.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), today discussed the SASC's completion of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2013 (FY13). This annual legislation now awaits consideration by the full Senate. The SASC-passed version includes several legislative measures that were either authored or supported by Inhofe.
"Maintaining a strong national defense remains my top priority in Congress," said Inhofe. "I commend Chairman Levin and Ranking Member McCain for their consistent effort to complete this important milestone. The Senate Armed Services Committee has now completed its 51st consecutive NDAA, arguably the most important defense policy legislation that Congress considers every year.
"While I am very pleased that the bill includes many important provisions that benefit our nation's military as well as Oklahoma's military installations, I was extremely disappointed that once again liberal social agenda issue items were also included. This bill fails to contain language included in the FY12 bill that prohibits the transfer of GITMO detainees to the United States - something that I will ensure is corrected when this bill comes to the floor. Additionally, an amendment was included that will permit taxpayer-funded abortions on military installations. For the past several years, social issues ranging from hate crimes to gay marriage have been attached to this bill. Playing politics with this annual legislation does a disservice to our servicemembers, and I will fight to remove these provisions as the bill moves to the Senate floor for debate.
"Additionally, I disagree with the force structure cuts that are included in this bill and the $660 million cut from the President's budget for military construction and family housing projects. The Air Force's "strategic pause" in Military Construction (MILCON) funding forestalls necessary infrastructure investments, including the much needed Air Control Tower at Tinker Air Force Base (AFB) and the fire station at Altus AFB that is rated the worse in Air Education and Training Command. As we have seen, many threats exist in the world today, and we should maintain force levels that allow us to continue the ability to fight two wars simultaneously should that be necessary. Instead, we are continuing to ask our Armed Forces to do more with less, when they are already stretched too thin. This includes continuing to reduce the number of our strategic airlift aircraft from 301 to 275. This legislation postpones many of the cuts proposed by the Air Force. It precludes the Air Force from divesting, retiring or transferring aircraft assigned to the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve during fiscal year 2013, including KC-135s at Tinker AFB. It also stops the retirement or divestiture of several other air assets. The SASC took a step forward by requiring a commission to review the Air Force cuts proposed in the FY13 budget request.
"Year after year, President Obama's cuts have disarmed our nation's military. As with years past, President Obama's budget for military spending is too low. On top of that, the threat of sequestration and the shift in national security strategy that focuses on the Asia-Pacific at the detriment of other vital areas comes close to breaking our commitment to the troops, to their commanders, and to protecting our nation. The threat of over one trillion dollars in cuts to national security programs required by the sequestration mechanism of the Budget Control Act of 2011 will make it impossible to recapitalize and reset our aging fleet of military equipment while maintaining the force structure required to ensure our national security."
Inhofe pointed to several positive items in the bill saying, "This bill authorizes no increases in TRICARE fees for FY13, it provides vital funds for JIEDDO, funds the Rapid Innovation Program, and funds the 1206 -- the Global Train and Equip program. It also prevents a Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round for both 2013 and 2015, and it retroactively fixes the Depot language problems from last year's bill by repealing Sections 321 and 327. The bill includes language reaffirming this nation's need to continue nuclear modernization and for this Administration to uphold the commitments it made to Congress and the American people to modernize our entire nuclear enterprise when it ratified the New START Treaty. It authorizes an increase of $100 million for additional Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptors and includes a 1.7 percent across the board pay raise for service members. In addition, it also provides much needed funding for military construction at both Fort Sill and at Camp Gruber.
"It also grants the authority to the Secretary of Defense to provide funding for training, equipment, and supplies to our critical counterterrorism partners in East Africa as well as funding to support the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) requirements to help the nations of Central Africa defeat the Lord's Resistance Army.
"In the event of defense sequestration, this bill contains a provision that I cosponsored with Senator McCain that requires the Secretary of Defense to submit a detailed report to the Committees on Armed Services of both the Senate and House of Representatives on the impact on the Department of Defense.
"As the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), I am pleased that the SASC successfully passed critical amendments that will prevent President Obama from spending limited funds on liberal energy projects. With our nation's military already on a severely reduced budget, it's imperative that DOD funds are spent on military readiness and mission requirements. A fiscally responsible amendment that I authored in the FY13 NDAA prohibits the DOD from purchasing high-cost alternative fuels if traditional fuels are cheaper. I pledge to continue working with my colleagues to ensure that President Obama's far left agenda does not impact military readiness and our national security.
"I hope the full Senate will take this legislation up quickly. Any delay in floor consideration negatively impacts our military, defense contractors, personnel who support our military installations, and, ultimately, our national security."
Measures that were either authored or sponsored by Inhofe included:
Limitation on availability of funds for procurement of alternative fuels: No funds authorized in Fiscal Year 2013 may be obligated or expended by the Department of Defense for the production or purchase of sole purchase of an alternative fuel if the cost of producing or purchasing the alternative fuel exceeds the cost of producing or procuring a traditional fossil fuel that would be used for the same purpose as the alternative fuel, with an exception for the DOD to complete engine or fleet certification for 50/50 fuel blends using Research and Development funds.
Prohibition on Biofuel Refinery Construction: Prohibits the Department of Defense from providing funding for the construction of a biofuels refinery or any other facility or infrastructure used to refine biofuels unless the requirement is specifically authorized by law.
Design Team and Agile Prototyping for Advanced Rotorcraft Technologies: The committee recommends a provision that will direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (USD AT&L) to develop and submit a strategy to the congressional defense committees no later than 180 days after the enactment of this act on the use of integrated platform design teams and agile prototyping approaches for the development of advanced rotorcraft capabilities, both manned and unmanned, and expanding their mission capabilities.
C-130 Avionics Modernization Program: Stops the Air Force from cancelling the C-130 AMP program or beginning a new program intended to meet international CNS/ATM requirements until at least 30 days after Congress receives report from the Air Force which details the cost and schedule to complete current program of record for AMP, the total cost and schedule, from start to finish, of any proposed alternative program, and the projected manpower savings to be derived from the current program of record.
China Military Report Modification: This amendment would update the requirements for the DoD's annual report to include developments in China's cyber warfare and electronic warfare capabilities; space programs; nuclear capabilities; anti-access and area denial capabilities; command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance modernization program and its application's for China's precision guided weapons; maritime activities; military-to-military relationships with other countries; and significant sales or transfers of military hardware, expertise, and technology to or from China.
Development of Cyber Security Expertise & Cooperation: The committee encourages the Department of Defense to continue to support multi?disciplinary programs of study and research within the Department of Defense, universities, and other organizations, nationally and internationally, that focus on developing U.S. cyber security expertise and tackling vital cyber security issues such as the protection of critical infrastructure on which the Department of Defense relies for critical mission capability, and which the Department would be called upon to defend in the event of a cyber attack on the United States.
Department of Defense HAZMAT Transport: Directs the Secretary of Defense to submit a report on its standards for hazardous materials transport, safety performance, number of movements, number of accidents and causes, and a comparison of DOD standards to Department of Transportation standards.
Domestic Force Protection Partnerships: Encourages the Department of Defense to conduct a training and technical assistance program to enhance installation officers, as well as local police officials and agency officers in the performance of their security duties, as well as the specific aspects of integrating their responsibilities with local base security officials and installation commanders. Also orders the Secretary of Defense to report on a plan to increase domestic force protection partnerships.
Hearing Loss: Directs the Secretary of Defense, in cooperation with the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and the Director of the Hearing Center of Excellence, to research and develop hearing loss treatment and abatement options, and work towards a cure while incorporating the recommendations of the GAO report.
Impact Aid: This amendment helps the Impact Aid program function more smoothly and provide greater certainty to school districts. It does not include any language that benefits individual states and includes several provisions that will improve the operation of the Impact Aid program.
Integrated Base Defense: Directs the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, to provide the congressional defense committees with a briefing not later than March 31, 2013, on the Department of Defense's requirements determination and technology development, acquisition, and fielding plans to provide capabilities to improve integrated base defense systems.
Navigation Location Training in GPS Denied Environments: Requires the Department of Defense to develop and incorporate training and contingency operations in a GPS denial environment to ensure mission success.
Northern Distribution Network Sense of the Senate: Expresses that it is the Sense of the Senate to procure goods and services along the NDN when practicable. It is not a requirement and the procurement of products and services would be at the discretion of DOD.
Paladin Improvement Management Program: Requires a report from the United States Army on the feasibility of condensing the timeline for production by reducing the number of low rate production runs from four to three; which could result in a 12-18 month shorter timeline for fielding.
Sense of the Senate on Potential Security Risks to Department of Defense Networks: Expresses that it is the sense of the Senate that the Department of Defense must ensure it maintains full visibility and adequate control of its supply chain, including subcontractors, in order to mitigate supply chain exploitation by Huawei or similar companies.
Social Media: Directs the Secretary of Defense to develop best practices and procedures for social media use, and to use social media to supplement TBI/PTS treatment.
Traumatic Brain Injury Gaps and Redundancies Report: Requires the Secretary of Defense to submit a plan to streamline the over 200 programs currently being sponsored or funded by the Department of Defense which address psychological health and Traumatic Brain Injury. This will enable the Department of Defense to indentify programs that are working, focus funding, and improve overall care to our military.
Uranium Processing Facility: The committee recommends a provision that would add enhanced oversight of the Uranium Processing Facility construction project by requiring separate and distinct authorizations for each phase of the project to rein in costs and capping funding for the construction of phase one, construction of the Uranum Processing Facility.
Other passed amendments co-sponsored by Inhofe include:
Ø Next Generation Exo-Atmoshperic Kill Vehicle Long Term Strategy
Ø Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Report on Long Term Strategy
Ø B-52 CONECT Program
Ø B-52 Strategic Radar Replacement Program
Ø Sequestration Report on the Department of Defense's plan to implement
Ø Sense of the Senate on Unfunded Requests from Service Chiefs and Combatant Commanders
Ø Nuclear Modernization of Strategic Delivery systems
Items not agreed to during markup and will be introduced during debate on the Senate floor:
Ø Toxic Substance Control Act: This amendment clarifies the original intent of the Congress, as the Toxic Substances Control Act already excludes "shells and cartridges." It modifies the Toxic Substances Control Act to clarify that the EPA does not have the authority to regulate "shot, bullets and other projectiles, propellants, and primers. Could result in a 190% increase in cost to DOD equating to $1.04B if the lead is banned
Ø Prohibition on bringing GITMO detainees to the United States
Ø Clarification of the rights of American Citizen