U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) secured key provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2014 which has passed the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee. The NDAA is the Defense Department's funding bill. Vitter is a member of the Armed Services Committee.
"Ensuring that the Army provides meaningful consideration to keep forces from the Brigade Combat Team stationed at Fort Polk, LA as well as the future of B-52s and the Global Strike Command have been among my top priorities on the Armed Services Committee," Vitter said. "My amendments will help preserve Louisiana's viability for national security, and I hope to have positive developments for Fort Polk included when we finish committee consideration of the defense bill."
A summary of provisions Vitter was able to secure in the FY14 NDAA are as follows:
* Ensures that the Army force structure and stationing decisions use the proper methodology to maximize existing resources, including facilities related to BCT activities, based on upon their stated support for Fort Polk's viability before any decisions on reductions are made.
* Ensures the combat capability of the B-52 SR2 Radar program is given priority in the budget.
* Strengthen the implementation of the B-52 Family of Advanced Beyond-line-of-sight Terminal (FAB-T) and the B-52 CONECT system. The Air Force uses these systems for nuclear and conventional operations such as re-tasking of missions and re-targeting of weapons while in-flight and improving long range strike capabilities.
* Assist in reconstituting a Weapons Storage Area (WSA) at Barksdale. A reconstituted second WSA could enhance the resiliency of the bomber force, provide redundancy in a critical national security mission, reduce operational risk, and most importantly improve Barksdale's long-term standing.
* Restores the STARBASE funding to pre-2009 levels. Under the Obama budget funding had been completely cut. STARBASE is an educational program that focuses on elementary students, primarily fifth graders to encourage Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). The program encourages students who live in inner cities or rural locations, those who are socio-economically disadvantaged, low in academic performance or have a disability to set goals and achieve them through a curriculum that meets or exceeds the national standards.
* Maintain over 300 jobs in the Lake Charles area through the Air Force, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) JSTARS platform requirements. These missions that support ground and naval forces are critical for battle management command and control. JSTARS aircraft are remanufactured at Northrop Grumman in Lake Charles.