June 14, 2016

Manchin Applauds Senate Passage of National Defense Authorization Act

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) applauds the Senate passage of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, a vital piece of legislation that will provide our military with the means necessary to defend our nation.

“Maintaining a strong defense must be one of our highest national priorities as we continue to look for ways to reduce spending and I am pleased the Senate has passed the National Defense Authorization Act,” Senator Manchin said. “This defense package is a bipartisan solution and provides necessary funding to support our troops, defend our nation and provide support to our West Virginia service members and facilities.”

Below is a list of some of Senator Manchin’s amendments that were included in the final bill:

Total Army End Strength – This amendment established a pathway for the Army to increase its size and readiness posture (potentially elements of the West Virginia National Guard), allowing it to defeat any future contingency threat. In early-April, General Mark Milley, the Army Chief of Staff, stated that the budget caps have resulted in a reduction in funding for the Army’s modernization, research, and development. In addition, General Milley warned that the current size of the Total (Active, National Guard, and Reserves) Army, 980,000, is drastically too small to meet tomorrow’s threats – Milley went on to say a force of 1.2 million Soldiers is the minimum required. 

European Security Initiative – This amendment that Senator Manchin co-sponsored with Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) is a Sense of Senate that NATO and our European partners are important to address global security challenges. The amendment also requires the Secretary of Defense to submit an accounting of European investments in security capabilities, including current planned efforts to contribute to global security operations (Afghanistan, ISIL, Russia, etc.)

Military Service Academy and DARPA Research Partnership – This amendment establishes a much-needed pilot program to enhance interaction between DARPA, DOD’s advanced research institution, and our Service Academies. The pilot program allows the Defense Department to determine the best approach to incorporating our young military minds and future leaders with the researchers and scientists who are building tomorrow’s military equipment and weapons – allowing our brilliant young military cadets to grow and contribute to the military formations they will someday command.

National Guard Dual-Status Military Technicians – Prevents by one-year the removal of 20 percent of Title-32 Dual-Status Military Technicians from the National Guard and allows the DoD to create a thoughtful plan to retain technicians within the National Guard. Dual-Status Military Technicians are a critical workforce who maintain and repair many of the West Virginia’s National Guard equipment and programs. The NDAA FY16 ordered these service members be transitioned to Title-5 federal civilian positions, which would remove the positions from the military and drastically reduce readiness and retention. This provision was championed by Sen Manchin and included in the Chairman’s mark to allow DoD to work with National Guard leaders on how best to maintain these positions and report back to Congress before the passage of NDAA FY18.

C-130 Engine Upgrades – This amendment provided critically needed funds to upgrade the C-130H engines, which are primarily operated by the Air National Guard. The C-130 engine upgrades will drastically improve safety, reliability, and efficiency for our aircrews. The West Virginia Air National Guard 130th Airlift Wing, based in Charleston, WV, currently operates the C-130H to fulfill our nation’s critical mobility missions.

Civil Air Patrol – This amendment initiates a study to better understand the funding challenges facing the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) so the Senate Armed Services Committee can establish a plan to properly fund and equip this critical organization. To note, the Air Force’s fiscal year 2017 budget request does not fully fund the CAP's fiscal year 2017 requirement for $30.24 million in Operations & Maintenance, only funding at 85 percent of the requirement. 

Ordnance Plant Recapitalization Plan – This amendment commissions a Government Accounting Office (GAO) study on the recapitalization of our nation’s ordnance plants, which support our men and women in uniform with the critical munitions needed to defeat our enemies. Many of these plants are suffering from critical infrastructure issues and the DoD does not currently have a long-term strategic capital improvement plan in place to restore its aging ordnance plants.

Southeast Asia Maritime Security Initiative – This amendment that Senator Manchin co-sponsored with Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) prevents an effort to terminate the Southeast Asia Maritime Security Initiative (SEAMSI), which is a critical multilateral security program that allows the U.S. to increase the maritime security capacity of our allies and partners. Through SEAMSI, the U.S. enables and enhances our partners to respond to threats in waters off their coasts and to provide maritime security more broadly across the region.

Independent Assessment of Military Force Structure – This amendment that Senator Manchin co-sponsored with Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) requires the Secretary of Defense to institute an independent assessment to study the necessary force structure of the U.S. military necessary to defeat and deter America’s enemies. This is an important amendment that will allow Congress to better understand our security needs and field a more capable and stronger military force.