to submit to Congress, at the same time the president submits the FY 2017 budget proposal, a plan to achieve 50% coproduction on these programs.
Joint U.S.-Israel Anti-Tunnel Program
This provision authorizes up to $25 m. for joint research and development of anti-tunneling systems, pending the submission to Congress of a U.S.-Israeli MoU by the secretary of defense. The secretary is also authorized to provide maintenance support to Israel for the anti-tunneling measures. Disbursals under this provision would only be authorized if the government of Israel pledged matching funds and if the secretary submitted a report to Congress 15 days prior. Furthermore, the secretary was required to report semiannually on any anti-tunneling activities, including expenditures made by the Israeli government.
Managing Relations with Iran
This bill included a variety of measures designed to influence the Obama administration’s evolving relationship with Iran. It extends the annual requirement for reporting to Congress on Iran’s military power through 2025, and it requires the report to include new sections on Iran’s cyber capabilities and an assessment of any transfers to Iran of military equipment, technology, and/or training. Furthermore, the secretary of defense is required to submit a new biannual report on any military engagements made with Iran’s armed forces and any related policy changes.
Separate from those reports, the administration is required to consider ties to Iran and Iranian funding in any decisions regarding support for groups fighting against ISIS.
In order to defend the U.S. against the ‘emerging’ threat of ballistic missiles from Iran, a provision on homeland missile defense requires the director of the Missile Defense Agency to deploy a ‘long-range discrimination radar or other appropriate tracking and discrimination sensor capabilities’ before the end of 2020; and begin, before 3/14/16, to evaluate at least 3 possible locations for the future deployment of an ‘advanced missile defense sensor site.’
During the Senate’s consideration of the earlier NDAA, John McCain (R-AZ) proposed an amendment to convey the sense of Congress that Iranian dissidents living in Camp Liberty, Iraq, were not being afforded sufficient physical protection or adequate humanita