July 23, 2020

Young: Annual Defense Bill Protects National Security, Supports Troops, Deters Threats

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Todd Young today applauded the Senate passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which provides for our men and women in uniform with a three percent pay raise and launches a new initiative to deter China. Senator Young, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate and Marine who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the bill will keep Americans safe amidst threats from coronavirus, Russia, and the Chinese Communist Party. The Senate voted86-14 to approve the legislation.


“The National Defense Authorization Act is one of the most important pieces of legislation the Senate considers each year. This year’s NDAA supports jobs in the defense workforce, and bolsters innovative research taking place in states like Indiana. It also provides a three percent pay raise for our troops, and establishes a Pacific Deterrence Initiative to deter the continued aggressive behavior emanating from the Chinese Communist Party. By caring for those in uniform, fully funding our defense, and deterring aggression during these unstable times, this NDAA is critical to our national security,” said Senator Young.


While Senator Young’s amendment to preserve the Pentagon’s Chief Management Officer (CMO) position was not included in the Senate-passed bill, he intends to push for maintaining this critical position as the Senate and House negotiate a final version of the bill in the coming months. In the past six months alone, the CMO has saved the Department of Defense $21 billion.


Senator Young worked to secure provisions in the NDAA that support the following Indiana projects: 


Naval equipment manufactured in Indiana: 

Anti-Submarine Warfare remains a core mission area of the U.S. Navy and our Allies around the world. Senator Young secured a commitment to increase the U.S. Navy’s inventory of sonobuoys, which are a critical component of the Navy’s ability to detect, localize, classify, and track non-allied submarines from airborne platforms. Sonobuoys are manufactured by Ultra Electronics – Undersea Sensor Systems, Inc. (USSI) in Columbia City, Indiana. As tensions with China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea, continue to rise, this equipment continues to become more important. 


Steel technology innovations taking place in Indiana:

Senator Young also secured additional support for the Steel Performance Initiative (SPI), which supports the work being done by Harrison Steel Castings in Attica, Indiana. The purpose of the program is to create game-changing steel technology innovations that will enable higher performing defense systems and reduce acquisition costs. The most significant benefits of the program include increasing the availability of better material at lower costs for the Department of Defense and creating a more globally competitive domestic steel industry.


Artificial Intelligence research led by the University of Notre Dame and Indiana University:

Senator Young secured support for the University of Notre Dame and Indiana University’s artificial intelligence (AI) research. The research and workforce development being conducted through this partnership will lead to the successful deployment of trusted AI technologies by our warfighters in cyber-contested environments. Dedicated attention to known gaps in AI development will protect against adversary attacks to critical hardware and software in the future. 


3D printing innovations led by Indiana-based TechShot 

Senator Young introduced an amendment to the NDAA supporting the innovative work of TechShot, an advanced 3D printing business in Greenville, Indiana. TechShot is engaged in a project called Fabrication in Austere Military Environments (FAME), which is part of a program by the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences (USU) to develop and deliver bio-fabrication technology and other solutions to advance military medicine, biomedical education, and collaboration within the Department of Defense, and other agencies, academia, and industry. The technology being produced by TechShot also has the potential to yield significant contributions in caring for our wounded service members and restoring anatomical and physiological functioning. A recent report from USU and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center touted the success of a newly bioengineered vascular graft grown from human cells saving the leg of an army veteran. The process took only weeks to complete. The amendment requires the Secretary of Defense to study how each branch of the military is using this technology, and its costs and effectiveness. 


Preservation of Hoosier position at Department of Defense:

Senator Young introduced an amendment to preserve Lisa Hershman’s position as the Chief Management Officer at the Department of Defense. Hershman is a Hoosier and the senior ranking woman in the Department of Defense. Despite proving to be highly effective in the role and identifying significant taxpayer savings, her position is being targeted for elimination. This amendment was not included in the Senate-passed NDAA, but will be an important issue to be resolved in the Senate-House negotiations in the coming months.


Other key components of the NDAA include:


Creation of the Pacific Deterrence Initiative (PDI):

The National Defense Strategy details the enormous threats the United States faces in the Indo-Pacific region; therefore, the NDAA establishes a Pacific Deterrence Initiative (PDI) to send a strong signal to the Chinese Communist Party that America is deeply committed to defending our interests in the Indo-Pacific. PDI will enhance budgetary transparency and oversight, focus resources on key military capability gaps, reassure U.S. allies and partners, and bolster the credibility of American deterrence in the Indo-Pacific. The bill authorizes funding for missile defense, enhancing forward posture, and improving interoperability with allies and partners. 


Coronavirus response measures:

The NDAA authorizes $44 million for vaccine and biotechnology research supported by Department of Defense. It also implements a pilot program on civilian and military partnerships to enhance interoperability and medical surge capability and capacity of the National Disaster Medical System, which will provide training, expand capacity, and establish a framework for well-coordinated federal response to pandemics and other threats. Additionally, the NDAA provides reserve retirement relief for service members affected by the COVID-19 stop movement order.