WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — Chairman Mike Turner (OH-10) of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces released the following statement after the House Armed Services Committee marked up the FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA):
“This year’s defense funding bill addresses critical issues facing our military. We’ve seen a tragic increase in aviation accidents since the harmful cuts of sequestration, most recently with nine airmen from the National Guard dying in a C-130 accident. The plane they were flying in was about 40 years old. After years of starving the military’s budget, this bill works to restore our troops’ readiness. It will bring $182 million to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base for a new building, expedite hiring at Wright-Patt, and help the Air Force Research Laboratory partner with small businesses. Additionally, this bill includes provisions working to prevent tragedies like Maria Lauterbach’s by combating sexual assault in the military, and Evan English’s by making military housing safer for families. This bill also closes a loophole in DoD’s reporting of prescription drugs, further addressing the opioid epidemic’s effect on our servicemembers and their families. I am pleased the FY19 NDAA has passed out of the House Armed Services Committee and look forward to supporting it on the House floor in the coming weeks so we can fully support our men and women in uniform.”
Provisions included by Turner in the FY19 NDAA:
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (WPAFB)
– Turner surpassed the president’s budget and authorized the full $182 million for a new complex at the National Air and Space Intelligence Center at WPAFB.
– Turner included a provision to expedite hiring of civilian personnel into positions involving acquisition, science, technology, and engineering. These expanded authorities allow commands at WPAFB to more quickly hire personnel in high-tech fields.
– Turner included an amendment to create flexibility and strengthen the utilization of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, both utilized by the Air Force Research Laboratory.
PERSIST Against MST Act
– Turner, co-chair of the Military Sexual Assault Prevention Caucus, included bipartisan legislation with his co-chair Niki Tsongas (D-MA-3) to continue to combat sexual assault in the military. The PERSIST Against MST Act:
– Requires the Secretary of Defense to designate a single official or entity within the Office of the Secretary of Defense to take on the principal responsibility for providing oversight of the registered sex offender management program of the DoD and to provide a briefing to Congress on its efforts with an update no later than June 1, 2019;
– Ensures that victims of sexual assault in the military, even if their case is handled by the Family Advocacy Program, have the choice to request an expedited transfer to a different location;
– Mandates the government hand over any information requested by an independent panel, the Defense Advisory Committee on Investigation, Prosecution, and Defense of Sexual Assault in the Armed Forces, that the panel deems necessary to carry out its duties.
– Maria Lauterbach, a victim of sexual assault who was murdered and was a constituent of Turner’s, was unable to transfer quickly. That failure by the DoD may have cost Maria her life. The inclusion of the PERSIST Against MST Act in the FY19 NDAA is a step towards ensuring this cannot happen again.
Furthermore, Turner included a provision in the FY19 NDAA to require a minimum two year confinement period for members of the Armed Forces convicted of certain sex-related offenses.
Turner’s SHIELDS Act, introduced with Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA-6), was included in the FY19 NDAA. This bill requires the DoD to report controlled substance prescription information to state prescription drug monitoring programs. This closes a dangerous gap and ensures health care providers have all the tools available to help safeguard our servicemembers, their families, and our veterans from opioid abuse.
Turner included provisions following up on his Evan’s Law to ensure DoD provided housing is safe for military families. This year’s provision requires DoD to establish a grant program that gives servicemembers living in DoD housing access to resources to emplace window fall prevention devices in their homes. Commander Jason English and his wife Ami lost their son Evan in an accidental fall from a window while living in military residential housing. Turner has worked to ensure that does not happen again.
Tactical Air and Land Subcommittee
Turner’s Tactical Air and Land Subcommittee mark, some of the things included in the full committee FY19 NDAA bill:
– Authorizes multiyear procurement authorities for F/A-18E/F Super Hornet aircraft to generate better cost savings for the taxpayer and provide needed capability to the Navy.
– Supports Air Force efforts to develop a 21st century Advanced Battle-Management System (ABMS) to mitigate anti-access, area-denial challenges of potential adversaries by integrating the JSTARS Recap program as the foundational platform for ABMS. The mark requires the secretary of the Air Force to continue the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System Recapitalization (JSTARS Recap) program which will significantly increase battle-management, command and control and ground-moving target Indicator intelligence capabilities and capacity over what’s provided to the combatant commanders today, and to minimize operational risk to joint warfighters as concluded in multiple years of past Air Force analyses.
– Allows the secretary of the Air Force to use the JSTARS Recap program to attract the civilian workers necessary to update this important aircraft.