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Hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee - Mark Up the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014


Location: Washington, DC

Senator DONNELLY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to thank Chairman Manchin, Ranking Member Wicker, members of the subcommittee and the staff for their work to build this package of legislation and report language in a bipartisan manner.

In today's markup, our subcommittee will work to ensure that our military's ground and tactical air forces have what they need to respond to the threats we face today and will encounter in the future.

A key factor in this endeavor is ensuring that our troops have the support that they need to get the job done. I'd like to take the opportunity to speak on three amendments I have sponsored. While two of these amendments will be considered by other subcommittees for which I am not a member, I'd like to raise them here because they are important for supporting our war fighter.

My first amendment on limiting the cancellation of the Reserve component deployments would detail the experience of more than 1,000 Indiana families affected by the off-ramping or cancelled deployment of four Indiana National Guard units, two of which were just six weeks away from deploying. The Army replaced these units with active-duty units, and I am grateful that the committee has included a provision to limit these short-fuse cancellations.

The decision had wide-ranging impacts on over 1,000 families' health care, financial decisions, educational plans, and housing. Moreover, these units were placed at the bottom of the rotation for future deployments and have lost a year of eligibility for deployment. This has had an incredible impact on morale, retention and training, and, simply put, that's not the way the Army should treat its soldiers. I look forward to the committee adopting this amendment.

My second amendment addresses counter-IED training, and I understand it has been cleared by the chair and ranking of the Emerging Threats Subcommittee. I would like to thank them for their support.

IEDs remain one of the top threats to our ground forces in Afghanistan, and we have been told that the threat is expanding. My amendment would ensure that despite the planned transition of the Joint Improvised Explosive Defeat Organization, JIEDO, after
2014, that counter-IED training remains synchronized across the military departments and defense agencies. It is crucial that the lessons we have learned from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are not lost.

Finally, I would like to express my support for Chairman Manchin's leadership on an amendment to modify the bill to specify that the Air Force should consider upgrades to the C130H aircraft to meet fuel economy goals, and that upgrades should be proportional to the force structure of the Guard, Reserve, and active component. This is important for two reasons.

First, fuel economy upgrades, including the replacement of engines for the C130 legacy aircraft, will reduce long- term costs and improve aircraft reliability. Rolls Royce in Indiana is proud to support this endeavor.

Second, the C130 legacy aircraft are primarily a National Guard asset, so improving the reliability of this aircraft can enhance Guard missions around the country.

Thank you again for the opportunity to speak, and I look forward
to the markup.

Thank you, sir

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