WASHINGTON: A bipartisan US bill for the fiscal 2021 proposes a massive $740 billion in defence budget and seeks to restore, maintain and expand comparative advantage over China and Russia.
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), passed by the Senate Armed Services Committee by an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 25-2 on Thursday, seeks to position the US military for success.
It also seeks to bolster development of joint capabilities, emphasising a combat-credible forward posture and ensuring that the US can compete effectively with China and Russia.
Critically, the NDAA prioritises the Indo-Pacific theater by establishing the Pacific Deterrence Initiative (PDI) to focus resources on credibility gaps in the region and enhancing transparency and oversight.
Throughout the bill, alliances and partnerships are strengthened and enhanced, said a summary of the NDAA released by the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Among other things it seeks to restore, maintain or expand comparative advantage over China and Russia, particularly for key capabilities and technologies like hypersonic weapons, biotechnologies and cybersecurity.
The bill directs investments and supports equipment, weapon platforms and programmes that will protect the US’ military supremacy in the seas, skies, space, cyberspace and on land, including next-generation aircraft, battle force ships and nuclear modernisation.
It promotes the concept that the best way to preserve peace around the world is through a credible and effective military deterrent — ensuring that America’s adversaries receive the message that under any circumstances, they will never win a fight against the United States.
The NDAA extends the limitation on providing sensitive missile defence information to Russia and on the integration of the US missile defence systems into those of China and Russia.
It requires the secretary of defence to submit a report on the risk to department of defence personnel, equipment and operations due to Huawei 5G architecture in host countries and possible steps for mitigation.
It also requires a report on Russia’s support to racially and ethnically motivated violent extremist groups and networks in Europe and the US that create or cause growing national security threats, information warfare and increasing risks to societal stability and democratic institutions.
The NDAA requires assessment of foreign industrial base capabilities and capacity to see how these drive risk to the US from overreliance on China and their economic aggression.
It also directs steps to safeguard defence-sensitive US intellectual property and technology from acquisition by China and with post-employment restricts pertaining to China.
Senator Jim Inhofe, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said that the NDAA prioritises strategic competition with China and Russia, particularly in the Indo-Pacific theater, investing in a modern, lethal joint force, spurring innovation at every level of the Pentagon.
“This bipartisan NDAA is a needed step towards strengthening the national security and prioritising national defence resources. It provides our troops with a well-deserved pay raise and tools to protect the health and well-being of our forces and their families,” said Ranking Member Senator Jack Reed.