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October 22, 2009

WEAKENING MILITARY, DEFENSE BILL IS WRONG PATH

We have reached a crossroads and have chosen not to invest in the long term modernization and readiness of our military.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The FY2010 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 2647) leads the U.S. military, despite continually growing missions, down a dangerous path of less investment, fewer resources, and aging equipment.  Voting against cloture and final passage, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, outlined multiple reasons for his opposition to the measure that sets funding levels for the Department of Defense. Watch Senator Inhofe's floor speech here.
 
“There are some good provisions in this bill, but those good items are outweighed by the fact that the bill is the beginning of a downward spiral in defense spending,” Inhofe said.  “We have reached a crossroads and have chosen not to invest in the long term modernization and readiness of our military.  Instead, this Congress has mistakenly chosen to ‘kick the modernization can down the road’ once more by mortgaging the future to pay for the present.  The United States has the finest military in the world thanks to investments in our military and a strong national defense in the 1980s and after 9/11.  The speed at which new technologies and weapons systems are being created mandates continued investment in order to stay on top.  This bill falls woefully short.

Inhofe continued,This bill allows terrorist detainees being held at Gitmo to be transferred into the United States 45 days after President Obama has submitted a plan to Congress which certifies that the detainees will pose little to no risk to the United States.  While it prohibits the release of Gitmo detainees into the United States, its territories, and possessions, in reality, this allows the President to fulfill his obsession to close Gitmo and bring detainees to American soil.   “In addition, this bill includes language on Hate Crimes that expands the ability of federal prosecutors to try violent crimes motivated by a victim’s race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.  Besides having nothing to do with our military or national security, Hate Crimes legislation is inherently unfair because it creates a special class of victims, thereby ignoring the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution.  All victims of crime should have equal justice under the law, and all crimes should be prosecuted fervently regardless of the motivation.  It is perilous to require the government to somehow determine the thoughts and prejudice of a criminal. In order to preserve justice, we must govern actions, not feelings.” 
 

Cutting Military Investment

Despite appearing to increase defense spending, the FY10 Defense Authorization bill largely reflects the beginning of the Obama Administration’s long-term plan to cut our military, shifting wartime costs into the military’s base budget and decreasing overall funding for our troops in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other operations around the world.  These cuts include:

Ø  Cancelling the manned ground vehicle portion of the Future Combat System, the Army’s only substantial vehicle modernization program, that would have replaced portions of the Army’s fleet of combat vehicles such as the 50 year old M109A6 Paladin self propelled howitzer, the Bradley Fighting Vehicle from the 1980s, and the M1 Abrams tank, originally designed in the 1970s. 

Ø  Terminating further production of the C-17 cargo plane, limiting our strategic airlift capability.   

Ø  Stopping production of the F-22, the world’s most advanced fighter and leaving the Air Force with only 187 of the over 750 originally proposed.

Ø  Taking away needed funds from other programs in FY10, including procurement funds for additional F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, instead spending the money on an unnecessary alternate engine for the F-35 aircraft.

Ø  Reducing our missile defense budget by 16 percent ($1.4 billion); cancelling boost phase missile defense programs such as the Airborne Laser and Kinetic Energy Interceptor, reducing the number of Ground Based Interceptor missiles based in Alaska and California from 44 to 30, and cancelling the Third Missile Defense site in Poland and the Czech Republic. 

Ø  Placing the effectiveness, reliability and credibility of our nuclear deterrence at risk by failing to provide the level of funding adequate to support modernization of the nuclear complex, making it impossible to keep extending the life of our arsenal, especially in light of the prohibition on nuclear weapons testing.

 Other provisions in the bill

Ø  Increases the size of our military:  Army by 30,000, Marine Corps by 8,100, Air Force by 14,650, and Navy by 2,477.  The bill also authorizes an additional 30,000 troops for the Army in Fiscal Years 2011 and 2012 but fails to provide any new funding for these troop increases, meaning Army funds will be stretched even more thinly.

Ø  Provides a military pay raise of 3.4 percent.

Ø  Prohibits fee increases on TRICARE inpatient care for one year and extends TRICARE eligibility to reserve members so they can now receive full TRICARE coverage 180 days before they go on active duty (formally 90 days).

Ø  Adds eight Congressionally appointed members to DoD’s independent panel and provides that panel with additional guidance in producing an alternative strategy assessment Congress needs to make informed national security-related decisions.

Ø  Includes $350 million for training and equipping the military forces of friendly nations but unfortunately limits to $75 million the amount that may be used for programs to build the capacity of foreign military forces to participate in or support military or stability operations in which the United States Armed Forces are a participant.

Ø  Funds two aircraft for the U.S. African Command (AFRICOM) to facilitate relationship building, development, and counterinsurgency operations on the continent of Africa.



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