Michigan military ops, industry, research winners in defense bill

Annual Defense Bill Includes Peters Provisions to Support A-10 Aircraft, Address PFAS & Advance Military Research in Michigan

U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, applauded Senate passage of bipartisan defense legislation that will establish defense policy for Fiscal Year 2019.

The legislation includes a number of provisions supporting operations at Michigan’s military installations, including supplementary funding for A-10 aircraft repairs and the Next Generation Ground Vehicle, as well as planning for mobility under harsh winter conditions.

The legislation will be reconciled with a similar bill passed by the House of Representatives.

“At a time when our nation faces new and wide-ranging security threats, it is critical that our brave men and women in uniform have the support, tools and technologies necessary to complete their mission safely and effectively,” said Senator Peters, a member of the Armed Services Committee and a former Lt. Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve. “Michigan is conducting groundbreaking research that will revolutionize the future of warfare. This legislation will bolster initiatives already underway in our state – from developing the Next Generation Ground Vehicle to assessing military vehicle capabilities under extreme winter weather – while reaffirming the importance of the A-10 and the critical role it continues to play in our national security.”

Peters’ provisions important to Michigan included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) 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 important 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.
  • Reauthorizing the Maritime Administration (MARAD): The bill includes bipartisan legislation authored by Peters and Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE) to reauthorize MARAD – the federal agency responsible for promoting and maintaining a strong U.S. commercial maritime industry. The agency also oversees the federal and state maritime academies that train future mariners, including the Great Lakes Maritime Academy in Traverse City. In addition to reauthorizing MARAD, the legislation requires a study on ways to improve the St. Lawrence Seaway system. Peters serves as Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security.

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