Readiness Subcommittee Ranking Member Madeleine Bordallo made the following statement at today's Readiness subcommittee markup:
"The Readiness Subcommittee mark to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 before us today is, as Chairman Forbes has stated, a bipartisan mark that works to ensure our men and women in uniform are well trained and equipped.
"I am proud that our subcommittee, with this mark, continues to close the readiness gaps that have been created in our armed forces by a decade of continuous deployments.
"Because she cannot be here with us today, I want to thank you, Mr. Chairman, on behalf of our colleague Gabby Giffords for ensuring that her interests are addressed in this mark. I know we have all been heartened by the reports of her remarkable recovery and we look forward to her return.
"This mark would authorize $23 billion for the training of all active-duty and reserve forces to increase readiness as troops experience longer periods at home following the Iraq drawdown, including $1 billion to support the Army's planned return to full-spectrum training now that it has fewer units committed to Iraq for combat operations.
"It proposes to authorize additional funding for Navy ship and aircraft depot-level maintenance and for the upkeep of Department of Defense facilities. We fully fund the President's budget request for the reset of Army and Marine Corps equipment and for the sustainment of Air Force weapons systems.
"On the policy side, we have taken steps to strengthen the statutory framework under which our depots, arsenals and ammunition plants operate by aligning the definition of depot maintenance with core, refining the core determination process, and bringing the arsenals and ammunition plants under the authority for Centers of Industrial and Technical Excellence.
"With $130 million in funding authorized for energy-related programs, I am pleased that the mark includes a number of initiatives that focus on reducing operational and installation energy consumption, while improving military capabilities.
"Our military readiness and security depend on a clear and supportable operational and installation energy strategy, which is why the mark includes a process by which the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, and the Federal Aviation Administration are required to develop procedures to ensure that national security factors are taken into account when proposed structures could affect navigable airspace.
"I also support the provision that would establish a core curriculum and certification standards for Department of Defense energy managers, so that they receive the training and education needed to perform their responsibilities.
"I am pleased that this mark supports environmental leadership, while putting defense capabilities and missions first. These are important provisions for near-term as well as long-term national security. I would like to mention specifically measures that drive progress on environmental remediation, including promising new technology that could accelerate unexploded ordnance cleanup and save money.
"I also note we have included a provision that extends Sikes Act coverage to state-owned National Guard facilities and enables development and implementation of integrated natural resources management plans for state-owned National Guard installations at the request of the Department of Defense.
"This mark continues our subcommittee's tradition of continuing to provide stringent and comprehensive oversight of the military buildup on Guam. The subcommittee remains committed to understanding the importance of the realignment of military forces in the Pacific demonstrated through our full authorization of military construction funding.
"Further, this subcommittee continues to demonstrate its keen understanding of the strategic importance to Guam in responding to the growth of traditional threats in the Pacific region and the freedom of movement Guam provides our military forces in responding to regional non-traditional threats.
"Our Guam subtitle responds to a request by the Department of Defense to authorize transfer of funds to other federal agencies or the Government of Guam to address critical infrastructure needs on Guam. We also require the Department of Defense to certify that there is a national security requirement to enhance Marine Corps readiness by having a firing range on the island. It is important that we get to the bottom of the need for a firing range on Guam.
"Finally, the subcommittee establishes a framework for the Secretary of the Navy to establish a health-care integrator to ensure consistent quality of care for the workforce supporting the buildup-related military construction projects on Guam. The Department of Defense has assumed significant risk in this area and our mark appropriately addresses this matter.
"In closing, I would also note that we have addressed the challenges faced by our essential federal civilian employees who deploy to combat zones. Many experience serious medical problems upon returning to their regular assignments and, unlike our active and reserve military personnel, do not have the support systems needed to help them deal with these challenges.
"This bill would seek to provide for those needs through the assignment of post-combat care coordinators, extending their premium pay while deployed, and clarifying death gratuity benefits paid to their survivors.
"Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the assistance you and the committee staff have given me and the other Democratic members of the subcommittee, and I ask my colleagues to support this mark."