July 24, 2009
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Last night, U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a Senior Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, voted to support passage of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2010. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 87 to 7. Among a vast number of other provisions, the legislation authorized increased end strengths and funding for each of the services, as well as an increased Army end strength of 30,000 above 2010, 2011, and 2012 levels.
"Timely and adequate funding are critical to the readiness of our forces stationed around the world," Inhofe said. "While I voted for this bill, it does not go as far as I would like it to in terms of overall defense funding that would provide our brave men and women in uniform the best support and equipment possible while investing in the future national security of the United States."
Inhofe continued, "One of the biggest disappointments is this bill's termination of the manned ground vehicle portion of the Future Combat System (FCS). For eight years, both Army and Joint Requirements Oversight Council with the Department of Defense's oversight validated the requirement for the program. Furthermore, funding for the world's only 5th Generation fighter, the F-22, was cut - closing the production line at 187 planes. Unfortunately, budget constraints placed on the military by President Obama were given priority over modernization and overall security. Moreover, given North Korea's increasingly assertive nuclear and ballistic missile programs, including a nuclear test several weeks ago, it is amazing that an attempt to add the country to the State Sponsors of Terrorism list was blocked."
"I am pleased however, that this bill will help improve care and support provided to our military members, veterans and their families in Oklahoma and around the world. And I am also pleased that the Senate unanimously adopted a provision offered by Senators Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Sessions (R-Ala.) that insists any missile defense system deployed to Europe is capable of protecting both Europe and the U.S."
Inhofe supported amendment 1618 offered by Senator Thune (R-SD) that allows concealed carry permits to be used between states. See Inhofe's full press release on the concealed weapons amendment here.
Inhofe also proposed an amendment, which was blocked by the democrats, to keep GITMO detainees out of the U.S. See Inhofe's full press release on the Democrats blocking his amendment here.
Inhofe Priority: Military and their Families
The bill increased pay, allowances, bonuses and benefits for military members, veterans and their family members:
Health care was improved and expanded for the total force. This includes enhanced dental care for the reserve components, increased number of medical personnel, and increased compensation for eligible caregivers of our wounded warriors:
Inhofe Priority: Equipment and Training
The bill increases funding for new MRAP-All-Terrain Vehicles to be used in Afghanistan, UH-60 Blackhawk conversions, purchase of F/A-18 aircraft, Future Combat System ‘spin-out' technologies, and the Paladin Integrated Management (PIM), a program that would accelerate modernization of the M109A6 Paladin artillery howitzer.
Additionally, while the bill cancels the manned ground vehicle portion of the Future Combat System (FCS) and puts a hold on further production of the Non-Line of Sight Cannon (NLOS-C), it does require the Department of Defense to carry out a next-generation ground combat vehicle program and a next-generation self-propelled howitzer program for the Army. The Army is currently developing a vehicle modernization plan as a replacement for FCS and is scheduled to brief the Department of Defense and Congress in September. Inhofe is committed to working with the Pentagon and the Army to ensure that knowledge and corporate expertise from the FCS is used in the development, testing and fielding of the new vehicles within 5-7 years.
Also included in the bill is a provision that expresses the critical need for a ballistic missile defense system to be built in Europe to protect the U.S. and its allies against missile threats from rogue regimes like Iran. This portion of the bill is a small victory considering the Senate's disappointing funding decision in the bill that cuts $1.4 billion from the $10 billion missile defense budget.
The Senate voted against $1.75B funding for an additional seven F22 fighter jets that would have brought the Air Force closer to the number of fighters it needs to perform its air superiority mission. See Inhofe's full press release on the removal of the F22 funding here.
The bill will continue the development of the F35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft with a single supplier engine as originally planned and avoiding unnecessary waste of taxpayer funds.
Inhofe Priority: Building Global Partnerships
Building Global Partnerships' program will assist other nations and their militaries, enabling them to take an active part in maintaining peace and stability throughout the world. This bill would allow the use of train and equip authority to coalition partners in Afghanistan and Iraq, extend authority for DoD to support the State Department for security and stabilization assistance, and increase the maximum amount of the Combatant Commanders' Incentive Fund from $15,000 to $250,000.
Inhofe also praised the funding of two aircraft for the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). The command, headquartered Germany, is in need of its own transportation equipment to facilitate interaction on the continent of Africa.