WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today voted to advance the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2016 in the Senate. The legislation passed out of the Senate Armed Services Committee by a vote of 21 to 5.
"I am proud to be part of a strong bipartisan effort to ensure our men and women in uniform have the support they need to defend our nation,” said Inhofe. “This year's National Defense Authorization Act contains many provisions that will maintain our military’s capabilities, support our military families, and continue to advance Oklahoma’s military communities. While I have long advocated for an end to sequestration to our national security, the president has not shown a willingness to come to the table with realistic plans to stop his disarming of America. The committee instead moved forward with providing necessary funding by utilizing the overseas contingency operations (OCO) account in order to meet our military’s basic readiness needs. While the use of OCO in this manner does not provide a long-term solution to the ongoing defense spending shortfalls, given the growing worldwide threats, it far outweighs the damage that would have been done to our nation’s security next year under current budget caps. Despite constraints, we fought hard to ensure that Oklahomans and all our military have what they need, to include a provision that again prevents Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) next year.
"As a committee, we also worked hard to take care of our selfless men and women and their families. That included reviewing our military retirement system. Under a provision included in this year’s bill we began transitioning our services to a more modern “401K” like retirement system. Under this provision, every member of our armed forces will be able to invest in the Thift Savings Plan (TSP) with government matching up to 5 percent. This allows the over 80 percent of our veterans, who complete their honorable service prior to reaching full retirement, the ability to take with them portable retirement benefits.
"With all the good in the bill, one of my greatest disappointments was legislation that directs the Department of Defense (DOD) to privatize military commissaries on a minimum of five major bases and sets into motion the potential for all commissaries to be privatized. This will be done without an assessment, and it ignores recommendations made by the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission in January. I fought hard against this during the markup, and I will introduce an amendment on the Senate floor to reverse the provision. The commissary benefit is most utilized service the military offers its members, and 95 percent of service members and their families use the commissaries for the purchase of household goods in order to achieve needed savings in their family budgets.
"As the NDAA proceeds through Congress, I will continue to fight to ensure the positive measures remain intact and will build upon others that are important to Oklahoma and our nation.”
The following are provisions Inhofe authored or supported, many of which support the military presence in Oklahoma:
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.
Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
The bill extends the prohibitions on transferring Gitmo detainees to the United States and restrictions on transferring Gitmo detainees to certain foreign countries, which Inhofe supported during markup.
Inhofe provided the following statement regarding the Gitmo portion of the bill, "My greatest disappointment in the bill is the inclusion of language that would allow the closure of the detention center at Gitmo and the eventual transfer of Gitmo detainees to the United States. Members from many states have voiced concern with housing these terrorists in their states, especially now that ISIL has demonstrated the ability to call up sleeper cells to attack locations here in our country. I don’t want a target in Oklahoma. Furthermore, I disagree with those who think that closing the detention facility at Gitmo will end the propaganda campaign being waged by our enemies. Hasn’t the President learned that appeasing our enemies strengthens them? The propaganda war will simply shift to whatever facility these terrorists are brought to in the US, allowing them to engage in a whole new propaganda campaign against ‘Gitmo North.’ The terrorists created Gitmo’s image, not actions at Gitmo. The attacks leading up to, including on and after 9/11, were not the result of holding detainees at Gitmo. Moving these terrorists held at Gitmo to the United States will not stop future terrorist attacks against our homeland. I intend to fight this misguided policy."
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 included language that prohibits 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 NDAA that authorized full funding at $273.9 million to acquire 30 new PIMs.
“The 30 Paladin (PIM) Howitzers this bill provides is great for Elgin, the Army and Fort Sill. Good work Senator Jim Inhofe. He not only saved this program from the Crusader cancelation 13 years ago, but he is still looking out for the Army twelve years later. We are so lucky to have him up there," said Bill Burgess, Civilian Assistant to the Secretary of the Army
KC-46A Procurement and Basing
The KC-46A will replace our aging KC-135 tanker aircraftInhofe supported legislation that fully funds the KC-46 program for $2.7 billion. Altus Air Force Base will be one of seven bases to receive the KC-46 starting in May 2016 and will receive $10.4 million to complete a new KC-46A fuel cell maintenance hangar. Tinker Air Force Base, selected to provide all depot maintenance for the KC-46, will receive $37 million for a KC-46A depot maintenance dock.
Other Military Construction Projects for Oklahoma
Altus Air Force Base will receive $18 million for a 120-room dormitory. Tinker will receive $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.
“This committee action supported by Senator Inhofe funds two extremely important projects for Tinker. The tower that costs $12.9M has been needed for a very long time. It is a safety issue. I am so glad we are finally getting that. The other project for the KC-46A fuel cell maintenance hangar is all about the new mission Tinker just secured to maintain the KC-46A. This is great news for Tinker,” said Gary Pence, Senior Business Development Manager, Military & Aerospace for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
“I am excited for the SASCs expeditious approval of the President’s FY16 budget. The primary mission of the MC-12 is to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) support directly to the ground forces serving abroad. To reach full operating capability for our new role, it is imperative that adequately sized and properly configured facilities are secured. The $7.6 million in military construction for the ISR bed down meets this requirement. Oklahoma National Guard airman will be equipped with the vital resources necessary to provide combat ready forces to support special operations around the globe," said Col. Devin Wooden, 137th Commander, Will Rogers Air National Guard Base
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 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 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 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.
Iran ballistic missile development programs
In 2013, the National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC) stated that Iran could test and develop an ICBM capable of reaching the U.S. by 2015. In February, they successfully launched the Safir long-range missile system. Inhofe continues to be concerned about Iran’s efforts to achieve nuclear weapons capability. In the FY’10 NDAA, the Secretary of Defense was required to submit annual reports on Iran’s military power, due each year in January. As of May of this year, the report was not provided to Congress. As such, Inhofe supported a provision requiring the Secretary of Defense to provide a briefing and update on Iran’s ballistic missile program.
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 bill.
C-130H Engine and Propulsion System Modernization Programs
Inhofe supported language that fully funds the C-130H engine and propulsion system modernization at $55.2 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 fully funding the Long Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B) program at $786.2 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 that funded the Civil Air Patrol operation at $25.4 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 that funds the FY'16 program at $88 million and authorized language in the bill that 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 since its creation. Inhofe included language in this year’s NDAA that fully funds the program at $13.8 million. This support will help grow the program to 410 units across all 50 states.
Inhofe was again successful in ensuring language 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.
"Impact Aid is the great equalizer for schools serving the children of our nation's heroes and enables districts like Lawton Public Schools to meet their unique and special needs. Our military-dependent children deserve the best, and that is only possible through continued funding of Impact Aid," said Tom Deighan, Superintendent of Lawton Public Schools, Lawton (Fort Sill), Oklahoma
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 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.
Radar Technology Research
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 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 secured language in the bill 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 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. Inhofe’s support 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 language in the bill 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 language in this year’s defense bill 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 language for the FY’16 NDAA that directs the Department of Defense 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. This amendment allows GSA non-DOD customers to continue to operate outside of Title 10 requirements with no impact to non-DOD state and local customers.
“NewView Oklahoma is extremely pleased that language has been added to the Defense Authorization Act which significantly improves the DLA procurement protocol. And we are most grateful to our congressional leaders for their support in getting these changes approved. Their efforts ensure that we are able to supply top quality products in a timely manner, especially to the US Forestry Service. NewView has been their sole supplier for fire hoses for the last 15 years. We are especially proud of our blind and visually impaired employees who assemble and prepare the hoses that will go to help firefighters across our country keep us safe from harm. And not only do these contracts provide meaningful employment, but the revenue generated enables us to provide vision rehabilitation services to over 2,300 Oklahomans every year," said Lauren Branch, President and CEO NewView Oklahoma.
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 this 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. Inhofe’s support 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.