Congressman Mike Turner, Chairman 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 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA):
“The FY2017 NDAA provides our men and women in uniform with the resources needed to keep Americans safe at home and abroad. As our nation continues to address some of the most complex security challenges in recent history, we must ensure our military can meet those threats head on.
“Additionally, I am proud of the steps we are taking to protect the responsiveness of our national defense capabilities and provide the necessary resources to modernize our military to combat future threats.”
The FY2017 NDAA also includes the provisions of the Prevent Retaliation and Open Transparency to Expand Care for Troops (PROTECT) Act which calls for increased transparency in the military justice system, greater protection for survivors and witnesses from retaliation, better survivor access to court information, and an increased focus on treatment for male survivors of sexual assault. Both Congressman Turner and Congresswoman Tsongas, co-chairs of the Military Sexual Assault and Prevention Caucus, introduced the PROTECT Act earlier this year.
“The PROTECT Act works to increase transparency and protect survivors and those affected by this crime. Our servicemen and women sacrifice so much for our country and they deserve to know they are protected against the retaliation that often coincides with this crime” said Rep. Turner. “Rep. Tsongas and I have worked together over the years to fight for those who need it most and I appreciate her ongoing dedication to our nation’s military.”
Included below is a breakdown of provisions championed by Congressman Turner in the FY17 NDAA:
Sexual Assault in the Military
Recent reports and testimony, including witnesses at the Judicial Proceedings Panel, have highlighted deficiencies in the military system that often leaves survivors unprotected, without access to basic court documents and information. In addition, the military criminal justice system currently does not designate a crime to specifically punish acts of professional retaliation against survivors and witnesses of crimes, and instances of retaliation are often investigated by untrained or under-trained personnel.
The PROTECT Act would:
- Create a specific article in the Uniform Code of Military Justice criminalizing professional retaliation against victims and witnesses of crimes.
- Require retaliation-specific investigation training for Department of Defense (DOD) investigators.
- Require DOD to report data on sexual assaults against spouses, intimate partners, and children to Congress.
- Require the DOD to create a website where victims, witnesses, and members of the public can access key court-martial information, including docketed court dates, key court documents, and records of trial.
- Encourage the DOD to provide treatment options, including intensive therapy, to male victims of sexual assault.
Army Force Strength POSTURE ACT
“As the Chairman of the Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee, I have seen first hand the effects sequestration has had on our military,” said Rep Turner. “These concerns have been reinforced by recent briefings from the U.S. Army and a hearing I chaired on the findings of the National Commission on the Future of the Army. We must pre-empt future degradations of the ability of the Land Forces of the United States to safeguard the security and rights of the American people and to assure our allies, deter aggression, shape security environments and win wars.
The POSTURE Act would:
- Ensure that our Land Forces will not be depleted as a result of the Administration’s flawed assumptions about the current security environment.
- Our military’s ability to meet new and complex global demands is essential to our national security and a continued force drawdown would be catastrophic.
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base
“I am proud of the language included in this year’s NDAA that will support Wright-Patterson Air Force Base which is critical to our country and to Southwest Ohio. The provisions continue to bolster the robust portfolio that Wright-Patterson facilitates each day, keeping Americans safe at home and abroad.”
Protection of Child Custody Rights for Members of the Armed Forces:
- Annual notification and pre-deployment notification to Service members of their parental rights under the Service Members Civil Relief Act.
Attendance at Professional and Technical Conferences:
- In last year’s bill Congressman Turner included a provision requiring the DoD to review current policies of personnel participation in professional and technical conferences. This year, Congressman Turner built off that success to further ensure our military personnel working in fields such as engineering and science and technology are not restricted.
Improved Security Gate at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base:
- Congressman Turner ensured the bill provided funding for increased security at Wright Patterson. Congressman Turner has worked with Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski, the commander of the Air Force Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson, to urge action to improve security measures on the sprawling base.
- Building off of a successful push from last year’s NDAA on technology transfer capabilities, Congressman Turner included language ensuring the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is permitted to leverage private sector capabilities in order to provide the warfighters the newest technologies.
- Congressman Turner ensured the bill provided increased funding for Hypersonics research. The DoD has placed urgency on the important development of Hypersonic Systems. These systems have the ability to travel Mach 5 plus and at very high altitudes and are pivotal to the maintaining U.S. Air Dominance.
Autonomous Systems Research:
- Congressman Turner included language to increase funding for advanced research into the development of “human-machine teaming”. The Air Force has identified Autonomy as a “game changing” technology. Autonomous Systems, which can facilitate decision-making at the speed of computing, offer distinct advantages for Airmen and the Air Force’s mission at large.
Collaboration between AFRL and other Ohio Research Labs:
- Congressman Turner ensured the bill provided increased funding for the Air Force Research Laboratory’s collaborative work with other Ohio based research labs. Southwest Ohio has become a hub of scientific and technical innovation for the Air Force, and the Department of Defense at-large. AFRL at Wright-Patterson is integral to the development, integration, and discovery of new technologies and capabilities to address a broad range of emerging threats.
Supporting AFRL and other research laboratories
- Congressman Turner proudly cosponsored a provision offered by Rep. Tsongas that makes permanent an authority that allows Department of Defense laboratories to provide funds for research and development of technologies for critical military missions.
UAS Research Collaboration:
- Congressman Turner included language this year to support the collaboration of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) research between the DoD, NASA, and the FAA. The use of UAS have significantly increased, with continued strong projected growth. Collaboration between the federal agencies involved in UAS flight and research is key to integrating UAS into the national air space for military purposes.
Tactical Air & Land Forces Subcommittee
The Tactical Air and Land Forces proposal works to ensure our military retains strength and agility with respect to air and land force modernization strategies, and provides the funding and authorization necessary to retain overmatch against current and future threats. Consistent with previous NDAA activity, the proposal continues to recognize that a vital industrial base at every level is critical to the long-term effectiveness and operational capability of the force.
Tactical Air & Land Forces Subcommittee Programmatic Summaries
- Advances the development and procurement of lighter, stronger and more advanced personal protective equipment systems for all soldiers, while also ensuring women entering combat roles are fully and correctly equipped.
- Authorizes multiyear procurement authorities for UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and AH-64 Apache Attack helicopters to generate better cost savings for the taxpayer and provide the most modernized helicopters for the active and reserve components.
- Requires the Secretary of Defense to develop munition strategies for each of the Combatant Commands in order to better assess critical munition requirements and inventory shortfalls.
- Continues to provide necessary oversight of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program with legislation requiring the GAO to review current sustainment strategies.
- Stresses the importance of rapidly developing and fielding needed aircraft survivability equipment for helicopters and tactical aircraft.
- Supports and encourages a more streamlined and accelerated approach to fielding vehicle active protection systems to better address emerging threats.
Unaccompanied Alien Children on CONUS military installations
Congressman Turner was a cosponsor of the READI Act, which prohibits the use of a military installation to house any alien unlawfully present in the United States. Congressman Turner supported Congressman Bridenstine’s (OK-1) amendment to prohibit housing Unaccompanied Alien Children on CONUS military installations.