The U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee has passed bipartisan defense legislation that includes a number of provisions authored by Senator Gary Peters to support Michigan’s military installations, defense manufacturers, veterans and their families.
Among other provisions, the bill includes additional funding for A-10 aircraft repairs, support for defense research, and efforts to prevent and address water contamination at and near military installations.
The John S. McCain III FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, which sets policy for the Department of Defense (DoD), now goes to the full Senate for consideration.
“From our military bases and dedicated service members to our defense manufacturers and researchers, Michigan is vital to America’s national security in both current and future conflicts,” said Senator Peters, a member of the Armed Services Committee and a former Lt. Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve. “This bipartisan defense bill will support ongoing operations at places like Selfridge Air National Guard Base, as well as important R&D efforts across the state that are preparing the U.S. military for the future of warfare with new technologies like artificial intelligence and sophisticated cyber attacks.”
Senator Peters’ NDAA provisions important to Michigan include:
- Funding for A-10 Wing Replacement: Peters’ amendment authorizes an additional $65 million for A-10 aircraft re-winging, for a total of $144 million. Last year, the U.S. Air Force stated that it may be forced to ground some A-10 aircraft due to a lack of funding for wing repair. Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Township is home to an A-10 squadron that deployed in support of the fight to eliminate ISIS in 2015.
- PFAS-Free Fire Fighting Foams: The bill includes report language from Peters encouraging DoD to develop firefighting foams free from Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances. PFAS chemicals used in firefighting foam at active and decommissioned military installations across Michigan have contaminated local water sources. The bill also authorizes $10 million to fund a study on the health implications of PFAS, which Peters worked to include in last year’s NDAA and requires the Department of Veteran’s Affairs to maintain a registry of veterans who may have been exposed to PFAS and notify them of developments in the study and treatment of conditions caused by PFAS exposure.
- Funding for Next Generation Ground Vehicle (NGCV): The bill includes $70 million to develop a Next Generation Combat Vehicle prototype. The Detroit Arsenal in Warren was recently chosen as the headquarters for the NGCV Cross Functional Team (CFT), which will report to the Army Futures Command. The CFT will explore new technologies, including autonomous systems, to develop prototypes and requirements for the NGCV.
- Mobility in Cold Weather Regions: Peters authored an amendment that would require the U.S. Army to develop mobility solutions for cold-weather terrain similar to the Arctic, where both Russia and China have expanded their activity. This builds on efforts at Michigan Technological University in Houghton, where the Keweenaw Research Center has conducted extensive research and testing on military vehicle winter capabilities, including traction aid development on tanks and tire chain testing.
Other Peters provisions in the NDAA include:
- Enhancing DoD Joint Artificial Intelligence (AI) Activities: Peters authored an amendment with Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) to establish a senior DoD official for AI and require that official to establish a strategic plan for military AI, as well as a study on national security AI applications. The provision also allows the senior official for AI to make use of all policy flexibilities provided to the DoD.
- Forfeiting Intellectual Property (IP) in Foreign Dealings: This provision authorizes DoD to include provisions in contracts that forfeit the IP developed by a contractor if a contractor shares the technology with certain foreign persons or organizations.
- Improving the Foreign Investment Review Process: The NDAA includes bipartisan legislation introduced by Senator Peters and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) earlier this year to heighten scrutiny on the flow of American technology to foreign countries by reforming the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS). The current process to review foreign investments in the U.S. has not been updated in nearly a decade, and adversaries like China have utilized gaps in the current process to invest in U.S. companies and gain a military advantage.
- Protecting U.S. Commercial Technological Advancements: The legislation includes report language requested by Peters that encourages the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering to utilize technology and transition accelerators. Peters toured Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) last year and was briefed on their Transition Accelerator, which helps improve the business model of small high-tech companies. Creating a sustainable business allows American small businesses to move technologies from concept to commercialization and ensure the capability can be made available to the U.S. military rather than foreign investors.
- Study on Recruitment Costs: Peters authored an amendment that requires the Department of Defense to report on the cost of recruiting and expectations for increased costs in coming years. Recent studies have shown that a significant proportion of the population is ineligible for military service which increases the cost of recruiting the all-volunteer force.