16:12 GMT +314 October 2019
Listen Live
    US President Donald Trump signs a memorandum.

    US 2019 Defense Spending Bill Focuses on Countering Russia, China

    © REUTERS / Jonathan Ernst
    Military & Intelligence
    Get short URL
    113
    Subscribe

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - US President Donald Trump signed into law on Monday the 2019 defense spending bill that provides significant funding to counter Russia and China.

    The measure prompted Beijing to voice protest and express concern on Tuesday that the measure interferes in China’s internal affairs and undermines bilateral military ties, mutual trust and cooperation.

    The $716-billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) makes available funding for Defense Department use, including money to accelerate US efforts to field a conventional prompt strike capability before 2022; strengthen the European Deterrence Initiative (EDI) with $6.3 billion; and provide $250 million in lethal defensive items for Ukraine. Moreover, the measure obligates Defense Secretary James Mattis to develop a plan that would deny Turkey the F-35 aircraft if Ankara purchases the Russian S-400 air defense system.

    While there has been no official reaction from Russia so far, the Chinese Defense Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday that the United States has exaggerated the level of confrontation between the two countries and can worsen bilateral relations.

    "The content of this law abounds in Cold War thinking, exaggerates the level of the China-US confrontation, interferes in China's internal affairs, violates the One-China principle and three China-US communiques, undermines the atmosphere of development of China-US military ties, damages China-US mutual trust and cooperation," the statement said.

    The statement said China strongly protests against the bill and had already lodged a representation on the matter to Washington.

    New Start Treaty With Russia

    The NDAA requires the Trump administration to discuss with Russia whether Moscow’s latest strategic weapon systems are in compliance with the New Strategic Arms Reduction (START) Treaty.

    "Not later than December 31, 2018, the President shall… submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report as to whether… the President has raised the issue of covered Russian systems in the appropriate fora with the Russian Federation under Article V of the New START Treaty or otherwise," the legislation says.

    The NDAA notes that the Russian systems of concern include the heavy intercontinental missile system Sarmat; the air-launched nuclear-powered cruise missile X-101; the unmanned underwater vehicle the US government calls "Status 6"; and the long-distance guided flight hypersonic glide vehicle Avangard.

    Trump must report to Congress if Russia will agree to declare these systems to be strategic offensive arms subject to the New START Treaty, the legislation says.

    The White House must notify the appropriate congressional committees as to whether Russia’s weapons development threatens the viability of the New START Treaty or whether appropriate US political, economic or military responses will be needed.

    In addition, the White House is required to submit to the congressional defense committees a report assessing the extent to which the US nuclear modernization and infrastructure recapitalization programs of the Pentagon meet conditions in the New START Treaty.

    US Halts Open Skies Treaty With Russia

    The NDAA says that none of the funds authorized to be appropriated by the Act "may be obligated or expended to carry out any activities to modify any United States aircraft for purposes of implementing the Open Skies Treaty."

    READ MORE: Washington Freezes Open Sky Treaty With Moscow in New Defense Bill

    The legislation says that the suspension is in place until the US president certifies to Congress that penalties have been imposed on Russia for previous treaty violations.

    US Extends Ban on Military Ties With Russia

    The NDAA also says that the US government has extended its ban against cooperating militarily with Russia in a bilateral format.

    The prohibition, first enacted in the 2017 NDAA, remained in effect this year and the law continues the ban through 2019. It says none of the funds authorized may be used for any bilateral military-to-military cooperation with Russia until Moscow implements the Minsk accords and returns Crimea to Ukrainian sovereignty.

    However, the 2019 NDAA adds a provision — missing from two previous NDAAs — that explicitly authorizes military negotiations between Washington and Moscow.

    "Nothing in subsection (a) shall be construed to limit bilateral military-to-military dialogue between the United States and the Russian Federation for the purpose of reducing the risk of conflict," the NDAA said.

    Missile Defense Systems in Europe

    The NDAA reveals that the United States may seek to deploy more missile defense systems in Europe as well as develop a new hypersonic weapons program.

    "The United States should take actions to encourage the Russian Federation to return to compliance with the INF [Intermediate Nuclear Forces] Treaty, including by… seeking additional missile defense assets in the European theater," the legislation said.

    The NDAA says the assets are needed to fill military capability gaps to protect US and NATO forces from Russian ground-launched missile systems that are in noncompliance with the INF Treaty.

    READ MORE: Russian Defense Minister Rebukes German Attempt at Tough Military Posturing

    In addition, the NDAA requires Washington to accelerate its hypersonic missile defense program.

    "Subject to the availability of appropriations, the Director of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) shall accelerate the hypersonic missile defense program of the Missile Defense Agency," the legislation says.

    Moreover, the NDAA requires the US Missile Defense Agency chief to "deploy such program in conjunction with a persistent space-based missile defense sensor program."

    The legislation also provides 90 days for the Missile Defense Agency to submit a report on the hypersonic missile defense program to the US Senate and House of Representatives defense committees.

    The report, which may include classified annex along with unclassified content, should provide an estimate of the cost, technical requirements and acquisition plan, the NDAA says.

    Permanent US Deployment in Poland

    Another section of NDAA obliges the Defense Department, in coordination with the Secretary of State, to submit by March 1 to congressional defense committees a report on the feasibility and advisability of permanently stationing United States forces in Poland.

    "The report required by subsection (a) shall include the following: An assessment of the types of permanently stationed United States forces in Poland required to deter aggression by the Russian Federation and execute Department of Defense contingency plans, including combat enabler units in capability areas such as (A) combat engineering; (B) logistics and sustainment; (C) warfighting headquarters elements; (D) long-range fires; (E) air and missile defense; (F) intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; and (G) electronic warfare," the NDAA says.

    The NDAA also says that an assessment of the permanent deployment feasibility should include an evaluation of whether a US permanent deployment would increase deterrence against Russian as well as an assessment of Russia’s possible response.

    In addition, the report should consist of an "assessment of the international political considerations of permanently stationing such a brigade combat team in Poland, including within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)," the NDAA says.

    Turkish and Russian S-400 Air Defense Systems

    The NDAA also foresees that the United States will assess its diplomatic and military relationship with Turkey in case Ankara purchases Russian S-400 air defense systems.

    The United States will also assess Turkey’s participation in the F-35 fighter jet program and will look into operational and counterintelligence risks posed by the deployment of the S-400 systems in Turkey, the legislation says.

    READ MORE: Chinese Navy Tests Interceptors After US B-52 Flyover

    The measure requires that within 90 days after the date of the enactment of the NDAA Act, Defense Secretary Mattis, in consultation with the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, must submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report on the status of the US-Turkey relationship.

    Report on Yemen

    The NDAA gives the Trump administration 30 days to provide Congress a special briefing with regard to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates’ military and political objectives in Yemen.

    The briefing should reveal "whether United States assistance to the Saudi-led coalition has resulted in significant progress towards meeting those objectives," the NDAA says.

    The Trump administration must also provide details on Saudi Arabia’s efforts to avoid disproportionate harm to civilians in Yemen and whether US assistance has helped decrease the number of civilian deaths by Saudi-led airstrikes, the legislation says.

    In addition, the NDAA requires the Trump administration to list sources of external support for the Houthi rebels, including financial assistance, weapons transfers, operational planning, training and advisory assistance.

    Moreover, the administration report must include an assessment of the US and international sanctions against the Houthi rebels and individuals or entities providing the Houthi forces in Yemen with material support, the NDAA says.

    Finally, the NDAA requires the administration to assess the Saudi-led Yemen campaign’s impact on US efforts to defeat al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the Islamic State terror group (banned in Russia).

    Related:

    Russian Air Defenses Destroy UAV Launched by Syrian Militants at Hmeymim Base
    India Places $39 Million Order for Saab's Defense Aids Suite for Army Choppers
    India Not Wary of Russia-Pakistan Defense Ties - External Affairs Ministry
    Tags:
    protest, defense budget, Donald Trump, United States
    Community standardsDiscussion
    Comment via FacebookComment via Sputnik