Washington, D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Member Congressman Rick Larsen (WA-02) voted today for the Defense Authorization Bill which provides a military pay raise, supports military families and troops in the field and makes responsible investments in our national defense to keep us safe. The legislation passed the House by a vote of 389 – 22 -1 and must also clear the Senate before it could be signed into law.
“As Secretary Gates has said, we cannot buy everything and do everything,” said Larsen. “This bill makes the investments we need to protect our nation and our troops in the field, while cancelling wasteful programs that are behind schedule, over-budget, and unnecessary for our national defense.”
The Defense Authorization Act:
· Provides a 3.4 percent pay raise for all service members to improve the quality of life for our forces and their families
· Helps restore military readiness with strong investments in our Armed Services
· Focuses on Afghanistan and on the redeployment from Iraq
· Eliminates waste and recovers savings through defense acquisition reform
Kirk- Larsen Duration amendment
The legislation included a bipartisan amendment introduced by Larsen and his colleague Rep. Mark Kirk of Illinois that would give the Secretary of Defense the authority to award a bonus on top of other pay and benefits for servicemen and women who agree to serve in Afghanistan until the U.S. mission is declared complete, to a maximum of six years.
While nearly all American service members serve for no longer than 12 months at a time, our military would benefit from retaining critical military, language and relationship experience needed to sustain momentum in Afghanistan.
“Few service members will accept this offer, but the few who do will provide critical military, language and on-the-ground experience to help us succeed in Afghanistan,” said Larsen. “This amendment is about rewarding exceptional commitment and exceptional service to our country. It is about investing in success.”
Larsen Electronic Warfare amendment
The legislation also includes an amendment, authored by Larsen, which requires the Department of Defense (DOD) to submit an annual report outlining its electronic warfare (EW) strategy and report to Congress on the EW capabilities are being used to achieve that strategy and how the military is providing leadership on EW issues.
“As a Member of the House Armed Services Committee, I first became involved in this critical part of our national defense because Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in my district is a leader in electronic warfare. Our Prowlers and Growlers, airborne electronic attack aircraft based on Whidbey Island, protect airborne assets and support our troops on the ground. Across the Armed Services, NAS Whidbey Island is the brain trust for electronic warfare expertise.”
Electronic Warfare describes our military’s use of radio frequencies to deploy weapons and protect our troops, and to deny our enemies the use of radio frequencies to attack us. Weapons that depend on radio frequencies range from the simple to the sophisticated. They include air defense radars which help enemies identify and destroy U.S. planes, and improvised explosive devises (IEDs) which have caused significant U.S. casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Electronic warfare plays a more important role than ever in keeping the men and women in our military safe,” Larsen continued. “That is why the Department of Defense needs a comprehensive and unified strategy across the Armed Services to control the electromagnetic spectrum, and Congress needs to know what that strategy is.”