Missouri's Fourth Congressional District is proud to be one of our nation's most military-intensive congressional districts, home to two major military installations, Whiteman Air Force Base and Fort Leonard Wood, and host to the Missouri National Guard Headquarters. Our District is blessed to have them as a part of our community. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I am committed to working hard to ensure that these facilities remain vital components of our national defense.
The United States Army Maneuver Support Center of Excellence at Fort Leonard Wood is the premier Army Center of Excellence where teams perform innovative work to provide our Army integrated capabilities, professional warrior soldiers, leaders, and forces that excel in the current operational environment. Fort Leonard Wood is the proud home to the Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear School, the Engineer School, the Military Police School, and the 4th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade. Here they provide Professional Military Education and functional courses for soldiers, Non-commissioned Officers, Warrant Officers, and Commissioned Officers.
Whiteman Air Force Base is named in honor of 2nd Lt. George Whiteman, Air Corp, U.S. Army, who lost his life Dec. 7, 1941, while he was attempting to take off to defend Bellows Air Field in Oahu, Hawaii, during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The 509th Bomb Wing, located at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, is one of only two Air Force units that operate the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber. The unit can launch combat sorties directly from Missouri to any spot on the globe, engaging adversaries with large payloads of traditional or precision-guided munitions. Additional units include the Missouri Air National Guard's 131st Bomb Wing, the U.S. Air Force Reserve's 442nd Fighter Wing, A-10 Thunderbolt II, the Missouri Army National Guard's 1/135th Aviation Battalion, AH-64 Apache, and the 20th Reconnaissance Squadron.
Missouri's Fourth Congressional District is proud to be the home to tens of thousands of veterans who have served our country with distinction and honor. Currently, over 1.5 million active and reserve servicemen and women are defending our nation. Additionally, over 20 million military retirees and veterans are living in this nation, many of whom dedicated their entire professional and personal lives to protect our freedoms.
We must be ever vigilant in countering the threats we face in today's uncertain world. Iran and North Korea continue in their pursuit to master nuclear weapons technology. From Afghanistan and Iraq to the Greater Middle East, radical Islamists seek to undermine governments and stifle liberty. While our attention is rightly focused on combating global terrorism, we must not forget other national security threats in China, Venezuela, and Russia. Sadly, additional threats persist with home grown terrorism. With these concerns foremost in mind, I work every day to help keep our country safe. Providing our military the resources necessary to safeguard our liberties and to protect our shores is one of my top legislative priorities.
In my work on the House Armed Services Committee, I have been a constant advocate for our troops and veterans. I remain steadfast in fighting for a strong national defense while also seeking fiscal accountability in the vast array of programs run by the federal government. We are a nation at war with men and women fighting in harm's way on multiple fronts. We need to ensure that the soldiers of this nation are well equipped with every resource they need to protect the liberties we all enjoy. That includes:
Providing for the Common Defense: I have led multiple efforts to safeguard defense spending in order to send a clear message to the men and women fighting for our nation that any arbitrary decisions about defense cuts will not be accepted. I supported the House budget resolution for Fiscal Year 2012 to provide for a "robust defense." Additionally, I sent a letter that calls on President Obama to account for his recent statements supporting substantial defense cuts without any rationale analysis of what this will mean for our national security. I oppose potential cuts to defense spending believing one of Congress's primary roles is to provide for the common defense.
Preventing BRAC: I am committed to supporting a strong military and working to ensure that we do not have to consider any Defense Base Closure and Realignment (BRAC) proposals. It is imperative for our future strength and readiness as a nation and economic vitality locally in Missouri. During Readiness Subcommittee hearings, I led efforts to secure commitments from Service officials that they had no plans for a BRAC. This was encouraging but we will remain vigilant. I also sent a letter to President Obama making clear that his request for two rounds of military base closures is ill-advised. Both installations in the Fourth District embody key missions and should not have to worry about BRAC.
Ensuring Paychecks: In my first term, I co-sponsored the Ensuring Pay for Our Military Act of 2011 and the Guarantee Paychecks for America's Families Act. In the 113th Congress, I was once again proud to co-sponsor the Guarantee Paychecks for America's Families Act. These bills ensure that all military families will continue to receive paychecks no matter the status of government funding or debt obligations. Our military men and women accept risk on behalf of every American and this legislation provides that members of our Armed Forces will not have to worry about whether their families at home have money to pay bills, put gas in the car, or go to the grocery store. These men and women have enough to worry about already--and paychecks should not be on the list.
Highlighting Detainee Security and Guantanamo Bay: In my first term, I co-sponsored, the Detainee Security Act of 2011, comprehensive legislation that would affirm the use of military force against al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and affiliated terrorist networks. It also contains restrictions which would make it tougher for detainees to return to the battlefield or share information with other terrorists. Also, it would permanently block funding for the creation or renovation of any facility in the continental United States to house or transfer detainees currently held at Guantanamo Bay to U.S. soil. President Obama took unilateral action to create new administrative review procedures for detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, without consulting Congress, a move that fails to comprehensively address America's terrorist prosecution and detention policies. This legislation is a more complete solution for dealing with the issue in light of a full range of national security concerns.
Safeguarding Fair Pay for Service: I am proud to support the National Guardsmen and Reservists Parity for Patriots Act, which would backdate to September 11, 2001 the period of active duty, in support of a contingency operations for which members of the National Guard and Reserve components of the armed forces shall receive credit in determining eligibility for receipt of retired pay.
Honoring Service: I have been proud to co-sponsor the Stolen Valor Act during my time in Congress. This legislation will strengthen current law by punishing those who misrepresent their military service with the intention of obtaining anything of value. Adding provisions that define an individual's purpose and intent to misrepresent their service will ensure that our First Amendment rights are protected, while preserving the honor and valor of brave men and women in uniform.
Promoting Patriotism: Our flag must be respected and revered for the enduring symbol of freedom that it is. I have co-sponsored legislation, which proposes an amendment to the Constitution of the United States giving Congress power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States.
Representing You In Caucuses: I am proud to be a member of a number of caucuses that focus on protecting our national security. These include the National Guard Reserve Components Caucus, the House Army Caucus, the Air Force Caucus, the Congressional Caucus on Long Range Strike, and the Congressional Military Family Caucus.
The duty to protect our nation is a key responsibility of Congress and thus deserves our utmost dedication. I am honored to represent the military personnel, their families, and the installations of which we are so proud. Rest assured, I will continue my work to increase the quality of veteran and active duty military care to Missourians and ensure they have all they need to fulfill their missions. Unlike much of our budget, the defense programs are the sole responsibility of the federal government and not the states. Moreover, it is a constitutional responsibility assigned to Congress that I take very seriously. Members of the Armed Forces put their lives on the line to preserve our nation's freedom, and we owe them an immeasurable debt of gratitude. They have stood up for us; we must stand by them.