Protecting Our National Security Interests
Washington, D.C. – In today’s world, security matters more than ever – with each and every one of us facing numerous threats in our daily lives. These range from large-scale, international risks coming from rogue regimes, like Iran, to the emergence of sophisticated cyber attacks that breach our digital networks. It’s issues like these that the House Armed Services Committee, of which I am a member, tackled during Wednesday’s markup of H.R. 5515, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019, commonly referred to as the NDAA.
For nearly 60 years, the NDAA has been the primary means by which Congress executes its Article 1 Constitutional obligation to provide for the common defense. In fact, it is the most substantive piece of legislation supporting our servicemembers, authorizing the resources they need in order to complete their missions and setting the policies used to safeguard our Nation. In addition to funding our military at $717 billion for the coming year and giving a well-deserved 2.6% pay raise to our warfighters – the largest in almost a decade – this bill specifically authorizes $99 million to build a Cyber Instructional Facility at Fort Gordon in Augusta.
I’m pleased that the NDAA further allocates $13.6 million for a Navy Reserve Training Center at Fort Benning in Columbus and $31.9 million for a Welding and Body Repair Shop Facility at the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Albany. Clearly, the Peach State and our nine military installations are leading the way in keeping America safe and strong.
During the mark-up process earlier this week, I introduced two amendments for consideration. The first amendment would authorize the Secretary of Defense to establish a Cyber Institute at each one of the senior military colleges throughout the country. This provision – supported by the entire Georgia Congressional Delegation – would directly impact the University of North Georgia in Dahlonega, Georgia’s only senior military college. This amendment is vital to ensuring that future leaders in our military are introduced, exposed, and prepared to combat cyber threats starting much earlier in their lives and careers – strengthening our cyber frontlines for years to come.
My second amendment directs the Department of Defense to develop a strategy to leverage and expand its current partnerships with industry and academia to improve cyber education. Unless we incorporate methodologies into our training programs to address current cyber threats, we run the risk of having an unprepared cyber workforce and leaving our defenses vulnerable. We must ensure that our Nation’s cyber sector is as prepared as possible to defend American companies, networks, and interests.
In this day and age, threats to our cybersecurity have the potential to cause mass devastation. We live so much of our lives online, not just socially, but in regard to banking, health care, and much, much more. It’s our heavy reliance on our computers and smart phones that makes this so dangerous – and so imperative to protect. Fortunately, we have experts fighting to safeguard this information in our own backyards. Fort Gordon and the Augusta area are quickly becoming vanguards of the cyber domain.
I’m proud that the NDAA has focused national resources toward bolstering our cyber programs, and I’m humbled to represent our state and all it has to offer in defense of our homeland. Simply put, the protection of our national defense and of the security of the American people must – and does – come first.
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