Sen. Jeff Sessions on Friday announced the Senate Armed Services Committee had completed its mark-up of the annual defense bill. Sessions, a senior Republican member of that committee, noted the bill discounts some of the spending cuts from being targeted by sequestration.
“I am happy to report that Alabama’s contribution to our nation’s security was maintained this week in the Senate Armed Services Committee’s mark-up,” Sessions said in a statement. “The sequestration spending reductions required by the Budget Control Act have fallen disproportionately on the Department of Defense. While Defense represents one-sixth of the federal budget, half of the cuts that are to be taken from our entire government would come from Defense.”
“I remain concerned, however, that the bill, in its present form does not fall within the new discretionary spending cap on defense,” he continued. “I don’t think it will pass—or should pass—the full United States Senate until all federal agencies and departments tighten their belts to reduce spending and the federal debt. Secretary of Defense [Chuck] Hagel has committed to producing a plan to solve the sequestration shortfall.”
The update from Sessions’ office touted spending for missile defense that would have a considerable impact Huntsville’s Redstone Arsenal and the Littoral Combat Ship, which is manufactured at Austal USA’s facility in Mobile. It also included funding for the Anniston Army Depot, Maxwell AFB in Montgomery and Ft. Rucker in southeast Alabama.
Highlights as provided by Sessions office below:
· The committee reported bill authorizes $625.1 billion for national defense in fiscal year 2014. This total includes:
· $526.6 billion for DOD base budget ($9 million less than the budget request);
· $87.0 billion for OCO ($18 million less than the budget request); and
· $17.8 billion for national security programs in the DOE ($16 million less than the budget request).
· The bill authorizes full funding for missile defense at $9.3 billion— $150 million over the President’s Budget request. This bodes well for related programs like the Ground-based Midcourse Defense program, Patriot, and other theater missile defense programs and projects managed and designed by the Missile Defense Agency, Redstone Arsenal, and the Huntsville community.
· The committee also included $30 million to provide the Missile Defense Agency another ground-based sensor that will ensure a more capable defense against the increasing threat of intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) attack from North Korea, Iran, or any other emerging belligerent nation.
· The committee requires the Secretary of Defense to report to the congressional defense and intelligence committees on the capability of each service to operate its weapons and communications systems in a hostile cyber environment. The report is required to provide an assessment of the cyber threats to major weapons and tactical communication systems that could emerge in the next five years; an assessment of the cyber vulnerabilities; a description of the current strategy to defend against battlefield cyber-attacks; and an estimate of the costs to correct the vulnerabilities in the future. This provision includes cyber-analysis of the space-based and high altitude weapons systems developed and maintained at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama.
· Conventional Prompt Global Strike (CPGS) including the Army hypersonic weapon (AHW) that is managed by Redstone’s Space and Missile Defense Command was recognized by the Committee for its valuable contributions to the nation’s defense. The committee noted its support for the CPGS program and realizes that efforts in developing intermediate-range and long-range hypersonic boost-glide systems have the potential to provide significant military capability. The committee also requires the Department of Defense to report to the congressional defense committees on whether the CPGS should include maritime and ground surface versus sub-surface launched CPGS.
· Operationally Responsive Space (ORS): The Strategic Forces Subcommittee added $10 million to the President’s Budget request for the nano and micro satellites and launch systems—providing new and lower cost access into space.
· Overall Army Depot maintenance was fully funded at $1.7 billion nationwide. Additionally, the committee added $732.2 million to the Army Operations and Maintenance fund to restore readiness cuts from Sequestration.
· The Committee’s provision also fully supports the funding request of $592 mission for the Army’s ground combat vehicle programs. This will help ensure that sufficient work is conducted by Anniston Army Depot, taking advantage of the expert maintenance workforce employed there.
· The Committee fully supported the budget request of $374.1 million to convert flat-bottom Stryker to more survivable double-V configuration.
· The Committee also fully supported the budget request for Paladin Integrated Management Program (PIM) at $340 million.
· The Committee also authorized $116.3 million for the Armored Multi-purpose Vehicle (AMPV), fully supporting the DOD budget request.
· In an age increasingly plagued by cyber threats, the Senate Armed Services Committee recognized the critical importance of DOD software assurance efforts. As a result, the Committee has required DOD to establish a joint software assurance center to serve as a resource for securing the software acquired, developed, maintained, and used in DOD. The Application Software Assurance Center of Excellence at Maxwell Air Force Base’s Gunter Annex is a worthy candidate to become DOD’s joint software assurance center.
· The Committee’s mark-up also restores funding for the DOD STARBASE Academies. DoD STARBASE focuses on elementary students, primarily fifth graders. The goal is to motivate them to explore Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) as they continue their education.
· The Committee also requires the Secretary of the Air Force to report on the requirement and allocation of aircraft for the Civil Air Patrol. The Civil Air Patrol flies more than 85 percent of all federal inland search-and-rescue missions directed by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fl. The Civil Air Patrol’s Administrative Headquarters is at Maxwell Air Force Base.
· The bill also requires the Chief of Staff of the Air Force to submit a report on the effects of transferring the Eagle Vision program from the Air National Guard to other organizations. Eagle Vision is a military based commercial satellite imagery capability that supports various military operations and exercises by providing unclassified imagery collected from commercial satellite vendors. The program is part of a larger enterprise that consists of units stationed in South Carolina, Alabama, California, and Hawaii.
WIREGRASS / FT. RUCKER
· The defense bill fully funds the Defense Department’s budget request of $96.2 million for UH-72 Light Utility Helicopter.
· The Committee also directs the Army to provide a risk assessment of the impact of the product termination of the UH-72 industrial base.
· The Committee’s fully supports the Defense budget requests of $1.2 billion for UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters, $1.1 billion for CH-47 Chinook helicopters, and $759.4 million for AH-64 Apache Block III helicopters.
· The Committee also directs the Army to provide a report on the results of the light armed helicopter voluntary flight demonstration.
· Earlier this year, the Secretary of the Navy was very clear: the Navy remains committed to building 52 Littoral Combat Ships. In mark-up, the Senate Armed Services Committee agreed LCS will play a huge role in the future of our Navy. This bill fully supports both the LCS and the Joint High Speed Vessel programs as requested in the Defense Department’s budget request.
· Littoral Combat Ship was funded at $1.79 billion.
· Joint High Speed Vessel was funded at $2.7 million.
· The Committee also requires the Navy to report on the Navy’s: (1) intent for allocating JHSVs among the combatant commands; (2) any overseas basing plan to further support allocation. The Navy will also report on additional functions or capabilities the JHSV fleet might provide.
· An effort to withhold funding for the purchase of next block buy of Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) was turned away by the committee citing the fact the previous dual award of the USS Freedom variant (Lockheed Martin) and the USS Independence variant (Austal USA) saved approximately $1 billion in projected procurement costs. That was enough savings to purchase an additional LCS. The Fiscal Year 2014 cost per hull of $343 million is well below the congressional spending cap. The committee did require the Government Accountability Office to answer key management and operational questions concerning LCS before the next block buy of the ship. This issue could arise again when the NDAA is considered before the full Senate.
ALABAMA MILITARY CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS
· The committee authorized $4 million for military construction for the Army National Guard in Decatur.
· The committee authorized $8.5 million for military construction for the Air National Guard in Birmingham.
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