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National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. THORNBERRY. I thank the chairman for yielding. And, Mr. Chairman, I first want to commend the chairman of the committee and Ranking Member Smith for their leadership in shepherding a complex and important bill to this stage of the process. A 60-1 vote coming out of committee is a significant achievement and is a testament to the attitude of putting the national security interests of the whole country first, which has been the hallmark of this committee, and their leadership exemplifies the best of that in my opinion.

Mr. Chairman, the Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee is charged with looking ahead at those national security threats that are coming at us, and also helping to develop new capabilities to meet those threats. We oversee the Special Operations Command and counterterrorism efforts. Now, throughout the country, there is a greater appreciation, I think, for the capabilities within the Special Operations Command after the successful raid on Osama bin Laden, but I think it is important to emphasize that those folks in that command conduct that sort of raid just about every night somewhere with the same sort of precision and professionalism that the country now appreciates from the Osama bin Laden raid that got all of the attention. But they do much more.

They are also responsible for helping train and advise other militaries, building up the capacities of those governments to defend themselves, and they are doing very impressive work in all parts of the world, including Afghanistan where, among other things, they are helping to train the military and train local police to help provide security for individual villages. Our bill provides a modest funding increase for this command, as well as meeting some real unmet needs that they have.

Our part of the bill also deals with research that leads to future capabilities. In tight budgets, it is always tempting to cut research and development, science and technology programs, but it is a mistake to do so. In this budget, the funding for such programs at least holds steady with some added emphasis in some key areas that are important.

The largest dollar amount in this subcommittee's portion of the bill is with DOD IT and cyber. This area may actually be the preeminent area of emerging threats in warfare. This mark takes some important steps forward in dollars and policies. But, Mr. Chairman, I think we should all acknowledge that there is a lot more work for this Congress and for this country to do in the area of cybersecurity. Not all of it is military; most of it is not. But yet the military is affected, as are we all.

Mr. Chairman, a lot has changed since September 11, 2001. Al Qaeda is a changed organization; and with the death of Osama bin Laden, it will change further. But I think it is important to emphasize that this Congress must fulfill its responsibilities to affirm and update the authorization for the use of military force to deal with al Qaeda. There have been some wild exaggerations about the attempt to do so in that bill. I think if Members read the exact language and look at exactly what we are doing and why, that they will support it and agree that it is a fulfillment of our responsibility.


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