Inhofe Votes to Advance NDAA in Senate, Announces Oklahoma Endorsements of Key Provisions

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), today voted to advance the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2017 and praised the adoption of his commissary amendment to the legislation. The bill will now be conferenced with the House-passed NDAA legislation.

“Congress has sent an NDAA to the president for 54 consecutive years to provide critical resources to our men and women in uniform as well as their families,” said Inhofe. “I voted to advance this legislation once again because it authorizes necessary funding for our national security, focuses on increasing combat readiness, institutes efficiency and cost-saving reforms and supports our service members and their families. Thanks to strong, bipartisan support for my Senate amendment, the NDAA now also protects the access and cost-savings our military members and their families receive from the commissary benefit.

“There are a few areas of concern that I will be working to get addressed during conference. My primary concern is that the Senate NDAA underfunds our military. Chairman McCain’s $18 billion amendment to block defense cuts and restore last year’s defense spending level failed largely due to partisan politics. His amendment came with no strings attached and would have helped to address ongoing military readiness shortfalls. The world has only gotten more dangerous and more uncertain over the past year. By continuing to cut our defense spending, we are failing our troops, as well as their families, and failing our national security. We are sending a message of weakness to our enemies and our allies when we aren’t investing enough in our force structure, training, and equipment to maintain required readiness levels. In the mean time, countries like Russia and China are outpacing the U.S. in their investments in military equipment and training. Because the Republican-led House of Representatives provided additional defense funds, I will be working to ensure their efforts remain intact in conference. I am also disappointed that this legislation includes funding for designing and planning of a U.S. facility to house Gitmo detainees, which will help the president solidify his legacy of closing Gitmo. Detainees released under President Obama’s watch have gone back to the fight and killed Americans. The last thing we should be doing is working to bring the most dangerous of our enemies to the United States, a Gitmo North. In conference, I will be supporting the stronger House-language on Gitmo and working to remove unnecessary Senate language requiring women to register for the draft.”

Inhofe sponsored the following amendment that was successfully adopted to the bill during Senate consideration:

Amendment #4204 – Protecting Commissary Benefit

Inhofe co-sponsored amendment #4204 with Sen. Barbara Mikulski, which was adopted by a vote of 70 to 28 and strikes language in the Senate NDAA that would have privatized five major military commissaries.

“We salute this bi-partisan effort led by Senators Inhofe and Mikulski slowed down the train on allowing the commissary benefit to freefall in the commercial marketplace.  Commissaries are a benefit and a lifeline for patrons that give so much back to the DoD and the Nation, both in dollars and compassion--far in excess of resources that they consume.  It’s a benefit that millions of patrons rely on and provides the most to those who need it the most. This is not the first time Senators have stepped forward to ensure responsible and orderly processes to reform the commissary benefit without wrecking a program that has been so carefully and thoughtfully built over the years. Passage of this amendment will allow a responsible and orderly assessment of the merits and pitfalls of outright privatization and the multitude of direct and indirect effects.” Candace Wheeler, vice president of strategic marketing and communications for the Coalition to Save our Military Shopping Benefit

The following are provisions in the Senate NDAA bill that directly benefit Oklahoma and that Inhofe worked to secure:  

E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS)

Inhofe addressed the need to continue the full funding of the Air Force’s block 40/45 upgrades to the technologically aging E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS). AWACS have been in constant demand, supporting overseas contingency operations as well as supporting homeland defense for over the past two decades. The AWACS fleet, based entirely at Tinker Air Force Base, entered the service in the late 1970s and in order to remain ahead of the threat the internal systems need to be upgraded. Inhofe also ensured the restriction on retiring AWACS, Compass Call and J-STARS platforms was maintained through 2017.

“The E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System, AWACS, is a part of the Air Force’s mobile strike force that provides deep look surveillance, interception control and battle management.  It is a critical leg of this nation’s defense and because of its capability is heavily deployed.  It is not only critical to the security of the Nation, but also to the economic health of Oklahoma City and Oklahoma by providing highly skilled jobs necessary for the maintenance of this highly complex weapon system at Tinker Air Force Base. The E-3 is aging, coming into service in the 1970s, and is need of update on a number of critical systems.  One of these upgrades is the Block 40/45 modification that ensures the E-3’s technological edge in battle field management.  This modification is installed at Tinker Air Force Base by Oklahoma professionals.  Senator Inhofe was directly responsible for the full funding of this critical program in the appropriation process.”– Randy Young, director of military aviation and aerospace for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber

Paladin Integrated Management (PIM)

The PIM program is critical to the US Army. Assembled in Elgin and operated on Fort Sill, PIM is the primary indirect fire weapons platform in the US Army’s Armored Brigade Combat Teams (ABCT) and is necessary to the modernization of the Paladin Self-Propelled Howitzer and the U.S. artillery force. The PIM program upgrades both the M109A6 Paladin howitzer and its companion ammunition resupply vehicle, the M992 Field Artillery Ammunition Support Vehicle (FAASV). PIM incorporates many new survivability enhancements to greatly increase the force protection levels of the crewmembers. It significantly improves force protection and survivability and reduces a logistics burden for the Armored Brigade Combat team field artillery Soldiers. Inhofe included language in the bill that voiced strong support for the PIM upgrade to the M109A6 Paladin and successfully supported legislation in the NDAA that authorizes full funding at $469.3 million to acquire 36 new PIMs.

“We continue to be thankful for Sen. Inhofe’s dedication and tenacity in his efforts to strengthen our military. The inclusion of the PIM program in the National Defense Authorization Act will not only make our soldier’s safer in future combat missions, it will also greatly benefit Southwest Oklahoma.” Bill Burgess, civilian assistant to the Secretary of the Army

B-21 Long Range Strike Bomber

The Department of Defense (DOD)continues to pursue the acquisition of the B-21 for operating in anti-access/area denial environments, a bomber that will be capable of carrying both precision-guided conventional and nuclear weapons. This aircraft, once fielded, could be sustained at Tinker Air Force Base, like it does for the B-1 and B-52. Inhofe supported fully funding the B-21 program at $1.1 billion. Inhofe supported an amendment in the committee that would require the Air Force to disclose the value of the B-21 Long Range Strike Bomber Engineering, Manufacturing, and Development (EMD) contract award to congressional defense committee members.

“We need an Air Force that can respond when called upon with the capability to quickly defeat any foe in all domains and in any part of the globe.  The B-21 will be the key for that capability far into the future. We must have an Air Force whose capabilities strike fear and cause any adversary to always pause and have second thoughts.  This element of deterrence is essential and must be sustained.” – Mark Tarpley, president of the Air Force Association Gerrity Chapter

MC-12W Liberty

Inhofe worked to ensure full funding for the beddown, training and operations of the MC-12W aircraft flown by the 137th Special Operations Wing, Oklahoma Air National Guard, at Will Rogers Air National Guard Base. The MC-12W is a medium-to low-altitude, twin-engine turboprop aircraft that provides intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) support directly to military forces on the ground. The 137th will help fill the growing worldwide requirement for ISR.

“As Air Force Special Operations Command's newest Air National Guard Special Operations Wing, the 137 SOW continues to build future capability to support our deployed ground troops operate anytime, anyplace with maximum effectiveness. It is imperative that we have the most modern and up to date training equipment and facilities for our airmen in this endeavor. The support we enjoy from Senator Inhofe's leadership and the SASC ensures proper funding toward this goal and is a key element toward our wing's success. Our ability to properly fund, organize, train and equip the Air National Guard's premier manned Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance wing is greatly enhanced as a result of his support.” – Col. Devin Wooden, 137th Commander, Will Rogers Air National Guard Base.

KC-46A Procurement and Basing

Our nation’s air refueling fleet is crucial to the future of our national security. The KC-46A will replace our aging KC-135 tanker aircraft. The KC-46 helps ensure the viability of our Air Force as a global force. Inhofe supported legislation that fully funds the KC-46 program for $121.7 million for FY17. Altus Air Force Base will be one of seven bases to receive the KC-46 starting August 2017 and will receive $11.6 million to complete the KC-46 Simulator Facility Phase 2. Tinker Air Force Base, selected to provide all depot maintenance for the KC-46, will receive $17 million in military construction for a KC–46A Depot System Fuel Laboratory.

“As the Chairman of the Altus Military Affairs Committee, I am grateful for the tremendous support to Altus from Senator Jim Inhofe and his persistent work with the Senate Armed Services Committee, Oklahoma delegation and the United States Air Force throughout the development and delivery of the KC-46A.  Full funding of the KC-46A at such a critical phase of development is absolutely essential to program success.  Completion of the KC-46A simulator facility will significantly enhance and jump start aircrew training in advance of aircraft delivery in the summer of 2017.   For over 70 years, Altus AFB has played a critical role in providing for the common defense of our great nation.  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.”– Dr. Joe Leverett, chairman of the Altus Military Affairs Committee

Other Military Construction Projects for Oklahoma

Tinker Air Force Base will receive $26 million for an AWACS Mission and Flight Simulator Training Facility. Ardmore will receive $22 million for a new National Guard Readiness Center.

Impact Aid

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.

A provision Inhofe authored also fixed language affecting Impact Aid that was in theEvery Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in December that resulted in an error that inadvertently disqualified some districts from the program. His provision also delays a provision in ESSA related to the formula for qualification for the heavily impacted section of Impact Aid to provide additional time to collect data on the effects on participating school districts, and it and modifies language regarding the heavily impacted program to align with congressional intent to ensure annual payments to one district experiencing changing demographics were not beyond congressional intent. This was necessary to ensure other districts in the program didn’t experience hundreds of millions of dollars in payment reductions due to unexpected payments to another district, which would have resulted in Oklahoma’s Impact Aid being cut by $450,000.

“Education is a local and state issue, not a federal issue, so many people do not understand how Impact Aid differs from other examples of Federal overreach into education.  Impact Aid simply replaces a portion of local and state property taxes which would otherwise be lost due to Federal and Tribal properties.  The program comes with few strings, and it directly serves the students intended.  It is limited, responsible, and tied to legitimate needs.  For these reasons, Impact Aid is the ideal model for responsible Federal spending at the local level. I applaud Senator Inhofe for his commitment to this program and to the local school districts impacted.”   – Tom Deighan, superintendent for Lawton Public Schools

Troops to Teachers

Troops to Teachers is a program that allows former military personnel to  begin a new career as teachers in public schools where their skills, knowledge and experience are most needed. Inhofe supported full funding at $14.8 million.

Cyber Security

Inhofe supported language in the bill that increases focus, support and funding of DOD cyber efforts to include authorities for offensive and defense operations, vulnerability assessments, development of new technologies, and growth and retention of our cyber force. Improving our cyber capabilities and understanding our vulnerabilities will enable the DOD to protect our nation against a growing cyber threat. The University of Tulsa (TU) continues to be a center of excellence in cyber security and research and will play a critical role in understanding and countering this threat to every American and our nation.

“The University of Tulsa, a leader in cyber security research and training, is a committed partner in protecting our nation’s cyber security infrastructure.  We commend Senator Inhofe’s unwavering commitment to identify funding that supports TU’s research in this critical national security need.” – Dr. Steadman Upham, president of the University of Tulsa

Integration of nanoscale techniques for improved battery technology

For the past five years, the University of Tulsa has been using nanotechnology to advance battery technology. Inhofe supported a provision supporting the efforts of the DOD and the U.S. military’s efforts to improve battery technology. The continued research and development of nanoscale techniques to improve battery technology as it relates to improving military capabilities on the battlefield is a distinct enabler and has numerous civilian possibilities.

“We are grateful to Senator Inhofe for advancing improved battery technology research. His leadership in this area will allow important nanotechnology battery research conducted at The University of Tulsa in support of our service men and women in the field to move forward.” – Dr. Steadman Upham, president of the University of Tulsa

Depot Maintenance

In response to a request by the Air Force to address funding shortages for readiness, Inhofe supported increased funding for depot maintenance of nine separate Air Force aircraft to include the KC-135, E-4B National Airborne Operations Center (NAOC), E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS), B-52 and B-2 aircraft that are all sustained at Tinker Air Force Base.

“The men and women at Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex repair and overhaul Air Force front line weapon systems including the B-52, E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System and the KC-135 which is the backbone of the aerial refueling fleet. Not only does increased funding have a positive impact on Tinker Air Force Base, it also helps secure the entire country by maintaining a superior level of service for these critical weapon systems.”– Randy Young, director of military aviation and aerospace for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber

Weapons Sustainment Strategy

One of DOD’s most pressing concerns is the readiness of its weapon systems and the cost to sustain readiness. The Weapon Systems Acquisition Reform Act of 2009 directed a GAO review of the growth in operating and support costs of major weapon systems, which found key information missing to manage life-cycle costs. Inhofe authored an amendment that was adopted and directs the Secretary of Defense to submit a report on the strategy for weapon system sustainment to the congressional defense committees in the House and Senate no later than Jan. 2, 2017. The strategy should cover the entire logistics lifecycle from production through battlefield use, retrograde and organic repair or modification, or disposal. The Sustainment Center at Tinker Air Force Base will play a critical role in the development and implementation of this strategy.

“Tinker Air Force Base, home of the Air Force Sustainment Center, will play a major role of helping plan for the cost effective sustainment of the Air Force’s aging weapon systems while at the same time financing new systems such as the KC-46A. We applaud Sen. Inhofe for being at the forefront of this issue which will allow not only Tinker, but all our nation’s sustainment centers to better manage resources.”– Roy Williams, president and CEO of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber

Advanced Weapons Technology

Recognizing the risks of exposure to chemical and biological agents faced by deployed U.S. forces and the ability to expedite collection and characterize the agents in real time is critical. At the request of Inhofe, the NDAA includes a provision encouraging the Secretary of the Air Force to accelerate the fabrication, prototyping and testing of capabilities to detect and classify chemical and biological agents that will provide needed battlefield intelligence and increase the protective posture of our forces. Oklahoma State University continues to be a leader in sensor and platform technology that can assist the Air Force in developing and fielding these new capabilities.

“Oklahoma State University researchers have long-standing and deep expertise in developing sensors and devising innovative ways to deploy them. Whether mounted on aircraft, in free-standing devices, or worn by the user, these high end sensors turn Oklahoma State investments into tangible benefits for the nation. In particular, we welcome the opportunity to support and improve the well-being of our armed services." – Kenneth Sewell, vice president for research at Oklahoma State University

Conformal phased array antennas and digital polarimetry radar development

Substantive improvements in antenna and radar technology is providing enhanced capabilities to aircraft and unmanned aerial systems. At the request of Inhofe, the NDAA includes provisions encouraging the research and develop of super-adaptable conformal phased array antennas as well as research opportunities to create an all-digital polarimetric phased array radar for future use in small object sensing and tracking. Oklahoma University, a national leader in research and development of radars and antenna technologies, is perfectly situated to work with the Navy in development of new antennas and radars for the DOD.

“We are deeply appreciative of Senator Inhofe's work to assist in advancing the University of Oklahoma's development of conformal phased array antenna research as well as to further OU’s research and development of an all-digital phased array radar. Without the persistent efforts of the Senator, OU would not be where it is today in the field of radar and antenna research with the Department of Defense.” – Kelvin Droegemeier, vice president for research for the University of Oklahoma

Directed Energy Weapons

Countless reports and studies have articulated the value of directed energy (DE), but DOD has yet to successfully field an operational directed energy weapon system despite having invested heavily in the technology. The FY’17 NDAA includes language from Inhofe’s Directed Energy Weapon Systems Acquisition Act introduced on April 12, which would accelerate the development and transition of directed energy technology capabilities for our nation’s military. The provision also authorizes the Secretary of Defense to use rapid acquisition authorizes for directed energy weapon systems development and fielding. Oklahoma universities have been working on electromagnetic wave systems, devices and applications as well as assessing the vulnerability of electronic systems to high intensity electromagnetic field, which all have direct relevance to directed energy weapons systems and this initiative.

“This is a much needed initiative to advance Directed Energy technology. Universities, such as the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University have much expertise that can be utilized in moving this advanced technology forward.” – Stephen W.S. McKeever, secretary of science and technology for the State of Oklahoma

National Defense Stockpile

Inhofe supported measures to direct the Secretary of Defense to report to congressional committees in February of 2017 an assessment that designates which rare earth elements (REE) are critical to national security, analyzes the effect of unavailability of REE designated as critical, and defines reliable and secure sources for REE. The National Defense Stockpile locations across the United States are located across 13 states, including Oklahoma.

“As a major source of recyclable strategic materials, the United States government can be a key partner in Umicore's efforts to close the materials loop and ensure resource availability. These legislative reforms should enable the National Defense Stockpile to partner with industry to increase the country’s supply of critical materials.” – Jeff Koch, Senior commercial manager for recycling & refining at Umicore Optical Materials in Quapaw, Oklahoma. 

STARBASE

The purpose of STARBASE is to improve the knowledge and skills of students in kindergarten through 12th grade in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects and to motivate them to explore STEM as they continue their education. STARBASE currently operates at 76 locations in 40 states and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, primarily on military installations. To date, nearly 750,000 students have participated in the program. STARBASE is a highly effective program run by our dedicated service members and strengthens the relationships between the military, communities and local school districts. While the president’s budget eliminated funding for the program, Inhofe co-sponsored language that will provide $25 million for STARBASE in FY’17. The Oklahoma Air National Guard runs the state’s STARBASE program out of two locations, the Will Rogers Air National Guard Base and the Tulsa Air National Guard Base, with over 4,500 students participating every year.

“The success of our military's ability to defend and secure our nation depends on the work of highly skilled scientists, mathematicians, engineers, and technology experts. Together, members of the Armed Services, DoD STARBASE, our educational system and local community alliances collaborate in response to this military need.  Through these partnerships, STARBASE plays a critical role in increasing the quantity and quality of STEM professionals dedicated to fortifying our national security and protecting our citizens.” – Col. Louis W. Wilham, Assistant Adjutant General for the Oklahoma Army National Guard

Sea Cadets

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 $1.7 million. This support will help grow the program to 410 units across all 50 states, to include cadets in Oklahoma.

“The U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps has a rich heritage in developing the values of good citizenship and strong moral principles of our nation's youth. Through our training programs, cadets learn lessons that will serve them well throughout their adult lives, making them better Sailors and civilians. Full program funding guarantees the best possible naval training opportunities for more than 9,000 cadets nationwide. We are excited about what this means for our program, for our cadets, and for the future of our country. We thank Senator Inhofe and his staff for their exceptional support of the Sea Cadet program.” U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps Executive Director, CAPT Henry J. Nyland, USN (Ret)

Civil Air Patrol

Civil Air Patrol is a congressionally chartered, nonprofit corporation serving as official auxiliary of the Air Force, and continues to play a role in Oklahoma. With operating locations in Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Lawton, Norman and Muskogee, volunteers perform emergency and disaster relief ops, aerospace, counter-drug and homeland security and courier service missions. Inhofe supported legislation that provided an additional $4.3 million to fully fund the Civil Air Patrol operation at $30.2 million for FY17. This additional funding will provide for crucial aircraft and national communications upgrades.

“As we mark our 75th year of service to the United States, the importance of Civil Air Patrol’s (CAP) missions has never been greater. In Oklahoma, our nearly 800 unpaid professionals provide support to state agencies following natural disasters, assist in searching for missing persons and survey low-level military training routes to ensure those routes remain hazard-free and safe for use by the U.S. Air Force. Additionally, we administer the finest youth program in America, developing the next generation of leaders through our cadet program. In 2015, the value of the volunteer hours we provided to the state of Oklahoma was nearly $2 million, a true bargain given today’s economy.” – Col. Dale Newell, CAP Oklahoma Wing Commander

Civilian Hiring

Our military, and specifically our depots, are suffering from a shortage of civilian skilled workers. This workforce is the backbone of the sustainment and combat capability of our entire military – every service and every weapon system. This workforce maintains aging equipment, adopts new technologies, and is consistently recognized by industry as the benchmark of success. Because of their abilities, the workload demands continue to grow along with the need for higher levels of technological skill sets. Our ability to recruit and hire this workforce is being impacted by an ineffective and inefficient hiring system. Inhofe authored language in the bill that allows for direct hiring of civilians for DOD, hiring of uniquely qualified civilian personnel and hiring flexibility for term and temporary civilian employees. This will help Tinker Air Force Base and the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant.

“Tinker Air Force Base is home to the largest group of civilian Air Force personnel in the country and workers perform maintenance on a vast array of aircraft, engines, components and accessories. The ability to expedite the hiring process and directly hire qualified employees will allow the base to fulfill the growing sustainment needs of our nation’s fleets. Late in 2015, Tinker embarked on a program to hire 1,000 employees in 100 days. Due to the current hiring system, they were not able to reach that goal. As the workload continues to increase at the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex, it is imperative that employees can be added in a timely fashion to ensure our nation’s security.” – Roy Williams, president and CEO of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber

Base Realignment and Closure Prohibition

Inhofe supported language that makes clear that nothing in the FY’17 NDAA shall be construed to authorize a Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round next year, which was included in the president’s proposed budget. 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. The reported excess infrastructure of our military is based on a force structure too small to provide for the security of our nation at a time where global threats are greater than any on our lifetime. Inhofe also recognizes the announcement of a BRAC round will negatively impact every military community due to uncertainty of their future and cost the taxpayer billions in this tough economic climate for savings that will not be realized for another 20 years.

“I agree that no authorization of a future BRAC should occur until it is determined, what our National Defense and National Security Strategy is to adequately defend our nation. That would include understanding everything that would be necessary to carry it out, such as troop strength, weapons, material and supplies.” – Michael Cooper, chairman of the Oklahoma Strategic Military Planning Commission and president of the Association on Defense Communities

Military Health Care Reform

The bill begins a multi-year modernization of the military health care system, turning it from a ‘system-first’ culture to a ‘patient-first’ culture. It includes organizational changes at the Defense Health Agency through each of the services and down to the Military Treatment Facilities, and also modernizes TRICARE by establishing three options to better fiscally meet the needs of our servicemembers and veterans. Due to concerns about how the DOD would institute the proposed changes to the military health care system, Inhofe authored two amendments that were adopted that prevent any actions being taken to consolidate the defense and services medical departments or realign any infrastructure of and health care services provided by the military treatment facilities (MTF) until a comprehensive report is provided to Congress that details how these changes will impact health care being provided to our service members, their families and our veterans.

Inhofe also authored language that is included in TRICARE reform that requires “medically necessary food” to be covered under the TRICARE program. Specialized food is often medically necessary for the safe and effective management of many digestive and inherited metabolic disorders that impact digestion and absorption of nutrients. Although medically necessary food is essential for patients, it is often expensive and not uniformly reimbursed by health insurance, leaving many families with an insurmountable financial burden. Coverage under TRICARE will allow our military families the certainty and stability they need if they suffer from this issue.

Missile Defense

Missile defense is a vital strategic tool that is necessary to defend the United States and its allies. An avid supporter of missile defense since its true beginnings under President Ronald Reagan, Inhofe continued to push and support language to improve missile defense for the United States and Israel. Inhofe supported increasing funding for the Missile Defense agency by $115 million, which will provide for necessary modernization of the U.S. ground based missile defense system needed to enhance protection of the homeland against the growing long-range ballistic missile threats from Iran, North Korea and other countries. Israel, our long-time ally, faces imminent threat from Iran. Inhofe supported increasing funding for U.S.-Israeli missile defense programs to include funding for continued development of Arrow, Arrow 3 and David’s Sling, as well as procurement of Tamir interceptors for Iron Dome.

“Given current missile defense capabilities, there is reason to have concerns about the ability to defend the entire United States from 6 to 12 increasing North Korean KN-08 nuclear ballistic missiles between now and 2020, due to the use of a very conservative low risk shot doctrine of 4 or more interceptors per warhead to get as close to 100% confidence as possible against a nuclear weapon. This is an extremely serious national security problem and one that requires an urgent enhancement of our missile defense capabilities today in the Pacific, and increasing all of our missile defenses to protect our entire population whether they are in Hawaii, California, Washington D.C. or Alaska. We cannot tolerate unnecessary risk to our population from a nuclear attack when there are current, unused missile defense assets that can be acquired, turned on and put in place to help resolve the problem and reduce the risk until 2020.”  – Riki Ellison, chairman and founder of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance

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 continued to support funding and language for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

“In this time of great concern for the Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and Traumatic Brain injury of our nation's great defenders, we have found promise and hope in Hyperbaric Oxygen treatment.  To support and continue this treatment, it is critical that we receive funding to enhance the opportunity for remission and healing.  Our efforts in Oklahoma have given us great promise and hope for the future.  We believe and our data indicates that the sooner we can treat these defenders after an injury the quicker their recovery.  We have encouragement from our Israeli friends in their use of Hyperbaric Oxygen treatment and believe we should be leading the entire military forces in the world in the treatment for rapid and complete recovery.  Thanks so much to Senator Inhofe in his support for this effort.” Major General (ret.) Rita Aragon USAF, Special Advisor for Oklahoma Military and Veterans Affairs

Counter-Narcotics Program for National Guard

For 22 years, the National Guard Counter Drug (NGCD) program has had a partnership with federal, state and local law enforcement to safeguard our communities from drugs and drug violence. Inhofe supported language that funds the FY17 program at $87 million.

“Fully funding the National Guard Counter Drug (NGCD) program allows Oklahoma National Guard personnel to work with federal, state, tribal and local law enforcement agencies to reduce the influx of illicit narcotics to the State.  Oklahoma's NGCD personnel work at all levels of government to anticipate, deter, and defeat threats in order to enhance national security and protect our society, and also help ensure the Oklahoma National Guard's ability to provide a drug free military force to support federal and state active duty missions.” – Col. Louis W. Wilham, Assistant Adjutant General for the Oklahoma Army National Guard

Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2

The NDAA includes Inhofe’s bipartisan Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2, which has 70 cosponsors and first passed the Senate by unanimous consent on Dec. 15, 2015. This legislation would reform the third class medical certification for recreational pilots and broaden the protections in the original Pilot’s Bill of Rights authored by Inhofe and signed into law in 2012.

“Medical reform is critically important to the general aviation community, and we applaud Sen. Inhofe and his colleagues in the Senate for passing medical reform language as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. General aviation is a uniquely American industry. It’s the place many U.S. military pilots get their start in aviation and an economic engine that fuels countless businesses and communities. These long overdue reforms will help improve safety, reduce bureaucracy, and grow the general aviation pilot population.  We need to get these reforms to the President's desk as quickly as we can.”  – Mark Baker, president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association

Africa Free Trade Initiative Act

The National Defense Authorization Act includes Inhofe’s bipartisan Africa Free Trade Initiative Act, legislation he introduced on May 19, 2015. This legislation would require the president to establish a plan outlining what steps and resources are needed by sub-Saharan African countries to enter into Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with the United States and would require the United States Trade Representative, the Millennium Challenge Corporation and USAID to coordinate and collaborate together on how to provide assistance to nations developing free trade readiness.

Repatriation of American made rifles

Currently there are 80,000 U.S. made M1 Garand rifles in the Republic of Korea that they no longer required and intends to dispose. These rifles were received from the United States through sales and grants. The U.S. Army has the authority to coordinate repatriation for these rifles but no funds to do so. Inhofe authored an amendment that was adopted that will allow the Army to use a third party to recover these rifles and bring them back to the U.S. under the supervision and disposition by the Army, at no cost to the Army. The Army would take possession of as many of the rifles as require to meet military ceremonial needs and provide the remainder to the Citizen’s Marksmanship Program (CMP). The non-profit Citizen’s Marksmanship Program, known for their firearm safety courses, marksmanship competitions and scholarship program, have offset their costs through a congressionally approved program of selling surplus rifles for two decades.

Access to Banks and Credit Unions on Military Installations

The NDAA includes Inhofe’s amendment that would ensure banks and credits unions have equal access to serve their customers on military installations. Federal law provides rent-free access to credit unions on military installations, but conflicting federal law prevented banks from being provided the same benefit. The legislation requires that the DOD to treat all financial institutions – whether they’re banks or credit unions – exactly the same when it comes to lease terms of their branches on military installations.

Preventing Contractor Blacklisting

The Obama administration has implemented Executive Order 13673 (EO 13673) which would effectively blacklist companies from participating in government contracts if they have had allegations of labor law violations, even if they have not been substantiated or proven. If allowed to move forward, EO 13673 would slow down and increase the cost of the acquisition process, hurting defense contractors. In 2015, Inhofe offered legislation to the FY’16 NDAA, which would have blocked EO 13673 from applying to defense contractors unless it is debarred or otherwise suspended under federal labor laws. This amendment was not adopted then; however, this language was included in the base text of FY17 NDAA at Inhofe’s request.

“Sen. Inhofe led the fight for over a year to exempt DOD from the full force of the ‘Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces’ Executive Order.  The Chamber commends Sen. Inhofe and his colleagues on the Senate Armed Services Committee for including a provision in this year’s defense authorization bill to turn back one of the most unnecessary, unworkable, and costly executive orders proposed by this administration.”– Bruce Josten, executive vice president for Government Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Commanders’ Emergency Response Program (CERP)

Inhofe supported language in the bill that extents Commanders’ Emergency Response Program (CERP) for three years. This program has proven to be a vital resource for combatant commanders around the world for conducting stability, development and humanitarian assistance operations where Congress has specifically authorized its use.

“Regardless of the size, shape, or mission of U.S. forces, your continued support for CERP is essential as it provides an invaluable tool to commanders. CERP funds are routinely the only time-sensitive means to respond to unanticipated events and requirements, implement small-scale efforts that provide immediate and direct benefit to local populations to enhance protection of U.S. forces, and enable U.S. forces to make condolence payments for the loss of life or property damage.” – General Lloyd Austin, former commander of U.S. Central Command

Improvement of prosthetic care outcomes

In 2015, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) deployed advanced, proven lower limb prosthetic digital health technology to provide real-world data documenting activity in the community for veterans with lower limb prostheses. By documenting how patients with limb loss function with their prosthetic devices, this digital health technology offers new opportunities to prosthetic outcomes, increase activity and improve the quality of life for those who have lost limbs. Currently DOD has not provided this technology to servicemembers who have lost lower limbs or to veterans who receive prosthetic care from DOD. Inhofe authored an amendment that was adopted that encourages DOD to utilize technology that captures real-world activity data for amputees to improve prosthetic outcomes for servicemembers and veterans.

“For decades, Senator Inhofe has been at the forefront of ensuring the highest possible levels of care for injured military service personnel in need of prosthetic care.   This provision in the NDAA will deploy mobile health technology to provide greater visibility into the effectiveness of advanced rehabilitative technologies, as well as also helping to improve transitions from military medicine to the VA through consistent collection of patient outcomes data.”Doug McCormack, Chairman, Modus Health

Permanent extension of payment of Special Survivor Indemnity Allowances under the Survivor Benefit Plan

Inhofe worked to include language that amends section 1450 of Title 10 of the United States Code to permanently extend the authority to pay the Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance (SSIA) at the monthly rate currently payable for fiscal year 2017 when it was set to expire. SSIA is a program for surviving spouses who are the beneficiary of the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) annuity and their SBP annuity is partially or fully offset by the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC). SSIA also applies to the surviving spouses of members who died on active duty whose SBP annuity is partially or fully offset by their DIC.

Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA)

Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) continue to spread terror and lawlessness in Eastern Congo and Central Africa. In 2015, LRA forces were active in the Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of Congo (Congo), South Sudan and in Sudanese-controlled areas of South Darfur and the disputed Kafia Kingi enclave. The LRA abducted 612 people in 203 attacks in 2015, a slight reduction compared to 2014, though the number of abductions was higher than in both 2012 and 2013. The instability created by the LRA enables the spread of other extremist and terrorist organizations that are expanding operations throughout the African continent. Continued funding for the counter LRA mission and bringing to an end Joseph Kony’s reign of terror in Eastern Congo and Central Africa is critical to restoring stability in the region. Inhofe continues to support funding to ensure their defeat and the ultimate capture and imprisonment of Joseph Kony.

“Joseph Kony's violence against thousands of families in central and East Africa has gone on for far too long and must be stopped. We are closer than ever before to making that a reality, thanks to the courageous efforts of central African communities and the unwavering commitment of policymakers like Senator Inhofe. We commend the Senator and his colleagues in Congress for continuing to support efforts to protect families in central Africa from violence and end Kony's crimes once and for all.”  Lisa Dougan, President & CEO of Invisible Children

###