Providing for Our National Defense in House Passage of NDAA
In recent years, the world has become an increasingly unstable place, whether due to conflict in the Middle East or provocations by Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran. In order to maintain peace and security for the American people in this environment, we must ensure that the United States military remains the best trained and most well-equipped fighting force in the world.
As Members of Congress, our most important duty is to provide for our nation’s military and serve our warfighters and veterans, and I’m proud to report that after months of hard work and countless hours of debate, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (FY18 NDAA) to authorize funding for our nation’s military to tackle 21st century threats.
I’m very pleased to report that six bipartisan amendments I introduced focusing on training and readiness were included in the final bill that passed the House. In those amendments, I was able to secure a pathway forward in addressing our combat pilot readiness and the U.S. Army’s ability to acquire and upgrade its small arms capabilities. I was also successful in including an amendment to create a Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) Cyber Institute at our senior military colleges to address the Air Force and Department of Defense’s needs to train and recruit individuals into the fields of cyber security and cyber defense.
In April, I had the opportunity to visit with the Joint Interagency Task Force – South and the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) Headquarters in Florida to hear and see first-hand the challenges that migrant and drug interdiction within the Caribbean region pose on Homeland and National Security. In response to that visit, I along with my colleague and friend Rep. Marc Veasey of Texas offered an amendment to FY18 NDAA supporting SOUTHCOM’s unique mission combating transnational criminal organizations and the narcotics flow to the United States from Central and South America.
In passage of the legislation, the biggest boon to the Eighth District came in my amendment supporting and recapitalizing the E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, and battle management aircraft fleet. The JSTARS fleet is based at Robins Air Force Base and provides critical airborne battle management to our troops on the ground. In FY18 NDAA, JSTARS is set to receive $417 million for critically important recapitalization efforts, four times more than it did in last year’s NDAA.
As the only Georgia Congressman on the House Armed Services Committee, I take my responsibility as Georgia’s primary voice in the House on military issues very seriously. With nine major military installations, Georgia plays a key role in maintaining military readiness. That’s why effective representation of Robins and Moody Air Force Bases, in addition to all of Georgia’s military installations, is a top priority of mine.
I now urge the Senate to act on this important legislation to make key reforms and repairs to our nation’s military and provide for our warfighters. You can rest assured I will continue fighting to make sure our military forces are the most capable and prepared not only to execute the current defense strategic guidance, but also able to address the growing threats around the world.
Congressman Austin Scott represents Georgia’s Eighth Congressional District. He is a member of the House Armed Services Committee, including the Subcommittee on Readiness, Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. He is also a member of the House Army Caucus, Congressional Air Force Caucus, and Congressional Army Aviation Caucus, among others.