Defense & Intelligence heavyweight coming to Alabama Monday
Alabama’s Maxwell Air Force base will play host to one of the country’s top defense and intelligence leaders next week in House Armed Service Committee Vice Chairman Mac Thornberry.
Reps. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, and Mike Rogers, R-Sachs, recently invited Thornberry to visit Alabama. At the time, both Roby and Rogers were members of the Armed Services Committee. Roby has since then landed a spot on the coveted Appropriations Committee, which has broad oversight over government spending levels for the military as well as all other areas of the federal government. In taking that position, Roby gave up her spot on Armed Services and a couple of other committees.
The visit from Thornberry, which is a big deal for Alabama’s military installations, is even more important now as Thornberry is well-positioned to take over as the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Current chairman Buck McKeon, R-CA, is nearing retirement and has publicly backed Thornberry as his successor.
Yellowhammer caught up with Thornberry this morning by phone to hear why it was important for him to schedule a time to visit Alabama.
“I’m coming, first of all, because Martha and Mike invited me, and they’re important to me. I’ve been hearing about Maxwell for years, but you can’t have a full appreciation for some things without seeing them first hand,” Thornberry said. “I want to learn how sequestration and other budget cuts are effecting Maxwell specifically. The military has been through a lot recently, and I need to see how things are going on the ground.”
The Armed Services Committee writes the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) every year, which authorizes the budget authority of the Department of Defense and the national security programs of the Department of Energy. That makes Thornberry a particularly important player when it comes to Alabama’s military bases and the economic impact they have on the state.
“I’m currently vice chairman on the committee, so I work in partnership with the chairman on everything the committee does. He’s been great about making it a true partnership. I’m also chairman of the subcommittee that oversees military intelligence, special operations, research and development, cyber security and a lot of things that focus on the future. Space and other things are important to me — the present and future domain of warfare, as well as cyber. In addition to that, I’m the second ranking member of the Intelligence Committee. Having all of those responsibilities helps me get a full picture of everything that’s going on.”
Thornberry said that he was disappointed to lose Roby as a member of Armed Services, but believes her transition to Appropriations will allow her to play and even bigger role in supporting Alabama’s military mission.
“I’m sorry to lose her. I was in the room when they voted her in as a new member of Appropriations and I almost had a ‘speak-now-or-forever-hold-your-peace’ moment,” Thornberry joked. “But Appropriations plays a key role in Armed Services. It’s great to have someone who really understands national security issues on the Appropriations committee, and Martha definitely does. On top of that, Mike Rogers is still on Armed Services. He’s really a key player. He’s not shy about speaking up for Maxwell and the other military installations in Alabama.”
Rep. Thornberry will be in Montgomery on Monday.
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