U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) praised the passage of the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act. This critical legislation sets defense policy for the year and outlines the policy initiatives that will allow us to implement the National Defense Strategy. The legislation will now be conferenced with the House of Representatives.
“This year’s NDAA makes real strides at implementing the National Defense Strategy and making strategic investments now so we can counter the threats from Russia and China,” Inhofe said. “I worked to ensure that this bill provides the training, maintenance and modernization necessary to restore our qualitative and quantitative advantage and establishing America as leader of the free world. I’m pleased that provisions I authored to check China and Russia’s growing aggression were included as well.
“More importantly, this year’s NDAA keeps faith with our service members by providing a 2.6 percent military pay raise, the highest in nearly 10 years, modernizing the officer personnel system and supporting our troops and military families.”
The FY19 NDAA authorizes $716 billion in funding for the Department of Defense and national security programs at the Department of Energy. This represents an increase over the previous year’s funding of $700 billion – keeping us on a trajectory to restoring our military prowess.
Because of Sen. Inhofe’s leadership, many of the provisions also contribute to the missions at Oklahoma’s military installations.
This year’s NDAA makes great strides to improve readiness and grow the force in order to combat threats from around the world. As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Readiness, Sen. Inhofe focused on supporting installations, like Altus Air Force Base, that are responsible for providing the critical training for our military personnel. Dr. Joe Leverett, Altus Military Affairs Committee, stated: “As the Chairman of the Altus Military Affairs Committee, I am grateful for Senator Jim Inhofe’s tremendous support and leadership to our nation’s defense readiness and capabilities. Senator Inhofe’s tenacious work with the Senate Armed Services Committee regarding increased and stabilized funding for military readiness and the pilot shortage has been nothing short of remarkable in support of the Department of Defense. The men and women in our nation’s armed forces deserve our absolute best effort and Senator Jim Inhofe has been the champion for readiness, enhanced military capabilities, and predictable budgeting for stabilized National Defense Strategy and execution. Senator Inhofe’s support will deliver essential support for the bed down of KC-46A training at Altus AFB, KC-46A mission infrastructure and the Altus AFB Fire Emergency and Training Center. Delivery of the KC-46A to Altus AFB coupled with the KC-135 and C-17 training will capitalize a unique synergistic benefit to both meet and exceed global force requirements for the future of our national security. As Oklahomans, we are proud to have Senator Inhofe as our senior senator and greatly appreciate his ability to unite defense related issues for our great nation and the Oklahoma delegation.”
This year’s NDAA prioritizes the modernization of long-range precision fires to improve our capability relative to Russia and China. The Army’s Cross-Functional team (CFT), housed at Fort Sill, is responsible for overseeing the modernization efforts required by the NDAA. Sen. Inhofe authored a provision in the legislation that would require a report on the military’s long range precision strike capabilities. Bill Burgess, Oklahoma Civilian Assistant to the Secretary of the Army stated: “Fort Sill has shown time and time again that they will ensure the Army’s artillery has the capability necessary needed to remain competitive against America’s greatest threats. Because of Sen. Inhofe’s leadership, Fort Sill will continue to be a leader in the Army’s overall modernization efforts.”
Tinker Air Force Base, home to the Air Force Sustainment Center, is responsible for sustaining a wide range of the Air Force’s aircraft. The FY19 NDAA includes increased procurement that will be maintained at Tinker, including the KC-46 and B-21. Following several unfortunate aviation incidents and facing a growing maintenance backlog, Inhofe has also requested a report from the Secretary of Defense to implement depot-level best practices across the force to ensure the safety and proper maintenance of our service members’ equipment. Roy Williams, president and CEO of the Greater Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce stated: “Tinker Air Force Base is one of the two or three most important bases in the Air Force, the home of the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex, a 62-building maintenance complex where repairs and upgrades are made on several Air Force aircraft, including the KC-135 and E-3, as well as the B-52 and B-1 and the C-130, the Air Force's workhorse transport plane. Employing more than 9,400 civilian and military personnel, Tinker has a large impact on the Oklahoma economy. The facility will take on an even bigger role in maintaining the Air Force's fleet of planes in the coming years, when the new KC-46 Pegasus becomes operational. The tanker is designed to replace our aging tanker fleets, which was brought into service 60 years ago to keep the Air Force's B-52 Stratofortresses in the air at the height of the Cold War. Senator Inhofe was directly responsible for the full funding of this critical program in the appropriation process.”
Sen. Inhofe authored several provisions that would support investment in military communities. Improvements to critical infrastructure will improve the quality of life for service members and will support the needs of military installations around the state. Mike Cooper, chairman of the Oklahoma Strategic Military Planning Commission stated: “I applaud Senator Inhofe’s effort to get the latest Senate version of the National Defense Authorization bill passed. This bill allows for increased defense spending that will allow for improved readiness through increased (MILCON) infrastructure spending, right-sizing troop strength across the Services, increased weapons investment and permanent protection efforts of our Military Training ranges capabilities, all allowing for increased mission capabilities. It also includes a new DOD program to provide funding to State and local governments for off-base infrastructure projects to address deficiencies in community infrastructure if the assistance will enhance military value, resilience, or Military quality of life, such as water resiliency or alternative energy projects necessary for military installation sustainability and security.”
This year’s NDAA also continues to support civilian hiring authority on installations in Oklahoma and around the country. There is no community that understands the importance of civilian hiring capability than McAlester Army Ammunition Plant, which is nearly entirely operated by a civilian workforce. “This bill will ensure the continued, outstanding efforts achieved by the employees of the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant (McAAP) in support of our warfighters throughout the world,” stated Mr. Kevin Priddle, the Vice Chairman of the MDSA. “The support of Senator Inhofe and his staff has also ensured the continued growth of McAAP, which has significantly contributed to the economy of McAlester and the surrounding region,” echoed Mr. Kirk Ridenour, the Director of Economic Development for the City of McAlester.