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Panels give special ops, Navy more procurement funding

Subcommittee unanimously approves the addition of funds to build two extra ships and to start work toward building two nuclear attack submarines a year by 2010.

The House Armed Services Terrorism Subcommittee agreed Thursday to provide an additional $85 million to the U.S. Special Operations Command to pay for needed equipment left out of the Bush administration's fiscal 2008 defense budget request in February.

Meanwhile, the House Armed Services Seapower and Expeditionary Forces Subcommittee unanimously approved the addition of funds to build two extra ships and to start work toward building two nuclear attack submarines a year by 2010. The Seapower panel also added $4.1 billion for mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles, on top of $3 billion in the fiscal 2007 war supplemental and $400 million in the president's budget.

Similarly, Terrorism Subcommittee Chairman Adam Smith, D-Wash., said his panel had succeeded in securing $125 million for the MRAPs for special operations forces.

The Terrorism Subcommittee mark, approved unanimously on a voice vote, fully funds three Special Operations Command unfunded requirements -- an additional $43.9 million to reconstitute MH-47G helicopters, $12.1 million for body armor and $5 million for eye-protection devices. It also partly covers other priorities that did not make their way into the Pentagon's fiscal 2008 budget request: $20 million of the $50 million needed for advanced night-vision devices and $4 million of the $12.5 million needed for the Joint Threat Warning System.

"The United States is asking more of our special operations forces than ever before as we seek to halt the spread of al-Qaida and its violent ideology," Smith said in a written statement outlining the special operations budgetary add-ons. In addition, his panel approved adding $12 million for irregular warfare research and development activities within the office of the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low intensity conflict.

The money is aimed at better understanding jihadi strategies, improving cultural understanding, and developing creative countermeasures to "frustrate terrorist groups," Smith said in his statement.

Subcommittee members approved a policy directing Special Operations Command to put a greater emphasis on the techniques and missions required for unconventional warfare, which includes missions against terrorists and extremists.

Over the next week, subcommittee members will be working to develop language that would encourage the Defense Department to analyze the balance between unconventional warfare techniques and Special Operations Command's traditional focus on "direct action," or short duration strikes to seize, capture, recover or destroy enemy weapons and information. That language will be introduced at the full committee markup Tuesday.

At the Seapower markup, lawmakers agreed to cut procurement funding for the Littoral Combat Ship and the Marine Corps' Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, which are experiencing cost overruns or performance problems, to make money available to boost the shipbuilding accounts.

Seapower Subcommittee Chairman Gene Taylor, D-Miss., and ranking member Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., initially proposed adding five ships to the seven requested in President Bush's budget, but had to settle for three because of problems with the LCS.

As expected, Taylor's panel added $1.7 billion to buy a second LPD-17 amphibious ship, $456 million for a second T-AKE dry cargo ship and $588 million to obtain the nuclear reactor and other propulsion components for future Virginia-class submarine. It also backed full funding of all of the aircraft requested for the Navy and the Marine Corps.