2017 Defense Policy Bill: A conversation with the staff directors of the Armed Services Committees - AEI

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Event Summary

Tuesday at AEI, Bob Simmons and Chris Brose, the staff directors of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, spoke with AEI’s Mackenzie Eaglen about the long-term strategic goals of the defense committees. Both staff directors forcefully defended the congressional prerogative to conduct oversight of the Pentagon and disburse funding, and they repeatedly noted that many current disputes and shortfalls in defense policy could be resolved by repealing the Budget Control Act.

Mr. Simmons began with an in-depth look at the degraded readiness of US fighting forces, noting that American pilots currently fly one-third of the monthly hours of Chinese pilots. He also highlighted the qualitative advancement in adversary capabilities; in one example, he mentioned the US military’s inability to fly fourth-generation aircraft against high-end air defenses.

Mr. Brose explained the Senate Armed Services Committee’s push for organizational reform in the Pentagon. He argued that persistent innovation requires a consistent advocate in the bureaucracy and that the Pentagon must empower its managers — civilians and military personnel alike — to address transregional, multidomain, and cross-functional threats with teams that cut across traditional seams.
–Rick Berger

Event Description

The latest defense policy bill, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), faces many political hurdles before implementation. Will the United States continue to buy Russian rocket engines or risk a space launch gap? Should we require women to register for the draft? Will the Republican effort to increase defense spending by $18 billion be successful? Would the administration veto the military’s spending bill for a second year straight? Could the 2017 NDAA crash and burn after a fight over LGBT rights?

No matter its final shape, the 2017 NDAA promises momentous change for the Pentagon and the US military. Join AEI as Chris Brose and Bob Simmons, the staff directors of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, discuss the politics and policy of the latest defense policy bill with AEI’s Mackenzie Eaglen.

Join the conversation on social media with #FY17NDAA.
If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.


11:45 AM

12:00 PM

Chris Brose, Senate Armed Services Committee staff director
Bob Simmons, House Armed Services Committee staff director

Mackenzie Eaglen, AEI

1:00 PM

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Rick Berger at [email protected], 202.862.5945.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries or to register a camera crew, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829

Speaker Biographies

Chris Brose serves as staff director of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Before his time in Congress, he served as speechwriter for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Mackenzie Eaglen is a resident fellow in the Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies at AEI, where she works on defense strategy, defense budgets, and military readiness.

Bob Simmons serves as staff director of the House Armed Services Committee. He previously was involved in the aerospace industry for 26 years, including serving as CEO of Senior Aerospace.

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