Defense Authorization Bill Passes House, Includes JSTARS, Paves Way to Further Reform, Restore Our Military
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Austin Scott (GA-08), a Member of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), released the following statements upon the House of Representatives passing the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (FY19 NDAA) by a vote of 351 to 66. The NDAA sets Department of Defense (DOD) policy and authorizes funding levels for defense programs. The NDAA was passed out of HASC on May 10 by a vote of 60 to 1.
“Today the House continued our efforts to reform and restore our military by replacing equipment and platforms, fielding new technologies, strengthening our cyber and ground defenses, and taking care of our warfighters and their families,” said Rep. Scott. “As the Senate works on their version and we move toward conference negotiations, I am committed to continuing to push for these policies that maintain our military’s ability to be the most capable fighting force in the world.”
In support of Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis’ efforts to restore military readiness, the FY19 NDAA authorizes $18.5 billion to begin to rehabilitate and replace worn out Army equipment; $39.4 billion to begin to overcome the crisis in military aviation by getting more aircraft in the air; $36.0 billion to restore America’s strength at sea, and $23.3 billion to sustain, repair and rebuild crumbling military buildings and other infrastructure.
Key provisions of the $717 billion defense legislation include providing a 2.6% pay raise for our troops – the largest in nine years – and increasing force structure concerns by increasing the size of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Army Guard and Reserve, Naval and Air Reserve, as well as Air Guard.
“Georgia plays an important role in our nation’s security and defense, and this bill delivers on a handful of new and existing projects for our state, including through providing for recapitalization of the critical JSTARS fleet based at Robins, re-winging the A-10C ‘warthog’ fleet at Moody, and dedicating an additional $144.5 million for construction projects at points across the state,” said Rep. Scott.
The FY19 NDAA also contains several provisions benefitting Georgia, including $31.9 million for a Welding and Body Repair Shop Facility at the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Albany, $99 million for a Cyber Instructional Facility at Fort Gordon in Augusta, and $13.6 million for a Navy Reserve Training Center at Fort Benning in Columbus.
PROVIDING FOR CURRENT AND FUTURE JSTARS NEEDS AT ROBINS:
The E–8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) is a joint Air Force and Army program that provides critical airborne surveillance, intelligence, and command and control to our military through on-board radar and computer subsystems equipment that gathers and distributes detailed battlefield information. Combatant commanders utilize the JSTARS fleet around the world, and it is based at Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins.
“For years, I have tirelessly fought to maintain the JSTARS fleet for the safety and security of our troops in theatre, and I am very pleased that the legislation passed by the House today recognizes the need for this critical platform and seeks to continue the investment that we have made over the last several years. As the Senate takes up the NDAA, I will continue pressing for continued recapitalization of this aging intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance platform,” said Rep. Scott.
Rep. Scott was able to secure $623 million for the JSTARS Recapitalization program, which is set to replace the current legacy fleet of 16 E-8C beginning in the early 2020s. This builds upon $417 million which Rep. Scott was able to secure for the recapitalization program in the FY18 NDAA.
This will significantly increase Battle Management, Command and Control, and Ground Moving Target Indicator intelligence capabilities and capacity over what’s provided to combatant commanders today, and will require the Secretary of the Air Force to submit a strategy for accelerating the JSTARS Recap program, while also managing appropriately the current fleet.
SECURING FUNDS FOR A-10C REWINGING AT MOODY:
Additionally in today’s legislation, the A-10C Wing fleet is set to receive $65 million in funds for re-winging, which Moody Air Force Base will benefit from to keep A-10s flying well into the future.
“Time and time again, the A-10 ‘warthogs’ have answered the call to provide cover to our troops on the ground and continue to serve as an effective tool in our fight against the Taliban and ISIS,” said Rep. Scott. “Re-winging of the fleet is necessary to ensure our men and women on the ground have this support fleet for decades to come.”
The legislation also includes five amendments authored by Rep. Scott:
- STRENGTHENING URBAN WARFARE TRAINING: Complete a feasibility study on the construction of an urban warfare training center, and how to integrate facilities into training plans.
- MODERNIZING THE F-15: Dedicates $67.2 million to support four F-15C Eagle Passive Active Warning Survivability System (EPAWSS) production kits, the work for which is done at Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex (WR-ALC).
- ADDRESSING WIFI ON RURAL BASES: Requires the DOD to construct a plan to address military installations in rural areas with limited wireless communications coverage to improve wireless communications coverage, which can support military requirements related to force protection, logistics, training, and operations, as well as service member welfare.
- COMBATING THE INTERNATIONAL FLOW OF DRUGS: Requires the DOD to conduct an assessment of the assistance being provided to lead U.S. government agencies to combat the opioid epidemic, including through assessing the international flow of drugs coming into the United States from South and East Asia.
- ASSESSING SFAB: Requires the Secretary of the Army to submit a briefing to the Committee on the strategic alignment decision matrix and installations plan for the fielding of the Security Forces Assistance Brigades (SFAB), to include an assessment of the feasibility and advisability of stationing SFABs appropriately to address the requirements of the geographic combatant commands.
During full House consideration, Rep. Scott also co-sponsored a bipartisan amendment from Rep. Vicky Hartzler (MO-04) along with Reps. John Garamendi (CA-03), Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01), and Jacklyn Rosen (NV-03) to expand the authorities of the DOD to interdict unmanned aircraft which impede on military installation airspace and jeopardize the safety of operations. This amendment passed by a voice vote.