WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), today released the following statement after the SASC completed the markup of the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY 2014 (FY'14). The bill includes several provisions that were authored and supported by Inhofe and will be beneficial to Oklahoma’s military installations, active-duty service members, civilian employees and veterans. The bill was passed out of committee with overwhelming bipartisan support by a 23-3 vote. The legislation will now be placed on the schedule for full Senate consideration at a later time.
“I am proud to announce yesterday’s completion of my first markup of the National Defense bill as the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee,” said Inhofe. “This critical bill authorizes FY’14 funding for the Department of Defense (DOD) and national security programs in the Department of Energy (DOE) and will address the needs of our service members who continue to sacrifice on our behalf each day. It is vital that the committee provides our military with the resources and support they require to protect this nation and our allies abroad.
“I am pleased to announce this bill assists our active-duty service members by authorizing a 1 percent across-the-board pay raise for all members of the armed forces and protects working-age military retirees and their families from increased healthcare fees, deductibles, and copayments. I will work with my colleagues during floor consideration to address the critical national security needs for expanding our missile defense capabilities with an east coast site to protect against rogue nations like Iran and North Korea. Additionally, I plan to offer amendments that will retain the longstanding prohibition on transferring dangerous terrorists to the United States and another that will prevent sequestration of the Defense Department in Fiscal Year 2014 to stop the further gutting of our military which, under this president, has already endured nearly $600 billion in cuts.
“I am very concerned about the impact of sequestration to the readiness of our forces, including the maintenance and repair aircraft at military depots. As such, we added $210 million to the president’s request to restore some of the lost workload from this year. I also wrote legislation that will require each branch of the Armed Forces to establish a long-term plan for the reconstitution of military equipment being returned from Afghanistan, which will sustain depot workload. I am pleased that the committee adopted my recommendation to strengthen our military readiness reports and to require the commander of each of military services to provide an assessment of the extent to which the deep defense cuts are threatening to hollow out our combat capability. This increased oversight will have a direct bearing on the tempo of Army training at Ft. Sill and for our National Guard and Air National Guard forces around the State.
“I also coauthored a new authority to allow the Department of Defense to transfer funds that are not needed for other programs to a Readiness Restoration Account targeted for increased investment in military training and the maintenance of military equipment. The intent for this account will be to preclude the spending spree by the Department at the end of every year and to ensure those funds directly contribute to increased workload at our military depots to improve the readiness of our forces.
“I was able to include several provisions during the drafting of this bill that will greatly benefit Oklahoma’s defense communities, those who support the armed services, and our service members and their families. Despite this administration’s dedicated attempts to disarm America, it is my main priority as the highest ranking Republican member on the committee to ensure the members of our military and our Department of Defense have the tools and resources they need to remain the best trained, most well equipped fighting force in the world.”
What Is In It For Oklahoma:
Military Religious Freedom Protection
Due to reports of religious persecution within the U.S. military, Inhofe supported the inclusion of an amendment in this year’s NDAA which would enhance the protection of rights of conscience of the members of the armed forces and chaplains of those members by making it explicit in law that not only beliefs must be protected but expressions of beliefs as well.
Abortions in Department of Defense Medical Treatment Facilities
Historically, abortions have been prohibited in medical treatment facilities or other facilities of the Department of Defense (DOD) except where the life of the mother would be endangered if the child were carried to term. Sen. Inhofe does not support the use of tax dollars for abortions and the committee in a bipartisan vote prevented a change in the law that would have authorized the military services to perform elective abortions in military medical facilities if privately funded.
"Senator Inhofe has led the way in protecting the rights of service members to freely practice and express their faith. His leadership on the Defense Authorization Act is vital to putting an end to the chilling suppression of religious freedom that is driving faith underground in our military. I also applaud his continued commitment to protecting unborn children and their mothers. American families can also thank Senator Inhofe for his work to ensure that they aren't forced to pay for abortion on demand," said Family Research Council President Tony Perkins.
National Guard Counter Drug Program
The drastic funding cuts to the National Guard Counter Drug program (CDP) have made it difficult to maintain operations efficiently and effectively. The CDP plays an important role in providing military-specific capabilities and expert resident within the National Guard to support the counter drug activities of federal, state, and local authorities. This amendment emphasized the importance of the National Guard CDP and encourages the Department of Defense to provide funding that would ensure the National Guard, to include the Oklahoma National Guard, is able to sustain its CDP operations.
"NGAUS thanks Senator Inhofe for his strong leadership and continued support of NGAUS. We are grateful for his efforts to ensure that the Department of Defense remains committed to the National Guard's counterdrug program which includes successful drug interdiction and border security efforts to local, state and federal law enforcement," added the National Guard Association of the United States.
The committee agreed to an amendment offered by Sens. Inhofe and Ayotte to add $30 million for the deployment of an X-band radar or other comparable sensor to enhance the defense of the homeland against long-range ballistic missile threats. This is an important step toward providing a more effective defense against the growing nuclear and ballistic missile threat from Iran.
Admiral Syring, the Director of the Missile Defense Agency, has testified that “sensor capability cannot be understated in terms of the benefit it will bring the warfighter,” and that “an X-band radar anywhere east would greatly benefit the threat that we in the agency see coming.”
Meteorological and Weather Analysis Capabilities and Training Requirements of the Air Force
Sen. Inhofe included language urging the Air Force Weather to focus modernization efforts on those capabilities required to collect, analyze, predict, tailor, and integrate accurate, timely, and relevant weather data for the warfighter. This amendment would allow groups and universities such as the University of Oklahoma to assist the Air Force in creating modernized meteorological and weather analysis training programs that will improve our warfighting capabilities.
“OU is encouraged by the language creating a Meteorological and Weather Analysis Training Program,” said Berrien Moore, OU vice president for Weather and Climate Programs and director, the National Weather Center.
Cyber Security Amendments
Sen. Inhofe was able to include two pieces of language regarding cyber security. They include requiring the Secretary of Defense to provide a report on the capability of each military service to operate in a hostile cyber environment and directing the National Security Agency to examine the problem of detecting and remediating vulnerabilities in the software that controls the power for mobile devices. Every critical system from ground vehicle electronic systems and next generation aircraft to satellites and missile defense systems must be assessed to ensure that critical warfighting capabilities are not undermined. Understanding our cyber capabilities and deficiencies will enable the Department of Defense to improve its offensive and defensive cyber capabilities. Institutions and universities such as the University of Tulsa Institute for Information Security will play a key role in assisting the Department of Defense and its services advance their cyber security programs.
President Steadman Upham, University of Tulsa said, “TU faculty and students are committed to the development of cutting-edge cyber security that improves the safety of all Americans. We are pleased to learn of Senator Inhofe’s leadership and support along with the prospect of new funding for cyber defense research. Advancement of this legislation will provide our research teams with the critical resources needed to protect Americans from threatening cyber attacks.”
Civil Air Patrol
Sen. Inhofe included language that would require the Secretary of the Air Force to produce a report on the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) to assess certain aspects of the current CAP aircraft program to include fleet size, mission requirements and operating locations in order to address the drastic cuts to the program. This amendment will allow the Oklahoma Civil Air Patrol to ensure it has adequate resources to carry out its operations to include search and rescue, counterdrug, disaster relief, humanitarian services, and support to the Air Force.
"Oklahoma has a rich aviation history and large aviation industry,” said Joe Cavett, Commander of the Oklahoma Wing, Civil Air Patrol. “We are fortunate to have Senator Inhofe in Washington defending the interests of our state and general aviation across the nation."
Section 811 8(a) of the NDAA FY10
Section 811 of the NDAA FY2010 requires DOD contracting officers to provide a Justification and Approval (J&A) to obtain approval by the head of the agency before awarding sole-source contracts over $20 million. This provision resulted in negative impacts to Small Business 8(a) contractors. Sen. Inhofe worked with Sen. Hirono to include language that would clarify that Section 811 is not a cap to sole source procurement of less than $20 million, to include Native American contractors, and directed the Department of Defense and the Federal Acquisition Regulation Council to issue guidance regarding the proper use and implementation of Section 811.
The Native American Contractors Association added, “The Native American Contractors Association appreciates Senator Inhofe's continued leadership to support the Native 8(a) program. The program is an example of successful federal Indian policy, and is vitally important to the growth and self-determination of Native communities. Indian Country is grateful for Senator Inhofe's steadfast leadership on Native issues and concerns."
The drawdown in Afghanistan and current personnel reductions of the armed forces will force more of our service members into the job market. The Troops-to-Teachers program would assist returning service members and veterans transition into the teaching profession. This amendment by Sen. Inhofe urges the Secretary of Defense to ensure the program is part of the nation’s commitment to the higher education of service members and to provide funding for the Troops-to-Teachers program.
"The University of Central Oklahoma applauds Senator Inhofe for his national leadership on the Troops to Teachers initiative,” said President of the University of Central Oklahoma Don Betz. “This meshes so well between the needs of veterans, their spouses, children, and America's and Oklahoma's demands for more teachers. Veterans and their families have demonstrated their exceptional commitment to placing the needs of others before themselves through their steadfast dedication to public service. This makes them ideal candidates to serve as teachers, mentors and role models to young people.
“As Oklahoma's first ‘Normal School’ founded in 1890 to train teachers, with the historical lens to appreciate the value that active duty military and veterans brought to our campus and community during and after the World Wars, Korea and Vietnam, we are supremely confident that our veterans and their families, as well as society, will be mutual beneficiaries of the expansion of this model project initiative to undergraduate teacher education”
Acquisition of Training Systems for Major Ground and Airborne Vehicle Systems
This training system competition provision greatly expands the number of companies that can compete for major ground and airborne vehicle training efforts providing reduced cost, greater innovation, and a reduced schedule. Championed by Sen. Inhofe, this language directly supports the April 24th directive from Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Frank Kendall that states, "a competitive environment is DOD's most effective tool to motivate industry to deliver cost effective solutions for the Department." The provision will ensure open competition for sustainment of our training systems, reducing costs and opening up opportunities for local businesses to compete in providing our nation's warriors with the best and most cost effective simulation systems available.
Paladin Integrated Management Program
The Army requested the committee move funding from the procurement to the research and development accounts to mitigate risk to the Fiscal Year 2014 testing to the Paladin Integrated Management (PIM) program. The Army intends to hold to the program’s current schedule this is especially important because the PIM will be integrated in Elgin, Okla. Sen. Inhofe fully supports the program and expects the Army to continue to review the development schedule for other way to accelerate the program while retaining cost and schedule. The PIM, report language expresses the committee’s support for the program and recommends approval for the budget request of $340 million for the PIM self-propelled howitzer program.
“BAE Systems is extremely pleased that Sen. Inhofe and the Senate Armed Services committee have expressed their support for the Paladin Integrated Management (PIM) program. As one of the U.S. Army’s priority programs, PIM is a vital technology enhancement program that maintains the combat capability of the Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT). The PIM program has demonstrated all performance requirements through rigorous developmental and operational testing, and is now ready to move into production. This continued support for the PIM program helps to ensure that our Soldiers have the most advanced howitzer in the M109 family to provide timely, accurate and responsive fire support for the ABCT,” said Erwin Bieber, President, BAE Systems Inc., Land and Armaments.
Sen. Inhofe strongly supports modernization of the legacy fleet of C-130H aircraft. This includes avionics modernization and its engines. Sen. Inhofe authored language to add $47.3 million to fund modernization of the avionics of all C-130H aircraft. He also supported language requiring the Secretary of the Air Force to consider upgrades to legacy C-130H aircraft that would meet the fuel economy goals of the Air Force and ensure that the upgrades to the C-130H fleet are made in a manner that is proportional to the number of C-130H aircraft in the force. These enhancements will allow companies such as Boeing in Oklahoma City to compete for contracts to ensure the long-term sustainability and operational capability of the C-130H fleet.
War Readiness Engine
The Air Force currently faces a shortfall of useable engines for the F-15 and F-16 fleets as compared to the War Readiness Engine (WRE) objective. Due to the Air Force’s continued reliance on these fighter jets well into the foreseeable future, it is imperative to maintain the readiness of these fleets. Therefore, Sen. Inhofe supported an amendment that urges the Secretary of the Air Force to include sufficient resources in future budgets for engines in order to avoid degrading readiness. This would allow installations repairing and maintaining these engines, such as Tinker Air Force Base, to have the resources required to eliminate the shortfall of these engines.
F-35 Production Rate
Sen. Inhofe strongly supported inserting language in the bill that calls for increasing the production rate of the all three variants of the F-35, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. The program is achieving schedule milestones, continuing progress on test and development schedule and has seen significant cost reductions over the past year to include a decrease of $4.5 billion in total program cost and $4.4 million in average cost per aircraft in 2012. The program has also seen a 30 percent decrease in concurrency costs and a 40 percent saving in engine production costs. While there are still software development timeline concerns with Block 3F, Sen. Inhofe believes it is time to begin accelerating production of all versions of the F-35.
Maintaining and Sustaining our Bomber Force
Sen. Inhofe worked to include language in several parts of this bill that authorizes continued modernization and development of our bomber fleets to include the B-1 and B-52, and begins Long Range Strike design and development. Bombers continue to be critical to our national defense and Tinker Air Force Base to continue their vital depot work on the B-1 and B-52 bombers, as well as the engineering support on the B-2 bomber.
Bowe Bergdahl Report
Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, an American soldier, was taken prisoner by the Taliban-aligned Haqqani network while deployed to Afghanistan in June 2009. Sen. Inhofe supported this amendment that raises awareness of SGT Bergdahl’s capture to continue to maximize efforts to return him and reminds the Senate of one of the basic pillars of the Army’s Warrior Ethos: ‘I will never leave a fallen comrade.’
Inhofe added, “The mission to bring our missing Soldiers home is one that will never end. It’s important that we make every effort to bring this captured Soldier home to his family.”
Of the 21.2 million veterans in this country, 7.6% of them are unemployed. These men and women who bravely served this country deserve better. Sen. Inhofe supported this amendment that emphasizes the necessary improvement of management and oversight by the Departments of Defense and Labor associated with the veteran unemployment compensation program and payments. In addition, there are numerous redundant websites and portals managed by federal agencies to provide employment services to veterans. This amendment stresses the importance of a single portal for veterans to find jobs and employers to post jobs by streamlining the existing employment portals into a consolidated portal. Of those unemployed veterans, 25,000 are in Oklahoma. This amendment will provide an effective solution to help Oklahoma’s and the nation’s unemployed veterans.
Autism Spectrum Disorder Services
Inhofe supported Sen. Chambliss’s amendment commending the Department of Defense’s continued efforts to ensure military families have access to the appropriate autism spectrum disorder services, intervention, and treatment services. The continued assistance of these services is vital to the military families of Oklahoma and the nation, including those that live in rural or underserved communities.
Education & Training of the Acquisition Workforce of the TRICARE Management Activity
The Department of Defense Inspector General (DODIG) audit of May 1, 2013 found that acquisition personnel of the TRICARE Management Activity (TMA) “did not have required certifications for their functional areas, accurate position descriptions for their assigned duties, or proper training.” Therefore, Inhofe’s amendment states that the committee believes the Department of Defense must ensure that the TMA’s acquisition management process meets workforce training and certification requirements. This improvement will benefit the military service members of Oklahoma as they utilize TRICARE for their health care services.
Military Child Custody
It is the best interest of the child that should always prevail in a custody case, but a service member should not lose custody solely based upon their service to our country. Sen. Inhofe supported incorporating language that declares that state courts should not consider military deployment, whether past, present, or future, as the sole factor in determining custody of a child.
United States Counterterrorism Assistance and Cooperation in North Africa, United States Africa Command and Military-to-Military Cooperation with Somalia
Sen. Inhofe included three provisions that would direct the Secretary of Defense to develop a strategic framework for U.S counterterrorism assistance and cooperation in North Africa, properly resource our U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) and provide military-to-military assistance to Somalia. These provisions encourage participation in programs conducted under the Trans-Sahara Counter Terrorism Partnership, Operation Enduring Freedom-Trans Sahara, and increased cooperation with the Somali National Security Forces to confront international security threats.
Support of Foreign Forces Participating in Operations to Disarm the Lord’s Resistance Army
Sen. Inhofe included a provision that would authorize the Department of Defense to obligate up to $90 million to provide logistical support to the national military forces of Uganda to mitigate or eliminate the threat posed by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and bring an end to the murderous campaign of LRA leader Joseph Kony, who has killed thousands, displaced over 1 million and kidnapped more than 30,000 children – turning them into child soldiers for the past 20 years. Sen. Inhofe has worked for many years in partnership with organizations like Invisible Children and Resolve who remain dedicated to the end of Joseph Kony and his LRA’s reign of terror in eastern Congo and Central Africa.
Michael Poffenberger with The Resolve organization said, "Ongoing US support for efforts to stop Joseph Kony's crimes against civilians has helped fracture the LRA, nab one of Kony's top deputies, and reduced the LRA's destabilizing attacks. The funds in this year's Senate defense authorization bill championed by Senator Inhofe will ensure this progress continues, so that this human rights crisis can finally be ended."
Sen. Inhofe was successful in ensuring language was included in this this bill that authorizes $25 million to supplemental Impact Aid to local education agencies with military dependent children. This includes authorization of an additional $5 million for schools with military children with severe disabilities.
Department of Defense STARBASE Program
STARBASE is a Department of Defense program that focuses on elementary students who live in inner cities or rural locations, those who are socio-economically disadvantaged, low in academic performance or have a disability are in the target group. The program, run by our service men and women, helps raise interest in critical skills such as science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Teamwork is stressed as our military mentors work together with each student to explore, explain, elaborate and evaluate concepts. Over 500,000 students have participated in STARBASE to include youth from all around the great State of Oklahoma.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Mild Traumatic Brain Injury
The Department of Defense is currently conducting pilot studies to determine the effectiveness of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for the treatment of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Sen. Inhofe included language in the bill directing the Secretary of Defense to provide a report within 180 days of the completion of the pilot program that would help direct policy changes to extend hyperbaric therapy to patients if the pilot studies show hyperbaric oxygen therapy to be effective.
“I thank Senator Inhofe for stepping out ahead to try and take care of the young men and women who return to us with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). We know that TBI can lead to so many other issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and incarceration for inappropriate behavior. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is one of the very few in treatments available for these soldiers returning from stressful and life changing events overseas. In Oklahoma we have over 17,000 patients suffering from TBI. This provision will be crucial to help them return to a normal state,” State of Oklahoma Secretary of Military and Veterans Affairs, U.S. Air National Guard Major General (Ret.) Rita A. Aragon
Transportation of Hazardous Materials on Oklahoma Roads
The Comptroller General of the United States is in the process of conducting a comprehensive review of the policies and procedures by the Department of Defense in the handling of hazardous material shipments, including the review of Transportation Protective Services (TPS) safety standards for commercial surface carriers transporting dangerous or sensitive cargo on public highways within the United States. In order to ensure that hazardous materials travelling on Oklahoma roads do not pose a health hazard during this review, Sen. Inhofe successfully included a provision that directs the Secretary of Defense to ensure that commercial TPS carrier safety performance standards measured by the Compliance, Safety Accountability (CSA) Safety Measurement System (SMS) are not altered to less stringent safety standards during the duration of this Government Accountability Office (GAO) review.
Mental Health Counselors
Years of combat operations have taken their toll on the mental health of our active, Guard and Reserve service members. Sen. Inhofe believes that mental health counseling needs of service members, veterans and their families will continue to increase for the foreseeable future. To ensure adequate mental health counseling resources are available, Inhofe included language in the bill directing the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide a joint report that describes a coordinated, unified plan to ensure adequate resources to meet the needs of our military members and their families. The plan and report will consider all available types of trained counseling providers including psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, chaplains, and other counseling professionals who will be available to address these long-term needs.
“Providing the best support services for our military personnel and their families is paramount," said John Fozard, President of Mid-American Christian University. "Yet, our soldiers and veterans continue to suffer with mental health challenges. I want to thank Senator Inhofe for including language in his bill that addresses these challenges and the need for mental health counseling.”
“The National Board for Certified Counselors applauds Sen. Inhofe for his commitment to ensuring a robust mental health workforce for our Service members and their families. The increase in mental health and addiction problems among our military personnel and the strains on their families are a public tragedy and they are exacerbated by a provider shortage. Requiring the Departments of Defense and Veteran Affairs to establish a workforce plan for mental health counseling is a critical step to ensuring these military heroes obtain the care that they deserve. Mental health counselors, who comprise 25% of the behavioral health workforce, stand ready to help these departments meet their needs,” –The National Board for Certified Counselors.
Department of Defense Support to Air Shows
As a result of sequestration, the Department of Defense prohibited support to and participation in civilian air shows and military open houses. Sen. Inhofe strongly opposes a blanket prohibition on military participation and feels that the decision from the Defense Department has had a negative impact on military recruiting and our state and local economies. Sen. Inhofe championed a provision that requires the Department to reconsider their blanket prohibition policy, allowing for community engagements if that engagement can be completed at no-cost and in connection to a Department of Defense mission or other required operational or training activity.
“Air shows in the United States have a $1.5 billion economic impact on the communities in which the events are held. That impact has been significantly reduced this year by this blanket prohibition on the U.S. military’s participation in local air shows,” said John Cudahy, president of the International Council of Air Shows. “Senator Inhofe’s initiative will come as a great relief to the hundreds of communities that benefit – both economically and in many other ways – by having air shows in their area. Needless damage was being done to our industry and it’s encouraging to see our elected leaders taking pro-active steps to correct this problem.”
The 2014 National Defense Authorization Act authorizes over $100 million for military construction (MILCON) projects in Oklahoma. Tinker Air Force Base will receive nearly $71 million from Air Force, Air Force Reserve, Navy, and Defense Agency accounts, for construction and maintenance of hangars, fuel distribution facilities, and squadron operations. The beddown of the next generation air refueling tanker, KC-46A, Formal Training Unit (FTU) based at Altus Air Force Base will bring $33 million for facilities maintenance and construction projects to the region.
Provisions Inhofe Plans to Offer as Floor Amendments:
Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility
The bill contained provisions that would loosen existing prohibitions on the transfer of dangerous terrorists from Guantanamo Bay into the United States and also makes the transfer of detainees to foreign countries much easier. Sen. Inhofe will work with his colleagues to offer a series of amendments on the Senate floor that will extend longstanding prohibitions and keep detained terrorists at Guantanamo Bay instead of in our communities in the United States.
Defense Sequestration Fix
Sen. Inhofe offered during markup a proposal to cancel sequestration for the Department of Defense for Fiscal Year 2014. The amendment proposed to remove the cuts to Defense spending in FY14 fully paid for with an offset. The committee Chairman ruled the amendment out of order and Inhofe will address this issue on the floor.