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Weekly Column: The Need for a Strong Military

The number one responsibility of the federal government is to provide for the defense of our country. One way we do that is by passing the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) each year. The NDAA, which has passed the Senate every year for more than 55 years, is a vital piece of legislation that shows our service members and their families that they have the full backing of Congress. I am pleased that the NDAA for fiscal year 2017 passed the Senate with overwhelming support and now heads to the president’s desk to be signed into law.

Like years past, this year’s NDAA includes policies to support our wounded warriors, our troops and their families. It also provides our armed forces with the tools needed to deter our adversaries and combat our enemies around the globe. It increases the Department of Defense (DOD) operations and maintenance authorized budget which will allow for more ground and aviation training, additional flight hours to train pilots and better ship maintenance to keep our fleet in good condition for years to come. It also stops the Pentagon’s proposed drawdown of 15,000 soldiers, 2,000 marines and approximately 4,000 airmen. This is important at a time when our military is the smallest it has been since World War II.

As a member of the Senate Armed Services and Veterans’ Affairs Committees, providing our troops and veterans with the tools they need and care they’ve been promised are top priorities. The NDAA includes amendments that I offered this year, including language from my Cyber Act of War Act that would require the president to submit a report to Congress defining when an act in cyber space requires a military response. It also includes provisions to improve DOD’s monitoring of prescriptions dispensed at military treatment facilities for the treatment of PTSD and legislation to require training of DOD hiring officials so they can hire qualified civilian cyber security professionals in an expedited manner.

As we mark the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor this December, we are reminded of the need to protect our homeland from devastating attacks at the hands of our enemies. Pearl Harbor marked a pivotal turning point in the United States’ approach to national security strategy, and our success in World War II established the United States as a world superpower. In recent years, the size of our armed forces has shrunk to levels that increase the risk that we may not be able to deter adversaries or, with deterrence having failed, defeat them in combat. This year’s NDAA begins to reverse that trend.  

While not perfect, the NDAA we passed this year authorizes the resources that our armed forces need to remain capable of adequately defending the United States. We owe nothing less to our service members than to give them all they need to succeed.