Congressman Mike Turner successfully included several provisions in the House passed National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) today which will have a far reaching impact on Southwest Ohio and Wright-Patterson AFBCongressman Mike Turner successfully included several provisions in the House passed National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) today which will have a far reaching impact on Southwest Ohio and Wright-Patterson AFB if approved by the Senate and signed into law by the President. Turner’s amendments to the annual Defense Department bill include provisions which enhance leadership at the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) and the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL), meeting the airspace needs for Unmanned Aerial Systems, and halts the transfer of jobs related to the Enterprise Logistics System Program at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
“AFIT must have military leadership in order to maintain preeminence and relevance in the years ahead. This language and my legislation would provide that top level military leadership while simultaneously ensuring educational continuity by establishing a SES level Provost position. Furthermore this proposal is consistent with Secretary Gates’ goal of reducing the number of flag officers in our armed forces,” said Turner.
Turner’s language included in the House reported bill on May 11th is identical to legislation that he and Sen. Rob Portman (OH) introduced on May 25th. Their bills closely mirror the leadership structure at the U.S. Navy operated Post Graduate School. The proposal allows for the Secretary of the Air Force to fill the top slot at AFIT with either an active duty Colonel or a retired Brigadier General or higher. This would ensure the AFIT retains the attention of top level leadership while providing the Secretary of the Air Force discretion as to filling the position with active duty or retired personnel. The Naval Post Graduate School is currently led by a Navy Vice Admiral, the Air Force equivalent of a Lieutenant General.
The language also creates a SES level Provost position to prevent against any disruptions in academic and institutional affairs that can be generated from regular changes in leadership. These options would ensure continuity in the Institute’s approach towards educating our nation’s military leaders while adhering to Secretary Gate’s proposal to eliminate the number of flag officers in our military.
AFRL Hiring Authority
“With my provision included in committee, and now passed by the House, laboratories would have the edge to stay competitive with the commercial market and bring talented personnel into Department of Defense. Our nation’s Defense Laboratories are experiencing both a critical hiring need and a severe shortage of engineers and scientists with advanced degree. This is something which could affect the future needs of the Air Force Research Lab,” said Turner.
Specifically, Turner’s language included via an amendment while the NDAA was being considered by the full House Armed Services Committee eliminates the sunset provision of the Defense Laboratory hiring authority which he had placed in the FY09 NDAA. The expedited hire authority provided under Section 1108 applies to scientific and engineering positions which require an advanced degree.
The provision allows AFRL to waive some advertising and preference requirements, but maintains the requirement that the applicant meet all relevant qualifications. Since the enactment of the legislation, AFRL and the other defense laboratories have been able to reduce the hiring time by weeks and has become a critical tool of AFRL personnel management to hire the best scientific talent. A recent Defense Department report showed that “direct hire” generally cut the number of days it took to hire an applicant from 147 to 91.
Meeting Airspace Needs for Defense-Related UAS Research
“This House passed bill allows the AFRL to play a role in the decisions on Unmanned Aerial Systems testing needs. These are experts who have pioneered the expanding field on unmanned flight. Ohio, the birthplace of flight will continue that tradition through AFRL which will play a key role in integrating UAS into the National Airspace System,” noted Turner.
After Turner had included this same provision in the FY 09 NDAA, the House Armed Services Committee voted to include it once again. The committee noted that the availability of special use airspace is important to research related to Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) and the needs of our national defense. The proliferation of technology enabling the use of UAS represents a clear future threat to national security; however, lack of special use airspace to research detection techniques is a potential impediment to the nation’s ability to counter this emerging threat.
The committee encouraged discussions between the Air Force Research Laboratory to explore ways for the FAA and the Department of Defense to work together on problems related to integrating UAS into the National Airspace System. The approved bill with Turner’s language urges the Department of Defense and the Federal Aviation Administration to place a high priority on meeting national defense needs for special use airspace related to UAS research, including addressing defense needs for special use airspace for research in “detect and destroy” technologies.
Halting the Transfer of Jobs from Wright-Patt
“Prior to the consolidation of this program, Congress must have a full understanding about the costs associated with this move. Taxpayer dollars can’t be spent without justification or precise calculation. Prior to the announcement of this decision Congress was given no explanation as to why this move is essential to our warfighters, and if it is cost efficient for our citizens,” said Turner.
With the support of 300 fellow members, the House adopted Turner’s amendment to the NDAA which would halt funding for the consolidation of the Enterprise Logistics System Program pending a report to Congress. The report would be a cost-benefit analysis of the consolidation performed by the Air Force, which then must be approved by the House Armed Services Committee.
Turner’s amendment follows the release of a widely distributed email by Brigadier General Kenneth Moran which indicated that the Air Force will consolidate the Enterprise Logistics portfolio, which is managed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, with the Enterprise Information Systems portfolio, which is managed at Gunter Annex, Alabama. General Moran heads the Enterprise Logistics System Directorate at Wright-Patterson.