Rounds Secures South Dakota Victories in NDAA
Final NDAA authorizes construction projects totaling $269 million at Ellsworth Air Force Base, $2.3 billion for B-21 Raider stealth bomber
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the top Republican member of the Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, released the following statement on the final passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24). Rounds authored 33 provisions in this year’s NDAA.
“The NDAA is a critical piece of legislation that provides for our national security and supports our service members and their families,” said Rounds. “Our members on the Senate Armed Services Committee have worked hard all year to craft this piece of legislation. The NDAA is a prime example of Congress putting politics aside to provide for our strategic national security interests and achieve results for our men and women in uniform.
“I’m particularly excited that this year’s NDAA includes legislation I’ve led for years that would create a congressional charter for the National American Indian Veterans. Additionally, the bill contains over $274 million in funding for construction projects in South Dakota. Most of this funding will support preparations for the bed down of the B-21 Raider stealth bomber at Ellsworth Air Force Base. As ranking member of the Cybersecurity Subcommittee, I am also proud of our work to strengthen our nation’s cyber capabilities and develop advanced technology to combat threats from our near-peer adversaries, the People’s Republic of China and Russia.
“I am pleased that this bipartisan legislation is heading to the president’s desk to be signed into law.”
This is the ninth NDAA that Rounds has helped craft as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. In last year’s bill, Rounds authored more than 45 provisions, which were ultimately adopted and signed into law. Earlier this year, Vanderbilt University and the University of Virginia’s Center for Effective Lawmaking named Rounds as the second most effective Republican on Defense issues.
“On behalf of the men and women members of the National American Indian Veterans, Inc., I want to say how happy we are that legislation to grant NAIV a federal charter is included in the NDAA,” said Don Loudner, National Commander of NAIV. “Native veterans have served our country from Valley Forge to Afghanistan and with this action, Congress has shown Native American veterans past and present the respect that is so well-earned. We want to thank Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD) and the many Republican and Democrat Senate co-sponsors in really grinding this effort out and getting it done. We are very much in your debt and look forward to continued collaborations on behalf of Native veterans.”
“Just as when he was Governor and he led the efforts to create the South Dakota Ellsworth Development Authority, Senator Rounds continues to support Ellsworth Air Force Base with his role on the Senate Armed Services Committee,” said Scott Landguth, Executive Director of the South Dakota Ellsworth Development Authority. “Senator Rounds’ continued support of the B-21 expansion at Ellsworth Air Force Base is a crucial piece to the success of the B-21 arriving in South Dakota. The Senator’s role on the Armed Service Committee is extremely valuable to these efforts. The South Dakota Ellsworth Development Authority looks forward to continue to partner and work with the Senator to guarantee that the B-21 program and bed down at Ellsworth remains on schedule.”
“Senator Rounds understands the importance of being proactive in regard to cybersecurity,” said José-Marie Griffiths, President of Dakota State University. “Because of Senator Rounds’ ardent support of our programs, students, and forward-thinking endeavors, our distinctive graduates are poised to help protect the nation through a strong cyber presence. I commend and thank Senator Rounds for his ongoing commitment to getting priorities in the NDAA that will benefit DSU, South Dakota, and our country for years to come.”
- Creates a congressional charter for the National American Indian Veterans. Rounds has led the Congressional effort on this legislation since 2020.
- Authorizes the DOD to conduct cyber operations against a range of Mexican transnational criminal organizations, drug cartels chief among them, and requires a related strategy on how to counter them.
- Requires the Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Officer (CDAO) of the Department of Defense (DOD) to undertake an AI related vulnerability analysis.
- Requires the Secretary of Defense to establish an AI bug bounty program.
- Requires the Secretary of Defense to provide an annual review until 2029 on the status of the implementation plan for digital engineering career tracks that was required by the FY20 NDAA.
- Adjusts the threshold amount for minor medical facility construction projects of the Department of Veterans Affairs from $20 million to $30 million.
- Makes improvements relating to cyber protection support for DOD personnel in positions highly vulnerable to cyberattack, and requires a study on how effective the existing protections are for DOD personnel and their families.
- Updates the authorities and organization of the Chief Digital and Artificial Intelligence Officer (CDAO) and reorganizes the CDAO Governing Council.
- Requires the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to improve training for VA staff processing disability claims for post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Requires the Chief of Space Operations to brief the defense committees on how the Space Force will organize and execute space-based Moving Target Indicator and future space-based sensing and targeting missions.
- Requires a briefing from the Government Accountability Office briefing on the woeful delays in the fulfillment of foreign military sales.
- Directs the Secretary of Defense to improve methods and processes for securing laboratories of the Armed Forces.
- Limits funding for the destruction of anti-personnel landmines until the Secretary of Defense provides information on current landmine capability gaps.
- Requires expansion of the Contested Logistics Working Group to include representatives of the Defense Logistics Agency, the Strategic Capabilities Office, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering.
- Requires the DOD to establish a critical reserve of long-lead items and components to provide the capability to, if needed, quickly access required components to accelerate the delivery of munitions.
- Requires that the DOD send an Annual Unfunded Priorities List for Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation.
- Requires the creation of an Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) records collection at the National Archives and Records Administration.
- Authorizes the review, identification and transmission of UAP records to the National Archives and Records Administration.
- Creates guidelines for public disclosure of UAP records and the grounds for postponement of release of certain records.
- Prohibits funding for unreported UAP programs.
MAJOR ROUNDS-SUPPORTED SOUTH DAKOTA VICTORIES:
- Authorizes $269 million for construction projects at Ellsworth Air Force Base, including $34 million for B-21 Phase Hangar, $160 million for B-21 Weapons generation facility and $75 million for B-21 Fuel System Maintenance Dock.
- Authorizes $2.325 billion for B-21 procurement.
- Authorizes $66.8 million for the Long Range Standoff Weapon, which will enable the B-21 to provide even better conventional and nuclear deterrence in a contested environment.
- Includes $5.25 million in funding to complete the construction of the National Guard Readiness Center in Sioux Falls.
- Promotes the use and funding of “cold spray” technology for maintenance, repair and overhaul to increase the service life of aging systems, provided by a South Dakota company using a technology developed at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.
ROUNDS-SUPPORTED CYBERSECURITY VICTORIES:
- Requires the development of a regional cybersecurity strategy to support the operations of each geographic combatant command.
- Requires the establishment of a dedicated cyber intelligence capability to support the entire joint force for information sharing on cyber threat actors’ technology developments, capabilities, operations and intentions.
- Directs AI and machine learning tools to better employ narrative intelligence technology in order to monitor and assess information campaigns by delivering comprehensive analysis of narrative themes, language and information patterns.
- Requires the tracking of results of sharing cyber capabilities and related information with foreign operational partners.
- Requires a modernization program for network boundary and cross-domain defense against cyber attacks.
- Further directs the services to partner with universities to increase learning opportunities for DOD personnel awaiting assignment by providing hands-on cyber operations experience, training opportunities and access to courses to assist transition into the DOD cyber field.
- Directs a briefing on the National Security Agency Cyber Collaboration pilot program, including an analysis of the program’s effectiveness and a plan to expand coverage for up to 10,000 defense industrial base entities.
- Directs a mission assurance program to acquire and maintain all-domain awareness of threats posed to defense critical infrastructure.
- Directs an independent assessment of creating a Cyber Force or further evolving the existing force development and management model.
- Requires the Secretary of Defense to implement recommendations aimed at improving cybersecurity of mobile devices applications.
- Requires a prize competition to evaluate technology, including applications, tools and models, for the detection and watermarking of generative AI.
- Directs the Secretary of Defense to develop and implement a process to assess and report whether artificial technologies are developed and function responsibly.
OTHER ROUNDS-SUPPORTED VICTORIES IN THE NDAA:
- Provides a 5.2 percent pay raise for both military service members and DOD civilian workforce.
- Includes provisions, which help preserve the performance-based warfighting ethos of the military and stop the toxic, so-called “equity” agenda at DOD at its source.
- Mandates a full accounting of the cost and content of previously opaque and unaccountable programming across DOD’s Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and making certain senior defense officials are not required to take time and effort promoting these toxic policies.