Making critical investments in our military

Posted on June 12, 2018 17:34 pm CDT

By Congressman Billy Long,

One of Congress’ main responsibilities is providing for the common defense. And for the past 57 years, one of the ways we have accomplished that is by passing the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which funds the Department of Defense (DoD). On May 24, the House of Representatives passed the NDAA for fiscal year 2019 with overwhelming bipartisan support. This bill authorizes a total of $717 billion for the DoD budget and contingency operations. It includes more than $117 billion to address military readiness to ensure our military can address current and future threats, makes critical investments in our military capabilities and gives our men and women in uniform the largest pay raise in nine years.

For years, our military has been forced to deal with outdated and worn-out equipment, causing serious problems for our military men and women. Between 2013 and 2017, 133 service members died from accidents involving manned fighter, bombers, helicopters and cargo warplanes. In 2017 alone, more military members were killed in training-related accidents than in combat. Also, of note too, there were collisions last summer involving the USS McCain and the USS Fitzgerald where 17 sailors lost their lives. What did all of these devastating accidents have in common? Lack of military readiness.

This year’s NDAA invests $18 billion in replacing outdated Army equipment, $39 billion in aviation, $36 billion in restoring our power at sea and $23 billion in repairing infrastructure in need of repair and rebuilding. Along with significant increases in funding for worn out equipment, the NDAA also makes critical investments in military training. This bill includes $83 million more than the president’s budget request for training that would increase both operations and hours of training.

Although our military readiness crisis can’t be solved in a single year, this year’s NDAA bill makes critical investments that will confront ongoing threats around the globe by investing in military technology, weapons systems and missile defense systems. We no longer live in a world in which we can use 20th century equipment to address 21st century challenges and threats from countries like China, Iran, North Korea and Russia.

Like Secretary of Defense James Mattis, and many others in the military community have said, these investments are critical for our troops in uniform. I proudly voted in favor of this bill and look forward to the Senate passing it and the president signing it into law.

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