Last night's passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 in the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), included several amendments authored by U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a senior member of the committee. Inhofe praised many of the priorities in the measure that provide important resources to our nation's military, including several provisions key to Oklahoma's defense sector. These include the continued production of the Paladin Integration Management (PIM) Program, the sustainment of military depots, and the update of weather prediction systems.
"We must equip our troops and military installations with the resources necessary to best serve our nation," said Inhofe. "Oklahoma plays an important role in the continued strength of the finest fighting force in the world. It is imperative for Congress to continue working with all branches of our nation's military to ensure they receive adequate funding for important programs. We must be willing to modernize so that our military is equipped with the very best tools."
Inhofe continued, "While I am pleased that many of the priorities I put forward are included in this committee-passed bill, I am disappointed in the overall funding level of the measure. President Obama's military budget request was insufficient, and this bill is $6 billion less. The depth of these cuts greatly concerns me, as our nation's military must receive all the adequate funding and resources necessary to protect our nation and its allies."
National Weather Center Director Berrien Moore III said, "The actions of the Senate Armed Services Committee, led by Senator Inhofe, to sustain the critical weather capabilities made available to our Armed Forces, including how best the Air Force should plan for the modernization of its weather systems to support the infusion of cost effective new technologies, is a critical step in maintaining the readiness of our troops, who depend upon a reliable, highly accurate state-of-the-art meteorological system to conduct key operations and training. As a national leader in developing new weather technologies, the National Weather Center at the University of Oklahoma stands ready and willing to continue to work with the Air Force and other key federal officials to support this critical effort. "
Inhofe also expressed displeasure with the additional $1 billion cut in military construction (MILCON). Without the ability to provide Congressional recourse, the 40 year old air control tower at Tinker Air Force Base, and the undersized fire station at Altus Air Force Base will not be replaced for several years. The Tinker tower does not currently meet Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Defense regulations.
Oklahoma Priorities in NDAA
Weather Study: Requires the Secretary of the Air Force to submit a plan for incorporating the latest science and technology into their weather prediction systems.
Paladin Integration Management (PIM) ISI: Affirms the fact that the PIM effort is now proceeding on plan, with formal Army developmental tests underway. The prior year funds approved by Congress for reprogramming to the PIM program, plus funds requested by the Army for fiscal year 2012, are all required to ensure the cost, performance, and schedule stability of the PIM program. Supports the Army's position on PIM as a critical modernization program, and directs the Secretary of the Army to regularly inform the congressional defense committees on the program's progress.
Depot Maintenance: Requires DOD to formulate an industrial strategy to ensure the sustainment of effective depots.
Storage Facility ( With Senator Chambliss and Senator Webb): SASC supports the Army requirement to protect and preserve historical collections, and encourages the Army to investigate all options for climate controlled storage facility solutions that includes Ft. Sill.
Oklahoma Military Installations- Included in President's Budget Request:
$25 million for a Physical Fitness Facility at Fort Sill, OK
$13.2 million for a Chapel at Fort Sill, OK
$36 million for a Reception Station, Phase 1 at Fort Sill, OK
$3.4 million for a Rail Deployment Facility at Fort Sill, OK
$51 million for a Vehicle Maintenance Facility at Fort Sill, OK
$23 million for a Battle Command Training Center at Fort Sill, OK
$33 million for a THAAD Instruction Facility at Fort Sill, OK
$6.3 million for Railroad Tracks at McAlester, OK
$1.7 million for Ammunition Loading Pads at McAlester, OK
$8.2 million for Replace Fuel Transfer Pipeline at Altus AFB, OK
$10.4 million for Upgrade-Combined Arms Collective Training Facility at Camp Gruber, OK
$3 million for a Live Fire Shoot House at Camp Gruber, OK
Inhofe also praised the authorization of funds for Impact Aid, an important program for funding local schools in Oklahoma that lose revenue from federal lands in the school district. He also supported the establishment of a JUON Fund to allow the Department of Defense to rapidly field new systems in response to urgent operational needs identified by deployed units such as the Oklahoma National Guard's 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT).