The Senate Armed Services Committee on June 16 completed its markup of the fiscal year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and voted 23-3 to send the spending bill to the full Senate for consideration.

The military spending bill still faces plenty of hurdles and adjustments before it becomes law. First is a full-Senate debate and voting, then the bill goes to the House for the same process. A subsequent conference committee will then consider both the House and Senate-approved versions of the bill, work out differences between them, and finally send an identical version back to both the House and Senate for their approval.

Top-Line Figures 

At the top line, the FY2023 NDAA features a 5.5 percent top-line increase from the previous year’s bill, to $857 billion. That figure includes $817 million in Defense Department (DoD) spending and $29 billion in Energy Department (DoE) spending. Most of the DoE spending – $22 billion – would go toward the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), and $6.5 billion would fund DoE defense environmental cleanup activities.

The latest bill also features a 4.6 percent pay increase for the military and the DoD civilian workforce.

The FY2023 NDAA also would set active-duty strengths of 473,000 for the Army, 354,000 for the Navy, 325,344 for the Air Force, 177,000 for the Marine Corps, and 8,600 for Space Force.

The committee said the proposed spending increase in the FY2023 NDAA is necessary to “meet the objectives of the 2022 National Defense Strategy, including defending the U.S. homeland; deterring adversaries; prevailing in long-term strategic competition; and building a resilient Joint Force.” The bill also takes into account the impact of inflation, additional military assistance for Ukraine, and spending on military construction projects and facilities maintenance.

Cyber, Tech Provisions 

The version of the FY2023 NDAA approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee features dozens of cybersecurity and tech-related provisions. Among them are:

  • Increasing the number of Assistant Secretaries of Defense to 18, including a new position for cyber policy;
  • Unclassified reporting through 2032 of U.S. Cyber Command efforts to ensure election security and counter election threats;
  • Authorizing an increase of $180 million for Cyber Mission Force operational support, including intelligence support to cyberspace operations;
  • Authorizing $44 million of new funding for Cyber Command’s Hunt Forward Operation;
  • Formulating a strategy for “converged cyber and electronic warfare conducted by and through deployed military and intelligence assets operating in the radiofrequency domain to provide strategic, operational, and tactical effects in support of combatant commanders”;
  • Crafting a five-year roadmap and implementation plan for rapidly adopting artificial intelligence applications to the warfighter cyber missions within the DoD;
  • Aligning DoD’s cybersecurity cooperation enterprise and operational partnerships with defense strategies and guidance;
  • Giving Cyber Command another $50 million for artificial intelligence systems and applications development;
  • Giving the Air Force another $25 million for its Air Force Cyber Resilience for Weapons Systems program;
  • Giving the Army $23 million more for red team automation and zero trust architecture initiatives;
  • Giving the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) another $30 million to apply artificial intelligence and autonomy technologies for cybersecurity and cyberspace operations challenges;
  • Providing another $56 million for Cyber Command Joint Cyber Warfighting Architecture development;
  • Requiring a plan to correct readiness shortfalls in Cyber Mission Forces;
  • Establishing a program executive office to manage and provide oversight of the implementation and integration of the Joint Cyber Warfighting Architecture;
  • Requiring a policy and plan, in consultation with the commercial industry, on the test and evaluation of the cybersecurity of the clouds of commercial cloud service providers;
  • Directing a briefing on the workforce pipeline pilot program through certificate-based courses on cybersecurity and artificial intelligence that are offered by National Security Agency Center for Academic Excellence universities;
  • Providing $25 million to support “cyber consortium seedling funding”;
  • Establishing the DoD Cyber and Digital Service Academy as a scholarship-for-service program partnered with universities and colleges in the United States, with a DoD service requirement for participants; and
  • Encouraging DoD to leverage its authorities to pay special and incentive pays to recruit and retain cyber personnel with critical skills.

Tech Items

  • Requiring control of the cross-functional team tasked with joint all-domain command and control (JADC2) to remain under the direction of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (J6) Director and requires an implementation plan of a joint force headquarters to serve as the operational command for certain JADC2 and related capabilities, functions, missions, and tasks, with the headquarters to be established not later than October 1, 2024;
  • Authorizing an increase of $245 million for Joint All-Domain Command and Control, including the establishment of a Joint Force Headquarters in U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, effects chain and mission-based command and control experimentation, novel kill chain development, and acceleration and integration of the Family of Integrated Targeting Cells;
  • Requiring unclassified three-year transition plans for fifth-generation (5G) information and communications technology infrastructure;
  • Authorizing an increase of $70 million for a national network for microelectronics research and development activities;
  • Giving DARPA another $75 million to act on recommendations of the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence;
  • Giving DARPA another $20 million for its utility-scale quantum computing activities; and
  • Providing $200 million for 5G technology development, experimentation, and transition support, including open radio access network (O-RAN) efforts.

“I am pleased the Armed Services Committee has continued its tradition of strong, bipartisan support in passing the James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023,” said Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., chairman of the committee.

“The committee held a robust debate and came together to support a bill that will help safeguard the nation against a range of evolving threats while supporting our troops both on and off the battlefield,” he said. 

Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., the committee’s ranking member, said, “I am especially proud that for the second year in a row, the committee almost unanimously voted to approve my amendment with the Chairman that would boost the defense budget — this year by $45 billion. This is a demonstration of our commitment to our men and women in uniform and our willingness to compete, deter, and if necessary, defeat any adversaries who might threaten our American values and our way of life.”

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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.