Washington, D.C. – A provision within the 2017 National Defense Authorization could advance Special Operations Command’s steady march towards independence from the geographical combatant commands.

The House of Representatives on Dec. 2 overwhelmingly approved by a vote of 375-34 the $619 billion measure, which contains a provision to reorganize SOCOM and provide its assistant secretary with increased powers to oversee its activities. The Senate is expected to consider it next week. The two-thirds majority is also enough to override any presidential veto.

Under its report for the fiscal year 2017 NDAA, Congress would empower the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict (SOLIC) with supervision of policy, planning, and execution of all special operations activities.

Those activities include irregular warfare and combating terrorism as well as for integrating special operations with other Pentagon activities.

The provision would not impact the operational chain-of-command, but seeks to empower the SOLIC Assistant Secretary similar to service secretaries to oversee SOCOM, the report said.

Michael Lumpkin has served as SOLIC Assistant Secretary since 2013.

The expansion of the SOLIC Assistant Secretary’s powers also follows reports that President Barack Obama is expanding the authority of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) to hunt terrorist cells around the world – according to reports. The expansion is significant because it would allow JSOC to operate independently of the respective geographic combatant commanders in whose areas of responsibility they serve.

SOLIC ASD Needs More Powers in Light of Command’s Growth