Senator David Perdue Comments On Passage Of Annual Defense Bill
“Six years of arbitrary defense budget cuts and Washington's broken budget process have led us to this point.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator David Perdue (R-GA), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, voted to prioritize troop readiness, expedite an audit of the Department of Defense, and increase service member pay in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2018, which included 30 of Senator Perdue’s priorities.
“Over the last 30 years, Washington has disinvested in our military and we are seeing the dangerous impact of this decision,” said Senator Perdue. “This year’s defense bill is a step in the right direction but our military needs more support from Congress. Sixteen years at war, six years of arbitrary defense budget cuts, and Congress’ broken budget process have all led us to this point. Today, every dime we spend on our military, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and domestic discretionary programs is borrowed. This culmination of tragic disinvestment has created a situation where most of our major military platforms are approaching the end of their life, and many are already past this point. With $20 trillion of debt today, the challenge is how do we rebuild the military and reestablish readiness?”
Senator Perdue secured 30 priorities in this year’s defense bill that address a range of issues from the readiness issues to acquisition reform and reinvesting capabilities in our warfighters. Here are some highlights:
- Protect JSTARS Readiness: Prohibits the use of FY18 funds to prematurely retire the JSTARS fleet, and requires a report on potential capability gaps should the Air Force decide to halt the JSTARS recapitalization program. A related provision also requires a briefing from the Air Force on addressing maintenance backlogs in the legacy fleet, as well as ensuring a sufficient maintenance plan. Additionally, the bill provides funding for the continued maintenance of the legacy fleet.
- Hold Iran Accountable: Requires additional reporting on technology transfers to and from Iran, including nuclear and ballistic missile technology. This also requires reporting on Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ use of civilian transportation infrastructure and assets for military purposes. Iran has been using civilian infrastructure to support Bashar al-Assad in Syria. This provision requires additional reporting on military cooperation between Iran and Syria, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, Russia, Pakistan, Sudan, and other countries as identified by the Secretary of Defense.
- Department of Defense Audit: Clarifies the Department of Defense’s audit-related terminology and reconciles it with that which is used in other government agencies and the private sector. This provision also requires a ranking of how far along all defense agencies and activities are with the audit annually.
- Expedite “Clean” Audit: Improves Department of Defense accountability and urges swift compliance with the CFO Act of 1990 which requires the department to obtain a “clean” audit opinion. The Department of Defense is the only federal agency has not complied with the law. This provision also directs the Defense Business Board to study audit progress to date and propose incentives and actionable recommendations for improving the Department of Defense’s standing.
- Supporting The All-Volunteer Force: Improves military readiness by authorizing an increase in the size of the total force, including a plus-up of 5,000 active duty Army, 1,000 active duty Marines, 500 Army Reserve, and 500 Army National Guard.
- Allow Joint Use of Dobbins Air Reserve Base: Reverses a 1989 prohibition on joint use of Dobbins Air Reserve Base, opening up the possibility of greater community partnerships as directed by the Secretary of the Air Force. These public-private partnerships will help offset operating costs for Dobbins, and foster better community relations.
- Columbia Class SSBN: Kings Bay is home to the Atlantic fleet of the nuclear submarines, the most survivable leg of our nation’s nuclear triad. This year’s bill keeps the Ohio Class replacement plan for the new fleet of nuclear submarines on track to ensure there will not be a capability gap.
- Protects A-10s: Funds the A-10 Thunderbolt II to stay online, and funds a necessary wing overhaul, which was on the Air Force unfunded requirements list.
- Encourage Direct Hire Authority: Requests a status update and encourages swift implementation of the Department of Defense’s authorized use of direct hire authorities to resolve critical backlogs for civilians who work in defense depots, ranges, and labs. As of today, the Department of Defense has yet to implement the policy changes, leading to continued readiness issues.
- Support Minority Women In STEM: Secures funds to support the creation of a center of excellence for promoting minority women in STEM at an Historically Black Colleges and Universities to increase the participation of all American citizens in defense and related national security efforts.
- Cyber-Training Initiatives: In 2013, the Secretary of Defense directed the standup of the Cyber Missions Forces and asked the Services to create a joint, federated cyber training program that would avoid duplication and build upon the strengths of each service. This language requests the issue be resolved in the next budget planning cycle and requests an update for the committee.
- Encourage Cross-Service Depot Maintenance: Expresses concern about this backlog and directs the Secretary of Defense to assess feasibility of using cross-service depot maintenance within the organic industrial base to avoid future backlogs. The Navy has a well-documented fighter pilot readiness problem due in large part to depot maintenance backlogs.
- Space-Based Sensor: Directs the Missile Defense Agency to develop a space-based sensor architecture using sound acquisition practices for a highly reliable and cost-effective persistent space-based sensor architecture capable of supporting the ballistic missile defense system. This is in response to the growing threat from North Korea and Iran to protect the homeland.
- Harness Commercial Off-The-Shelf Technology: Encourages the Department of Defense to use commercial off-the-shelf technology to save money from unnecessary research and development (R&D) and help the department acquire new equipment and systems faster.
- M4 Rail: Although the Army has made over 90 upgrades to the M4 carbine rifle, it still uses a legacy rail system that is inferior to rails currently in use by other parts of the forces. This provision encourages the Army to examine using a free-float rail system, which would lead to greater accuracy for the warfighter compared to the current legacy rail.
- DLA Reverse Engineering: Ensures the Department of Defense protects patented intellectual property that is shared by small businesses working with the Department.
- Item Tracking Compliance Report: Directs the Department of Defense to report to Congress on the progress for complying with the Item Unique Identification policy that was released in 2003 to better track department resources.
- Holistic Equipment Strategy: Instructs the Department of Defense to take a holistic approach to the acquisition strategy for service members’ individual equipment. This is in an effort to help lighten the load for warfighters and encourage the latest commercially available materials to be integrated.
Senator Perdue is the only Fortune 500 CEO in Congress and is serving his first term in the United States Senate, where he represents Georgia on the Armed Services, Banking, Budget, and Agriculture Committees.
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