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Congressman Tom Cole Speaks on House Floor in Support of Funding for Troops

June 16, 2005
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Cole spoke on the House floor today in support of the rule for the Department of Defense Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2006 (H.R. 2863).

As a member of the Rules Committee, Congressman Cole has a voice in determining the rule, which sets the terms of debate on the Floor. A rule must be passed before the actual piece of legislation is debatable.

The Department of Defense Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2006 includes $50 million above the president's request of $108 million for the non-line-of-site cannon. These additional funds were included at the request of Congressman Tom Cole.

Following is Congressman Cole's statement in support of the rule providing for consideration of H.R. 2863:

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of the rule for H.R. 2863 and the underlying bill. This important legislation takes dramatic steps to further prosecute the global War on Terror, enhance our security and improve the lives of our service men and women. It's a bill that fundamentally addresses many of the transformative challenges faced by our military in the future and implements many measures to meet those challenges.

Mr. Speaker, the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee and the full Appropriations Committee have presented us with an excellent bill. This bill provides us with a way to meet many of the current challenges that we face by addressing the immediate requirements of our forces as well as the ongoing need to transform our military through the adoption of new technology, advanced methods of warfare, and innovating changes in military doctrine.

To fully appreciate the significance of H.R. 2863, one must understand the four long-term challenges that we seek to address in this legislation.

The first long-term challenge is a direct result of the procurement holiday that was taken by our country in the 1990's. To understand the consequences of shortchanging our military during this era, one need only recall the ammunition accounts as they were funded or perhaps better described as not funded during this period. The failure to maintain adequate stocks of ammunition is a shortcoming we are only now beginning to overcome. Additionally, one can see the adverse effects that a constant surge of deployments in the 1990's had upon the maintenance levels of our hardware. This bill takes important steps to rectify that problem associated with the procurement holiday.

Mr. Speaker, the second long-term challenge we must address on a continual basis is related to the transformation of our military forces. The famous Goldwater-Nickels legislation of 1986 altered the manner in which we organized to fight wars and committed us to transforming the nature of our forces. Transformation demands an ongoing strategic and tactical review of our needs in relation to technology, procurement, and the development of joint war fighting capabilities. Each service, all our units, and all our equipment must complement one another and contribute to the increased effectiveness of our forces. Transformation is not a goal in and of itself. It's a process of continuous change and adaptation that makes our forces more effective. This is an issue -- or forces more effective. This is an issue we must address on an ongoing basis. H.R. 2863 does just that.

Mr. Speaker, the third long-term challenge we face is related to our force structure and manpower requirements. This legislation, while meeting the requests of the president's budget, also continues to fund additional forces required to prosecute the global War on Terror. This is a good start. In future years, we will need to closely examine and I believe increase the size of our forces. There's no short-term easy solution to recruiting and maintaining the larger forces I personally believe we will need in the dangerous world in which we live. Still H.R. 2863 is a good interim step. . .one which we should take and support and build on in the coming years.

The fourth long-term challenge faced by the military results from the global war on terror. This is not a conventional war. We're not fighting a nation state. We're fighting the adherents of a fanatical ideology that transcends national borders and takes root whenever and wherever it can. We're involved in a generational war against these fanatics that will last for decades. It will require a wide range of diplomatic, developmental, intelligence, communications and civil affairs tools and activities to win.

The military component of this effort will be expensive and ever-changing. Hence, I believe we took a wise and important step when we added $45.3 billion in bridge funding and emergency wartime appropriations to this defense bill. It's something that indicates our understanding of the long-term nature of the challenge we face and our determination to commit the resources needed to be successful.

Today, some members may wish to have a broad discussion on the situation in Iraq. I welcome that debate and the open rule attached to this legislation will allow that discussion. However, in the end, this bill is not about Iraq. It's about providing the men and women who defend our country with the tools they need to prevail against those who would do harm to the United States. After the collapse of the old Soviet Union, we took our security for granted and we under funded the military for a decade. September 11, 2001, taught us the folly of our assumptions in that regard. Since that time, the Administration and the Congress have made the tough decisions needed to rebuild our military and expand its capabilities while waging a war on terror.

This bill is another step in that process. It is well crafted, essentially bipartisan and moves us in the proper direction. Once passed, this legislation will enhance our security, enable us to fight the War on Terror, and improve the quality of life for our service men and women. Mr. Speaker, to that end, I urge support for the rule and the underlying bill and I reserve the balance of my time.