WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) today announced that he was able secure key provisions for Louisiana in the Defense Department’s funding bill, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2015, which has passed the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee. Vitter is a member of the committee.
“Ensuring that the Army provides meaningful consideration to keep forces from the Brigade Combat Team stationed at Fort Polk, LA as well as the future of B-52s and the Global Strike Command have been among my top priorities on the Armed Services Committee,” Vitter said. “As the Department of Defense draws down from wartime footing, my amendments will help preserve Louisiana’s viability for national security, and I hope to have positive developments for Fort Polk and Barksdale Air Force Base included when we finish committee consideration of the defense bill.”
Below is a summary of the provisions Vitter was able to secure in the FY15 NDAA:
Ensures that the Army force structure and stationing decisions maximize existing resources, including facilities related to Brigade Combat Team (BCT) activities, before any decisions on reductions are made.
- Protects the Army’s total troop levels against the Administrations’ attempts to reduce it at a faster pace.
Expresses Congress’ commitment to the U.S. Nuclear Triad and affirms that the Triad is the greatest mission. Congress’ support for this shows its long term commitment to Barksdale Air Force Base which, home to U.S. Global Strike Command, is responsible for the majority of that Triad.
Reconstitutes a Weapons Storage Area to enhance the resiliency of the bomber force, provide redundancy in a critical national security mission, reduce operational risk, and improve Barksdale’s long-term standing.
Enables Shreveport and the surrounding community to improve its coordination with the Department of Defense on Cyber studies and analysis.
- Restores fiscal year 2015 funding for the DOD STARBASE educational program that focuses on elementary students to encourage Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). The program encourages low income students, low academic performing students, and students with disabilities to set goals and achieve them through a curriculum that meets or exceeds the national standards.
- Maintains over 300 jobs in the Lake Charles area through the Air Force, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) JSTARS platform requirements. These missions that support ground and naval forces are critical for battle management command and control. JSTARS aircraft are remanufactured at Northrop Grumman in Lake Charles.
- Vitter’s provision ensures that funding for the National Guard and Army are not disproportionately cut. By building on Vitter’s language, the final version of the committee’s bill includes a commonsense approach that gives the Army the flexibility it needs. It also establishes a National Commission on the Future of the Army to assess the Army's active and reserve components size and force mix and requires the Commission to release its findings and recommendations by February 1, 2016.
Additional Provisions Included by Vitter
Religious Freedom: Vitter included language that promotes and expresses the committee’s strong and continuing support of military chaplains and their mission.
DOD Film Reimbursements: He also included a provision that reforms and streamlines the relationship between Louisiana’s film industry and local Bases’ by directly reimbursing Bases for expenses incurred for providing assistance to entertainment-oriented media.
- Vitter was also successful in removing a controversial provision which would have granted Illegal Immigrant Enlistment, known as the ENLIST Act, into this year’s NDAA.