Defense and National Security
Congress has no greater responsibility than to provide our military with the training and resources needed to confront the mounting security challenges and threats around the world. As a senior member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, I am a champion for a strong national defense and returning fiscal discipline to the Pentagon. I will continue to support a strong military well-equipped to face the challenges of the 21st century.
A long-term debt reduction plan remains the most divisive and elusive issue before Congress. In the face of unprecedented budgetary and fiscal challenges, I firmly believe that a broader discussion and debate must take place that includes reforms for mandatory programs, which account for more than two-thirds of annual federal spending. Currently growing at an unsustainable rate, it is imperative that Congress confront the difficult budget decisions to not only save mandatory programs like Medicare and Social Security but to ensure national security programs can continue to be funded at an appropriate level.
Supporting our National Guard and Reserves
The National Guard provides a broad range of capabilities and is essential to our war fighting strategy by participating in exercises with allied forces, serving as the first line of defense for threats to the homeland and responding to disasters. As a key part of our national security architecture, the Army Reserves provide operational flexibility and strategic depth to combatant commanders. Indeed, as world events require, the Guard and Reserve will have a long and enduring role. I support fairness in pay and benefits for all Guard and Reserve members, their families and retirees as they continue to play an essential role as part of the Total Force.
Strengthening Fort Sill
Located right in the Fourth District of Oklahoma, Fort Sill is the largest field artillery complex in the world. Home to the primary training facility for field artillery Soldiers and Marines worldwide, the Field Artillery School trains approximately 9,000 students a year in basic combat, one-station unit training and advanced individual training.
The Air Defense Artillery (ADA) Branch returned to Fort Sill from Fort Bliss more than 10 years ago and is an integral part of the Fort Sill community. Designated as the Fires Center of Excellence for the Army, soldiers and leaders are trained and educated in Fires readiness and joint operations. I will continue to support efforts to ensure the Fires community has the equipment, tools and infrastructure necessary to develop the right mix of capabilities for the future. I am proud that during my tenure in Congress, Fort Sill has become the home of air defense artillery. This new mission has brought 2,500 new soldiers to Fort Sill and led to more than a billion dollars in new funding.
Learn more about Fort Sill at sill-www.army.mil.
Strengthening Tinker Air Force Base
Tinker Air Force Base is the home to six major Department of Defense, Air Force and Navy activities with critical national defense missions. In 2018, Tinker awarded more than $1 billion in contracts to small Oklahoma-based businesses and another $2.7 billion to companies in Oklahoma. Tinker is also Oklahoma’s largest single-site employer, with 17,000 civilian and 9,000 military employees and an economic impact of $4.55 billion to the state.
Tinker's largest organization is the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex. The largest of three depot repair complexes in the Air Force Materiel Command, it provides depot maintenance on the C/KC-135, B-1B, B-52 and E-3 aircraft, expanded phase maintenance on the Navy E-6 aircraft and maintenance, repair and overhaul of F100, F101, F108, F110, F118, F119 and TF33 engines for the Air Force, Air Force Reserve, Air National Guard, Navy and foreign military sales. The complex is also responsible for the maintenance, repair and overhaul of Air Force bomber and tankers, as well as other services’ aircraft platforms and engines. Work at Tinker also includes the development, sustainment and testing of operational flight programs, test program sets, test equipment and industrial automation software.
Recent improvements in manufacturing and quality control have made Tinker a nationwide leader in innovation. Resulting cost savings and increased capacity will allow Tinker to do even more work for the Air Force and other customers. Tinker has been a preeminent lead in its use of LEAN and Six Sigma Process Reform, which has greatly increased the utilization of depot capabilities. Throughout my time in Congress, I have worked with Tinker to ensure it has the resources needed to continually reform and rethink its depot maintenance process and adapt to the changing demands of an aging fleet.
Learn more about Tinker AFB at tinker.af.mil.
More on Defense and National Security
Oklahoma is the proud home of numerous military and National Guard installations. We are consistently among the top states in terms of our number of active duty personnel. And our communities that are the home to these men and women in uniform are the envy of every branch of service. That fact was reflected last week when the House Appropriations Committee, of which I am a member, passed the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (MILCON) Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2017.
As the president’s time in office grinds to an end, I am disappointed—but not surprised—that he continues to advocate for the closure of Guantanamo Bay. Campaign promise or not, the dangerous terrorists at Guantanamo do not belong on American soil. Unfortunately, the president’s latest insistence on closing the terrorist detention center is the same tired plan he’s unsuccessfully pushed for the past seven years. And just like the last seven years, his latest proposal is dangerous, contrary to federal law and deeply unpopular with both parties in Congress and with the American people.
Clearly, the threat posed by ISIS/ISIL in the Middle East isn’t diminishing and the need to do something to protect the United States and our friends abroad is more urgent than ever. Considering the escalating conflict in the area occupied by the terrorist group, attacks against our allies and direct threats surfacing in America, it is past time for thoughtful debate to take place, a clear strategy to be agreed upon and decisive action to be taken to destroy this barbaric enemy.
KGOU - Jacob Mccleland
The U.S. Congress if wrapping up the year with several key bills. Last week, the House passed a rewrite of the No Child Left Behind law, and the Senate sent a highway bill to President Obama’s desk.
On today’s show we’ll talk with Republican Congressman Tom Cole. The veteran lawmaker from Oklahoma spoke with KGOU’s Jacob McCleland on November 24 in his Norman office.