On August 31, U.S. Representatives Joe Wilson (R-SC) and Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) announced that they have filed a bipartisan amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to require, with the concurrence of Israel, the creation of a US-Israel Operations-Technology Working Group. As both countries confront increasingly capable adversaries, this working group would help the US and Israel work together more efficiently to quickly field cutting-edge technologies both militaries need.
“The United States has no better ally and friend in the Middle East than Israel, and the US-Israel Operations-Technology Working Group would help ensure Americans and Israelis never confront better armed foes,” Wilson said. “Our defense partnership with Israel is already deep but we can and should take our research and development cooperation to the next level and the working group will help do that. We need to stay ahead of threats together rather than always having to sprint to fill capability gaps after they have already emerged.”
“The relationship between the United States and Israel is rooted in shared values, common interests, and a deep historical connection,” said Murphy. “Our two countries have much to learn from each other when it comes to military technology, and I’m proud to co-lead this bipartisan amendment with Congressman Wilson to further strengthen the US-Israel alliance to the benefit of both nations.”
Section 1299M of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 (P.L. 116-283) authorizes the secretary of defense to work with Israel to establish the working group. The Wilson-Murphy amendment would amend that provision and make it mandatory and clarify the working group’s purposes.
The US-Israel Operations-Technology Working group would serve four functions: 1) provide a standing forum for the two countries to systematically share intelligence-informed military capability requirements; 2) identify military capability requirements common both to the Department of Defense and the Ministry of Defense of Israel; 3) assist defense suppliers in the United States and Israel by assessing recommendations for joint science, technology, research, development, test, evaluation, and production efforts; and 4) develop, as feasible and advisable, combined United States-Israel plans to research, develop, procure, and field weapon systems and military capabilities as quickly and economically as possible to meet common capability requirements of the Department and the Ministry of Defense of Israel.
During its markup last month, the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) voted for the second year in a row to require the establishment of the working group. The Wilson-Murphy amendment reflects the language passed by the Senate Armed Services Committee in July. Last year, SASC voted 27-0 to require the creation of the working group.
Senators Gary Peters (D-MI), Tom Cotton (R-AR), and Jacky Rosen (D-NV) have championed the working group in the U.S. Senate. Reps. Wilson and Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) introduced legislation in 2020 (H.R.7148) requiring the establishment of the working group.
The House Armed Services Committee plans to finalize its version of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 on Wednesday, September 1.