Your Say

Readiness a priority in this year’s defense bill

Austin Scott

Special to The Telegraph

As the only Republican from Georgia on the House Armed Services Committee, I take my responsibility as Georgia’s primary voice on military issues very seriously. In recent years, the world has become an increasingly unstable place, whether due to conflict in the Middle East or provocations by Russia, China and North Korea. In order to maintain peace and security for the American people in this environment, we must ensure that the U.S. military remains the best trained and most well-equipped fighting force in the world. With nine major military installations, Georgia plays an essential role in maintaining military readiness. Therefore, effective representation of Robins and Moody Air Force bases, in addition to all of Georgia’s military installations, is a top priority of mine.

On April 28, I joined my colleagues on the House Armed Services Committee to mark up our version of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2017. The debate took 16 hours, until 2:30 a.m., to complete. In the end, the bill passed the committee by a bipartisan vote of 60-2. This legislation takes many important steps to rectify the damage to our military readiness done by President Obama’s cuts to our defense budget over the last few years.

Our bill makes key investments to accelerate the transition to new, more reliable platforms, while ensuring that we do not retire valuable aircraft without suitable replacements. In this year’s NDAA, I again acted to ensure that two of the Air Force’s most valuable platforms stay airborne: the A-10C, flown out of Moody Air Force Base, and the JSTARS, flown out of Robins Air Force Base. Both of these fleets are taking the fight to the enemy. In Iraq, the A-10C is helping in the fight against ISIS by supporting our special forces and carrying out precision strikes against these terrorists. This year’s bill builds on our prior victories the last two years to keep the invaluable A-10C in action.

We were also able to include measures in the FY17 NDAA pushing forward the development of a new JSTARS fleet. JSTARS aircraft are one of the most requested platforms by our combatant commanders. No other aircraft can provide the battle management, command and control, and tracking of moving ground targets like JSTARS. I will continue to resist any delay of this needed recapitalization, as doing so puts at risk capabilities critical to our national security by diminishing our commanders’ abilities to make accurate and timely decisions in the battlefield.

Finally, as opposed to the president’s request, the committee authorized larger end strength numbers to meet the threats that the United States and our allies face, ensuring we have a military force able to execute the missions asked of them. I believe the House version of the NDAA sets us on a course that sustains military readiness, makes appropriate investments for future threats, continues to reform Department of Defense outdated acquisition strategy, and supports the significant contributions that Robins, Moody and other Georgia military installations make to our national defense. The NDAA passed the House yesterday and heads in to a conference committee with the Senate’s version of the bill, before being sent to the president’s desk. Throughout this process, I remain committed to these and other policies that will continue Georgia’s long running contributions to the greatest military in the world.

Rep. Austin Scott represents the 8th Congressional District of Georgia.