July 23, 2020
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, praised the Senate passage of the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act. The legislation passed with a bipartisan vote of 86-14.
“We are one step closer to passing the most vital legislation we consider each year—the National Defense Authorization Act—for the 60th year in a row,” Inhofe said. “Make no mistake—the military communities in Oklahoma are vital to the well-being of our nation and that is clearly reflected in this Senate-passed NDAA. Now, as we work together with Congress as a whole, we have the opportunity to bring our troops and their families in Oklahoma and across the United States the resources and funding they need to protect our nation. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House to solidify these victories and send this bill to the president’s desk.”
Oklahoma specific provisions are as follows:
Tinker and the Oklahoma City Community
Inhofe secured countless wins for Tinker Air Force Base and the surrounding Oklahoma City community. By fully funding the KC-46 and the B-21, he ensured Tinker Air Force Base’s role as the hub for aircraft sustainment for years to come. By including provisions that increase the capacity of the workforce, such as the authority to appoint recently retired service members to DOD civilian positions, we can be confident there will be ample civilians employed at Tinker to meet the future growth.
In addition to these large programs, Sen. Inhofe looked to the future with this legislation to find creative solutions for maintenance on our aging aircraft fleet. He ensured the Air Force’s expedited adoption of new technologies by encouraging the use of additive manufacturing capabilities to repair aircraft more quickly.
“Oklahoma City, Tinker Air Force Base, and our defense industry partners work as a team every day to ensure our Air Force is ready to fly, fight and win. From sustaining legacy aircraft to building new capabilities and infrastructure to sustain the KC-46 and B-21, our Airmen and civilians at Tinker Air Force base remain committed to providing our warfighters with the weapons systems they need to protect our national security,” said Roy Williams, President and CEO of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber. “Through improved processes and new technologies such as cold spray, Tinker Air Force Base continues to ensure access to spare parts, reduce costs and improve throughput. This cannot be accomplished without continued funding of our depots and procurement of our new weapons systems contained in the current defense authorization bill. Additionally, by modifying the 180-day hiring rule for retiring or separating military members, the defense authorization bill enables us to hire and retain the best maintenance and sustainment workforce in the world. Our industry partners are an integral part of Tinker Air Force Base and our Air Force as they develop and field new software, upgrades and modifications as well as fielding leading edge technologies and weapon systems such as the XQ-58A Valkyrie. We are grateful for Senator Inhofe’s continued leadership. Together, we work to improve the readiness and combat capability of our military.”
Inhofe’s NDAA ensured that the strategic airlift and refueling training missions at Altus Air Force Base will continue for years to come. Inhofe supported fully funding the KC-46 Pegasus Tanker; Altus is programmed to receive eight aircraft. Inhofe’s oversight and leadership of the KC-46 program has played an integral role in working to resolve the KC-46’s start-up issues, while maintaining strong accountability. Additionally, Inhofe halted the Air Force’s effort to divest the KC-135 aircraft at Altus Air Force Base until the KC-46 is fully operational.
“Senator Inhofe’s leadership as the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee has been unwavering in support of the United States Air Force and the state of Oklahoma. Altus Air Force Base and the Altus community are grateful for Senator Inhofe’s work to deliver mission capability that meets our nation’s requirements for aerial refueling and strategic airlift. The FY21 NDAA continues the essential work on the advancement of the KC-46A Pegasus program and provides the necessary resources to sustain the KC-135 to guarantee our ability to conduct this vital mission of aerial refueling and maintain air superiority over our adversaries for decades to come. Senator Inhofe has also supported virtual technologies to allow our pilots enhanced opportunities to train, thus accelerating the training pipeline to have the most qualified crews in the world. As the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Inhofe has consistently been a champion for readiness, modernization, and the implementation of the National Defense Strategy. The FY21 NDAA not only follows and implements this strategy, but helps position our military to be the greatest fighting force in the world and meet our nation’s security requirements for years to come,” said Robert Cox, Representative for Altus Air Force Base on the Oklahoma Strategic Military Planning Commission.
Inhofe’s bill fully funds research and development of the Air Force’s next generation of advanced pilot training aircraft, the T-7 Red Hawk. The T-7 will replace the aging T-38 Talon training aircraft at Vance Air Force Base, and for the entire Air Force. This will only further enhance Vance’s critical national security mission. In addition to funding the T-7 research and development, Inhofe’s NDAA authorizes funding for T-38 upgrades which will ensure the safety of T-38 pilots until the T-7 is fully fielded. Inhofe also secured continuing and increasing funding for the Defense Community Infrastructure Program, which he pioneered in the FY20 NDAA, that will allow communities like Enid to compete for defense infrastructure funding.
“We appreciate Senator Inhofe’s continued leadership as the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. This year’s NDAA continues to build readiness, resiliency and quality of life for our service members and their families. The NDAA includes incredible programs, like the Defense Community Infrastructure Program (DCIP). The DCIP allows military communities to leverage defense funding with community and state dollars to address vital infrastructure projects that are supportive of military installations and military families. Additionally, this year’s NDAA includes investment in research and development for the new T-7 training aircraft, which is vitally important to building readiness for our Air Force. This much needed aircraft will replace the 1960’s T-38 used for initial pilot training at bases like Vance AFB. Senator Inhofe’s untiring commitment to Enid, the state of Oklahoma and our nation is present in this legislation and positions Vance Air Force Base as a critical asset for decades to come,” said Mike Cooper, Chairman of the Oklahoma Strategic Military Planning Commission.
McAlester Army Ammunition Plant
The Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act continues the support given to the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant by providing full military construction funding for the Ammunition Demolition Shop, commonly referred to as the C-Line. This critical military construction project will allow for the safe and proper deconstruction of munitions that are no longer serviceable or have reached their maximum storage time.
“With McAlester Army Ammunition Plant storing over one-third of the Department of Defense’s conventional munitions, it’s imperative we have efficient demilitarization capabilities. Developing the C-Line will allow our installation to increase storage space for viable assets, by eliminating unusable materials. We are so grateful to Senator Inhofe for pushing the C-Line Military Construction project forward and for his dedication to serving Oklahoma and our military,” said Jessica Gregg, Executive Director of the McAlester Defense Support Association.
“The McAlester community is thrilled the C-Line Military Construction project has been approved for 2021. We cannot thank Senator Inhofe and our Congressional Members in D.C. enough for their continuous support to McAlester Army Ammunition Plant. Increasing our installation’s capability is immeasurable and we are proud our community has the opportunity to serve our great Nation,” said Krystal Bess, Executive Director of the McAlester Chamber of Commerce.
Lawton and the Ft. Sill Community
Inhofe authored numerous provisions in this year’s NDAA that support southwest Oklahoma. Inhofe’s work fully funded the Paladin Integrated Management (PIM) program, greatly benefiting Elgin, Fort Sill and the Army. PIM will serve as the platform for future Army modernization projects that will allow the United States to maintain an advantage over our strategic competitors, like China and Russia.
The NDAA complements the work done by the Army’s Cross Functional Teams at Fort Sill by bringing industry and university partners together at Lawton’s Fires Innovation Science and Technology Accelerator (FISTA) to work on defense contracts that support Army modernization efforts. The work done at the FISTA allows the Long Range Precision Fires and Air and Missile Defense Cross Functional Teams to accomplish the Army’s modernization missions. The Army has repeatedly stated that the Long Range Precision Fires is their number one priority.
“The work occurring in southwest Oklahoma is vital to the Army’s modernization priorities. The research and development efforts in support of the Long Range Precision Fires and Air and Missile Defense Cross Functional Teams that is set to occur at Lawton’s FISTA (Fires Innovation Science and Technology Accelerator) supports these priorities and will give the warfighter a tactical and strategic advantage. Additionally, funding the PIM, which is assembled in Elgin, improves performance and survivability for our field artillery soldiers around the world. We appreciate Senator Inhofe’s steadfast leadership to ensure these programs, which help drive our region’s economy, are fully funded and enable the continued success of the Cross Functional Teams housed at Fort Sill,” said Mike Brown, Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army.
Military Spouse Professional Development
Like our service members, military spouses bear a huge burden and sacrifice much. Our nation is grateful for their service. Inhofe continued his work to create opportunities for military spouses by expanding provisions to support them in the NDAA, building on his reforms from last year. Specifically, his bill clarifies the reimbursement spouses can receive from DOD when they are faced with costs of obtaining a new professional license or credential after a permanent change of station. It has been a goal of Chairman Inhofe’s to reduce the instances of extended unemployment that too many spouses face and this year’s NDAA continues to solve this problem.
“Chairman Inhofe is a faithful advocate for military families, taking a holistic approach to the NDAA by seeking ways to support the needs and demands on service members’ spouses and children,” said Jill Castilla, Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army. “The Senate Armed Services Committee’s FY’21 NDAA, safeguards and advances recent reforms to support military spouses in their careers as they navigate frequent moves that impact professional licensure requirements. We will have a stronger economy and healthier workforce when our military families can more easily integrate into our local communities.”
University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University and the University of Tulsa
The academic institutions in Oklahoma are second to none when it comes to their contribution to our nation’s military. We see their impact across a wide field of programs, including counter-UAS, Long Range Precision Fires, Air & Missile Defense, cyber and countless other research efforts. The Department of Defense and Congress have recognized the growing need for research universities as important partners for technological innovation and evaluation. Inhofe included several provisions in the NDAA that increase funding to universities, like those in Oklahoma, to work with the DOD and rapidly respond to advancements in these fields.
“The University of Oklahoma (OU) is greatly appreciative of Chairman Inhofe’s efforts to provide our men and women in uniform the tools and resources they need to ensure and maintain freedom around the world,” said Dr. Diaz de la Rubia, OU’s Vice President for Research and Partnerships. “In addition, OU recognizes that countries like China and others are investing heavily in the development of new, advanced technologies for military applications. We can see the adversary in the rear-view mirror, and OU is deeply committed to applying its research and innovation know-how to help develop the technologies and train the future generation that will ensure our nation’s military superiority for decades to come. We applaud the chairman’s efforts to help OU bring its expertise in important technologies such as Radar and Secure Software Engineering to serve the nation’s national security interests.”
“At Oklahoma State University, we pride ourselves in being responsive to our country’s needs to innovate to promote national defense and security. As a shining example, we have built expertise in unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and counter-UAS technologies and methods to strategically align with these national priorities. We strongly support the investments in R&D and other partnerships with academic and industry groups reflected in the current NDAA, and look forward to advancing them with our expertise and efforts,” said Dr. Kenneth W. Sewell, OSU’s Vice President for Research and President of OSU’s Research Foundation.
“The University of Tulsa is grateful to Senator Jim Inhofe for his work in securing funding for important cyber security initiatives in the FY 21 National Defense Authorization Act. As the university that provides federal agencies with more employees trained in cybersecurity than any other single university in the nation, TU appreciates the Senator’s long standing leadership and support in this field,” said Janet Levit, Interim President of the University of Tulsa.
“As a leader in cybersecurity innovation and education, The University of Tulsa appreciates Senator Inhofe’s leadership in supporting increased investment in this critical area. We look forward to expanding TU’s role in support of our national defense and economic development through continued innovation and entrepreneurship in cybersecurity,” said Dana Weber, Vice-chair and Chair-elect of the Board of Trustees of the University of Tulsa.
Oklahoma National Guard
Inhofe was successful in including language that fully supports Oklahoma’s National Guard. This year’s NDAA not only supports the mission of the 137th Special Operations Wing in Oklahoma City, but also funds critical military construction in Ardmore, Oklahoma. Additionally, Inhofe continued to provide support for STARBASE, a National Guard program to educate and motivate students to explore Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields that currently operate in Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Burns Flat.
“The Oklahoma National Guard is very pleased with the FY21 Senate NDAA language that provides continuation of maintenance contracts to keep our aircraft operational, authorizes military construction funding for a maintenance facility at the Ardmore Readiness Center, and continues support for the Department of Defense STARBASE program. All of these provisions are beneficial for both the Oklahoma National Guard and the State of Oklahoma and ensure we're always ready to serve our communities, state and nation,” said Major General Michael Thompson, the Adjutant General of the Oklahoma National Guard.City of Tulsa
The Fiscal Year 2021 NDAA fully funds key programs in the Tulsa community to further advance readiness and modernization priorities. Much of the research, development and production in pursuit of these priorities occurs in Tulsa, supporting the Oklahoma economy and building sustainable economic growth while supporting our nation’s military. Inhofe’s bill allows the Tulsa area workforce to compete to decrease aviation maintenance costs for the Army’s Aviation and Missile Command while supporting valuable jobs in the community. Additionally, Inhofe furthered military modernization efforts by authorizing critical funding for programs that are supported by Tulsa area companies.