Mike Turner, the chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, today released the following opening statement for the subcommittee’s markup of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012:
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Mike Turner, the chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, today released the following opening statement for the subcommittee’s markup of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012:

“It has been a pleasure working with my friend the Ranking Member, Ms. Sanchez, to put together this year’s Mark. The Ranking Member and I undertook an ambitious oversight agenda for the subcommittee and, over the past three months, we have held four hearings, four briefings, and six educational briefings.

“These sessions helped us craft a Mark that contains many sound measures and budget recommendations that will provide key capabilities to our warfighters and strengthen our nation’s strategic forces. In a bipartisan manner, we emphasize accountability, identify opportunities for cost savings and efficiencies, focus on enhancing and evolving existing capabilities, and seek to foster competition while also sustaining the industrial base and intellectual capital supporting our national security infrastructure.

“The Strategic Forces Subcommittee has jurisdiction over complex and, sometimes, controversial programs and issues involving nuclear weapons, missile defense, space and intelligence. We won’t agree on everything, and I anticipate we will have some substantive debates on policy differences during the full committee markup next week—particularly on missile defense and nuclear issues. However, we have forged significant common ground in this Mark, and I deeply appreciate the Ranking Member’s partnership in this effort.

“The new level of transparency introduced with this year’s NDAA enabled the public to access and review the Mark prior to mark-up. Therefore, rather than provide a detailed summary, I will note a few key highlights.

“The Mark before the subcommittee includes:
  • $15.5 billion for the Department of Energy’s Atomic Energy Defense Activities, not including defense nuclear nonproliferation programs;
  • $10.1 billion for ballistic missile defense programs, $109.7 million above the President’s request; and
  • Approximately $10.1 billion for unclassified national security space programs.

 “In the past few years, a strong bipartisan and bicameral consensus has been forged over the need for modernization of the nuclear security enterprise. This way was paved two years ago with the important work done by the bipartisan Strategic Posture Commission, which was initiated by this subcommittee. It continued with the Senate’s debate on the New START treaty, and the Administration’s commitment to a long-term modernization plan that includes refurbishment of our nuclear forces and infrastructure.

“In March, all 16 members of this subcommittee sent a letter to the Budget Committee urging them to support NNSA’s funding increases and to ensure such funds are categorized as national defense. The resulting budget resolution ‘prioritiz[es] the nuclear modernization work of the National Nuclear Security Administration.’ This is a significant victory, and shows what we can accomplish through bipartisanship.

“Today’s Mark is the next step in this year’s legislative process, as well as the much longer process to reinvigorate the nuclear enterprise. For the Department of Energy’s national security programs, excluding non-proliferation activities—which are addressed in the full committee mark—the Mark fully funds the Administration’s $7.6 billion dollar request for nuclear modernization, stockpile stewardship, and stockpile management. It supports important warhead life extension programs, science and engineering campaigns, and production activities. It also fully funds Naval Reactors at $1.2 billion and Defense Environmental Cleanup at $5.4 billion.

“It contains a provision that would require the NNSA Administrator and Assistant Secretary of Energy for Environmental Management to determine if any funds budgeted for contractor pension plans are in excess of the funds required by law to fully fund these pension plans. The provision would enable NNSA and DOE to then use these excess funds to address high-priority shortfalls. Last November, the Administration pledged a $4.1 billion increase in modernization funding over the next five years. But upon closer inspection, $1.5 billion of this—or, 37-percent—is allocated to contractor employee pension plans, not modernization. This provision does not modify the pensions of our nuclear scientists and engineers. We strongly support fully funding these pension plans and keeping the promises made. However, should economic conditions improve and leave excess funds after the pensions are fully funded, the Mark would allow NNSA and DOE to reallocate those funds back into their mission work and into modernization efforts.

“The Mark also requires NNSA to report on its approach to construction project management to build the committee’s confidence that NNSA can simultaneously execute two large-scale construction projects at Los Alamos and Y-12. The committee understands the importance of these facilities and wants to ensure NNSA is set up for success.

“Additionally, the Mark addresses several aspects of the defense nuclear enterprise. Alongside the annual stockpile assessment required by the three lab directors and STRATCOM commander, the Mark would require STRATCOM, the Air Force, and the Navy, to provide a parallel assessment of nuclear delivery platforms and the nuclear command and control system. The Mark would also codify the President’s commitment to provide Congress with an annual modernization plan for the nuclear weapons stockpile, delivery systems, and complex.

“As I have said in previous hearings, I remain concerned about the Administration’s push for further nuclear force reductions beyond New START Treaty levels. I have concerns that the Administration is considering changes to long-standing nuclear guidance to justify further cuts. The President’s national security advisor recently commented that, “We're making preparations for the next round of nuclear reductions” and that “the Department of Defense will… develop options for further reductions in our current nuclear stockpile.” Later this week I plan to introduce a standalone bill to address these concerns. I also intend to introduce amendments on this at full committee, per the Chairman’s guidance.

“In the meantime, the bipartisan Mark before the committee contains a provision requiring the Secretary of Defense to submit an implementation plan for the New START treaty, and a Sense of Congress that any reductions be supported by thorough analysis—which we have not yet seen—and that specific criteria must be developed to guide any future reductions.

“In the area of missile defense, the Mark makes several funding recommendations that reflect the priority the committee places on ensuring the systems we have today are effective and can be smartly evolved. The Mark provides an additional $100 million for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system to accelerate resolution of the exo-atmospheric kill vehicle (EKV) test failure, restore funds that were harvested from other GMD program and testing activities to fix the EKV, and begin acquisition of long-lead components deemed not part of the December 2010 test failure. The Administration has repeatedly cut this program in its budget requests: in Fiscal Year 2010, it was slashed by $445 million, in this year’s budget request by $185 million, and the outyear spending profile is $1 billion less than was projected a year ago. While the Ranking Member and I won’t agree on this funding increase, I want to make clear that I place a priority on fixing GMD and ensuring the American people have confidence in the only missile defense system that protects the United States homeland from long-range ballistic missile threats.

“The Mark requires the Secretary of Defense to certify that the Missile Defense Agency has thoroughly investigated the root cause of the recent test-flight failures and that MDA’s plan to resolve these failures is sufficient. The Mark would also require the Secretary to submit a hedging strategy as part of the Phased Adaptive Approach (PAA) for protection of the U.S. homeland, as promised by defense officials in testimony earlier this year.

“The Mark also provides additional funds for Aegis interceptor procurement and THAAD production. There is bipartisan concern that the current procurement plans for these systems are insufficient to meet the deployment plans of the PAA. There has been significant progress in the implementation of PAA over the past year. Just yesterday, the President of Romania announced the location for an Aegis Ashore site planned for 2015. And, two weeks ago Aegis successfully intercepted an intermediate range ballistic missile target in a test flight.

“The Mark would provide additional funds for technology risk reduction for the Standard Missile (SM)-3 Block IIA interceptor—an important cooperative effort with Japan and key capability for the PAA—and provide a 104-percent increase in funds for important U.S.-Israeli cooperative programs. Last month’s rocket attacks on Israel, and the successful intercept of those rockets by Israel’s newly deployed Iron Dome system, was a stark reminder of the need for these capabilities.

“The Mark also reflects some tough choices regarding future missile defense capabilities. While the Mark increases funding for promising and innovative directed energy research, it recommends no funds for the Precision Tracking Space System (PTSS). The Mark notes concerns about the acquisition strategy and the affordability of continuing both PTSS and the Airborne Infrared (ABIR) system—both of which are planned to provide larger raid size tracking and support early intercept opportunities. The Mark does, however, recommend additional funds to accelerate ABIR, based on recommendations contained in the Joint Capabilities Mix-3 study.

“The Mark recommends a $150 million decrease to the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) and fences the remaining fiscal year 2012 funds. This reduction and fence is recommended on the basis that the Department can negotiate a multilateral contract termination, which would lower U.S. liabilities, or further restructure the program. The Mark expresses concern about authorizing over $800 million in fiscal year 2012 and 2013 for a program that the Department does not intend to procure, and whose record of performance, according to a DOD fact sheet, “might ordinarily make it a candidate for cancellation.” The Army Chief of Staff testified before the committee in March that he was not convinced the MEADS proof-of-concept was viable. The Mark encourages the Department to immediately identify and harvest promising MEADS technologies, whether U.S. or partner developed, and transition those technologies into a Patriot upgrade effort or other viable program of record.

“In the area of national security space, the Mark continues to provide stable funding for important space acquisition programs in the areas of: satellite communications, GPS, missile warning, space situational awareness, and launch.

“The Mark contains a provision that would authorize the Air Force to enter into a fixed price contract to procure two Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellites and incrementally fund those satellites over five years. The committee understands that such authority—requested by the Air Force as part of its new Evolutionary Acquisition for Space Efficiency (EASE) approach—would lead to significant cost savings, improve stability in the space industrial base, and allow for investments in technology that would lower the risk for future programs.

“The Mark also requires the Secretary of Defense to notify Congress if a space- or terrestrial-based commercial communications service is or will cause widespread harmful interference. The committee has learned that the FCC issued a conditional authorization for a commercial company to provide a communications service whose signal is a billion times stronger than GPS and has the potential to jam millions of GPS users, including the military, emergency responders, air traffic systems, and myriad commercial applications. The committee wants to ensure our armed forces are not made vulnerable and less effective as a result of FCC’s decision, and hopes to work with our colleagues on other committees to bring forward stronger language as the bill is brought to the floor.

“Previous defense bills have noted concerns about the viability of the rocket propulsion industrial base, specifically solid rocket motors, and the impact on DOD resulting from NASA’s decision to end the Shuttle and terminate the Constellation program. This year’s budget request for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) and Trident D5 program reflects that impact. The Mark would require the President to develop a national rocket propulsion strategy that spans the affected federal government. I want to thank our colleagues on the intelligence and science committees for their support of this cross-agency mandate. The Mark would also provide funds for common propulsion technology development, consistent with recommendations from a March 2011 DOD report on the sustainment of the solid rocket motor industrial base.

“Lastly, the Mark contains several provisions that eliminate or consolidate reporting requirements, and direct DOD and NNSA to identify additional efficiency opportunities.

“In conclusion, I believe this Mark makes prudent recommendations that support the critical national security priorities within the jurisdiction of this subcommittee. It addresses important issues in a bipartisan fashion and I strongly recommend that the Mark be adopted.

“On a final note, I would like to thank the other members of the subcommittee and their staffs for their contributions and participation in the process. The product itself would not have been possible without the work of the subcommittee staff: Kari Bingen; Leonor Tomero; Alejandra Villarreal; and two fellows who brought unique perspectives to the subcommittee—Tom Karako and Drew Walter. I would also like to thank Don Bergin from my personal staff.

“Thank you all for the hard work and long hours involved in putting this mark together. I would like to recognize my friend and colleague, Ms. Sanchez, the Ranking Member of the subcommittee, for any opening remarks she would like to make.”