U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), and the Ranking Member on the Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee, fought for Ohio's military men and women while also balancing the need for a strong national defense plan that is fiscally responsible during the committee's mark-up of the Department of Defense (DoD) Authorization for 2013.
"With the many threats we face now and in the future, we must maintain a strong national defense and ensure that our military men and women who put their lives in harm's way have the resources to defend our freedom," said Portman. "At the same time, with Washington more than $15 trillion in debt, we need to make sure every dollar is spent wisely," Portman said.
Regarding Unmanned Air Systems, Portman stated "We must get our arms around this airspace integration issue. While our civilian agencies must lead these efforts, the Defense Department, and specifically national resources like AFRL have tremendous experience in this field. We need to make sure we bring all this to bear on this challenging task."
Portman included an amendment that complements similar language introduced by Representative Michael Turner last week in the House version of the Defense authorization. The measure provides Congressional support and direction to the DoD to coordinate with FAA and NASA to conduct joint research and find solutions to the challenges associated with the integration of Unmanned Air Systems in the National Airspace. Last year, Senator Portman successfully amended the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2011 to improve the process surrounding the integration of UAS test sites into the National Airspace System.
Portman successfully advocated for the following measures, which are included in the Armed Services Committee Authorization:
Additional funding for joint U.S.-Israeli cooperative missile defense programs and procurement of "Iron Dome" short-range rocket defense batteries.
Reauthorization of critical security cooperation authorities to help key partners in counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics operations as well as direction to the Defense Department to holistically review its partnership building capabilities in relation to the latest Defense Strategic Guidance.
Provided Congressional support and direction to the DoD to coordinate with FAA and NASA to conduct joint research and find solutions to challenges associated with the integration of Unmanned Air Systems in the National Airspace.
Established a National Commission to evaluate and determine the best force structure of the Air Force. Doing so will ensure critical aircraft, like the C-27J, KC-135 and C-130, are retained and not prematurely retired next year. This will allow an independent commission to recommend a structure for the Congress to consider and avoid irreversible cuts that could negatively affect operational readiness and long-term costs. The Commission must report its findings in time for next spring's Defense Authorization consideration.
Funding authorization for uranium enrichment research and development. The USEC American Centrifuge Project in Piketon, OH is the cornerstone to fulfilling our national security requirements for a domestic source of enriched uranium.
Direction to the Defense Department to perform a thorough review of their specialized degree-granting programs in engineering, science and management to ensure institutions, like the Air Force Institute of Technology, are being utilized to their fullest potential in producing highly-educated military and civilian leaders who perform and manage the Department's technology program.
Guidance to the Defense Department to launch an integrated program to include partnerships with industry and academia to address the adverse effects corrosion has on military equipment and facilities, which cost the DoD over $20 billion annually.