Bill Includes Funds for Oklahoma; Ban on Closing Gitmo

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last night, the U.S. Senate passed the FY2010 Defense Appropriations Bill (H.R. 3326) 97-3.  U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) voted in favor of the measure, but was disappointed in the cuts to several defense programs as well as the overall reduction in defense spending.

“It is vital that we provide our men and women in uniform with the resources they need,” Inhofe said.  “This defense spending bill includes some key provisions for our military such as funding for 10 additional C-17s to provide much needed airlift capacity, additional funds for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, prohibits any defense funds from going to ACORN, and increased funds for military personnel.  Regardless of whether the Obama administration releases its plan for the disposition of Gitmo detainees, the bill includes language that prevents funding for any transfers, releases, or incarcerations of Gitmo detainees to the U.S. through Fiscal Year 2010.

“While there are some good aspects of this spending bill, it regrettably provides even less than President Obama’s budget requested for military spending.  Quite simply, this bill does not go far enough in adequately funding and investing in our national defense.  Instead, it cancels or significantly cuts many of the programs that ensured our military is the most modernized and effective fighting force in the world. However, delaying or not passing the measure would only further hurt our troops.

“Despite appearing to increase defense spending, the FY2010 Defense Appropriations bill largely reflects the beginning of the Obama administration’s long-term overall cuts to our military, shifting wartime cost into the military’ base budget and decreasing overall funding the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and other locations where our troops are deployed around the world. Wartime funding in the yearly Defense Appropriations bill coupled with a slight increase over last year’s spending level that did not include wartime funds, results in an effectual decrease in our military investment.

“The spending cuts include the cancellation of the combat vehicle portion of the Future Combat System (FCS), the Army’s only substantial vehicle modernization program that would have replaced portions of the Army’s fleet of combat vehicles such as the 50 year old M109A6 Paladin artillery howitzer, the Bradley Fighting Vehicle from the 1980s and the M1 Abrams tank, originally designed in the 1970s.  The cuts also eliminate additional F22s, the Air Force’s most advance fighter, leaving the Air Force with only 187 F22s instead of the over 350 originally proposed by the Air Force.

“Finally, at a time when there are growing ballistic missile and nuclear threats from countries like North Korea and Iran, cutting our Missile Defense budget by 16 percent ($1.4B), cancelling boost phase missile defense programs such as the Airborne Laser (ABL) and Kinetic Energy Interceptor (KEI), reducing the number of Ground Based Interceptor (GBI) missiles based in Alaska and California from 44 to 30, and the cancellation of the Third Missile Defense site in Poland and the Czech Republic all unnecessarily put our country at greater risk.”

Oklahoma Funding

Regarding provisions that will directly affect Oklahoma, Inhofe said, “The military installations based in Oklahoma are all important to our national security strategy.  The funds included in the bill for Oklahoma will provide research, improved training, better equipment and, overall, will increase readiness and capability for our military forces.”

Key Provisions for Oklahoma

·         An Inhofe sponsored amendment requiring the Secretary of the Army to provide a certification that the transfer of equipment or facilities from a government to private ammunitions manufacturer will not increase cost, or negatively impact national security, military readiness, government ammunition production, or industrial base before implementing DOD Directive 5160.65, which provides joint conventional ammunition policies and responsibilities.  McAlester Army Ammunition Plant is currently a Government-Owned, Government-Operated ammunition production facility.

·         $5 million for the Joint Fires and Effects Trainer System (JFETS) to sustain the development of the state-of-the-art virtual fire support training system at Fort Sill enabling Soldiers, Marines and Airmen to train in a realistic combat environment that simulates the terrain and scenarios they will encounter during deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.  As the Joint Fires Center of Excellence, Fort Sill trains joint observers from the Army, Marine Corps and the Air Force, including special forces, on the employment of indirect fire (artillery/mortar) and close air support from fixed wing fighter aircraft and rotary wing (helicopter) aircraft.

·         $3 million for FIDO Explosive Detector (ICX Nomadics in Stillwater, OK) to provide funding for handheld and mounted detection equipment to detect and deter Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as individuals responsible for the manufacturing IEDs.

·         $5 million for Ground Warfare Acoustical Combat Systems of netted sensors (GWACS) (GWACS Defense Inc. in Tulsa, OK) to fund the continued development of a Soldier or vehicle mounted acoustical sensor system that detects hostile fire and locates the origin of enemy fire.  The system is designed to provide U.S. combat troops with immediate battlefield situational awareness.  

·         $3 million for Line Modernization at McAlester Army Ammunition Plant (MCAAP) (McAlester, OK) to provide funding for upgrades needed to improve the 67 year old load facilities.  Upgrades will ensure MCAAP can support the current and future missions of each military branch that it serves.

·         $3 million for Technology Applications for Security Enhancement (TASE) (Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, OK) to fund an effort to develop a comprehensive National Bio-Security Plan through the Center for the Mitigation of Evolving Threats (CMET). The funds will enhance our national chemical/biological threat preparedness.

·         Up to $30 million in designated funding for high priority National Guard Counterdrug Programs.  Part of these funds would be made available to the Oklahoma National Guard for its role in counterdrug operations in the state.