The $550 billion 2010 National Defense Authorization Act maintains strong support for our military, including the ongoing efforts to defeat Al-Qaeda terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq. It continues our commitment to arming and equipping our troops, enabling them to safely perform their missions. In addition to operations funding, the new defense bill also includes necessary quality of life enhancements for our military. It authorizes a much needed pay raise for our men and women in uniform, and increases the maximum monthly amount for supplemental assistance for low income service members with dependents from $500 to $1,100.
The vital mission of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio’s largest single-site employer, is also advanced by the new defense bill. Already, the military aerospace infrastructure underpinned by Wright-Patterson employs over 50,000 people, inside and outside of the base, with a total economic impact, including area defense industries, of nearly $5 billion. The $100 million authorized for the southwest Ohio base and area defense industries includes $41.35 million in high technology defense programs and $58.6 million in construction projects. These federal investments in our area ensure that Wright-Patterson continues its role as a center of military research and intelligence and remains a regional jobs provider.
Wright-Patterson’s Information Technology Complex (ITC) will receive $27 million in the new defense budget. The ITC will provide Middle East battlefield simulations and help develop battlefield tactics and techniques.
The defense bill also provides $21 million for renovation and construction of a new research laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The facility will conduct research and development of advanced electrical power and thermal technologies for the F-22, Joint Strike Fighter and also future aircraft, spacecraft and directed energy weapon systems.
The Advanced Technical Intelligence Center (ATIC) was authorized to receive $6.5 million to continue training staff in the field of technical intelligence analysis for the military. The close proximity of the ATIC to the National Air and Space Intelligence Center at Wright-Patterson, provides world class scientists and engineers for the Air Force Research Laboratory and the Air Force Institute of Technology. These funds still await appropriations approval.
Wright-Patterson will also see flight infrastructure improvements with the approval of $10.6 million in taxiway upgrades to support the 445th Airlift Wing’s C-5 Aircraft.
The new defense bill also contains several provisions that I supported to strengthen service members’ protections against sexual assault – an issue that has been given greater urgency after the death of Vandalia native Lance Corporal Maria Lauterbach in 2007. These new legislative measures add emphasis to sexual assault prevention as well as enhanced investigation and response to incidents involving members of our armed forces.
However, I was disappointed that the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act was used as a vehicle to advance a controversial social agenda that has nothing to do with our nation’s security needs or the welfare of our military personnel. Although the hate crimes bill had previously passed the House, we attempted to remove it from the defense bill last Tuesday. By a vote of 174 to 234, the House refused to remove it.
The inclusion of “hate crimes” provisions in the defense bill was regrettable and I am writing a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi objecting to this misuse of the bipartisan defense bill. The defense bill was important to ensure our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines have the resources to protect us. But, legislation meant to help them should never be subject to such tactics.
– Congressman Michael R. Turner, a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, represents Ohio’s Third Congressional District.