Defense policy bill cuts would slash counterterrorism fund

Defense policy bill cuts would slash counterterrorism fund
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Congress intends to slash funds for the Obama administration's Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund next year to reduce defense spending to a level negotiated last week between the White House and congressional leadership.  

The $1 billion fund, authorized in 2016, would fall to $750 million, according to documents obtained by The Hill that show where $5 billion in cuts from the Pentagon's authorized budget would be made.

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The Pentagon's train-and-equip program for Syrian rebels that was authorized at $531 million in 2016 will be reduced by $125 million. Although the White House suspended the original program, it has transitioned to a program in which the leaders of rebel groups are trained, and the groups are equipped with ammunition and potentially weapons in the future. 

The cuts of $5 billion were reached Monday after consultations between House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), the Senate Armed Services Committee and defense appropriators. 

Congress and the White House agreed last week on a budget that would leave the Pentagon $5 billion short of the amount authorized in the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act. 

Military readiness would also be hit hard by the cuts. The documents detail a $250 million cut for Army readiness, and a $193 million decrease for Army National Guard readiness. 

A large portion of the cuts — $435 million — are found in planned Defense Department headquarters streamlining and attrition. 

Lowered fuel prices would result in a $1.082 billion reduction — the largest cut. About $110 million in additional fuel savings would come from the Afghan Security Forces Fund. 

The cuts include reductions for some major weapons systems, although the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program would be spared.  

General Dynamics Bath Iron Works' DDG-51 Navy destroyer program would take a $150 million hit, a planned quantity increase of General Atomics' MQ-9 Reaper drone would take a $80 million cut, and Lockheed Martin's Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC-3) Missile Segment Enhancement program would lose $100 million. 

Purchases of Lockheed Martin's Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-ballistic missile system would be reduced by $50 million, and Raytheon's SM-3 Block IB missile by $30 million.  

The cuts are also directed at a host of smaller items that range from aircraft modifications, to Navy Fleet Band National Tours, uniform research and the elimination of a National Guard heritage painting initiative. 

Other programs or purchases will be delayed to bring in needed savings.  

And the Technology Offset initiative, started by former Defense Secretary Chuck HagelCharles (Chuck) Timothy HagelOvernight Defense: Latest on historic Korea summit | Trump says 'many people' interested in VA job | Pompeo thinks Trump likely to leave Iran deal Should Mike Pompeo be confirmed? Intel chief: Federal debt poses 'dire threat' to national security MORE, would be cut by $100 million. 

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