Bridenstine Amendment Supports National Guard State Partnership Program; Other Amendments to the Department of Defense Appropriations Bill
Today, Congressman Jim Bridenstine voted for the FY14 Defense Appropriations bill to fund our military. The House accepted an amendment offered by Rep. Bridenstine to reallocate funding to the National Guard State Partnership Program (SPP). The Bridenstine amendment shifts $10 million to SPP in a budget-neutral way by reducing funding for unnecessary Department of Defense internal media activities.
SSP directly supports the Oklahoma National Guard’s partnership with Azerbaijan, a country increasingly important to energy security in Europe and Israel.
The program involves over 60 partnerships in which nearly every U.S. state and territory has a partner country and some have more than one. Typical SPP activities include exchanges of subject matter experts with the partner country, demonstrations and training in certain technologies, and visits between senior leaders. Mentor and liaison teams of National Guardsmen actually embed with partner personnel on selected operations.
Congressman Bridenstine said, “This amendment is about defense priorities. The State Partnership Program supports our national security objective of building the capabilities of our allies and partners. Capable partners can share burdens, risks, and costs. The more they can do, the less we have to do.
“SPP links National Guard units directly with the security forces of allies and partners. As a Navy pilot, I can tell you that trust is indispensable in terms of fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with allied forces, and trust can only be built through constant engagement with those allies and friends.”
Maj. Gen. Myles L. Deering, the Adjutant General for the State of Oklahoma, said, “The State Partnership Program (SPP) is being executed successfully in more than 60 countries around the world and has been a tremendously successful tool to help us establish mutual security cooperation objectives with the participating nations. In our case, the Oklahoma National Guard has a strong relationship with Azerbaijan. Since 2002, we have worked side by side with our Azerbaijani partners. For example, the SPP leverages the unique expertise the Oklahoma National Guard possesses in responding to domestic emergencies and allows us to share our practices with the Azerbaijanis. We have developed an excellent and enduring relationship with our counterparts in Azerbaijan.”
Other significant amendments that Congressman Bridenstine supported included:
1. Amendment to prohibit U.S. military action in Syria inconsistent with the War Powers Act, the “Radel Amendment”. The amendment prohibits actions including introducing U.S. forces in contravention of War Powers Act consultation and reporting requirements. The amendment passed by voice vote. The Obama Administration plans to arm Syrian opposition groups fighting the Assad regime with small arms and ammunition (in addition to non-lethal aid). Congressman Bridenstine commented, “This policy will fail to change the military balance on the ground and likely result in supplying jihadist groups. It is a half-measure that could have dire indirect consequences. Furthermore, the President should have to consult with and report to Congress before any U.S. forces are introduced into hostilities in Syria. In reality, I’d like to go further than this amendment and require express congressional authorization for any further militarization of U.S. policy in Syria even short of actually introducing American forces.”
2. Amendment to end blanket authority of NSA to collect telephone metadata records, the “Amash Amendment”. Congressman Bridenstine said, “I voted YES on this amendment. The amendment prohibits collecting information on Americans without connection to an ongoing investigation.”
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