May 24, 2012

Portman Fights to Strengthen National Security While Protecting Taxpayer Dollars During Defense Budget Mark-up

Stops Air Force From Removing Planes And Jobs From Rickenbacker Air Guard Unit

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), and the Ranking Member on the Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee, fought for Ohio’s military men and women while also balancing the need for a strong national defense plan that is fiscally responsible during the committee’s mark-up of the Department of Defense (DoD) Authorization for 2013. 

“With the many threats we face now and in the future, we must maintain a strong national defense and ensure that our military men and women who put their lives in harm’s way have the resources to defend our freedom,” said Portman. “At the same time, with Washington more than $15 trillion in debt, we need to make sure every dollar is spent wisely.”

“The Air Force’s proposed cuts to Ohio Air Guard units have never been backed up by a sound justification.  I’m pleased that, after unsuccessfully pushing the Air Force to provide more a more detailed analysis, we’ve been able to save the planes and jobs at Rickenbacker for another year,” Portman said.  “We must look at this problem closer before we jeopardize the efficiencies in our KC-135 basing.”

On March 20th, Senator Portman pushed Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz on the proposed cuts to Ohio’s Air Guard to ensure that the Air Force and Senate Armed Services Committee reconsider the Air Force proposal.

“This entire budget, however, is predicated on Congress fixing the defense sequester.  We must move quickly to fix this looming disaster for our national security,” he added. 

Portman successfully advocated for the following measures, which are included in the Armed Services Committee Authorization:

  • Additional funding for joint U.S.-Israeli cooperative missile defense programs and procurement of “Iron Dome” short-range rocket defense batteries.
  • Reauthorization of critical security cooperation authorities to help key partners in counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics operations as well as direction to the Defense Department to holistically review its partnership building capabilities in relation to the latest Defense Strategic Guidance.
  • Provided Congressional support and direction to the DoD to coordinate with FAA and NASA to conduct joint research and find solutions to challenges associated with the integration of Unmanned Air Systems in the National Airspace. 
  • Strongly endorsed the Committee’s proposal for the establishment of a National Commission to evaluate and determine the best force structure of the Air Force.  Doing so will ensure critical aircraft, like the C-27J, KC-135 and C-130, are retained and not prematurely retired next year.  This will allow an independent commission to recommend a structure for the Congress to consider and avoid irreversible cuts that could negatively affect operational readiness and long-term costs.  The Commission must report its findings in time for next spring’s Defense Authorization consideration.
  • Funding to procure long-lead items to support future M1A2 Abrams tank upgrades.  This funding will ensure critical suppliers in our tank supply chain maintain production of key components needed to continue Abrams upgrades through 2014.  Portman’s advocacy in the Fiscal Year 2012 NDAA ensured production at the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center in Lima, Ohio through the summer of 2014.
  • Direction to the Defense Department to perform a thorough review of their specialized degree-granting programs in engineering, science and management to ensure institutions, like the Air Force Institute of Technology, are being utilized to their fullest potential in producing highly-educated military and civilian leaders who perform and manage the Department’s technology program.
Guidance to the Defense Department to launch an integrated program to include partnerships with industry and academia to address the adverse effects corrosion has on military equipment and facilities, which cost the DoD over $20 billion annually.