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Vitter secures key funding for Barksdale

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U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) has announced he was able secure key provisions for Louisiana in the Defense Department’s funding bill, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2015.

The House passed the bill with Vitter’s provisions earlier this week and the Senate passed it today. The legislation will now go to the President’s desk. In May Vitter helped pass the bill with his provisions out of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, of which he is a member. Vitter sits on the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces.

“Working to keep forces from the Brigade Combat Team stationed at Fort Polk, LA as well as the future of B-52s and the Global Strike Command, have been among my top priorities on the Armed Services Committee,” Vitter said. “Our nation is still at war, and a strong national defense is absolutely vital. Louisiana plays a huge role in the equation and my legislation will help preserve Louisiana’s viability for national security.”

One of Vitter’s provisions recognizes the U.S. Nuclear Triad, of which two thirds is managed by Global Strike Command, as the highest mission in our nation’s defense. Congress’ support for this shows its long term commitment to Barksdale Air Force Base, which is home to U.S. Global Strike Command and is responsible for the majority of that Triad. Vitter sees this as a positive sign that the Department of Defense (DoD) will elevate the Global Strike Command leadership to a four-star general position – the highest rank possible, and continue to grow Global Strike Command.

Below is a summary of the 15 provisions Vitter was able to secure in the FY15 NDAA:

Barksdale

  • Expresses Congress’ commitment to the U.S. Nuclear Triad and affirms that the Triad is the greatest mission. Congress’ support for this shows its long term commitment to Barksdale Air Force Base which, home to U.S. Global Strike Command, is responsible for the majority of that Triad.
  • Reconstitutes a Weapons Storage Area to enhance the resiliency of the bomber force, provide redundancy in a critical national security mission, reduce operational risk, and improve Barksdale’s long-term standing.
  • Enables Shreveport and the surrounding community to improve its coordination with the Department of Defense on Cyber studies and analysis.
  • Restores fiscal year 2015 funding for the DOD STARBASE educational program that focuses on elementary students to encourage Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). The program encourages low income students, low academic performing students, and students with disabilities to set goals and achieve them through a curriculum that meets or exceeds the national standards.

Fort Polk

  • Vitter successfully included three provisions to address and correct Army Force Structure and end-strength decisions.
  • Ensures that the Army force structure and stationing decisions maximize existing resources, including facilities related to Brigade Combat Team (BCT) activities, before any decisions on reductions are made.
  • Protects the Army’s total troop levels against the Administrations’ attempts to reduce it at a faster pace than what military leaders have testified is best for our national security.
  • Ensures a thorough review of military health system modernization to keep Fort Polk’s Bayne Jones Hospital.

Camp Minden

  • Ensures Army cannot back out of the Camp Minden explosives clean up agreement.

Lake Charles

  • Maintains over 300 jobs in the Lake Charles area through the Air Force, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) JSTARS platform requirements. These missions that support ground and naval forces are critical for battle management command and control. JSTARS aircraft are remanufactured at Northrop Grumman in Lake Charles.

National Guard

  • Vitter’s provision ensures that funding for the National Guard and Army are not disproportionately cut. By building on Vitter’s language, the final version of the committee’s bill includes a commonsense approach that gives the Army the flexibility it needs. It also establishes a National Commission on the Future of the Army to assess the Army’s active and reserve components size and force mix and requires the Commission to release its findings and recommendations byFebruary 1, 2016.

Additional Provisions Included by Vitter

  • Allows for Floating Dry Docks. Vitter modified language to include for a coastwise waiver for defense shipbuilding and repair projects. This modification ensures the adequate protection of maritime and shipbuilding industries that are significant contributors to the economy of Louisiana and the national security of this country. These industries employ literally thousands of hard-working citizens across Louisiana.
  • Religious Freedom: Vitter included language that promotes and expresses the committee’s strong and continuing support of military chaplains and their mission.
  • DOD Film Reimbursements: He also included a provision that reforms and streamlines the relationship between Louisiana’s film industry and local Bases’ by directly reimbursing Bases for expenses incurred for providing assistance to entertainment-oriented media.
  • Requires a Secretary of Defense Report on Classified Information and Congressional Oversight.
  • Vitter was also successful in removing a controversial provision which would have granted Illegal Immigrant Enlistment, known as the ENLIST Act, into this year’s NDAA.