U.S. Rep. Ron Barber and the House Armed Services Committee passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) out of committee last week. Besides working to save the A-10 program, Barber worked to defeat a proposal to save the 1-285th Attack/Reconnaissance Battalion at Silverbell Army Heliport in Marana.
The bill also includes provisions that impact Fort Huachuca, Raytheon, the National Guard and more.
Barber fought to defeat a proposal by the U.S. Army to transfer AH-64 Apache helicopters from the National Guard to the Army – a proposal that would have undermined the 1-285th Attack/Reconnaissance Battalion at Silverbell Army Heliport in Marana.
“Last night, we took a number of important steps that will keep our nation safe while protecting the men and women who serve in our armed forces,” Barber said of the markup of the NDAA.
Chief among those steps was passage of Barber’s bipartisan amendment to keep the A-10 flying. The amendment, cosponsored by Republican Reps. Vicky Hartzler of Missouri and Austin Scott of Georgia, will prevent the A-10 from being divested in fiscal year 2015.
It also requires that an independent evaluation be conducted of planes the Air Force says can carry out the close air support mission to determine the cost of each platform and its capabilities to protect ground troops compared with the A-10.
Barber, who fought for the plane to protect soldiers and Marines on the battlefield and the A-10 mission at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, last week continued that fight by meeting with Sen. John McCain and speaking with Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, about Senate action to protect the A-10.
Barber also supported a bipartisan amendment that prohibits the transfer of Apache attack helicopters from the Guard to the Army. That transfer would have cut 800 soldiers and 24 Apache helicopters from the Arizona National Guard. Barber is a cosponsor of the bill in the House, H.R. 3930.
“Our Guardsmen assigned to the 1-285th Attack/Reconnaissance Battalion at Silverbell Army Heliport in Marana have fought bravely in Afghanistan, performing the same missions as active-duty units,” Barber said. “I categorically reject the notion that our highly trained and dedicated Guardsmen aren’t ready to perform attack aviation missions.”
Additionally, the Army proposal would have reduced its active-duty end strength for fiscal 2015 below 490,000 and the National Guard below 350,000 in the same year. Barber voted against those reductions, saying it would hurt national security.
Barber also supported additional funding for Raytheon’s made-in-Tucson Tomahawk missile. The Tomahawk first was used in the 1970s and has been modernized and updated several times. It has been used in Iraq, Libya, Yemen and other countries where the military wanted to strike targets at long ranges.
In the NDAA, Barber also supported:
Cyber, Signal and Intelligence support: Barber has been a strong supporter of cyber defense. Earlier this year, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel set cyber security as a high priority for the department to meet rapidly changing threats from newer technologies. Additionally, Barber supported measures in the Intelligence, Emerging Threats and Capabilities portion of the bill that strengthens signal and human intelligence. These are missions that form the backbone of Fort Huachuca.
•Higher education research funding: Barber supported the University Research Initiative funding that seeks to improve the quality of defense research conducted by universities and supports the education of engineers and scientists in disciplines critical to national defense needs. Additionally, he supported applied research programs that bring research dollars to the University of Arizona.
•Amendment to take sexual assault cases out of the chain of command: Barber supported an amendment that would have removed the decision to prosecute rapes and other serious crimes from military commanders. However, the amendment was defeated.
·Drug interdiction and counter drug activities: Barber supported measures authorizing the Department of Defense to use funds for counter-narcotics operations for the National Guard, Reserves and the active-duty forces.
Barber opposed a proposal to begin a round of base closures this year. Barber noted that the last round of closures was supposed to save money – but has not done so. Barber said he would not support another round of closures until it can be proven it will save taxpayers’ money.