WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today voted in favor of the revised National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2016. The legislation passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 370 to 58 on Thursday and the Senate by a vote of 91 to 3, sending the bill to the president’s desk for his signature.
“I applaud the hard work of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees who stayed committed to getting the best possible outcome for this year’s National Defense Authorization Act under the unfortunate circumstances of the president and Democrats’ political gimmickry,” said Inhofe. "While I am disappointed that this legislation had to adjust to a $5 billion cut, I believe it is better for Congress to have a voice in prioritizing our national security resources than to default to the president’s agenda by doing nothing at all.
“Despite the spending reduction, the NDAA maintained many important provisions that will support our military bases in Oklahoma and advance our national security priorities. This legislation ensured my priorities of blocking for one more year a costly BRAC round, preventing the president from closing Gitmo and sending dangerous terrorists to U.S. soil, and preserving our military’s earned benefits by making educated, responsible adjustments. In Oklahoma, our military bases will continue to see an investment of $8 billion in military construction investments. I urge the president to quickly sign this legislation into law.
“It cannot go without saying that due to the leadership of this president, our national defense is no longer meeting the needs of our military to maintain and sustain a combat ready force. Our all-volunteer force is stretched thin due to growing instability around the globe. If we are going to put our service men and women on the front lines of great international unrest, we should be providing them with the best resources and equipment to carry out the mission. The president’s spending priorities are failing our nation and putting our military at greater risk.”
The following are provisions Inhofe authored or supported in the NDAA that were maintained in the bill passed today:
Base Realignment and Closure Prohibition
Inhofe supported language that makes clear that nothing in the FY’16 NDAA shall be construed to authorize a Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round next year. Inhofe believes that the United States has reduced force capability to an unacceptable level, and that it should not be brought down any further in the near term. He also recognizes that our national security has an immediate fiscal crisis and the defense community should not bear the near-term costs of a BRAC round in this tough economic climate for savings that will not be realized for another 20 years.
The final bill did not include language from the Senate’s NDAA that would have begun the privatization of commissaries, thereby preserving Inhofe’s amendment that was adopted on the Senate floor. The conference report instead requires the Department of Defense (DOD) to submit a plan for commissary and exchange systems to become budget neutral by 2018. Congress must do its due diligence to understand and assess how changes to our commissaries will impact our servicemembers and the promise our country made to take care of them and their families.
Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
The final bill prohibits transferring Gitmo detainees to the United States through Dec. 31, 2016, and tightens restrictions on transferring Gitmo detainees to certain foreign countries, language Inhofe strongly supported. It also includes language that prevents the closure of Gitmo through Dec. 31, 2016, rejecting Senate language that would have allowed the facility to be closed following Congressional approval of a plan. When the NDAA was on the Senate floor in June, Inhofe filed two amendments that would have prevented individuals being detained at Gitmo from being transferred to the United States. Neither were brought up for a vote, but Inhofe successfully fought to remove the Senate language during conference.
Retaining the AWACS, JSTARS and EC-130H Compass Call
E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS), Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) and the EC-130H Compass Call have been under constant, heavy demand, supporting overseas contingency operations as well as homeland defense missions. Inhofe successfully included language in the final bill that prohibits for two years the Air Force from retiring or preparing to retire any AWACS, JSTARS or EC-130H Compass Call aircraft until their specific follow-on replacement aircraft program enters low-rate initial production.
Paladin Integrated Management (PIM)
The Paladin Integrated Management (PIM) is necessary to the modernization of the Paladin Self-Propelled Howitzer and the U.S. artillery force. Inhofe successfully supported legislation in the final bill that authorized full funding at $273.9 million to acquire 30 new PIMs.
KC-46A Procurement and Basing
The KC-46A will replace our aging KC-135 tanker aircraft. Inhofe supported legislation that fully funds the KC-46 program for $2.7 billion. Altus Air Force Base will begin receiving the first of four FY’16 aircraft in Aug 2016.
Increasing troop safety on DOD installations
On July 22, Inhofe sent a letter to SASC leadership requesting a hearing on what DOD is doing to review and/or take action regarding force protection of its service members and their families on DOD installations. On Aug. 5, Inhofe introduced the Enhancing Security for Military Personnel Act (S.1988) to instruct the DOD to submit to Congress a plan to enhance security of military personnel at DOD installations and implement the plan within 90 days after the bill’s enactment. The final NDAA bill includes language that directs the Pentagon to put in place guidelines for commanders to authorize troops to carry firearms on DOD installations, if deemed necessary for personal or force-protection measure.
The final bill accelerates the development of a next-generation missile defense interceptor and a Multiple-object Kill Vehicle. More importantly, it authorizes $30 million for planning and design of a critically needed East Coast missile defense site. Countries around the world, including Iran and North Korea, are developing ballistic missiles with increased range, accuracy and sophistication. This bill takes an important step towards increasing the capability of the United States to defend itself against a ballistic missile attack.
Oklahoman Military Construction (MILCON)
The final bill authorizes $56 million to Fort Sill for phase two of the reception barrack’s complex and an additional $13.4 million for a training support facility. Altus Air Force Base will receive $18 million for a 120-room dormitory and $10.4 million for its KC-46A fuel cell maintenance hangar. Tinker Air Force Base will receive $37 million for a KC-46 Depot Maintenance Dock and another $12.9 million for a new air traffic control tower. Will Rogers World Airport will receive $7.6 million as we continue the MC-12 bed-down with the National Guard.
Continued support for diagnosis and treatment of TBI
Over the past two decades, our service men and women have been injured in combat areas by Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), other military explosive devices and by head impacts leading to mild and moderate concussions, which have led to both physical and mental brain injuries. These injuries are disabling, as they may induce short term memory loss, severe headaches, depression, loss of cognitive function, loss of impulse control, anger and – in extreme cases – suicide. Inhofe supported a report provision which stated that the committee remains committed to continue funding for diagnosis and treatment of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) to include potential alternative, evidence-based methods of treatments.
Religious freedom and chaplains
Our military service men and women have the constitutional right to express and exercise their religious beliefs. This is particularly true for military chaplains. Established by George Washington in 1775, the chaplaincy fills many vital roles in the military that could not be accomplished by other means, including offering a unique and inherently religious perspective on life and death issues. During consideration of the FY’15 NDAA, Congress again affirmed the spiritual leadership chaplains provide to service members as well as their role in facilitating the free exercise of religion. In the FY’16 NDAA, Inhofe supported a report provision that would preserve this military culture and protect the freedom of expression and religion for military chaplains.
Tulsa, Oklahoma VA Clinic
Many Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) medical facilities around the country are old and in need of desperate repair or replacement in order to provide our veterans the care and services they deserve. Tulsa’s VA clinic is one of the worst in the country. Last year, Congress passed a comprehensive VA reform bill that included funding to lease a new clinic in Tulsa. In the FY’16 NDAA, Inhofe successfully included language in the final bill that amended onerous restrictions placed on procuring a new lease for the clinic. This language will ensure Oklahoma veterans get a new, more-capable clinic in Tulsa and before 2020, when the current clinic would be forced to close because it does not meet current building requirements.
Assistance to Ukraine
Last year, Congress authorized $350 million in defense aid to be provided to Ukraine from 2015-2017. Additionally, Congress authorized $1 billion in OCO funding for the European Reassurance Initiative, of which no less than $75 million was to be used for activities and assistance to support Ukraine. However, the president has refused to use any of the funding to provide lethal assistance to Ukraine. To address this, Inhofe authored S. 452, the Defense of Ukraine Act of 2015, which provides clear authorization to the president to provide lethal assistance to Ukraine to assist in its defense against Russia. This year’s NDAA conference report provides an additional $300 million in aid to Ukraine for FY’16, of which $50 million must be used for lethal assistance.
Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA)
In 2009, Inhofe led a successful congressional effort to pass the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act, which has seen the successful apprehension of four of the LRA's top leaders. Even though LRA leadership has been significantly dismantled since then, Inhofe continues to support operations to ensure their defeat and was instrumental in securing $17 million this year and continued support for counter-LRA operations in this year’s NDAA.
C-130H Engine and Propulsion System Modernization Programs
Inhofe supported language in the final bill that fully funds the C-130H engine and propulsion system modernization at $64 million. These engine modifications lowers fuel consumption, improves performance, and improves the thrust of the C-130’s engine.
Long Range Strike Bomber (LRSB)
The DOD continues to pursue the acquisition of future long-range strike bomber capabilities for operating in anti-access/area denial environments. Inhofe supported full funding of the Long Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B) program at $556.2 million.
Civil Air Patrol
Civil Air Patrol is a congressionally chartered, non-profit corporation serving as official auxiliary of the Air Force. Volunteers perform emergency and disaster relief ops, aerospace, and homeland security and courier service missions. Inhofe supported legislation during conference that increased funding in the final bill for Civil Air Patrol operations by $1.15 million to a total of $26.55 million for FY'16.
Counter-Narcotics Program for National Guard
Since 1989, the National Guard has worked with law enforcement agencies and community-based organizations to perform interdiction and anti-drug activities. The National Guard Counter Drug Program (NGCDP) operates in 54 states and territories. Approximately 2,500 soldiers and airmen support more than 5,000 agencies at the local, state and federal levels to prevent illicit drugs from being imported, manufactured and distributed in the United States. Inhofe supported language in the final bill that funds the FY'16 program at $88 million and encourages the Department of Defense to work with the National Guard Bureau to improve fiscal management and execution rates for the NGCDP and expects periodic updates on the NGCDP, to include ongoing and planned NGCDC programs, budget execution rates, and lessons learned.
US Naval Sea Cadet Corps Program
The U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps (USNSCC) makes significant contributions in the development of our nation’s youth, the recruitment efforts of the U.S. Navy and the awareness of the Navy and its mission. Since its inception in 1958, the USNSCC has trained over 170,000 young Americans. Inhofe successfully worked to fully fund the USNSCC program in this year’s NDAA and supported an increase of $500 thousand in the final bill. This support will help grow the program to 410 units across all 50 states.
Inhofe was again successful in including language in the final bill that authorizes $25 million in supplemental Impact Aid to local educational agencies and schools with military dependent children as well as an additional $5 million in Impact Aid for schools with military dependent children with severe disabilities.
Antenna and Radar Technology Research
Over the past several years, substantial advances in antenna research has been made, which have resulted in dramatic gains in the aerodynamic capability of aircraft and the potential for reducing the size and weight of both manned and unmanned aircraft. These antenna advances can provide higher performance for communications and electronic warfare missions. Inhofe secured report language urging the Secretary of the Air Force to incorporate into legacy and future aircraft the advancements developed through recent research. The language requests the Air Force to keep the committee updated on current antenna research and capabilities.
Significant advances have been made in the field of radar technologies, allowing for the design of multi-function phased array radar that will be able to track both weather patterns and aircraft simultaneously. Inhofe secured report language encouraging the Air Force to remain engaged in the research of radar technology, and requesting the branch to keep the committee briefed on those capabilities, as well as on effort to create radar technologies for multi-mission capability.
The AbilityOne Program is the largest source of employment, on federal contracts, for individuals who are blind or have significant disabilities in the United States. The program has supported the employment of tens of thousands of people across the United States who are blind or have significant disabilities, including veterans and wounded warriors. The DOD, through the use of the AbilityOne Program, has been able to secure key mission-support services to maintain and improve military readiness. Inhofe included report language encouraging DOD to continue to cultivate and increase business opportunities through the use of the AbilityOne Program. The language also encourages the program to continue its emphasis on hiring disabled veterans in providing services to support the warfighter and defense missions.
Active Electronically Scanned Array Radar (AESA)
The 138th Fighter Wing, Oklahoma Air National Guard and those like it across the country are protecting the U.S. from terrorist attacks 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. This is a no-fail mission, which our F-16 aircraft are executing while operating legacy radar systems in dire need of upgrading. Inhofe included report language in this year’s NDAA supporting First Air Force and Northern Command’s Joint Urgent Operational Need (JUON) request to upgrade the F-16 fleet systems to the AESA radar. This will help bridge the gap between our 4th and 5th generation fighters and ensure their continued success in protecting our nation.
Energy Security and Efficiency Technologies
Inhofe included report language that builds upon the energy security and efficiency technologies being tested by the DOD. Inhofe’s support of these technologies and microgrid demonstrations will provide energy infrastructure protections, maintain vital energy supplies during man-made and natural disasters, all while achieving energy efficiencies and cost savings. These demonstrations, to include those at Fort Sill, will specifically target critical infrastructure at lowest implementation costs and will be imperative in today’s fiscally constrained environment.
Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW)
The threats to our national security are higher than ever before. Inhofe is concerned with the Navy’s proposal to terminate from its munitions capabilities the Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW), which are produced at the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant. Inhofe included report language directing the Navy to provide a detailed analysis of its JSOW inventory, wartime requirements, and the impact of termination on U.S. war plans and JSOW Foreign Military Sales. The language also voiced support for additional procurement should the Navy’s analysis determine the need for more JSOWs.
Analysis of Domestic Department of Defense Installations Gas and Oil Reserves
Inhofe introduced report language for the FY’16 NDAA that directs the DOD to consider allowing energy development projects on military installations that have proven reserves of natural gas and oil. This could potentially open up the use of gas reserves underneath McAlester Army Ammunition Plant (MCAAP) while also reducing energy costs.
General Services Administration contracts executed by DOD
In an effort to become more efficient and effective, the General Services Administration (GSA) closed its west coast distribution center in September 2014 and its east coast distribution centers in December 2014. Due to these closures, GSA transferred management of the material previously stocked in the centers for order fulfillment by non-DOD state and local customers to the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA). As a result, GSA contracts being managed by DLA fell under U.S. Code Title 10, adding unintended restrictions on purchases by non-DOD state and local GSA customers. One group impacted is specialized wildland firefighting equipment and supplies to federal and cooperating agencies. Inhofe successfully included language in the final bill that allows GSA non-DOD customers to continue to operate outside of Title 10 requirements with no impact to non-DOD state and local customers.
The DOD has drastically increased its funding for cyber operations and security to address the growing threats posed by cyber-attacks by our enemies’ use of advanced technologies. Inhofe supported language in the bill to preserve our means to train and equip our cyber forces to defend America now and in the future, while focusing on growing our capabilities through education, training and technological development. The University of Tulsa (TU) has long been a center of excellence in cyber security and research. This language will provide additional opportunities for TU to continue to contribute to the development of cutting edge technologies for our nation’s defense and for all Americans.