May 13, 2016

Manchin Includes 11 Provisions to Annual Senate Armed Services Committee Mark-Up of the National Defense Authorization Act

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today announced that he included 11 provisions to the committee’s markup of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, a vital piece of legislation that authorizes the necessary funding and provides authorities for our military to defend the nation. On Thursday, the committee voted 23-3 to report the bill, which authorizes $602 billion in funding for the Department of Defense and the national security programs of the Department of Energy.

Senator Manchin’s provisions focus on establishing a pathway for the Army to increase its size and readiness posture, investing in military research, supporting the National Guard and Reserves, improving service members access to continuing education, assessing funding challenges for the Civil Air Patrol, and funding upgrades to the C-130H engines that are currently operated by the West Virginia Air National Guard 130th Airlift Wing, based in Charleston, WV.  

“At a time when we face many threats at home and abroad and budget constraints because of our country’s dire fiscal challenges, we must make sure that we maintain a strong defense while also reducing unnecessary costs,” Senator Manchin said. “This bipartisan defense package provides necessary funding to support our troops and defend our nation and provide support to our West Virginia service members and facilities. I am proud to have worked in a bipartisan manner to include11 provisions that will increase Army end strength, address growing national security threats from Russian, improve our service members’ access to education and fund upgrades to critical C-130H engines. I look forward to working with my colleagues to advance this important legislation.”

Below is the full list of Senator Manchin’s provisions that passed through the Senate Armed Services Committee annual defense spending mark-up.

Army End Strength – This amendment established a pathway for the Army to increase its size and readiness posture, 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 U.S. Army, 980,000, is drastically too small to meet tomorrow’s threats – Milley went on to say a force of 1.2 million Soldiers (total Active, Guard, and Reserve) is the minimum required.   

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 National Guards 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.

Academic Advising on Military Installations – Current legislation restricts a number of veteran and service member friendly educational institutions from accessing military installations, which makes it increasingly difficult for service members to continue their education while serving in uniform. Senator Manchin’s amendment removes these restrictions and allows military post commanders to grant access as they see fit, which allows service members greater access to education. This amendment increases military retention by allow a pathway for currently service men and women to secure a better education; instead of feeling forced to retire due to a lack of options.

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 WV 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. 

Guantanamo Bay Detainee Emergency Medical Transfers – This amendment is an annual reauthorization to allow the Defense Department to temporarily transfer Guantanamo detainees to the United States for emergency medical treatment that is not available at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. To note, the amendment does not transfer custody nor does it afford a detainee anything not afforded to him at Guantanamo. This is a cost-saving and commonsense amendment.

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.

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.)

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.