2016 NDAA Reaffirms Our Commitment to Our Men and Women in Uniform
The 2016 NDAA will increase the military readiness and capabilities of the United States without increasing spending on programs entirely unrelated to our national defense, and I am grateful for the support my amendments received, including measures that will ensure the readiness of our troops, support for our allies, and continued vigilance against our adversaries. This bill reaffirms our commitment to the physical, mental and financial health of the men and women in uniform who volunteer to serve our nation. The reforms in this bill will provide more of our service members with financial benefits upon leaving military service, appropriate mental and physical health care, and improved quality of life for them and their families. Despite these laudable objectives, I could not vote for this bill because I made a promise when I was elected to office that I would not vote for an NDAA that continued to allow the President to violate the constitutional rights of American citizens by indefinitely detaining them without due process.
I sponsored the following amendments to the NDAA that were adopted by the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) during the markup process:
- Renewable Energy Obstructions near Military Installations helps each branch of the military obtain more direct input into the decisions of the Department of Defense (DoD) Siting Clearinghouse during its assessment of renewable energy projects near military facilities. SASC agreed with Sen. Cruz that the national security and operational concerns of each Service should receive the direct consideration of the clearinghouse with respect to the compatibility of the desired renewable energy construction project and any potential impacts on the safety or readiness of military service members that might result.
- National Guard Full Time Operational Status modifications will improve the efficiency of the National Guard by requiring the National Guard Bureau to account for states that over-recruit to meet the National Guard’s overall end strength. The National Guard routinely asks Texas to recruit beyond designated levels; and Texans unequivocally answer that call. This amendment directs the National Guard to consider the actual manning level of each state when it allocates Full Time Operational Status funding and positions.
- Iranian Cyber Capabilities Reporting expands the existing Annual Report on the Military Power of Iran to include an assessment on Iran’s rapidly developing offensive and defensive cyber warfare capabilities. Iran has conducted cyber-attacks against several U.S. businesses, including Wells Fargo, Capital One, Bank of America, and BB&T. To fully understand the threat of the Iranian regime and how to effectively counter it, we must have a comprehensive understanding of Iran’s emerging cyber capabilities and how these operations fit into their regional and global military strategy.
- People’s Republic of China Cyber Reporting obtains a holistic overview of rapidly increasing Chinese cyber capabilities in the next Annual Report on China’s Military and Security Developments. China has invested enormous resources into cyber operations and has conducted several cyber-attacks against U.S. corporations, including an attack on Westinghouse they used to gain intelligence about ongoing business negotiations. It is critical that the United States have a full understanding of not just Chinese cyber capabilities, but also their strategic and operational cyber objectives.
- Taiwan Military Capabilities and Training, cosponsored by Sens. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), reaffirms the United States’ commitment to arming Taiwan under the Taiwan Relations Act and expresses the Senate’s position that the United States should invite Taiwan to train with the U.S. Air Force at Red Flag exercises. Red Flag provides a realistic air combat, space, and electronic threat environment that offers invaluable training opportunities for our international partners. Extending this invitation shows the United States’ commitment to Taiwan and will help improve Taiwan’s operational capabilities.
- Space-Based Missile Defense requests an assessment from the Missile Defense Agency on the research and development of a space-based missile defense capability and its potential role in the layered ballistic missile defense system the U.S. currently possesses. A space-based component is critical to pursue given the increasing global threat environment. This capability would provide additional engagement time and intercept opportunities for the U.S. and better protect the American people, our allies, and our forward-deployed forces.
A complete list of the adopted NDAA amendments sponsored or cosponsored by me can be found here.
I support several provisions in the NDAA to reinvigorate and strengthen the U.S. military with major investments in readiness, shipbuilding, and modernization, including:
- Authorization of an Army end strength of 475,000 soldiers.
- New helicopters, better equipment for our ground forces, and improved lethality of Stryker Armored Vehicles in Europe to deter and respond to Vladimir Putin’s continued aggression.
- Increased intelligence and surveillance capabilities for the Air Force, provisions for F-35s to fill the aircraft capacity gap created by an aging fleet of fighters, and investments in the long term needs of the strategic bomber fleet.
- Beginning rebuilding of an anemic fleet of Navy vessels by accelerating shipbuilding timelines, ensuring the funds required to replace the vital Ohio-class submarine are available, and continuing to procure F-35Bs for the Marine Corps.