The U.S. Senate this week passed major defense legislation that includes provisions authored by U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) to support Michigan’s growing defense industry and bolster America’s military readiness.
The final National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which sets Department of Defense (DoD) policy for Fiscal Year 2019, now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law.
Peters is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a former Lt. Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve.
“Michigan is the proud home of thousands of dedicated servicemembers and a burgeoning defense manufacturing industry that will be vital to our nation’s military preparedness for years to come,” said Senator Peters. “From re-winging A-10s to developing the Next Generation Combat Vehicle, this bipartisan legislation provides our state with the resources needed to continue developing the technological advantages our men and women in uniform rely on to execute their mission.”
Highlights of Senator Peters’ provisions in this year’s NDAA include:
- Funding for A-10 Wing Replacement: Peters’ authored an amendment to provide an additional $65 million for A-10 aircraft re-winging, bringing the total to $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 adequate funding for wing repair. Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Township is home to an A-10 squadron that deployed in the fight against ISIS in 2015.
- PFAS-Free Fire Fighting Foams: The NDAA includes report language from Peters encouraging DoD to develop firefighting foams that do not include Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances. PFAS chemicals, including those used in firefighting foam at active and decommissioned military installations across Michigan have contaminated local water sources and are affecting the drinking water quality for residents in communities across the state. The bill also includes $10 million to fund a study on the health implications of PFAS, building on a provision Peters included in last year’s NDAA.
- Support for Next Generation Ground Vehicle (NGCV): The legislation includes $7 million to develop a Next Generation Combat Vehicle prototype. The Detroit Arsenal in Warren was recently selected as the headquarters for the NGCV Cross Functional Team (CFT), which will report to the Army Futures Command. The CFT will help develop new technologies, including autonomous systems, and produce prototypes and requirements for the NGCV.
- New Solutions for Mobility in Cold Weather Regions: Peters’ amendment directs the U.S. Army to develop mobility strategies for cold-weather terrain similar to the Arctic, where both Russia and China have expanded their activity. This supports researchers at the Michigan Technological University in Houghton, where the Keweenaw Research Center has conducted extensive testing on military vehicle winter capabilities, including traction aid development on tanks and tire chain testing.
Other important provisions in the NDAA include:
- Strengthening DoD Joint Artificial Intelligence (AI) Activities: Peters authored an amendment with Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) to create a senior DoD position for AI and require that official to establish a strategic plan for military AI, as well as a study on national security AI applications.
- Limiting Foreign Access to National Security Technology: The bill authorizes DoD to include provisions in contracts that forfeit the intellectual property (IP) developed by a contractor if that contractor shares the technology with certain foreign persons or organizations.
- Streamlining the Foreign Investment Review Process: The NDAA includes bipartisan legislation introduced by Senator Peters and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) to increase scrutiny on the transfer 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 exploited gaps in the process to invest in U.S. companies and gain a military advantage.
- Safeguarding U.S. Commercial Technological Advancements: The NDAA includes report language 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 improves the business model of small high-tech companies. Building a sustainable company allows American small businesses to move technological projects from concept to commercialization and ensure the capability can be made available to the U.S. military rather than foreign investors.
- Reinstituting 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. MARAD is also responsible for administering the federal and state maritime academies that train future mariners, including the Great Lakes Maritime Academy in Traverse City. Peters serves as Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security.