Press Release: Tuberville Champions Alabama’s Defense Priorities as NDAA Passes Committee

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) released the following statement after the Fiscal Year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act  (FY23 NDAA) was reported out of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC). During the committee’s markup process, Senator Tuberville championed Alabama’s defense priorities and offered amendments that focused on strategic risk-taking, resources to counter Chinese aggression, and enhancing lethality.

“I started this year’s NDAA process by identifying my top priorities, three of which were Space Command, strengthening U.S. presence in the Indo-Pacific, and enhancing lethality,” said Senator Tuberville.  “To that end, I pushed back against – and defeated – a counterproductive amendment to delay and potentially reverse the process of permanently establishing U.S. Space Command headquarters at Redstone Arsenal. To preserve a free and open Indo-Pacific, I continued my practice of seeing to it that our top commander in the region got his number one request met by the committee.  Above all, the primary mission of our military is to protect and defend our country – we deter aggression by being prepared. I am determined to see us enhance the lethality of our military and focus on building a fighting force – not a woke, green military. This NDAA positions our men and women in uniform to do what they do best: defend America’s values at home and abroad.”

The top Republican on the Committee, SASC Ranking Member Jim Inhofe (R-OK) said, “I am grateful to Sen. Tuberville for his contributions to the Senate Armed Services Committee so far this year. He’s kept his eye on the ball: making sure our military has the personnel, posture, equipment, and strategy needed to deter and, if necessary, defeat our adversaries, especially China. He’s also been a fierce advocate for Alabama’s unique and vital contributions to our national defense, and this year’s National Defense Authorization Act is better for it.”

BACKGROUND:

The National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, outlines our military’s spending and provides guidance on defense policy and funding priorities. For over six decades, members of the Senate Armed Services Committee have worked in a bipartisan manner to produce this annual defense spending blueprint.

The FY23 NDAA increases the overall topline spending number by $45 billion over President Biden’s dangerously inadequate defense budget. Staying competitive with the private sector, the NDAA provides for a 4.6% pay raise for our military, and provides additional hiring authorities and incentives in key sectors including cybersecurity, advanced technology, and space personnel. Additionally, FY23 NDAA grows the U.S. Navy, which is especially important in the face of China’s rapid expansion of its navy and ensures the Department of Defense has the hard power and infrastructure to maximize readiness and lethality now and in the future. A summary of the FY23 NDAA priorities can be found here. 

In his second year on the committee, Senator Tuberville secured significant wins for Alabama’s defense community. Senator Tuberville began the FY23 NDAA cycle in February 2022 by hosting a virtual meeting with Alabama community leaders, advocacy groups, and industry stakeholders to share his priorities and how the process would work. He also led his colleagues from the Alabama delegation in a defense staffer meeting to ensure consistency in priorities. Senator Tuberville’s defense team held more than 100 meetings to consider various programs and policies in preparation for the FY23 NDAA markups. Senator Tuberville’s priorities included in the FY23 NDAA are below.

Keeping SPACECOM at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville

Senator Tuberville successfully thwarted an attempt to delay and potentially reverse the process of locating U.S. Space Command (SPACECOM) headquarters at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville. Senator Tuberville led a bipartisan group of senators to defeat an amendment that would have required another lengthy study of the Air Force’s basing decision. In 2020, the Air Force conducted a lengthy fact-based review of potential locations for the headquarters that resulted in the January 2021 announcement that Redstone was the preferred location. That decision was the subject of independent investigations by both the Government Accountability Office and the Department of Defense’s Inspector General, both of which found the selection of Redstone to be fair, logical, and fact-based.

Preserving Uranium 233 and Promoting Efficient, Clean Energy

Senator Tuberville secured a provision that requires the Department of Defense to study uranium 233 (U-233) and the potential of a thorium cycle to fuel military bases as well as space propulsion and power. Senator Tuberville’s bill requires the Secretary of Defense to brief congressional defense committees no later than March 31, 2023, on the uses of U-233 and thorium-based nuclear fuel cycle by the U.S., as well as the progress our adversaries have made in this field. Senator Tuberville has been a leader on this issue, introducing legislation to prevent the destruction of U-233, a critical element used to produce efficient and clean energy. Read more about Senator Tuberville’s efforts on U-233 here.

Arlington’s Caisson Platoon

After it came to his attention this spring that the horses used to pull the funeral caissons at Arlington National Cemetery were living in unsanitary conditions, Senator Tuberville vowed to fix the issue. His colleagues agreed, and the FY23 NDAA requires  the Secretary of the Army to implement the recommendations of the equine veterinarian’s inspection findings for the Fort Myer Caisson Barns/Paddocks and Fort Belvoir Caisson Pasture Facility. It also requires that the Secretary of the Army to submit a master plan for the housing and care of all the horses within the care of the Old Guard, prioritizing their no-fail mission of honoring our nation’s heroes over other functions of the base that could be located elsewhere.  

Fighting for Missile Defense 

Sea Launched Cruise Missile (SLCM-N)

  • Senator Tuberville believes the military advice of our nation’s combatant commanders should get the utmost priority in Congress. That’s why Senator Tuberville fought for the authorization for U.S. Strategic Command’s (USSTRATCOM) number one, and only, unfunded priority – the Sea Launched Cruise Missile (SLCM-N).
    • The U.S. currently faces a deterrence and assurance gap when it comes to nuclear capabilities. USSTRATCOM Commander Admiral Charles Richard, a Decatur, AL native, indicated to congressional defense committees that a low-yield, non-ballistic capability is needed to deter and respond to threats from China and Russia. Senator Tuberville met twice this year with Admiral Richard and shares his growing concern for America’s aging nuclear arsenal.

Javelin Missile Procurement & Advancement

  • Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the world has been reminded of the Javelin missile’s capabilities. As Senator Tuberville said when he spoke to the line workers of the Javelin production line in Troy, AL, “Now, every world leader and dictator is paying close attention to your handiwork.” These missiles have stopped the Russian Army in its tracks. Since the start of the invasion, the U.S. has given away nearly half of our arsenal of Javelins. So, Senator Tuberville pushed hard for the committee to both replenish U.S. stocks and modernize the Javelin.

Missile defense for Guam in the Indo-Pacific Region

  • Senator Tuberville continued his efforts to secure this critical capability for the Indo-Pacific region and the 160,000 Americans who live and serve in this American territory. Missile defense for Guam was U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s (INDOPACOM) number one request for two years in a row, but it was not until Senator Tuberville’s advocacy last year that Congress took steps to fund the program. 

Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) for the Indo-Pacific Region

  • Senator Tuberville continued his commitment to listen to our commanders in the field and deliver what they’re asking for by securing a significant budget plus up for the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile, which was another request from the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command. The LRASM provides long-range strike options against enemy ships and surface combatants. 

Research, Development, Test, & Evaluation (RDT&E)

Hypersonic Targets

  • Senator Tuberville secured the authorization for increased funding for the Missile Defense Agency’s (MDA) hypersonic target development. MDA is developing targets to support hypersonic defense interceptor testing and evaluation. Several hypersonic glide vehicle concepts have been selected for providing a base for the hypersonic target development program. This additional funding will accelerate technology maturation for advanced hypersonic threat targets for use in testing hypersonic missile defenses and enable collaborative sharing of technology advancements.

Positioning, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) technology

  • Senator Tuberville fought to include an authorization for funding that would help address the critical technology gaps that U.S. and joint operations face in hostile, contested GPS environments. There is an urgent need for advanced Positioning Navigation, and Timing (PNT) situational tools and techniques by U.S. mission commanders for better insight and control of environments. Near-peer adversaries like Russia and China have taken note of American dependence on PNT technology and have heavily invested in navigation warfare technologies that can con-gest, degrade, jam, spoof, and eliminate Global Positioning Systems (GPS).

Optical Reconnaissance Sensors

  • Senator Tuberville advocated for the authorization of funding for Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities in a low-cost open architecture package.

Integrated Digital Modeling of missile defense technologies (MSTI)

  • Senator Tuberville secured language that requires a report by the Director of MDA to brief congressional defense committees on efforts to model integrated missile defense efforts. Current models of missile defense rely on commanders’ assessments of what assets (ISR, tracking radars, interceptors, etc.) are most needed to counter dynamic threats. New technology is needed to provide data-driven assessments to inform commanders’ decisions.

Military Construction (MILCON) 

  • Senator Tuberville secured the authorization of funding for:
    • Redstone Arsenal 
      • New Physics Lab
      • New storage facilities
      • Backup Power Generation for the Missile and Space Intelligence Center
    • Birmingham International Airport (Sumpter Smith Air National Guard Base – 117th Air Refueling Wing)
  • New security services and training facility
  • Maxwell Air Force Base
    • New Commercial Vehicle Inspection (CVI) Area and installation entry control facility. This new facility will allow for mission continuance by eliminating two airfield waivers, including a permanent over-watch position, and providing a vehicle stacking area. It will include crash-rated bollards, ballistic/blast protection for personnel, running water/restrooms, and a driver waiting/holding area. The facility will also prevent inspection operations from being observed.

Shipbuilding 

U.S. Navy Repair and Maintenance Study (Alabama Ship Yard)

  • Senator Tuberville fought to require a report to study the U.S. Navy’s repair and maintenance capabilities with special emphasis on readiness and expanded industrial base needs, in addition to research and analysis on the capacity of private shipyards in the United States and the effect of those shipyards on Naval fleet readiness.

Operationalizing Artificial Intelligence (AI) at Sea

  • Congressional defense committees often hear from combatant commanders and service chiefs on the need for additional PNT for the warfighter. Senator Tuberville secured language that recognizes and commends Task Force 59 (TF-59), the U.S. Navy’s first operational element dedicated to integrating artificial intelligence (AI) and unmanned technologies. The language also directs the Chief of Naval Operations to provide a briefing to congressional defense committees no later than December 23, 2022 on TF-59.

Increasing the size of the U.S. Navy

  • Senator Tuberville supported provisions that will grow the size of the U.S. Navy’s fleet and prevent the early and unnecessary retirement of ships.

Cybersecurity for Small Defense Contractors

Cybersecurity partnerships between the DOD and Small Defense Contractors

  • Senator Tuberville fought to require the Secretary of Defense (SECDEF) to consult with commercial industry and report back to congressional defense committees on the testing and evaluation for commercial cloud service providers. 
    • Senator Tuberville believes small and medium-sized businesses are the creative drivers of our economy and the most innovative wing of our defense industrial base. He believes it is self-defeating to invest significant resources into the development of cutting-edge technologies, yet allow that research to be hacked by our adversaries. As most defense contractors are small and medium-sized businesses, and they are not in the financial position to defend themselves against nation-state-directed cyber-attacks. These contractors need the collective defensive capabilities of the Department of Defense to adequately safeguard the nation’s investments and industrial secrets.

Scholarships

  • Senator Tuberville secured the authorization for funding the Testing & Evaluation Cyber Center of Excellence (TECCE) Scholarship for the Pathfinder Program.
    • This scholarship will help fill workforce gaps in cybersecurity jobs and help to provide a workforce and capability pipeline support to the Department of Defense Red Team operations through direct hires and technical research on cyber capabilities.
    • Auburn University, The University of Alabama – Huntsville (UAH), and Alabama A&M (an HBCU) have all partnered with the Department of Defense on the Pathfinder program. Early recruitment through colleges and universities saves money on recruiting expensive private sector talent.

Supporting service members & their families 

Extending the Pilot Program to Expand Eligibility Department of Defense Education Activities (DoDEA) Schools

  • Senator Tuberville secured the extension of a pilot program that allows children of service members at Maxwell Air Force Base, who live off base, to attend DoDEA schools on base. The pilot program was supposed to sunset in December 2022 but now will be extended through January 21, 2023.

Recruiting efforts 

Extending temporary authority of targeted service recruitment incentives

  • Senator Tuberville successfully included a provision that will allow the military services to pursue their own creative and targeted recruitment efforts. The provision sunset in 2020. Senator Tuberville’s efforts will extend the provision through 2025. As of January 31, 2022, less than 0.4% of the U.S. population are active-duty service members. The military needs to find new, creative, and patriotic aways to recruit and retain young warfighters. 

Pre-Service Tuition Grant 

  • Senator Tuberville fought to establish a grant program to pay for a technical or vocational degree, certificate, or certification education for individuals who make a commitment to military service. The grant program would allow military departments to provide limited tuition grants for pre-service professional degrees, certificates, and certifications in exchange for an enlisted service commitment. Four-year traditional universities are not for everyone; it is important that we invest in several different kinds of quality education, including trade schools, to help advance the capabilities of our service members. 

Senator Tommy Tuberville represents Alabama in the United States Senate and is a member of the Senate Armed Services, Agriculture, Veterans’ Affairs, and HELP Committees.

###