Hawaiʻi House Delegation Highlights Hawaiʻi Priorities in Defense Authorization Bill
Washington, DC—Today, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) and Congressman Mark Takai (HI-01), both members of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), released the statements below on the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) draft. Both members advocated and worked to ensure provisions critical to Hawaiʻi were included in the bill. The full committee is scheduled to mark up and consider amendments to the Act tomorrow, April 27, where Members will have the opportunity to further amend the bill before it comes before the full House of Representatives.
“Hawaiʻi’s strategic role in the Asia-Pacific region is recognized and reinforced in this year’s National Defense Authorization bill. The bill includes funding for critical infrastructure and facilities in Hawaiʻi, strengthened missile defense capabilities against the threat posed by North Korea, and improved protections for our environment. Also included is Talia’s Law, which we passed through the House earlier this year in order to protect military children from abuse,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. “Unfortunately, there are some problem areas included within the bill, to include a continuation of harmful arbitrary sequestration cuts which negatively impact our service members, readiness, and capabilities. I will be highlighting areas of concern in the committee markup tomorrow, in order to ensure that the national strategic military assets of Hawaiʻi, and of our country, are maintained and supported.”
“I am very proud of the work that we have been able to accomplish, and, while not finished, the NDAA provides hundreds of millions of dollars of increased funding for Hawaiʻi in infrastructure upgrades, new aircraft for an aging fleet, environmental protections, and increased defensive capabilities,” said Rep. Mark Takai. “With the growing importance of the Asia-Pacific region, we must ensure that our state is fully equipped with state of the art defensive capabilities to meet the challenges of the 21st century, many of which will be at our doorstep. Over the past few months, we have listened to constituents, military leaders, and our business community, and have worked hard to incorporate their needs and concerns into this bill,” Takai added.
Detailed provisions directly benefitting Hawaiʻi are listed below:
Hawaiʻi Military Construction –Military construction (MILCON) funding be used for continued upgrades to critical infrastructure and training assets in Hawaiʻi. This will ensure that Hawaiʻi remains a pivotal location during our nation’s rebalance to the Asia-Pacific. Funding for Hawaiʻi Projects Includes:
Over $72 million for projects at Kāneʻohe Bay for a consolidated communications and electrical facility in support of modernization projects
$40 million for the second phase of the state-of-the-art Command and Control Facility at Fort Shafter
$31 million for a National Guard combined support maintenance shop in Hilo to support ongoing training at Pōhakuloa Training Area
More than $17 million for an energy conservation project at the National Security Agency-Hawaiʻi in Kunia
Over $43 million for the continued power grid consolidation at Pacific Missile Range Facility
$11 million for the Air National Guard F-22 Composite Repair Facility at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam
The Chairman’s mark also includes an additional authorization to replace a water line at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
Pacific Missile Range Facility and Hawaiʻi Missile Defense– This provision would ensure that the Aegis Ashore missile defense system at the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauaʻi will remain open. In addition to authorizing $10 million for the planning and design for a new radar at this facility, the bill would require the Department of Defense to carry out an environmental impact assessment for any alternatives to fielding a medium-range ballistic missile sensor for Hawaiʻi’s defense system.
Talia’s Law– Talia’s Law would close the gap between mandated reporters of child abuse and the military’s Family Advocacy Programs (FAP) reporting on their behalf, by requiring mandated reporters to report suspected child abuse or neglect directly to State Child Protective Services. The bill is motivated by the tragic death of Talia Williams, who at age five was beaten to death by her father stationed in Hawai’i. Thetext also ensures that these officials receive appropriate training in order to improve recognition of child abuse and neglect as well as understanding of mandatory reporting requirements. The U.S. House of Representatives passed Talia’s Law on February 10, 2016.
Red Hill Underground Fuel Facility Infrastructure Briefing -- This provision would require a briefing on the infrastructure plan to make improvements to the Red Hill Underground Fuel Facility. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) is currently working on solutions for the recapitalization of the storage tanks to ensure long-term integrity and environmental compliance. This provision requires the Defense Logistics Agency to present a plan to proceed with efforts to recapitalize the Red Hill Underground Fuel Storage Facility.
Barking Sands Tactical Underwater Range (BARSTUR) Replacement and Modernization– This provision would increase funding by $9 million to support initial program planning, analysis, and engineering for the modernization and replacement of BARSTUR, the largest underwater instrumented range in the world. The current underwater range system is beyond its twenty year design life. This funding would help ensure the Pacific Missile Range Facility will continue to provide unparalleled training, readiness, and test and evaluation support for the United States military, in addition to providing marine mammal monitoring and research capabilities. The bill’s language would requirethe Secretary of the Navy to submit a comprehensive modernization plan for BARSTUR to Congress within 60 days of the enactment of the NDAA.
Medal of Honor Review for Asian American and Native American Pacific Islanders -- The Department of Defense will conduct a comprehensive review of the service records of each Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander war veteran to determine whether that veteran should be awarded the Medal of Honor. Often times, these awards were not given due to discrimination, and this is a much needed review of the records.
Civil Air Patrol – Increases the Civil Air Patrol funding for aircraft maintenance expenses, cyber infrastructure security upgrades, and pilot proficiency training. The Civil Air Patrol needs to safely conduct state/local emergency response and counter-drug missions.
$114 million to give our soldiers secure voice, video and data where there is no existing communications infrastructure.
$28.8 million for operations and maintenance
$10.4 million for the procurement of mission-enhanced aircraft capable of meeting Federal and state mission requirements
$1.7 million to replace aging ground vehicles that support youth programs
C-40 Clipper – The bill includes a provision for $205 million for 2 additional aircraft to replace the aging C-20Gs at VR-51 stationed at Marine Corps Base Hawaiʻi, Kāneʻohe Bay. This C-40A squadron would satisfy the need for fleet support in the Pacific region. The C-40A Clipper, based on the Boeing Next-Generation 737-700C aircraft, provides critical logistics support to the United States Navy. Its flight deck features a flight management computer system with an integrated GPS, is outfitted with a traffic alert and collision avoidance system. The Clipper meets or exceeds international noise and environmental requirements.
Mine Warfare Certification Inspection and Retirement Schedule Amendment– This provision ensures that the MCM Class warships and the MH-53E Sea Dragon Helicopters remain operational until the Navy has successfully tested and evaluated their replacement. The evaluation would require the Navy to conduct a cost-benefit analysis in order to determine the most cost efficient method of replacing the Sea Dragon Helicopter. Additionally, this text would require the Navy to reinstate the Mine Warfare Readiness Certification Inspection program, which evaluates the Navy’s capability to assemble and manage mines under wartime conditions.
Air and Missile Defense Radar– This provision would fully fund the Navy’s Air and Missile Defense Radar at $144.4 million, to keep the program on schedule and to ensure this critical sensor is delivered to the Naval fleet to address any existing gaps in maritime missile defense. Testing of this system is planned to begin soon at the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands.
POSTURE Act– The bill would increase the end-strength of both Army and Marines personnel, so as to ensure that the U.S. military is fully prepared to defend itself in the event of a full-scale attack. Additionally, any future proposal to lower these end-strength levels must first be approved by Congress.
Navy Shipyard Apprenticeship– In order to support the ongoing vitality of the apprenticeship program at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, this provision would ensure that no fewer than 100 apprentices will be contracted at each Naval shipyard around the country. This program will provide apprenticeship students with academic and on-the-job training in shipbuilding and fleet repairs.
Apache Helicopters -- The bill includes funding for the purchase of additional AH-64 Apache helicopters. The AH-64 is the Army’s multi-role attack helicopter. It is the Army’s most in-demand weapon system in combat operations and is deployed worldwide by both the U.S. and its allies. The Apache will remain the Army’s attack helicopter well beyond 2040, and several are utilized in Hawaiʻi. The 25th Combat Aviation Brigade will receive 48 AH-64s over the next few years.
C-130 Aircraft Upgrades -- The C-130 Hercules aircraft is the prime transport for paradropping troops and equipment into hostile areas. Basic and specialized versions perform a diversity of roles, including airlift support, fire-fighting duties for the U.S. Forest Service, and natural disaster relief missions. In recent years, they have been used to bring humanitarian relief to many countries. Four decades have elapsed since the Air Force issued its original design specification, yet the remarkable C-130 remains in production. The turbo-prop, high-wing, versatile "Herc" has accumulated over 20 million flight hours. Still, upgrades are needed. The Hawaiʻi delegation also proposed $41.5 million for enhancements to the C-130H propulsion system that will provide increased performance, improved fuel efficiency, and greater reliability, which was adopted in the bill.
Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) -- $170 million to replace the Air Force's JSTARS fleet. JSTARS is a critical component to conducting intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions throughout the Asia-Pacific, and offers a critical support capability
Acoustic Intelligence Collection Capability -- The ability to obtain acoustic intelligence on foreign submarines is a critical national security need. Priority should be given to develop technology that is capable of burying undersea cables beneath the seabed, and that the development of this technology to the fleet could result in significant cost savings to the Navy. On this basis, the bill proposed that the Office of Naval Research to consider funding initiatives that could lead to development of a low-cost Array Burial Vehicle capable of installing acoustic intelligence systems, and an additional $2 million for Submarine Acoustic Warfare.
Continuous space situational awareness (SSA) – Knowing the locations and status of U.S. and foreign satellites at all times, day or night – is vital to achieving tactical and strategic objectives. Currently, the Space Surveillance Network (SSN) is only able to track satellites during the daytime with radar. As a less expensive alternative to radar, the bill includes a proposal for the Department of Defense explore an array of optical telescopes that could be more widely deployed and thus provide additional capabilities for satellite detection.
Maui High Performance Computing Center -This provision would authorize $222.2 million to ensure that the Maui High Performance Computing Center, which is an Air Force Research Laboratory, would remain open and operational. Additionally, these funds would go towards a program that would modernize the MHPCC, and continue to sustain the existing program, facilities, and personnel.